Huawei launched its P40 smartphone in March 2020, offering improved hardware and a number of changes compared to the previous generation.
One of the biggest changes is the use of Huawei Mobile Services (HMS) instead of Google Mobile Services (GMS), which means that Google services will no longer run natively on the smartphone.
This does not mean that you will be limited in your app choice, however, as the P40 Pro still uses the Android 10 operating system and has access to all of the tools that go along with it.
We had the opportunity to try out the Huawei P40 Pro and see the smartphone’s new ecosystem in action.
AppGallery vs Play Store
Immediately upon starting the P40 Pro you will notice there is no prompt to sign into your Google account. This is replaced by a similar process facilitated by Huawei which requests that you sign in with your Huawei ID.
Once this is done and the device is set up, you will also notice there is no Google Play Store. Instead, you will be able to get your applications from the Huawei AppGallery.
This process is just as simple as using the Google Play Store, with a few caveats.
For example, certain apps must be downloaded through third-party app stores or distributors, as they are not present on AppGallery.
Huawei has done a great job of integrating local apps into its ecosystem, however. When we fired up AppGallery we were able to install official mobile banking apps from South Africa’s banks, DStv Now, Showmax, and Snapchat.
The app store also has a helpful feature where if you search for an app not listed on the store – such as WhatsApp – it will direct you to the official download link where applicable.
To install WhatsApp, we were directed to the official website from AppGallery – where the app could be downloaded.
Downloading apps from third-party APK distributors does carry some risk, and the P40 Pro’s HMS-powered operating system scans all APKs which you download for potentially malicious data to mitigate this risk.
We tested how far we could push the P40 Pro’s app support and downloaded the APKPure app store – a third-party platform which distributes and serves updates for Android applications.
Before we began downloading APKs from non-official sources, however, we had already installed most of the important applications to modern smartphone users – such as Facebook, WhatsApp, and our banking app of choice.
We also added a Gmail account to the P40 Pro’s native email application.
Using APKPure, however, we were able to install Google Chrome, Netflix, Instagram, and Google Maps, all of which worked perfectly.
We also installed the YouTube and Gmail applications, but these would not run due to the lack of Google Play Services on the device.
There are workarounds to this problem, though, such as the integration of Gmail into the native email app. For YouTube, we simply added a Chrome browser shortcut to the Home Screen.
The mobile site for YouTube is similar to the mobile app, and we were able to use the service without any issues.
While getting some Google applications to work on the device does require more work than apps available on the AppGallery, the setup process overall was relatively quick and easy.
Based on our experience, if you are tentative about purchasing one of Huawei’s new smartphones due to the lack of Google apps, the restrictions are not nearly as bad as you may think.
The biggest adjustments would have to be made by Android users who use Google’s cloud backup and storage services, as they would need to use Huawei’s offerings instead.
Images of the Huawei P40 Pro running popular applications are shown below.