Huawei P50 Pro review: Much better than you think

Am 29. July The Chinese manufacturer officially presented the new Huawei P50 Pro for the Chinese market. A market launch here in Europe is still quite unlikely, as Huawei is gradually running out of its own Kirin 9000 processors and, on the other hand, because 5G is not possible due to the problems with the USA and Google services are still not supported on top of that. These things are now particularly essential in Europe, which is why the smartphone can hardly be recommended to anyone in this country, which I find extremely unfortunate, because the Huawei P50 Pro actually has a lot to offer in terms of hardware.

Above all, the new quad camera on the back, which was also developed this time in cooperation with the camera manufacturer Leica, is intended to be one of the highlights of the new flagship from Huawei. According to DXO markwho test smartphones, lenses and fully-fledged cameras on a “professional” basis, the cameras of the P50 Pro turned out to be the latest best in a smartphone. Even the Mi 11 Ultra from Xiaomi couldn’t quite keep up, which is why it is in the rankings slipped to second place. The smartphone ranking at DXO Mark is a nice guide, but it should be neglected because the rankings often made no sense in the past. For example, the cameras of the Galaxy S2 Ultra are rated better than the cameras of the S20 Ultra, which some tests on YouTube and our test report clearly refute. Not only with the cameras, but also with the 21-inch 6,6 Hertz OLED display, the 120 mAh battery, 4.360 watt Fast Charge and the powerful Kirin 66 9000G under the hood, the Huawei P4 Pro can do it on paper to convince. In the following lines you can find out in detail whether this is also the case in everyday use, whether the new Leica quad camera is really that good and outperforms all other competitors.

Haptics and design

With dimensions of 158,8 mm in height and 72,8 mm in width, the Huawei P50 Pro is one of the larger smartphones, but surprisingly it can still be operated relatively well, which is also due to the comparatively low weight of 195 grams. In addition, it is only 8,5 mm thick, which makes the smartphone more comfortable to hold. Overall, I was very happy to use the P50 Pro because it feels great in the hand thanks to the perfectly rounded front and back. At no time does it give a sharp-edged feeling. Huawei did a great job here, although I also liked the predecessors very much on this point.

The frame is made of aluminum with a high-gloss finish and therefore feels extremely high-quality and pleasant. In the color I tested Pearl White the frame is made of silver, which, paired with the completely black front, looks extremely beautiful and classy. The disadvantage, however, is that the frame is very susceptible to fingerprints due to its high-gloss finish and will also have minor scratches after some time of use. The back is made of glass, which looks extremely high quality. Unlike its predecessor, the glass is unfortunately no longer matt, but glossy, which makes fingerprints almost magical. With Golden BlackCocao goldCharm pinkBlue and Pearl White you have five colors to choose from. I tested the latter, which I really like because it always shimmers a little differently depending on the incidence of light. Every now and then it looks like a light blue, sometimes it shimmers slightly gold and when the light shines directly on the back, a rainbow appears.

  

Standalone camera design

In addition to the beautiful color, the new camera design immediately catches the eye. The manufacturer comes up with new designs year after year, which in my opinion are beautifully implemented and stand out from the competition. With the new P50 Pro, Huawei speaks of the so-called Dual matrix camera designwhich I have never seen in this way on any other smartphone:

 

At the top left there is space for a total of four sensors, which are housed in two huge, black circles, which in my opinion looks really good and I am glad that the manufacturer has dared to do something new here. As a result, the recognition value is extremely high and anyone who knows a little about smartphones will recognize that this is the Huawei P50 Pro even from a distance. The camera bump protrudes a little from the housing, which means that the smartphone wobbles slightly when it is used on the table.

