The idea then is to find a modern, supported smartphone with a camera that rivals or beats the classic Lumia 950 (here's my P40 Pro vs 950 Xl shootout), since imaging is why many people stuck with Lumias for so long in the first place (and here's my Lumia 1020/P40 Pro imaging comparison). And getting all the Microsoft services and applications that many have depended on for years would be a given.
Happily, the latter is easy for any iOS or Android smartphone in 2020, and happily the camera set-up on the P40 Pro is up to the task of ensuring plenty of snapping fun, especially with high zoom factors, for anyone brought up on the Lumia 1020 and 950. Slightly worryingly, the USA-China trade war has meant that Huawei had to create this phone with zero Google services, so is essentially taking Android Open Source Project code and adding its EMUI interface and Huawei applications. Then adding its own App Gallery store.
Microsoft Office is baked in from the start and Bing is pre-installed for searching the Internet, so we're off to a good start. Some of the extra Microsoft applications are in the Huawei App Gallery, then you need to also install the APKPure (or similar) Store to get everything else. APKPure is a straight download in the browser, but after that things are more traditional. And through this store you get OneDrive, OneNote, Skype, and more.
One thing you don't easily get is Microsoft Launcher (or the Preview version) - I did try installing each of these from the APKPure Store but ran into implementation issues when setting these up, some clash with Huawei's EMUI, it seems. Note that this might change as the two companies work together further and as Microsoft Launcher evolves. So for the purposes of my tests here I was using Huawei's launcher, which works pretty well on the whole.
But away from things that are either excellent or at least possible, and away from obvious Google applications (Gmail, Google Drive, Google Maps, etc.) there are a few no-nos:
- You won't be able to 'Chromecast' anything to a TV (since this is tied to Google services).
- You won't get push notifications for many applications, certainly any applications that use Google services to handle notifications - it all depends how the app has been coded.
- You won't be able to pay for things 'contactless' unless Huawei Pay rolls out in your country and even then you'll have to trust Huawei with your payment details.
- Most home automation software is either not available or non-functioning.
In many ways, the situation with the P40 Pro is similar to that Windows phone users have faced for years - a dearth of official applications, missing notifications from some apps, and more things accomplished via a browser. So we're... (ahem) used to all this! There's also the 'still evolving' aspect, in that Huawei is adding applications to its official App Gallery each week, more apps are being coded in there to use Huawei's own services and push notification server. And you get a voice assistant (Celia) that's evolving, Cortana style, from nothing to full functionality throughout 2020.