When it comes to flagship phone hardware, Huawei has always been one of the best companies out there. From pushing insane camera innovations to great build quality and just simply creating a package that you'd actually want to use. It's likely that you've heard new Huawei phones won't have access to Google Services due to the entity list restrictions that were put in place back on May 20, 2019, but that isn't stopping the company from pushing harder and still releasing the Huawei P40 Pro.
The new top-of-the-line phone from Huawei comes loaded with specs that everyone can appreciate. It has a large 6.58-inch OLED display, runs a Kirin 990 5G chip inside, and comes with 8GB of RAM. There is a quad camera set up on the back of the device, one of them is 50MP, one is 12MP, one is 40MP, and the last one is a TOF 3D unit for depth sensing. Around the front there is a TOF camera and a 32MP selfie camera, it has a 4200mAh battery inside, and so much more.
All of this sounds great, right? But what about the lack of Google Services, and how does that affect this as an Android device? Well, Huawei packs a bunch of its own features and apps on the phone that help alleviate that pain. Huawei Mobile Services (HMS) is an alternative that the company has created to help you get the most out of your new phone, even without Google Services. HMS includes things like the AppGallery store, Huawei Video, and Huawei Music.
Many of these things are the core features that Google Services bring to the phone, so instead of leaving you wanting more, Huawei has tried to bridge the gap with some of its own offerings. Going forward, every Huawei device that hits the market will come equipped with Huawei Mobile Services, and the AppGallery for downloading apps and games.
So, what kind of apps are even available in this AppGallery? Well, several big-name titles like Snapchat, Deezer, Amazon Shopping, Telegram, Zoom, and even TikTok. Facebook and WhatsApp are available via direct downloads from the respective sites via a link in the AppGallery, making it super easy to do. There's also a PhoneClone feature which can help you bring other apps from your current phone over to the new one. When we did our first look at the phone we were able to bring over 111 of 123 apps from an old device to the P40 Pro using the feature. Some of the omissions included banking and finance apps, which didn't transfer for security reasons.
As Huawei ramps up the AppGallery more apps and games will become available, though that's not likely to happen overnight. There may be some things that you like to use that are not available right now in the store. There's also a new feature called "Petal Search - Find Apps", which is just now rolling out to the P40 line. It is powered by 3rd-party partners Qwant and Yandex and allows for you to find apps, news, images, and more right from your home page. This also makes finding the apps you want to install even easier. It searches the AppGallery, developer's websites, and trusted third-party app stores to locate the APK for you. It's super handy, and makes getting the information you want and need much faster. The OTA is rolling out now, and newer Huawei devices will come with it preloaded. You can download it right now.
Of course, none of this solves the fact that you won't be able to access Google Services, which means no Gmail app built-in, there's no Google Maps or Chrome, etc. If you strongly prefer to use some of these Google features, you could always bookmark the pages and add home screen shortcuts, which gives you a compromise that may just be enough to work. You'll miss out on a few things like native integration and notifications for some stuff, but with how many notifications you likely already receive, maybe that isn't such a bad thing.
While Google apps are obviously missing here, there's pretty much a full suite of replacement apps that you can easily install from the AppGallery instead.
Huawei P40 Pro
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For those who spend a lot of time driving, you may be concerned about the lack of Google Maps to help you get around. Luckily, there are several other options that are available to use such as the insanely-popular Waze, Sygic, Tomtom, and even HERE WeGo. Some of these have paid features available, but all of them will help you navigate from one place to another with ease, and will leave you barely missing Google Maps.
Huawei even has an alternative for Google Assistant with Celia. This is the company's personal digital assistant which can be used to tell you the weather, identify items that the camera is pointed at, translate menus, and much more. It may not offer feature parity for controlling smart home devices and such, but it's a great first step.
Beyond the software restrictions that Huawei has to work within, the company did a fantastic job with the hardware. It's quite a looker and offers all the features that you would be hoping to see in a modern day smartphone. It's one of the most innovative smartphones from the company, and a device that you should still consider especially if you aren't someone who is 100% invested in Google's full ecosystem. The P40 Pro may not offer the Android (or Huawei) experience you are used to, but that doesn't mean you should overlook the device. There's a whole lot to like here, and as long as Huawei can continue to bring new apps and improve its service offerings, the company will continue to have one of the best top-end Android devices on the market each year.
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