Huawei P40 Pro 5G
Price: R20 999
The Huawei P40 launched at the beginning of this month and had users marvelling at its hyper-realistic photographs and videos. But the P40 Pro 5G is not a simple or convenient smartphone to set up.
Hardware-wise, the phone is a beast – as is usually the case with Huawei’s flagship phones. However, it is the software that is a bit of a pain.
The P40 is the first Huawei flagship without Google Mobile Services. In effect, this translates to the P40 not coming with any of Google’s apps or its Play Store, relying instead on Huawei Mobile Services and the Huawei AppGallery.
Simply put, you cannot start up the phone and sync your Google accounts and, ta-da, things work as before.
Apps for Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Gmail, Spotify, Twitter – easily my top six most used apps – are not on Huawei’s AppGallery because of the US ban on Huawei.
So the Chinese manufacturer has had to find a lot of workarounds, such as downloading APKs (Android application packages) of your fave apps or using the web-based version of the app, with a short cut on the P40’s homescreen for ease of access.
I found APKs for Facebook and WhatsApp relatively easily, with the Facebook one giving me no issues. With WhatsApp, the struggle was in getting my previous chats on to the P40 as backups are usually kept on Google Drive and, with no easy access to that, I had to either use Phone Clone or manually back them up and transfer that file to the P40 and load it.
To Huawei’s credit, it has a wide range of on-board and online support channels that made finding out how to get things to work a little less painful – even though the process was sometimes a schlep.
The preloaded Support app is filled with a lot of useful information that will help you get started and there are even real humans you can chat to who will guide you through the various processes and workarounds. For me, the live chat function was a winner.
Despite the lack of US apps, Huawei has been on a charm offensive in trying to get South African apps on to its platform. DStv SuperSport, Takealot and most South African banks are available, with Capitec being the latest to be included this week. There’s even an incentive of R800 into your Capitec account if you buy a P40 or P40 Pro and register the purchase. For the first 1 000 people, of course.
Camera-wise, I loved it. With the three rear cameras – of 50MP wide-angle, 16MP ultrawide angle and 8MP telephoto lens – you can take amazing images, even in low light – and the 32MP selfie camera is fun.
The battery took a little more than an hour to charge from 0% and it lasted a whole day with enough extra charge left to play games, although this was mostly used as a secondary device because I prefer convenience.
All in all, it is great that Huawei is now competing with Google and Apple with its own mobile services ecosystem and, although in its infancy, it has the potential to challenge the big two.
And, if they can weather the storm of the ban, plus speedily ramp up the user experience, Huawei can again challenge any phone on the market.