Want to find the best Huawei phone? This guide will help you help choose the right one, explain what it can do, and get it at the right price. But first a bit of history…
It was all going so well. Experts and consumers alike were raving about Huawei phones, particularly their superior cameras. The brand even overtook Apple, becoming the world's second-biggest smartphone seller, just pipped to the post by Samsung. But then, everything changed.
In 2019, Huawei was placed on the United States' Entity List, which meant that trade between it and any American company became illegal. This meant that future Huawei phones would no longer be able to run Google apps or feature the Google Play Store.
On current Huawei phones, then, you're restricted to using apps from the Huawei App Gallery. Admittedly these do an okay job, but they are basically only a pale imitation of the best Google apps.
The silver lining is that modern Huawei phones do still run Android, because that's an open source system, which means technically Google isn't trading with them. However, it's not an ideal solution for either party, and consequently Huawei is developing its own HarmonyOS operating system, which is says it can immediately switch to, should it be forced to ditch Android in future.
In the meantime, however, Android without Google apps is a deal breaker for many people. If that includes you, though, there is a silver lining. Because phones that were launched before the ban can still run Google Play Services, and even get access to updates.
For this reason, we've divided our list into two. We'll begin with the best Huawei phones that can still run Google apps: while these are a little older, they're still very capable.
Then in our second section, we'll look at the more recent Huawei releases, which benefit from the latest slick processors, cameras and other hardware innovations, but unfortunately lack the means to run Google apps.
The best Huawei phones that support Google apps
Usually for our buying guides, the top pick will inevitably be the latest and greatest model. However, Huawei is a special case, because thanks to the US ban, its latest models can't access Google apps or the Google Play Store.
Maybe that’s not a problem for you, in which case, you can skip to numbers 5-10 on our list. If you do need Google apps, though, then the best Huawei phone you can get today is the Huawei P30 Pro.
As it was released before the ban in March 2019, it still gives you full access to Google apps, services and security updates. Yes, it’s now two years old, and isn’t running the latest version of Android. But it’s an impressive phone nonetheless.
The Huawei P30 Pro sports a beautifully minimal design, with a slim profile and curved screen, which boasts a 1080 x 2340 high-resolution display. The Leica Quad super camera system is first-class, featuring a 40 MP main lens, a 20MP ultra wide lens, an 8MP telephoto lens and a TOF (time-of-flight) lens for depth sensing. As you might expect, this allows you to shoot great quality photos, even in low light, with 5x optical zoom, 10x hybrid zoom, and digital 50x zoom.
All this, plus great battery life from the 4,200mAh battery, makes this our standout choice as best Huawei phone available today. Note, though, that there’s no headphone jack, so if you want one of those, you might prefer the Huawei P30 (number 4 on our list).
Released in March 2018, the Huawei P20 Pro joins the ranks as one of the best Huawei phones that still runs Google apps. This was the brand’s flagship phone three years back, and it’s still a great buy today, one that’s much more affordable than the first model on our list.
Despite its reasonable price, the Huawei P20 Pro boasts excellent triple-lens rear camera – a 40MP colour, a 20MP monochrome, and a 8MP telephoto – with a 3x optical zoom. It also offers an attractive design, good battery life, facial recognition, a fingerprint scanner and a 24MP front-facing camera. All this, plus full access to Google apps, makes this Huawei phone well worth considering. For more details, read our Huawei P20 Pro review.
Sitting between phones 1 and 2 on our list, in terms of both release date and price, the Huawei Mate 20 Pro is a great mid-range phone for anyone needing access to Google apps.
Launched in November 2018, the Mate 20 Pro remains a great all-rounder, with a QHD resolution (1440 x 3120) display, wireless charging, a fingerprint sensor, 3D face scanning unlock, and great battery life. There are also three excellent rear cameras: the same 40MP and 8MP telephoto lenses that are on the P20 Pro, plus an ultra-wide 16MP lens.
The Huawei P30 was launched at the same time as the Huawei P30 Pro (number one on our list), and is basically a cheaper, scaled down version. So there’s a slightly smaller screen, and one less rear camera, but it’s still a lovely phone.
Phone prices of older phones tend to fluctuate quite a lot. So unless the P30 is significantly cheaper than the P30 Pro on the day you’re looking, you’ll want to go for the latter instead. If there is a big price difference, though, then this Huawei phone is well worth considering.
