Huawei has always been proud of their P series. Headlining the new series is the Huawei P50 Pro. It has unbelievable good camera specs and camera software to boot, but packed with an old chipset. Will it stand a chance in the sea of flagship smartphones? Does its price justify the features it offers?
Huawei P50 Pro borrowed some of its looks from the previous generation. It is, however, bigger and slimmer; and now sports a dual-matrix camera design. This basically tells a lot about what its major camera can do, and what possible wild features it can offer to users. Of course, I’ll talk more about this later.
All the switches can be found on the right side of the device. It has an in-display fingerprint sensor, and a small punch-hole that houses a 100-degree ultra-wide angle front camera. The display has crazy curved edges, which surprisingly does not physically affect how I use the phone. However, I still decided to put on the included silicon case because curved displays usually give me unnecessary anxiety.
The smartphone has two microphones, which are located at the top and bottom of the device. The bottom section is where the type-c port, speakers and sim-trays are located. You’ll also be glad to know that Huawei included a type-C to 3.5mm if ever you wish to use your stereo headphones.
One of the best things about Huawei’s flagship smartphones is display. The new Huawei P50 Pro now packs an OLED display with 300Hz touch response rate and 120Hz refresh rate. Its display is among the most responsive that I have used in a while. The device has a very odd display resolution configuration – 1228 x 2700. In terms of size, it is a slight improvement from last year’s resolution. Quality and performance-wise, I find it at par with the P40 Pro and even the Galaxy S21 Ultra.
Quality of the display is top-notch. Saturation is not too blown out, and you have the liberty to play around with its color temperature via settings. You also have the option to manually choose among 120Hz, 60Hz or dynamic refresh rate if you want to save on battery. As there isn’t much games that support 120Hz, my default option is always 60Hz as it can really help me save on battery.
The Huawei P50 Pro is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 4G. Given the issues that Huawei is facing – chip shortage and US ban – the company seemed to have been forced to proceed with their choice of chipset. The lack of 5G compatibility is a huge step back as well from last year’s offering.
The Huawei P50 is geared to compete against the Galaxy S21 Ultra and the iPhone 13 Pro Max. Theoretically and based on artificial benchmark, the device performs just as fast as the Xiaomi Mi 11 and the OnePlus 9 5G. While this is the case, you will barely notice the difference when actually using the phone. Gameplay experience is somewhat, and the phone does not offer any significant advantage.
The phone is running on the latest EMUI 12 using Android’s open-source version. As you may have guessed, this does not have Google PlayStore, but instead has Huawei Mobile Services with an application repository called AppGallery. This is something that most Huawei consumers are already accustomed to. There are, however, applications and games that you cannot directly download from Huawei’s own repository. In my case, this pushed me to sideload APKs that aren’t normally found on Huawei AppGallery. It can be a challenge to find the version that works or not, but most of the apps I downloaded worked upon installation.
If you do not want to go this route of downloading apps, then this may not be the product you are looking for. If you also have apps and subscriptions that you’ve activated via Google PlayStore, there is no way for you to download your purchased apps or games. However, if you just worry about YouTube and being able to access your Gmail, then you can just simply use phone’s browser and login your email account via its Mail app.
Huawei P50 Pro introduces new camera technologies that rival other flagship smartphone cameras. For starters, this phone features two revolutionary technologies like XD Optics and True-Chrome Image Engine. XD Optics is a software level technology that helps the phone perform like a professional camera.
The size of smartphone is limited, the smartphone camera can never be as big as a professional camera, which means the smartphone photography will eventually face hardware bottleneck. XD optics is exactly to solve this problem, the mechanism is through the algorithm it can do the error correction of light intake and light path, eventually it retains higher light info, just seems like it has break through the hardware limitations.
On the other hand, true Chroma Image Engine tries to bring your shots closer to real life.
In terms of my rear facing camera shots, Photos I took using Huawei P50 Pro show a good level of color reproduction, contrast and exposure, which brings more definition to focused subjects. It also deals with noise much better compared to other phones I have used like the iPhone 13 Pro Max and the ROG Phone 5s Pro.
My shots using Huawei P50 Pro have better texture quality with light source directed to the subject. This shows that its True-Chroma shot feature and camera engine works at best. However, photos with outdoor subjects have good texture but with softer details. I told this concern to Huawei last month, and they seem to already be working on a patch to fix this.
As usual, the phone’s telephoto zoom lens is just amazing! The Huawei P50 Pro has SuperZoom Matrix technology and can go as high as 100x zoom, which is 10x more than what what other phones can do.
I always try my best to see how the skyline is presented whether it’s daytime or night time shots. The Huawei P50 Pro, using Leica Standard, gave my neighborhood landscape shots some life with a good presentation of contrast and saturation, but with less pronounced dynamic range of the skyline.
The Huawei P50 Pro has 4,360mAh battery capacity. In my experience, its capacity barely makes it through the day. For more than two weeks now, I would have to charge it again at around 10PM with less than 20% remaining battery juice. Daily usage includes automatic syncing of all application and game data and about an hour of YouTube and TikTok. There are several factors that I must say that contribute to its low to average battery performance: thermals and hardware and software optimizations. The device tends to get too hot too – about more than 55-degress – whenever I play games. I believe, Huawei needs to prioritize optimizing its software too.
The Huawei P50 Pro strikes as one of the best phones by Huawei. It has an amazing chipset, albeit lacking 5G support; and an impressive slew of camera specs. At PhP52,999, it isn’t the most expensive flagship smartphone right now when directly compared to Samsung and iPhone. If you’re a solid Android-person and you do not care if it’s running on GMS or HMS software, this is totally a must-have device. However, if you already invested on applications and games on Google Playstore or iOS, it may not be switch.
Undoubtedly, the device’s camera specs and performance shine in my experience. It’s hard pass up on a device that can literally be a major alternative to your camera.
Giancarlo Viterbo is a Filipino Technology Journalist, blogger and Editor of gadgetpilipinas.net, He is also a Geek, Dad and a Husband. He knows a lot about washing the dishes, doing some errands and following instructions from his boss on his day job. Follow him on twitter: @gianviterbo and @gadgetpilipinas.