No more independent front, but …

Last year, Huawei led the way with the P40 Pro Series uses the so-called “Quad-Edge-Design”, in which the glass on the front is slightly rounded on all four sides. On the one hand, it looks extremely impressive, on the other hand, it also feels extremely high-quality and pleasant, especially when gesture control is activated and an app is closed by swiping from the bottom of the screen. With the P50 Pro, however, the manufacturer decided to return to a normal edge design, which I think is a shame because the front no longer really stands out from the competition. Only on the left and right is the glass rounded towards the frame, but not nearly as strong as on the Mate 40 Pro, but a bit stronger than its predecessor, which in my opinion has both advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, it feels a little smoother when swiping from the left or right edge, but on the other hand, reflections are more visible than on the predecessor. Since the upper and lower glass are no longer rounded, it looks as if the display edges have become a bit thicker than on the predecessor, but that’s actually not true. If you compare the two smartphones with each other, you can hardly see a difference on closer inspection. The bezels are still extremely thin, but the differences to the competition are no longer as obvious as they were last year.

Another innovation concerns the recess for the front camera. The predecessor had a very large recess with several sensors in the left corner and the predecessor had this recess in the form of a small hole for the front camera, which looks much more modern and is less annoying.

Overall, the front leaves me with mixed feelings. Since Huawei does without a quad-edge design, which was an absolutely unique selling point last year, this is now a little lost in the P50 Pro, but the front still looks modern and beautiful nonetheless.

Outstanding workmanship

I have absolutely no reason to criticize the workmanship. The smartphone makes a well-made, stable impression, the keys have an impeccable pressure point, sit firmly in the case and are still reasonably easy to reach with one hand.

Display – one of the best OLED panels

With a diagonal of 6,6 inches, the OLED panel has a long 19,8: 9 aspect ratio of 2.700 x 1.228 pixels, which brings us to 450 pixels per inch and ensures a pleasantly sharp display of the content. In everyday life, individual pixels cannot be recognized at any time, and even in comparison to one Galaxy s21 ultra or OnePlus 9 Pro with an even higher resolution, hardly any significant differences can be found.

One of my biggest criticisms of last year’s predecessor was the 90 Hertz refresh rate, which displayed content much more smoothly than with smartphones with only 60 Hertz, but for a flagship in 2020 I simply expected 120 Hertz like Samsung, OPPO and OnePlus. Fortunately, this point of criticism has now finally been eliminated, because the screen of the P50 Pro supports a fluid refresh rate of 120 Hertz, which means that the panel can display 120 frames per second. As a result, all animations and scrolling appear as smooth as butter, which makes for a great user experience.

The display can also convince in all other points, such as brightness and color rendering. Thanks to the OLED technology, we are dealing with perfect black and contrast values ​​and even the white value is excellent, even if the S21 Ultra leaves everyone else behind in this regard. However, the difference is not that great. Colors are reproduced extremely faithfully in the “Natural” mode, which is pretty much what I like best of all previous flagships. Samsung and OPPO can’t quite keep up here. If you like things a little more colorful, you can easily adjust the color rendering in the settings under “Display & Brightness” to suit your own taste.

The brightness is also first class, which is what you can expect for the price offered. In manual mode it is even visibly brighter than the S21 Ultra, My 11 Ultra or your own predecessor. If, on the other hand, you switch to automatic mode, both Samsung and Xiaomi visibly outperform the P50 Pro. Nevertheless, in direct sunlight I never had problems with readability and in comparison to the P40 Pro + it is also slightly brighter in automatic mode, which is extremely commendable. The viewing angle stability is completely okay, even if there is still a bit of room for improvement here. When tilted to the side, the display turns yellow – especially with white content – which is not the case with the predecessor. To be fair, however, it must also be said that Samsung, Sony and OnePlus also have slight weaknesses in this regard, but these are almost never noticeable in everyday life.

Software – not Android, but HarmonyOS

The software has a big peculiarity, because what at first glance is very reminiscent of Android, on closer inspection turns out to be the Chinese manufacturer’s own operating system, namely HarmonyOS. The biggest difference compared to EMUI is the changed control panel and the notification bar. Here you probably got a little inspiration from Apple, because the idea is very similar to IOS. If you swipe down on the top right, you get to the so-called “control panel”, which IOS calls the “control center”. All the necessary controls, such as WiFi, Bluetooth and the flashlight, are displayed here, and you can also control your music and display smart devices. On the other hand, if you swipe down from the left, you get to the notification bar, where all incoming notifications are displayed. Personally, I like this solution optically, because it makes everything look a little tidier than before, but I find it less practical, because I have to constantly change my grip or use my second hand when I want to swipe down from the top left to get mine To be able to see notifications. The P50 Pro is just a little too big to be operated properly with one hand.

