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Huawei Mate 50 Pro Review: Smartphone Photography At A Whole New Level

Huawei has a reputation of launching some of the best smartphones in the market especially those from the company’s renowned ”P” and ”Mate” series lineup which are known for their groundbreaking camera tech that give Samsung and Apple a good run for their money.

Even with the ongoing US trade ban in place, Huawei hasn’t shown any sign of slowing down when it comes to smartphone innovations as the company continues to showcase cutting-edge design and hardware among it’s flagship models which of course include the new Mate 50 Pro that was recently announced in the local market.

However, many remained skeptical whether the lack of Google services and 5G support actually make it’s four figures asking price justifiable. To find out, read on our full review of the Huawei Mate 50 Pro!

Design

One thing about Huawei’s smartphone design is that they are never boring. This is especially true for the Mate 50 Pro which features a Space Age inspired design with sleek curves around the front and back, as well as the signature Space Ring camera design which was first popularized by the Mate 40 Pro (Review).

Huawei Mate 50 Pro Design -1

For this review, we had our hands on the Black version which is one of the two color options available in the local market including the Silver version. Elsewhere in markets like China and Malaysia, there’s also an Orange version with vegan leather back which is priced slightly higher than the other two colors due to the higher cost incurred in manufacturing the faux leather material.

Huawei Mate 50 Pro Design -2

Speaking of the Black version, it comes with glass back which adds extra touch of premium to it’s overall handling experience. It surely looks exquisite on the outside but having a glossy finish means one thing – the phone does attracts fingerprints pretty easily, so extra efforts are definitely needed to keep the phone smudge-free.

Huawei Mate 50 Pro Design -3

With an overall footprint measuring 162.1 x 75.5 x 8.5 mm, you won’t expect the Mate 50 Pro to be a compact-sized device like the ASUS Zenfone 8 (Review). Despite that, it’s still slightly smaller and slimmer than many other flagship phones such as the Galaxy S22 Ultra (Review).

Just like any other high-end models, the Huawei Mate 50 Pro is also IP68 rated for dust and water resistance. That means the phone will be completely protected against solid particles such as dust and sand, and is also able to survive submersion of up to 1.5 meters for 30 minutes.

Display

Over on the front side, the Huawei Mate 50 Pro greets us with a 6.74” display which offers plenty of screen estate for work and play. This time round, the phone adopts a skinny notch along it’s upper bezel to accommodate a pair of front-facing cameras comprising of a 13 megapixels ultra-wide camera and a 3D ToF unit.

Huawei Mate 50 Pro Design -4

The display itself is a high-end OLED panel which features an ultra-sharp 2616 × 1212 pixels screen resolution which will be supplemented by a fast 120Hz refresh rate that makes scrolling and animations felt super smooth on the device. As usual, the refresh rate can be set to dynamic whereby the screen automatically adapts the refresh rate according to the onscreen contents to conserve battery life.

Other than that, the display also supports other advanced features such as 1440 Hz PWM dimming which helps to reduce flickering, as well as 10-bit color depth and HDR10+ support that allow users to enjoy a more realistic viewing experience when watching movies or playing games.

Although Huawei didn’t specify the peak brightness of the front display, but it certainly has no issue getting sufficiently bright whenever the situation calls for it. Likewise, it’s in-display fingerprint scanner also works like a charm, providing a quick and reliable way to unlock the phone.

Performance

Under the hood, the Huawei Mate 50 Pro is powered by the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chipset which offers a slight performance boost over last year’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 that was used in majority of this year’s flagship phones such as the OPPO Find X5 Pro (Review) and Xiaomi 12 Pro (Review).

Huawei Mate 50 Pro Design -5

Backed by one of the most powerful chipset in the market, it’s no surprising that the Mate 50 Pro is able to deliver an incredibly smooth performance in day-in-day usage. More impressively, the phone doesn’t shows any sign of lag even when working on more resource-intensive tasks like video editing and mobile gaming.

Thermal-wise, the Mate 50 Pro lacks an intricate cooling system like what we see among gaming smartphones such as the ROG Phone 6 (Review). Still, the phone does a decent job in keeping it’s temperature within a ”manageable” range which doesn’t makes you feel uncomfortable using the phone.

In the local market, the Huawei Mate 50 Pro is offered in a single 8GB RAM option which gives the phone sufficient memory to handle dozens of background apps and browser tabs. Paired with 256GB worth of storage, the phone provides plenty of room for apps and media contents on their phone.

Just in case the storage capacity runs out, the phone actually supports storage expansion via an external nm card which can draft in an additional 256GB storage. That’s a nice feature which we no longer see among recent flagship phones outside of Huawei’s Mate and P series smartphones.

Cameras

Like any other Huawei’s flagship phones, mobile photography remains the key selling point for the new Mate 50 Pro. This time round, the Mate 50 Pro made it’s name as the first smartphone feature the all-new Ultra Aperture XMAGE camera system which automatically adjusts the physical aperture of the main camera between f/1.4 to f/4.0 depending on the shooting condition.

