When I was offered to review the Huawei P40 Pro, I was very excited because I haven’t reviewed a P-Series phone in a long time. I wanted to experience its stunning beauty, the power of Kirin 990 5G and of course its excellent cameras. To be honest, I also had some apprehensions. As most people know by now, Google Mobile Services which includes popular Google apps like Google Search, Gmail, Google Maps and YouTube are no longer found in newer Huawei phones starting with the Huawei Mate 30 series. Not only that, our favorite apps and mobile games in Android are affected since Google Play is also not present in the phones. I’ve been using Android for eleven years and I am heavily invested in the platform.
When I agreed to do the review, I was determined to treat it like a new platform. Yes, it’s still based on Android, except there are no Google Mobile Services. I reminded myself to have an open mind and treat it like my first Android phone in 2009, when my phone was still bare and apps in the Android Market were still scarce.
HUAWEI MOBILE SERVICES
Huawei Mobile Services is the equivalent of Google Mobile Services or Apple’s iCloud. The Huawei ID is the core of the Huawei Ecosystem that links up all Huawei devices and apps. HMS has Huawei Cloud that stores contacts, messages, calendar and other files, Also under HMS are Huawei Music, Huawei Video and more importantly the Huawei AppGallery. If I am to use Huawei devices on a long term basis, then I must get acquainted with HMS.
I opened the P40 Pro for the first time and true enough, there are no Google Mobile Services setup process. I was asked to sign in to my Huawei ID which I’ve never done even when I reviewed previous Huawei phones in recent years. I created my Huawei ID and the P40 Pro was quickly setup. Hello, Huawei Mobile Services!
The first problem I faced is how to migrate my contacts, text messages and calendar appointments from my other phone. All my contacts and calendar appointments are stored in Google while I usually have to install an app to move my text messages from one phone to another. That problem was solved by the Phone Clone app which is already built-in with the P40 Pro. Setup was very easy and it lets me copy my contacts, text messages, calendar appointments and even other files like pictures and most especially apps. I selected the apps that were essential to me and it totaled to 5.8GB including a few games. Transfer was done in just a few minutes. That got me impressed!
Now that I have Contacts, Text Messages and Calendar on my phone, I can sync it with Huawei Cloud in case I do a factory reset on the phone or purchase another Huawei device (P40 Pro+ perhaps?) Restoring the files should be a breeze.
The second problem I have is I still don’t have my gmail accounts yet on the P40 Pro. I use two Gmail accounts and was always reliant with the Gmail app in Google Play. I stopped using native email clients of the phones I’ve used for years because I hate dealing with POP3 or STMP3 settings, but that’s not the case with Huawei’s Email app. It simply asked for my Gmail email address and password and VOILA, my personal email account is already in my phone. I did the same thing with my work email. The only caveat I have with the Email app is the lack of Gmail’s filter of Primary, Social and Promotional mails. Not a big issue for me though as long as I can send and receive emails.
I opened the Huawei AppGallery to download the apps I need. In the Finance apps category, I downloaded BDO, PayMaya and Gcash. Under Media and Entertainment GMA News, Viu, iflix, and VLC were stored on my phone. I use Viber a lot and thankfully it’s also available in the AppGallery.
I also got Microsoft Office which has my old Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Notes stored online. I can read, create or edit Office Documents on the phone wherever I go.
I rely on Google Maps too but I was able to find a worthy replacement, Karta GPS which has the same map information found in Google. I was able to download Karta GPS from the AppGallery
Other apps I also installed from the AppGallery were Click The City, Huawei AI Life, Antutu Benchmark, and Lazada. I was also able to download mobile games too! Asphalt 9 Legends, Naruto: Slugfest and just this morning Epic Games which includes Fortnite. That’s quite a number of apps, and mind you, these are not small-time apps.
