Huawei Launches Flagship Mate 40 Line Amidst Sanctions

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Huawei launches Mate 40 devices with advanced 5-nanometre Kirin 9000 processor, even as new sanctions threaten to cut off its chip supply

Huawei has launched its Mate 40 line of high-end flagship smartphones, featuring groundbreakng chip technology and a mapping system intended to rival Google Maps.

The devices use chips manufactured on a 5-nanometre process, making them the second to do so after Apple’s iPhone 12 line.

Huawei said its Kirin 9000 chip is more powerful and sophisticated than Apple’s processor, with billions more transistors, and includes an integrated 5G modem that means longer battery life.

Only the highest-end Huawei Mate 40 Pro and Pro+ are to launch outside of China, with a more basic version available in Huawei’s home country.

Processing power

The Pro+ features a 6.8-inch display and more advanced cameras, while the Pro uses a 6.5-inch display, both OLED and capable of 90MHz refresh rates.

The Pro+ includes 12GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD, while the Pro has 8GB of RAM, with both being capable of 66W charging, or up to 50W wirelessly.

The Pro+ has a 50-megapixel primary camera, 20-megapixel ultrawide and 12-megapixel 3x telephoto, and an 8-megapixel periscope camera with 10x optical zoom, while the Pro’s periscope camera has a 5x zoom.

Both have a time-of-flight camera on the front, used to create a depth effect, while the Pro+ also has a time-of-flight sensor on the back.

However, due to a trade ban imposed by the US that came into effect in September, Huawei risks running out of its Kirin 9000 chips.

In an online presentation, Huawei consumer devices chief Richard Yu acknowledged that the situation was “extremely difficult”.

Petal Maps

The company also faces ongoing restrictions on its access to Google services, meaning Google Maps, the Google Play app store and Gmail.

The Mate 40 devices include Huawei’s latest efforts to work around the restrictions, including a new mapping app called Petal Maps, an app search tool called Petal Search and a Gmail-compatible email app.

Petal Maps uses technology from TomTom to create an advanced mapping tool that includes detailed maps for more than 140 countries and real-time traffic data for some countries, including the UK.

The app includes different viewpoints, including a 3D view with cut-out buildings, category searches with places of interest and other features, although it lacks Google Maps’ ability to download maps in advance or a street view option.

Petal Search allows users to search for and install apps via third-party app stores and app mirroring services, with all apps being scanned for security, according to Huawei.

App search

However, the lack of Google Play services means in-app payments will not work on some devices, while some other apps, including many banking apps, eBay and Tesco’s Groceries app, will not install, with users restricted to using their website versions.

In spite of the sanctions, Huawei remains the world’s third-biggest smartphone maker and is the leader in China.

Industry analyst Ben Wood of CCS Insight said the Mate 40 device is “impressive”.

But he added that it is “hard not to think of it as a ‘last hurrah’ beyond China in the face of bruising US sanctions, rumoured chip shortages and the associated negative brand impact”.

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