This is made possible thanks to the presence of a mechanical shutter in front of the camera lens that’s able to open wider in low-light condition to take in more light, or closes smaller to reduce light intake for a shallower depth of field when shooting portraits. Anyway, the phone also allows seasoned photographers to manually set it’s aperture to ten different steps in Pro mode for more controls over the type of shots they have in mind.

Huawei Mate 50 Pro Photo Sample -2
Daylight
Huawei Mate 50 Pro Photo Sample -7
Daylight
Huawei Mate 50 Pro Photo Sample -
Daylight

Unsurprisingly, this impressive setup did panned out well in real life usage. The main camera is able to capture flattering photos with excellent dynamic range and details across all lighting conditions. Likewise, color renderings are also on point – allowing photos to look natural and realistic, just like what we see with our own eyes.

Huawei Mate 50 Pro Photo Sample -
Night Mode
Huawei Mate 50 Pro Photo Sample -3
Night Mode

As usual, the camera is backed by a capable night mode feature which you can safely rely on when snapping photos in pitch-dark condition. However, this feature doesn’t kicks in often due to it’s impressive light sensitivity benefitted from it’s large sensor size and bright aperture which allows the camera to capture a vibrant night scene even without using the dedicated night mode.

Huawei Mate 50 Pro Photo Sample -5
Ultra-Wide
Huawei Mate 50 Pro Photo Sample -6
Ultra-Wide

For landscape photography, the Huawei Mate 50 Pro turns to a 13 megapixels (f/2.2 aperture) ultra-wide camera which is able to click some pretty good-looking photos despite being equipped with a slightly toned-down sensor compared to the main unit. Likewise, it also does a remarkable job when it comes to lens correction which greatly reduces edge distortion in photos.

Huawei Mate 50 Pro Photo Sample -8
3.5x Optical Zoom
Huawei Mate 50 Pro Photo Sample -9
3.5x Optical Zoom

Last but not the least, there’s also a 64 megapixels (f/3.5 aperture) periscope telephoto camera onboard to help with faraway shots. While the camera itself offers 3.5x optical zoom, it’s able to work in tandem with the main camera to achieve up to 100x digital zoom.

Photos taken by the telephoto unit appears sharp and detailed, with accurate colors and contrast. However, you can expect it’s quality to fall as you edge towards the opposite end. Nonetheless, you can still easily make out what’s in the photos even at 100x zoom.

Battery & Charging

The Huawei Mate 50 Pro’s 4,700mAh battery is able to last through the day with around 20% battery remaining before I head to bed. However, I do find myself getting up to 1.5 days’ worth of usage on days when I use the phone sparingly.

The main highlight however, lies in it’s 66W wired charging which is able to deliver a full charger from 0 to 100% in merely 41 minutes. Otherwise, a short 30 minutes charge will be good enough to recharge a completely flat battery up to around 75%. That’s definitely quicker than other flagship phones such as the Galaxy S22 Ultra (Review).

Anyway, those who prefer to charge wirelessly will also be glad to know that the phone does support 50W wireless charging as well. While this won’t be as quick as wired charging, it’s still able to completely recharge the phone in slightly more than an hour.

Verdict

The Huawei Mate 50 Pro is certainly a phone which deserves recognition for it’s excellent hardware which continues to put the phone at the forefront in many aspects, especially mobile photography.

Yes, it might be true that the phone lacks core features such as Google Mobile Services (GMS), but that shouldn’t be a deal breaker considering that the company had already developed it’s in-house Huawei Mobile Services (HMS) which provide users with a robust suite of alternative services to kick start an amazing digital experience.

Take for instance, HMS has it’s own app marketplace known as AppGallery that takes over the role of Play store, allowing Huawei smartphone users to gain easy access to majority of their favorite apps. Even if the apps ain’t available on the platform, there are still plenty of ways to get them installed on the device without breaking a sweat.

Likewise, we have seen how Huawei replaced Google Map with it’s in-house Petal Map to handle navigational needs on Huawei smartphones, and how quickly the company developed Petal Search that took over the role of Google Search in sourcing all the information we’re looking for. More impressively, new Huawei smartphones also come with it’s own AI virtual assistant known as Celia that’s capable of handling day-to-day tasks via voice commands.

As such, it’s safe to say that Huawei smartphones are well-equipped with all the necessary apps and functionalities needed for a smooth and enriching user experience, just like what most of us would expect from any Android or iOS-powered devices.

Pricing & Availability

In Singapore, the Huawei Mate 50 Pro is available in two different colorways such as Black and Silver. Those who’re interested can purchase the Huawei P50 Pro at S$1,548 through Huawei Experience Stores in 313@Somerset and Westgate, Huawei Authorised Stores in NEX and Sim Lim Square, M1, StarHub, Best Denki, Challenger, Courts, Gain City, MetaPod, SprintCass as well as Huawei Official Stores on Lazada and Shopee.

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