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It’s no secret, we here at Trusted Reviews are big fans of Huawei’s hardware. For the last few Awards, we’ve flagged the firm’s flagship P-Series as the benchmark when it comes to mobile camera tech and performance.
But for the past year, there’s been a dark cloud around its phones thanks to the ongoing US executive order against it, blocking or diminishing how much US tech firms can work and deal with it.
This has that for the last year, all future Huawei devices won’t have access to key Google services that are used by pretty much every Western smartphone owner that doesn’t have an iPhone. The biggest of these is the Play Store and its industry leading library of apps and games.
Huawei made a big pitch to fix this ahead of the new P40, P40 Pro and P40 Pro Plus’ launch debuting its competing HMS and AppGallery services. Both are on paper stellar bits of technology featuring easy to use ways to create custom shortcuts to web apps, if the full-fat versions aren’t on the official AppGallery store. There’s also a load of clever backend tech that makes it, in theory, super easy for devs to work on.
Related: Best Huawei phones
These factors let Huawei nab big-name partnerships with Unity (the game engine powering most Android games) and apps from the likes of the UK BBC ahead of the P40-series’ launch.
This, in turn, meant that we here at Trusted were waiting with bated breath to get our hands on the new phones and answer the key question: can an Android phone succeed in the Western market without Google?
Sadly, with us having finally reviewed all three new phones, the answer is a definitive, no, not yet. To give you a cliff notes, here’s what we had to say about the regular Huawei P40’s software:
“The main reason not to recommend the P40 is, unsurprisingly, its lack of Google services.”
The Huawei P40 Pro’s:
“Despite some elegant software highlights […] the limitations when it comes to Google will likely turn many off.”
And Huawei P40 Pro Plus:
“No Google means daily software stumbling blocks, even with Huawei’s handy new Petal Search. This makes it tough to justify with such a high asking price in the Western market.”
Seeing a common pattern?
But does that mean you should stop paying attention to Huawei phones from now on? That’s a tricky question to answer, but for us here at Trusted, though Huawei’s lost the first round, it’s too early to call the final result.
A few months ago, I highlighted Huawei as being in a unique position to break Apple and Google’s stronghold on the mobile market and my reasons for this still ring true.
Huawei’s got the infrastructure and reach to compete in markets, like Russia, Asia and Africa, where Google and Apple are yet to become the norm. It’s also got deep enough pockets to offer developers incentives to code for its platform, even if they don’t completely jump ship.
These factors have already led to massive improvements to AppGallery’s offering in the short space between each of our P40 reviews. As a result, while we can’t personally recommend any of the P40s to regular buyers as they are, we’re still eager to see what comes next for Huawei.