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Huawei P50 Pro Review: A Superb Flagship With Enormous Photography Capabilities

After nearly a year-long hiatus in the local smartphone market, Huawei is finally back to the spotlight with the recent launch of it’s next-generation’s Huawei P50 Pro flagship during a high profile press event which also saw the launch of the company’s first-ever flip phone (more on that in the coming weeks).

For Huawei, the P50 Pro marks a new beginning of a long journey, as the company sought to regain it’s market position as a leading smartphone marker not just in Singapore, but also within the global market.

It’s therefore not surprising that the company channeled all it’s effort in moulding the best hardware into a phone that shapes up to be one of the biggest competitor against Samsung and OPPO’s upcoming high-end offerings.

Huawei P50 Pro Rear Design -3

After spending more than a month tweaking around with the Huawei P50 Pro, it became apparent to me that Huawei has yet to lost it’s touch in the premium smartphone space. However, does it really deserves the S$1,548 asking price in Singapore? Let’s find out in our Huawei P50 Pro review!

Design

I have to admit that I’ve always been a huge fan of Huawei’s smartphone design ever since I bought my first P series smartphone – Huawei P20 Pro (in Twilight color) – nearly four years back.

At that time, the P20 Pro wasn’t just the first smartphone to feature a triple-camera, but was also among the pioneer batch of smartphones to experiment with an innovative color-shifting rear design which had since became a norm in the smartphone world.

In fact, color wasn’t the only aspect of it’s aesthetic which had impressed me, but also how slim and sleek the device was as compared to it’s competitors during that time. These features alone were enough to make the phone standout even before we started talking about how powerful it’s hardware was.

Huawei P50 Pro Rear Design -2

Glad to say, the Huawei P20 Pro wasn’t a one-off magic from the Chinese smartphone giant as the company continued to impress with a series of visually stunning design in it’s subsequent flagship launches including the iconic ”Space Ring” design that we saw on the Huawei Mate 40 Pro (Review).

Huawei P50 Pro Rear Design -4

With that in mind, most of us probably would not expect any mainstream design from the Huawei P50 Pro this time round as well. Indeed, the new Huawei P50 Pro shines in a brand new ”Dual Matrix” camera design which not only looks refreshing in a sea of similar-looking smartphones, but also hands the phone it’s own personality.

For the review unit that I received from Huawei Singapore, it comes in a Cocoa Gold colorway that flows perfectly well with the overall design of the phone, giving it a classy and elegant outlook that’s fitting for a flagship model of it’s price.

Huawei P50 Pro Rear Design -1

Presented with an overall footprint measuring 158.8 x 72.8 x 8.5 mm, the Huawei P50 Pro isn’t exactly a compact phone. However, it’s still surprisingly lighter than most other flagship phones in the market such as the iPhone 13 Pro (Review).

Most importantly, I didn’t have any issue reaching any part of the screen when using the phone with one hand whenever the situation calls for it. Also, the phone offers excellent grip along the side edges so you won’t find the phone slipping off your hand easily.

Likewise, Huawei had also reinforced the backplate of the phone with a layer of top grade aluminum-lithium glass to improve overall durability of the phone, and also add an extra touch of opulence when holding the phone on hand.

Display

Turning the phone over to the front, we’ll be greeted by a 6.6” display which features a pair of gorgeous curves that run along the edge of the screen. This time round, it’s selfie camera is housed within a minuscule pinhole around the forehead area which appears to be (way) less intrusive than those notches that we saw in some of the past-generation’s models.

Huawei P50 Pro Front Design -1

Taking about the display itself. It will be an OLED panel that offers a slightly sharper screen resolution of 2,700 x 1,228 pixels as compared to it’s predecessor. In day-to-day usage, you can’t really tell about the gain in resolution since the P40 Pro already has one of the sharpest display in the market.

Huawei P50 Pro Front Design -2

What’s more noticeable to the naked eyes however, is the improvement of the screen refresh rate from 90Hz to 120Hz which makes scrolling and animation felt even smoother on the screen. This, in my opinion, is a significant and much-needed upgrade which greatly improves usage experience on the phone.

Huawei P50 Pro Front Design -3

Also, Huawei had specially tuned the P50 Pro’s display into what the company calls, a ”True-Chroma Display” that comes with professional-grade color accuracy thanks to it’s wide DCI-P3 color gamut coverage and 10-bit color depth which ensure consistent colours from sight to screen.

