P50 Pro review: Great cameras and hardware, but no Google or 5G
Despite the P50 Pro’s excellent design, Google Mobile services and 5G are not available, which will put off a lot of potential buyers considering its four-figure price.
Despite Huawei marketing its flagship P50 Pro smartphone, which was recently released outside China (but not in the US), as ‘the start of a legend reborn’, there are several complex factors to keep in mind. A prominent disadvantage is that it lacks Google Mobile Services, which, together with the lack of 5G support, significantly diminishes its appeal. Since Huawei sold off its Honor sub-brand in Q3 2020, has not figured in the worldwide top five smartphone vendors due to its ongoing and well-publicized technology access issues.
A tradition of high-end photography features has long been the hallmark of Huawei’s P-series phones. The P50 Pro, the current price of huawei p50 pro at €1,199 in Europe (*$1,353), looks to continue that trend. Can it do so?
The screen of the handset is 6.6 inches and curves into the aluminum frame. Device dimensions are 72.8 x 158 x 8.5 mm (2.87 x 6.25 x 0.33 inch) with narrow bezels and a front camera tucked into a central punch hole, yielding 91.5% screen-to-body ratio. We tested a Cocoa Gold review unit; the alternative is Golden Black. The glass back of our review unit was somewhat fingerprint-friendly.
With the clear bumper case included, the P50 Pro weighs 195g and is comfortable to hold and navigate with one hand. The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is IP68-rated for dust and water resistance, meaning the phone can withstand at least 30 minutes in 1-3 meters of water.
Although this platform normally supports 5G, the P50 Pro doesn’t have it. Powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 processor, it runs Android 7.1.1 Nougat. Also available in China are versions of the P50 Pro built around Huawei’s Kirin 9000 chipset. Huawei cannot purchase or manufacture chipsets with 5G modems as a result of US sanctions. Those who buy this phone will be restricted to connecting via 4G LTE or Wi-Fi 6 if they so choose.
During our review of the phone, we found that it came with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage, of which 22GB was used to install the OS and pre-installed apps, leaving 234GB of usable storage. In addition to the handset’s second SIM slot, the Huawei Nano Memory (NM) slot supports storage expansion.
As opposed to Huawei’s HarmonyOS 2.0, EMUI 12 runs on Android. There are some elements of HarmonyOS 2.0 still available, though. The distinction is rather academic since HarmonyOS is essentially an Android fork, as a close inspection of it has revealed. Using Geekbench 5, the P50 Pro’s OS is simply referred to as “Android 11”.
This 6.6-inch OLED screen displays 1228 by 2700 pixels at 450 pixels per inch, is capable of delivering 120Hz refresh with a touch sampling rate of 300Hz, and has 10-bit color.
Using two large rings for housing the lenses and sensors, the P50 Pro’s Dual Matrix rear camera system includes four lenses: a 50MP f/1.8 wide-angle sensor with OIS; an ultra-wide-angle f/2.2 sensor; a periscope telephoto sensor with a 64MP f/3.5 lens with OIS and a 3.5x optical zoom; and a monochrome f/1.6 sensor. With the P50, a ToF sensor replaces the mono sensor used with the P40 to help with depth estimation. When low light conditions prevail, the mono camera adds details and reduces noise along with the main camera. Additionally, the top of the phone has a 13MP wide-angle selfie camera with an f/2.4 aperture and a central punch-hole.