Otherwise everything is actually like EMUI. The software is nicely clear, decorated with beautiful animations and equipped with some useful additional functions. For example, you can change the animation when unlocking using the fingerprint sensor integrated in the display, adapt the app symbols to your own taste and much more. There is also an excellent night mode and a first-class always-on display, which only appears when you look at the display, which works great and is an ingenious feature.

As you should have noticed, the current Huawei smartphones since the Mate 30 Pro have an unavoidable disadvantage, because they are delivered without pre-installed Google services. Most of the applications, apart from Google, can be downloaded from alternative app stores, the AppGallery or Petal Search. However, there are problems with banking apps and push notifications in apps like eBay or Twitter, among other things.

Performance – lightning fast, fluid and constant

The Huawei P50 Pro is available in two versions, each with different processors. Under the hood of my test device is the in-house Kirin 9000 4G, which is manufactured using the energy-saving 5 nanometer process and is without question one of the most powerful processors in a smartphone. This SoC was already used in the Mate 40 Pro at the end of last year, but still with 5G. The Kirin 9000 in the P50 Pro no longer supports 5G, as Huawei cannot do otherwise due to the problem with the USA. The version with the Snapdragon 888, which will only be available in China from December, does not support 5G either. Together with the lack of Google services, the lack of 5G connectivity is the biggest point of criticism and the reason why this really great smartphone is hardly interesting for anyone in Europe, which I can absolutely understand.

The Kirin 9000 is available with either 8 or 12 GB of RAM and 256 or 512 GB of internal memory, which can be expanded using an in-house NM card. A version with 128 GB is also available, but only with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888. The RAM management is at a very high level.

One of the greatest strengths of the last high-end smartphones from Huawei was the extremely good performance, which now ensures an even better user experience with the 120 Hertz. In particular, the animations for gesture control run so smoothly and consistently on hardly any other smartphone. Apps are started extremely quickly and there are no major stutters or delays here. Even complex games do not cause problems for the smartphone, here the good cooling is particularly noticeable, which with the efficient Kirin 9000 ensures that the P50 Pro is below average.

Battery – satisfactory

A few years ago, Huawei was known for installing the largest possible batteries in their smartphones and thus ensuring outstanding battery life. The P40 series also offered really good runtimes, but the capacity of only 4.200 mAh left a little to be desired, especially with regard to Samsung, which built in batteries up to 5.000 mAh. A few months later the Mate 40 Pro was released, which unfortunately delivered a noticeably poorer battery life in our test report despite a larger battery and more efficient Kirin 9000.

The P50 Pro even has a negligibly smaller battery with 4.360 mAh, which delivers a similarly decent runtime. With activated 120 Hertz, I could easily get through a day and even 1,5 days were often no problem. At the end of the day, with a screen on time of 4 to 6 hours, I usually had 10 to 40 percent battery left, which is better than expected for the capacity and the power-hungry 120 Hertz display. A OnePlus 9 Pro, for example, needs to be connected to the power much earlier despite the larger battery. The P50 Pro is by no means an endurance runner and heavy users should definitely get it empty in one day, but for most people the battery life is completely sufficient to get through a day without a charge without any problems.

   

Fortunately, if the P50 Pro runs out of breath in the evening, it can be recharged very quickly. Wireless charging is possible with up to 50 watts and wired charging is supported with up to 66 watts. It only takes 50 minutes for the smartphone to be fully charged. OnePlus and OPPO charge a little faster at 65 watts, however, because the battery is divided into two parts and thus both halves of the battery are charged with 32,5 watts each. Nevertheless, the charging time of the P50 Pro is absolutely satisfactory. What is rather disappointing, however, is the lack of a power supply in the scope of delivery, which is ridiculous for a flagship in my opinion. At least the device can be charged quite quickly with my 40 watt power supply from the predecessor.