Although Huawei didn’t mention anything pertaining to the maximum brightness for it’s front display, but it doesn’t seems to have any issue keeping up with strong ambient light since the screen is always visible whenever I’m using the phone in an outdoor environment. And yes, auto brightness does works remarkably well on the P50 Pro too!

The only odd thing that I found on the Huawei P50 Pro’s display is perhaps the lack of Gorilla Glass protection which is seen as a staple feature among flagship phones. Nonetheless, it still felt pretty much like a glass front and had taken quite a few knocks (sorry Huawei!) without sustaining any apparent injuries, so I guess it does have some form of protection after all.

Performance

For those who might not know, the Huawei P50 Pro is the first Huawei’s P series smartphone to adopt a non-Kirin flagship chipset as it swaps for Qualcomm’s high-end Snapdragon 888 mobile platform which was found in many prominent models such as the ASUS ROG Phone 5 (Review) and OPPO Find X3 Pro (Review) to name a few.

Therefore, we can expect some really impressive performance on the Huawei P50 Pro. Indeed, I hardly experience a single tinge of lag when working on multiple apps simultaneously with EMUI 12’s multi-tasking features such as the super handy split-screen mode.

Also, there isn’t any sign of lagginess even when I was snapping dozens of photos continuously. That’s something commendable considering that the complex AI algorithm that goes behind the post-processing normally takes up significant portion of the phone’s processing power which often lead to those momentary screen freezes that some of us may have experienced on certain smartphones.

Editors’ Picks

For mobile gamers, most would appreciate that the Huawei P50 Pro has a reliable cooling system which works well in keeping the phone cool during an intensive gaming session. This ensures the phone doesn’t suffers from thermal throttling which would otherwise lead to slow down in performance.

Coming to it’s memory department, the Huawei P50 Pro also features 8GB worth of RAM and 256GB built-in storage which I believe is more than sufficient for an average user or even those who engage heavily in multi-tasking.

Interestingly, the P50 Pro is the only recent flagship phone in the market which actually retains support for storage expansion even though it’s limited only to the company’s proprietary NM memory card.

Cameras

Like any other Huawei’s P series smartphones, mobile photography remain as the focal point for the new Huawei P50 Pro which arrives with an upgraded quad-camera system co-engineered with acclaimed optics specialist Leica.

These cameras include a brand new 50 megapixels (f/1.8 aperture) main camera, 40 megapixels (f/1.6 aperture) monochrome camera, 13 megapixels (f/2.2 aperture) ultra-wide camera, as well as a 64 megapixels (f/3.5 aperture) periscope telephoto unit.

Quite expectedly, photos taken by the main camera are excellent across all lighting conditions – and that’s precisely the beauty of Huawei’s P series smartphones. Notably, it’s main camera is able to master exposure well in varying light conditions, resulting in photos with great clarity and aplenty details in both bright and dark environment.

Huawei P50 Pro Main Camera Sample -1
Daylight Sample
Huawei P50 Pro Main Camera Sample -4
Daylight Sample
Huawei P50 Pro Main Camera Sample -2
Low-light Sample
Huawei P50 Pro Main Camera Sample -3
Portrait Sample

Likewise, color reproduction is also superb as it’s able to capture photos with colors rendered similarly as what we see in real life, resulting in photos that look natural and realistic, rather than a bunch of overly processed mess.

Since most users tend to use a phone’s camera to take portraits of a human or pet, Huawei had also equipped it’s main camera with an accurate and responsive autofocus system that allows users to snap the best shot within the shortest period of time.

Huawei P50 Pro Night Mode Sample -1
Night Mode Sample
Huawei P50 Pro Night Mode Sample -2
Night Mode Sample

Other than that, I believe it’s also worth pointing out how good the night mode feature is on the Huawei P50 Pro, which literally allows the phone to see in a pitch dark environment. While I’m sure that most of us probably wouldn’t be keen to snap pictures in such environment, but it does give you an idea how powerful it’s night mode feature is.

