This article is based on an article from the Japanese edition of Engadget and was created using the translation tool Deepl.
Huawei has announced the Mate 40 Pro and Mate 40 Pro+ smartphones with the new Kirin 9000 chipset. The Mate 40, which was announced at the same time, is powered by the Kirin 9000E with some lower specs.
Due to sanctions from the U.S. government, Huawei's contract manufacturer of the Kirin series of chipsets cannot produce them for Huawei after September 15, and Huawei only has stocks of the Kirin 9000 and 9000E for what it manufactured up to that point. Even if they wanted to make a new chipset that is faster than Qualcomm's Snapdragon 865, there is no manufacturer that will make it for them.
The Mate 40 Pro+ is an excellent cameraphone with five cameras on the back, and those who saw the online presentation will have been dazzled by the camera performance. The combination of 50-megapixel wide-angle, 20-megapixel ultra-wide-angle, 8-megapixel 10x optical periscope telephoto, 12-megapixel 3x optical telephoto, and ToF depth measurement is one of the strongest combinations at the moment.
Incidentally, Huawei's flagship model last spring, the P40 Pro+, had a 50-megapixel wide-angle, a 40-megapixel ultra-wide-angle, an 8-megapixel 10x optical periscope telephoto, an 8-megapixel 3x optical telephoto, and ToF depth measurement. So the Mate 40 Pro+ has a camera configuration that focuses more on the telephoto side.
DXOMark doesn't have a score for the P40 Pro+ yet, but the Mate 40 Pro, without the Periscope and ToF, is quickly in first place with 136 points.
Looking at models from a year ago, last fall's Mate 30 Pro differed only in the quality of the ultra-wide-angle camera of the P30 Pro announced in the spring. In other words, the Mate series cameras replaced those of the P series with the latest performance. But this year's P40 Pro+ and Mate 40 Pro+ are two cameraphones that don't compete with each other, one for wide-angle and one for telephoto, by changing their coverage.
It's likely that Huawei has designed the P40 Pro+ (and P40 series) and Mate 40 Pro+ series (and Mate 40 series) as a two-pronged camera configuration that will be sold side by side for a long time to come. We don't know how much inventory is available for the Kirin 9000, but depending on sales volume, these two models (the two series) will likely continue to be sold intact over the next year.
According to several research firms, including IDC, Huawei minimized its negative numbers in the second quarter of this year, overtaking Samsung to become the No. 1 smartphone in the world for the first time, even as the new coronavirus caused a decline in shipments by various manufacturers. However, the company has lost market share outside of China in terms of regions.
Huawei smartphones can't have Google Services (GMS, Google Mobile Services). US government sanctions have not only prevented them from getting the heart of the hardware, but they also don't have the basic services to actually use the smartphone. In China, where each manufacturer has its own services, and where proprietary services are prevalent in their own country, the absence of GMS will not affect the number of smartphones sold. However, outside of China, the lack of GMS will be a major blow. No matter how good the performance of the camera is, if you can't share the photos you've taken on major social networking sites, it's useless.
As such, the Mate 40 will be focused on the Chinese market, where sales are expected to be high, and may not be launched in many volumes in other markets, especially in Europe, where the global launch event was held.
It is unlikely to be launched in the Japanese market as well at this time. Even if it does, it may only be available in the SIM-free market for a small number of phones. Last year's Mate 30 Pro was announced in Japan in March 2020, six months after its global launch. It's possible that one of the Mate 40 series phones could be launched after that amount of time, but if sales are strong in the Chinese market, there may not be enough room to send them to other countries. The situation has changed completely from last year to this year.
To go along with the Mate 40 series, the Mate 30E Pro was also announced, and the Mate 30E Pro is a model with a new chipset from the Kirin 990 to the Kirin 990E. It has been designed to be faster and other improvements, but last year's model has been reintroduced with minor changes, despite the fact that the Mate 40 series came out.
The reason for this could be that the company "has a surplus of components due to poor sales of the Mate 30 Pro" and "is increasing the number of 2020 models with few new products in the future."
Starting with the Mate 30 Pro (and the Mate 30), Huawei is dropping the GMS and switching to HMS (Huawei Mobile Services). In previous years, the Mate 30 series would have been a hit with the latest chipset and designed for business use in mind. However, the absence of GMS probably didn't boost sales outside of China.
Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei's Consumer Business Group, announced at the launch of the Mate 30 series last September that the 2018 Mate 20 series has shipped 16 million units in a year. Meanwhile, in November last year, he said the Mate 30 series had shipped 7 million units in the first 60 days after launch. Subsequently, Chinese media reports claimed that 12 million units of the Mate 30 series were shipped at the beginning of 2020. However, this number is only a guess. In fact, this number may not have reached 10 million units.
And after February 2020, the market has shrunk dramatically due to the new coronavirus. In addition, fewer consumers outside of China are opting for non-GMS equipped Huawei smartphones. As a result, I'm guessing that the Mate 30 series shipments were not far behind the Mate 20 series. As Huawei has been shipping more and more units each year, the Mate 30 was expected to sell more than the Mate 20, and the company probably ordered more components for it.
However, continuing to sell the Mate 30 series as is would have given the impression that it’s a one-year-old model. Introducing the Mate 30E Pro as a 2020 model, albeit with minor changes, will make it part of the "Mate series" that assists the Mate 40 series and should help it compete with other manufacturers in a small way.
With this situation of being regulated by the US government, Huawei will be able to develop new smartphone products in the future, but it will be difficult to manufacture them as much as it wants. Even with the new P-series products announced in the spring of every year, the chances of a "P50" (we guess) coming out in spring 2021 will be close to zero.
That would mean that Huawei will continue to sell its products in three flagship models in the second half of 2020 and into 2021: the P40 series, the Mate 40 series, and the Mate 30E Pro.
Maybe Huawei will make some minor changes to them, such as increasing their color variants. In the past, the company added new colors for the P30 in fall 2019 to try to leverage sales.
Huawei is increasing the number of mid-range and lower-range smartphones that use MediaTek's Dimensity chipset, but these too will be harder to manufacture once Huawei's internal inventory of the chipset is exhausted. Huawei can only hope that the situation will improve before the chipset on hand runs out.
Personally, I'm looking forward to the Mate X2 (I'm guessing), the successor to the folding smartphone, and I'm also interested in the beautiful look of the Mate 40 RS Porsche Design, the design model announced at the same time as the Mate 40 series. Huawei's ability to develop smartphones is one of the best in the industry, not only in terms of camera performance, but also in terms of modem and battery life, new displays, and creating collaborative models.
With the future direction of the company being completely unpredictable, the outlook for Huawei's new smartphone product launch in Japan continues to be unclear. The new Huawei FreeBuds Studio headphones and the Porsche Design Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro edition, the first smartwatch in collaboration with Porsche Design, were also announced at the launch of the Mate 40 series.
If the smartphone rollout seems difficult, we'd love to see these wearables introduced, as well as other products related to smart homes and smart TVs that are being rolled out in China, to be brought to Japan. Huawei's smart TVs run on its own proprietary OS, HarmonyOS, so there's a way to market them as high-performance TVs with major apps supported on them. We don't know where things are going, but we hope that we'll see more and more Huawei smartphones being announced again, and that they'll be able to boost the market.
This article is based on an article from the Japanese edition of Engadget and was created using the translation tool Deepl. The Japanese edition of Engadget does not guarantee the accuracy or reliability of this article.