You’ll get decent battery life, a headphone jack (one thing that’s missing from the P30 Pro), the ability to take good photos in low light, and a fingerprint scanner. Plus, crucially, it still runs all the Google apps you might need.
The best Huawei phones if you don’t need Google apps
Not bothered about running Google apps? Then the Huawei P40 Pro is the best Huawei phone overall for your money.
Released in March 2020, this is not the newest Huawei phone on the market. But it still offers everything you need in 2021 and beyond, including wireless and fast charging and 5G and Wi-Fi 6 connectivity. Plus the design is to-die-for, it has a fantastic four-lens camera and the battery life is impressive indeed.
The front camera combines 50MP, 40MP, 12MP periscope and TOF 3D lenses, while its front camera boasts both a 32MP lens and a TOF 3D IR lens for depth information (and which acts as a biometric sensor for face recognition). The super-speedy Kirin 990 processor is complemented by 8GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage (expandable via NM memories). It all adds up to premium hardware that offers power and performance in equal measure.
A real shame, then, that it can’t run Google apps. But if that doesn’t bother you, then you’ll find this a quality phone indeed. For more details, read our P40 Pro review.
If you don’t need Google apps and want a decent 5G Huawei phone at a low cost, then look no further than the Huawei P40 Lite 5G.
You get an awful lot here for not much money at all, including a large (6.5 inch) screen with 1080 x 2400 resolution, a 64MP triple camera, and a powerful 4000 mAh battery. Not to mention a Kirin 820 processor and 6GB RAM making everything run quickly and smoothly. You also get 40W fast charging as standard, which Huawei claims can get you to 70% capacity in just 30 minutes.
Despite the 64MP star lens, this isn't the best camera in Huawei's modern range, although it's still pretty decent. However, if 5G connectivity is a priority, and you want to keep your costs low, this is the best Huawei phone for your needs. For more details, read our Huawei P40 Lite 5G review.
If photography is your main interest, and you just want the best Huawei phone camera there is, you’ll find it in the Huawei P40 Pro Plus.
While its front camera is the same dual, 32 MP + TOF 3D combo you’ll find in the P40 Pro, the rear camera boasts no less than five sensors: namely, one 50 MP, one 40 MP, two 8 MP and TOF 3D lenses, making it one of the best camera phones available today. The photos you can take with it look simply stunning, and with 10x optical zoom, it’s fantastic for distance shooting.
Released in June 2020 and running Android 10, this is a powerful all-round phone too, with a fast processor, 512GB of storage space and wireless charging. But the real star here is its incredible camera, making a serious choice for anyone using their smartphone mainly for photography.
For more details, read our Huawei P40 Pro Plus review.
If your primary interest is shooting video, then the best Huawei phone for that is the Huawei Mate 40 Pro.
The Dual Cine Camera lenses feature a 3:2 cinema-style shooting ratio sensor. XD Fusion HDR video harnesses the power of the Kirin 9000 processor to improve the dynamic range of your footage. Plus there’s a nice big 6.76-inch screen to watch everything back on, at a high resolution of 2772 x 1344 and a refresh rate of 90Hz.
All this plus a 50MP rear camera, good autofocus and stabilisation features, and excellent battery life make this relatively recent release (November 2020) the best Huawei phone for videography of all types. For more details, read our Huawei Mate 40 Pro review.
If you want one of the latest Huawei phones, but are watching the pennies, it’s worth checking out the Huawei P Smart 2021. Released in September 2020, it runs Android 10 and offers a large, 1080p (6.67-inch) screen, 48MP quad-lens camera, 128GB storage and the most powerful battery on our list, at 5000 mAh. All for a very reasonable price indeed.
Admittedly, the camera’s not quite as good as that of the P40 Lite, the other low-cost option on our list. But on the whole, this is an excellent budget buy: a great all-round Huawei phone at a surprisingly low cost.
In truth, the introduction of foldable phones has not (yet) been the game-changer many in the industry were predicting. But a lot of people love the idea, and if you’re one of them, the best Huawei phone that’s foldable is the Huawei Mate Xs. (Well, unless you count the Huawei Mate X2, which is only available in China).
Because it’s foldable, you can use it either as a phone or an 8-inch tablet, so you’re kind of getting two devices for the price of one. Which is handy, because it is very expensive. You get quite a lot of power for your money, though, with 512GB in-built storage, 5G support, a quad core 40MP camera and 55W SuperCharge fast charging.