Huawei P50 Pro Ultra Wide Camera Sample -1
Ultra-wide Sample
Huawei P50 Pro Ultra Wide Camera Sample -2
Ultra-wide Sample

Coming on to it’s ultra-wide camera, this is another highly usable camera that’s capable of snapping photos that are on par with those taken by the main camera in most occasions, including low-light conditions. Although it’s true that the 120-degrees field-of-view offered by it’s ultra-wide camera isn’t the widest within the segment, but I still find it good enough to squeeze in sufficient scene into the photo.

And finally for zooming, that’s where the Huawei P50 Pro held an extra edge over majority of it’s competitors. Although most of the flagship models within it’s price range settles with a maximum zoom factor of up to 30x, the Huawei P50 Pro goes way beyond that number, offering up to 3.5x optical zoom, 20x hybrid zoom and 100x digital zoom thanks to the adoption of an advance 64MP periscope telephoto camera.

Huawei P50 Pro 3.5x Zoom Sample
3.5x Optical Zoom Sample
Huawei P50 Pro 10x Zoom Sample -1
10x Optical Zoom Sample
Huawei P50 Pro 10x Zoom Sample -2
10x Optical Zoom Sample
Huawei P50 Pro 50x Zoom Sample
50x Digital Zoom

In real life usage, photos taken between the 2x to 10x zoom factor were amazing as it offers an incredibly low-level of image noise, allowing users to capture faraway subjects with great clarity and details. Most important of all, it’s dynamic range remains remarkable even at higher zoom levels.

Battery & Charging

To keep it’s lights on, the Huawei P50 Pro is backed by a respectable 4,360mAh battery which has no issue offering up to a day’s worth of battery life even with heavy usage. In fact, I was able to squeeze out nearly 1.5 days’ battery life most of the time when using the phone moderately throughout the day.

While it’s true that the phone scores well in terms of battery endurance, but the key highlight actually lies within it’s blazing-fast 66W Huawei SuperCharge wired charging that’s able to top a completely flat battery to it’s brim in under an hour.

Likewise, those who frequently forget to charge their phone overnight would also love the fact that the phone is able to recharge up to 70% in merely 30 minutes, which is good enough enough to last you through the day.

In case you doesn’t like the idea of charging the phone using a traditional charging brick, the Huawei P50 Pro also supports up to 50W wireless charging that’s among the fastest within the segment.

Software

Like any of the recent Huawei smartphones in the market, the new Huawei P50 Pro will boot on the company’s proprietary EMUI 12 software right off the box. Expectedly, the phone isn’t pre-installed with the usual bunch of Google services such as the Google Play Store, Google Map and Google Assistant to name a few.

No doubt, naysayers will be quick to argue that the lack of Google services would hamper a ”complete” smartphone experience for an user. That might be true in the past, but certainly not in today’s context where the company had already developed a robust suite of alternative services, known as Huawei Mobile Services (HMS), that aim to iron out what it’s smartphones were lacking as a result of the blockage to Google services.

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.

Also, 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 using voice commands.

As such, Huawei smartphones are certainly well-equipped with all the necessary apps and functionalities needed forĀ a smooth and enriching user experience, just like what most of us would expect from any Android or iOS-powered devices.

In my opinion, changing a smartphone from other OEMs to Huawei is pretty much akin to switching from Apple to Android and vice versa. There’s a certain learning curve to it, but you’ll get a hang of it after a couple of weeks.

Verdict

The Huawei P50 Pro is no doubt an exceptional smartphone which excels in every aspects that matter most to consumers such as a high-quality display, snappy and reliable mobile performance, capable camera system, as well as a long-lasting battery life supplemented by a superfast charging speed.

Those who’re willing to step beyond their comfort zone would be able to enjoy a whole new smartphone experience on the Huawei P50 Pro which offers possibly the best mobile photography hardware at the moment.

Of course, the first step might not be easy, but it’s definitely worth the effort for the limitless possibilities that the phone could present.

Pricing & Availability

In Singapore, the Huawei P50 Pro is available in two classy colors such as Cocoa Gold and Cocoa Black. Those who’re interested can purchase the Huawei P50 Pro at S$1,548 through Huawei’s official online stores in both Shopee and Lazada.

Customers who purchase the Huawei P50 Pro will be entitled to a complimentary HUAWEI WATCH 3 Active Edition worth $448, while stocks last. Additionally, those who purchase the Huawei P50 Pro will also be entitled to a 2-year warranty and enjoy extra care for their device with a dedicated after sales service.

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