Camera – much better than expected

Huawei’s P series has been characterized by its impressive camera innovations for years. The P20 Pro was the first smartphone with a triple camera, a 5x hybrid zoom, a high-resolution camera with an enormous sensor size and an innovative night mode that you can see nowadays in all the competition. A year later, the P30 Pro followed, which took the zoom even further and with the new RYYB technology ensured even better results in lowlight. With the P40 series, the manufacturer introduced the first 10x optical zoom in a smartphone as well as the largest main sensor at the time.

Huawei therefore focused on building the best possible hardware year after year in order to beat the competition. They had the largest sensor, the widest zoom and novel innovations such as RYYB technology. With the P50 Pro, however, Huawei is taking a slightly different path, because on paper you even have to take a few steps backwards compared to the predecessor, which is first noticeable with the main camera. Although it still has a resolution of 50 megapixels, it dispenses with RYYB and, at 1 / 1.56 inches, is significantly smaller than its predecessor, which has a 1 / 1.28 inch sensor. On the other hand, you have to make the biggest compromises on paper with the ultra-wide-angle camera. While the predecessor was still equipped with a 1 / 1.54 inch 40 megapixel sensor, the P50 Pro comes with a 13 megapixel camera that is only 1/3 inch. Even when zooming in, you have to go backwards. Objects can only be optically enlarged 64 times with the 3,5 megapixel telecamera. After all, the sensor has become larger with 1/2 inch. This setup is complemented by a monochrome camera with a resolution of 40 megapixels and a size of 1 / 1.74 inches. A 13 megapixel front camera is responsible for selfies.

Has the final image quality now also deteriorated? In short, no, not really. Starting with the main camera, which delivers extremely detailed photos with an excellent dynamic range. It is precisely in these two points that I like it best of the current flagships. Only the Mi 11 Ultra and P40 Pro + can keep up in these points, but a Galaxy S21 Ultra takes visibly blurred photos despite the higher resolution. In addition, colors are now finally reproduced more naturally than in the predecessor, which I am extremely pleased with. Every now and then, pictures still seem a bit unnatural, but Huawei has definitely made a significant step forward here. The absolute highlight, however, concerns the performance in poor lighting conditions. Huawei smartphones have been leaders here for years and I had great doubts whether the P50 Pro could continue on this path due to the smaller sensor and yes, it can. I wouldn’t have thought it, but the Huawei P50 Pro currently delivers the best results in poor light conditions, even if the difference to a Mi 11 Ultra and its predecessor is not huge. But I like it best when it comes to sharpness and there are also very beautiful and mostly natural colors. A Galaxy S21 Ultra can’t really keep up on these points. When there is almost no light at all, the P50 Pro even produces without night mode by far the best results, which is extremely impressive. The monochrome camera helps here, so to speak, in order to be able to record enough light.

In conclusion, I can say that this is, in my opinion, the best main camera in a smartphone. The difference to a Mi 11 Ultra is not huge, but it is definitely there. I am just asking myself why Huawei has installed a smaller sensor that is worse on paper. With the sensor of the P40 Pro, more could certainly have been possible.

Compared to its predecessor, the ultra-wide-angle camera unfortunately takes visibly blurred pictures, which I think is a shame. Nevertheless, the sharpness is perfectly fine. An S21 Ultra, Mi 11 Ultra and, surprisingly, one too OPPO Find X3 are no better here. The dynamic range is at the usual high level and colors are now visibly more realistic than with the predecessor. Even with low light, the P50 Pro still delivers acceptable recordings. Although I see the OnePlus 9 Pro, Find X3 and its predecessor a little further ahead, it doesn’t have to hide from Samsung, Apple and Xiaomi. The sharpness is okay and the brightness and color reproduction are at flagship level, which I would never have expected from such a small sensor. Nevertheless, I don’t understand why Huawei didn’t install the same sensor as in the Mate 40 Pro, because a lot more could have been possible with it.

