Updated: Mar 2
They say there’s no beauty without grace. Well in this instance, it seems to be more like "Beauty AND Grace". If Huawei phones spark your interest in technical advancements as much it does for us, the P50 Pro certainly packs a punch for its stunning build and cameras. From an impressive 64MP periscope telephoto lens that could probably see your future, to a really powerful chipset to match that leaves even the most top flagships in its wake. Let's take a look if beauty can be deceiving and if you should ever judge a book by its cover.
As we've mentioned, this is by far one of the most aesthetically pleasing phones we’ve ever reviewed. The polished back and side rails give off almost a mirror like finish. Even though we prefer a flat edged screen on most constructions, the curved display meshes well into the frame which feels good in the hand weighing 195g and is 8.5mm thin. A very solid and tight build we might add, which also earns it an IP68 dust/water resistant rating.
Very much a continuing theme with most Huawei phones in the likes of the Huawei P and Nova series in the last few renditions, so it’s not much of a surprise here but it’s surely one of the best we’ve seen from them and it just so happens to pull off an ostentatious look with the P50 Pro.
Despite it having the ability to see your reflection from the back of the phone, it's an obvious fingerprint magnet just like any clean mirror would, quite the trade off if you think about it. It comes in two colours of Golden Black or what Huawei calls "Cocoa Gold" like the one we have here. Oddly it looks more like silver than gold, so as far as naming colour ways go, it hits every mark in the design department.
Complementing the aesthetics is a 6.6 inch OLED curved display reaching up to 120Hz refresh rate and the combination of over 1 billion colour outputs. Watching videos or movies is an enjoyable experience with maximum clarity by setting it to High resolution or a Smart Resolution option within the settings to help manage battery life.
Hidden underneath the OLED display is an optical fingerprint reader which feels quick and snappy as most Huawei phones before it. But at this point, we are anxious to see what phone manufacturers have in store when it comes to security measures, as optical fingerprint readers are known to not be as secure compared to capacitive or ultrasonic scanners. As much as it was bleeding edge tech once upon a time, we can't help but recognise it's been around for years now and would be nice to see Huawei develop something new as the innovative company they’re known to be.
It also comes with dual speakers firing from the top and bottom. While the sound gets loud enough for playing music, it might be a notch lower than desired when watching videos or movies. Either way it has top marks when it comes to fullness of sound reaching the lows and highs optimally. But a quick resolution to the loudness issue, even though a headphone jack is not present here, it does come with Bluetooth 5.2 which should allow you to connect to multiple devices in case you require a more surround sound experience.
Entering a new year of the never ending battle of camera phones, the P50 Pro makes a loud presence with what Huawei calls True-Form Dual Matrix Camera which comprises a 50MP f/1.8 main camera, a 64MP periscope telephoto camera, a 13MP ultra-wide, and a 40MP Monochrome camera. A very clever hardware and software integration to enhance image processing, also known as XD Optics and True Chroma image engine by Huawei resulting in brighter images all throughout the different focal lengths, capturing very detailed and sharp outputs.
Colours such as greens, reds, and blues are slightly more saturated than we prefer, but it's been a common expectation by now with most android phones catering to most users looking to snap a good picture without having to spend any more time editing them. Needless to say, image quality is fantastic. Balancing the right levels of exposure in daylight or low light performance. Surprisingly, Night Mode is a feature that actually works in the P50 Pro, having the ability to capture what a normal eye would have never been able to see. Taking a picture in complete darkness is as if they were manipulated in real-time, gathering light unknowingly even when you thought it was too dark. But in instances where sufficient light is not an issue and while it does raise some of the shadows, taking a normal photo would result in almost the same when compared side by side. But we wouldn't want to take away from the true capabilities of this feature as it eliminates most of the noise and underexposed issues.
Going above and beyond however, is its periscope telephoto camera which supports up to an astonishing 100x zoom. At this length, aiming your shot seems impossible but thankfully there's a pop-up window and stabilisation aids to help compose from a wider angle. Even at 10x zoom, sharpness deserves an applause for being able to clarify texts from very far away. From a photographers standpoint, these cameras could really be another set of eyes more so than a novelty if you want it to.
In fact, Vera, one of our community reviewers also had a chance to try out the P50 Pro. Check out the video for some shots that she took with it. While she says the colours might be a little muted depending on the scenario, the results speak for themselves. It captures high-quality shots effortlessly and allows for more creativity in editing, coupled with the RAW capabilities of the camera which might actually be preferable for the professional in you. No surprise there given the company’s collaboration with Leica.The 13MP front camera also serves as a reliable companion, capturing skin tones decently but it does feel like it favours women more than men with facial hair. Smoothing out sharper details even with beautification fully turned off.
Another promising factor surrounding these cameras is its video performance. With resolutions up to 4K60fps and high frame rates up to a ridiculous 960fps@1080p, Huawei really didn't mess around when they were building this phone.
Image quality somehow is still a hit and miss in our opinion. While it does manage exposure compensations well and HDR functions works flawlessly to capture beautiful sceneries, it still has that missing touch in how it executes video quality. While we must say that it still performs as what you expect it to, producing very clean outputs for daylight settings paired with gyro-EIS for stabilised footage, we're still left with a feeling as if the ambitions of these cameras were set as second priority when it came to video capture. But we must commend it for coming really close to matching with the likes of an iPhone 13 Pro & Pro Max which was highly regarded for its video quality.
There's also a toggle within the video resolution menu to choose a 21:9 aspect ratio, giving you a wide cinematic look but is only available in 1080p. A really neat feature to welcome more users in filmmaking and cinematography nonetheless.
The P50 Pro is equipped with 8GB RAM with a Kirin 9000 Snapdragon 888 and octa-core Adreno 660 chipset, which in our experience may have a lot to do with how the image outputs from the cameras seem to do so well.
Our Geekbench scores record the highest we've ever tested at 921 for Single-Core test and 3229 for Multi-Core test.
Resulting in very smooth animations throughout the EMUI 12 operating system which has matured very well from its humble beginnings, and makes gaming a real pleasure when it's time to wind down. Graphics feel buttery smooth and snappy especially if you max everything out with 120Hz refresh rate enabled and set to its highest resolution which will result in higher power consumption from its 4360 mAh battery. Extensive use should get you at least a day's worth of use but in case you overextend yourself, it does come with a 66W flash charger that should get you to about 75% in 30 minutes.
The Huawei P50 Pro starts at RM4,199 / S$1,458 for 128GB storage.
Overall, we're truly impressed by the P50 Pro and undoubtedly the best Huawei has done for their camera focused phones. Opportunistically realising their strengths with various renditions before it and doubling down every time a new model is in the works. As much as beauty can sometimes be deceiving, it surely doesn't deceive us here. Gracefully entering the new year with a formidable reputation even with the disadvantage compared to rivals of the Android world, with Google services still being unavailable to the Huawei brand. But at this point, they've gone far beyond waiting for parts of the world to accept them and built a world of their own while living out innovations as the true driver for what is yet to come.
Written by Fitri Aiyub