Read more about the Huawei APPGallery here: https://dronthego.net/huawei-appgallery-four-layer-threat-detection-implemented-to-secure-its-users/
I may have downloaded several apps from the AppGallery, but I have to admit that it’s not as extensive as Google Play, yet. The Phone Clone app I mentioned earlier was able to move the apps I need except those that require Google Services. Unfortunately, a few of those apps didn’t work after copying them to the P40 Pro.
Because I needed these apps, I did the sideloading process. Sideloading means you download the APK file (Android Package Kit) which is the package file format used by the Android operating system. Since Huawei phones are based on Android, downloading and installing APK files should do the trick. You can download APK files from APKPure or APKMirror. I was able to install the other apps and they worked fine with the P40 Pro.
Netflix is one of my favorite apps and it would be hard for me to use a phone without it. The latest Netflix app whether copied via Phone Clone or downloaded via APKPure doesn’t work as it also requires Google Services. The workaround here is to download the old 2016 APK files of Netflix. I installed Netflix APK version 4.6.0 build 7816 and I was able to watch streaming videos again. It’s only on Standard Definition and no option for downloading to watch offline, but I’m fine with that.
I have two issues left. The BPI app I installed wouldn’t work because it needed Google and the other is YouTube for obvious reasons. What I did was simply access the BPI website through the P40 Pro’s browser and did my mobile banking transactions there. Last Friday, I made a deposit from my BPI bank account to a Huawei Dealer for my Huawei MatePad Pro pre-order. Thank goodness BPI Online on a mobile browser is very similar to its mobile app counterpart, so the process was easy. All the security functions by BPI worked including my OTP. Transaction was done in a few minutes while chatting with the store’s sales representative.
There are some alternatives to YouTube but I prefer accessing the YouTube Mobile site. The mobile site doesn’t have a way to change video resolution but it does automatically change on its own. Not bad for me as long as I can watch videos on YouTube. I created a shortcut on the P40 Pro’s homescreen so I can access it quickly whenever I need to make a quick search of a video.
Lastly, search is defaulted to Bing. It’s quite alright to use Bing but if I want more results, I simply go to Google.com and make my search there.
NO INSTALLING OF GOOGLE MOBILE SERVICES
I know there are workarounds on how to install Google Mobile Services on the P40 series. I refused to do it because I want to know if I can live without installing it, and with my setup as I’ve explained above, I am already a happy camper! This is the reason why I pre-ordered the MatePad Pro for productivity and I might even acquire my own P40 Pro so I can go deep with the Huawei Ecosystem.
WHY I AM INCLINED TO SEE THE HUAWEI MOBILE APPGALLERY SUCCEED?
There are a lot of naysayers that Huawei AppGallery will fail. I know this is easy to say especially that Google Play is now an established source of apps. Others tried doing their own mobile platform with their respective App Markets too. Samsung tried to introduce their own BADA OS to compete with Android. It failed immediately because they only have one phone model with that OS and they lacked developers because most of them are focused on iOS. BlackBerry also failed because their OS is archaic, and not a lot of developers are also investing their time with BB’s App World. Microsoft Windows Phone, which was the first mobile operating system I used in 2003 became irrelevant when Android and iOS grew beyond 2010.
Huawei on the other hand is selling a lot of their phones worldwide even without GMS. You may have read this countless of times, but Huawei has already invested $1 Billion in development to help developers port the top apps to its AppGallery. The AppGallery has been preloaded to all Huawei devices with almost 300 Million active users globally. As I’ve also explained earlier, in just a few months the AppGallery has some of the popular apps. For me, that is a positive sign and I believe good things will come to the Huawei AppGallery.
Like any platform starting fresh, we have to give them time to come up with a comprehensive library of apps. Remember that the Apple App Store and Google Play didn’t come up with this amount of apps overnight. In 2009 and 2010, I had to rely on workarounds on my Android phones because they weren’t also available on the Android Market. I was patient because I believed it will flourish. It’s the same point of view that I have for the AppGallery.
Once that time comes, Huawei may have the last laugh.