Zoom images from 3,5 to 9,9 times magnification are unrivaled. No other smartphone produces such sharp images. In addition, there are beautiful colors that are no longer as yellow as their predecessor. Every now and then there is a little lack of contrast, but Huawei has improved a lot compared to the P40 Pro. From 10x magnification, both the S21 Ultra and the P40 Pro + can keep up very well in good lighting conditions and are perhaps even slightly better in some situations, but the P50 Pro also wins every now and then, especially in terms of color rendering. However, no other smartphone can keep up in poor lighting conditions. The stabilization has also improved significantly and is almost on a level with the S21 Ultra. Is this the best zoom camera in a smartphone? Yes and no. I would say that, together with the one in the P40 Pro + and S21 Ultra, it is currently the best, as each of these zoom cameras has strengths: The P50 Pro wins in lowlight / artificial light and color rendering, the P40 Pro + on the other hand in terms of sharpness and the S21 Ultra scores with the best stabilization.

Both the 40 megapixel monochrome and the 50 megapixel main camera work together for black and white recordings. So if you keep one of the two sensors covered with your finger, no more sensible photos are possible. The final image quality is characterized by very good sharpness and good dynamic range. To be fair, however, it must also be clearly stated that even smartphones without a dedicated monochrome camera deliver similarly good results.

Selfies succeed with great sharpness, good color rendering and an excellent dynamic range. Thanks to the wide field of vision, group selfies are no problem at all.

Videos can be recorded in 4K with up to 60 FPS and look really good. However, the quality does not come close to the current iPhones.

Others – great speakers, top notch vibration motor, and more

The balanced stereo speakers are extremely loud and sound really good. They ensure a very full, balanced sound with nice bass. Together with the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra and iPhone 13 Pro Max, we are dealing here with the currently best speakers from this year’s flagships.

The built-in vibration motor is also one of the best on the market, as it provides a high-quality feeling in the hand and does not sound annoying at any time. I like the Mi 11 Ultra and OnePlus 9 Pro a little better due to better optimization, but that doesn’t prevent the P50 Pro from clearly standing in front of an S21 Ultra, OPPO Find X3 Pro or Huawei P40 Pro with clean, short vibrations positioned.

Huawei installs a fingerprint sensor in the display, which is positioned a little too far down for my taste. In terms of reliability and speed, however, it is at a high level. Often just a quick tap is enough to unlock the device. 2D face recognition is also on board, which works extremely quickly, but not too safely.

In addition, the Huawei P50 Pro naturally supports the latest standards, such as IP68 certification against the ingress of water and dust, a USB-C 3.1 port for fast transmission speeds and WiFi 6+. Although this is a Chinese smartphone, which is not intended for the European market, I actually had mostly better cellular reception with the P50 Pro than with other devices.

Summary

The Huawei P50 Pro is an excellent smartphone that does not have any major weaknesses in terms of hardware. The feel, the high-quality design, the great display with 120 Hertz, the impressive performance, the satisfactory battery life including great charging times, the powerful cameras, the first-class speakers and the vibration motor are at an extremely high level. When it comes to cameras, I actually like the P50 Pro best overall, even if a few steps backwards were taken on paper.

Unfortunately, the smartphone does not come with Google Play services, which is why Google apps and some other apps, such as Twitter or eBay, do not work at all or only partially. In addition, there is the very poor availability and the lack of 5G connectivity, which is becoming more and more relevant even in Germany. Because of all these compromises, I can hardly recommend the Huawei P50 Pro to anyone, not even those who value an excellent camera, because even if the P50 Pro is the leader in this area in my opinion, there is a Mi 11 Ultra, iPhone 13 Pro, S21 Ultra and P40 Pro + great alternatives.

However, if you can do without Google apps, are a Huawei fan and have no problem importing a smartphone from China, you are very welcome to use the Huawei P50 Pro and will surely be very happy with it, but this is for the masses Unfortunately, smartphone is not an option.

Buy the Huawei P50 Pro

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