We tested – The Huawei P50 Pro impresses while frustrating

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The latest high-end smartphone from the Chinese technology firm turns out to be a powerful photophone, but the absence of Google services remains a handicap.

The P50 Pro in the color “Cocoa Gold” (cocoa gold, in English).

The P50 Pro in the color “Cocoa Gold” (cocoa gold, in English).

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Weighed down by declining smartphone sales and revenues in 2021, Huawei is continuing its offensive in the European market with two latest mobiles: the P50 Pocket folding screen smartphone, a competitor to the Samsung Z Flip 3, and the P50 Pro, recently released in Swiss. Our opinion after a test of several days of this device positioned in the premium category and sold at a price of 1199 francs.

Design

Successor to the P40 Pro, the P50 Pro sports the same size with very neat finishes, even if its design might not please everyone with its shiny back. Less thick (8.5 mm, against 9 mm), it is also lighter. Its weight of 195 grams is almost identical to that of the Samsung Galaxy S22+ (196 g.) with which it shares the screen size. The P50 Pro indeed displays a beautiful 6.6-inch AMOLED screen (2700 x 1228 pixels) in curved glass offering an image refresh rate of 120 Hz. Of excellent quality, it also marks the return of a punch for the front camera (against a pad in the upper left corner on the P40 Pro).

No 5G and Google services

Rather rare for a smartphone marketed in 2022 which aims to be high-end: it is not compatible with the 5G network. It’s unfortunate. Just like the absence of Google services due to the American sanctions which continue to hit the Chinese firm.

This does not mean that the smartphone is unusable. And it would be a shame not to use it, just for its excellent photographic qualities. But the absence of Google apps and services forces you to make compromises and go through alternative services. The AppGallery, which replaces the Play Store, offers many popular apps like Snapchat or TikTok, but many are still missing. To use them, Huawei with its Petal Search search engine refers to their web versions or offers to download them from unofficial stores, not without security risks.

Running under the HarmonyOS house system, namely an open source version of Android 11, the P50 Pro displays Huawei’s EMUI 12.1 overlay. Note that this mimics the behavior of Apple’s iOS in terms of gestures to display notifications and the control center, by sliding your finger down respectively from the upper left edge of the screen and the upper right edge.

Equipped with a Snapdragon 888 4G processor (one of the best of 2021) and 8 GB of RAM, the P50 Pro is not afraid to launch apps, like games, that need to take advantage of the power of the device. The latter also has 256 GB of storage space.

Autonomy

As for the 4360 mAh battery (4200 mAh on the previous model), it lasts about a day in normal use. We would have hoped for more, but it recharges quickly. We went from 10% to 100% autonomy in 45 minutes thanks to a 66W charger that Huawei continues to integrate into the box. The latter is therefore rather clumsy compared to those of recent smartphones from competing brands, such as Samsung or Apple, which no longer deliver chargers with their new smartphones. In addition, in addition to a USB-C cable (to USB-A), the Chinese firm also provides a transparent case. What avoid “decorating” the back of the device with many fingerprints.

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Here are all the contents of the rather chunky box.

Here are all the contents of the rather chunky box.

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The cameras, still produced in collaboration with the famous German brand Leica, are now placed in two rings.

The cameras, still produced in collaboration with the famous German brand Leica, are now placed in two rings.

20 minutes

The 6.6-inch AMOLED screen (2700 x 1228 pixels) at the top again has a simple punch-hole for the front camera, like the P30 Pro at the time.

The 6.6-inch AMOLED screen (2700 x 1228 pixels) at the top again has a simple punch-hole for the front camera, like the P30 Pro at the time.

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Quality camera

The back, precisely, is now distinguished by a double ring integrating a quadruple Leica photo sensor which shows its talent in almost all light conditions. It consists of a 50MP main camera (f/1.8 aperture, 23mm equivalent), 64MP telephoto lens (f/3.5 aperture, 90mm equivalent), 13MP ultra wide-angle (f/2.2 aperture, 13mm equivalent), as well as a 40MP monochrome camera (26mm equivalent). The latter comes to support the main camera for a better rendering and to bring more details.

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A night shot in normal mode with the 1x zoom of the P50 Pro.

A night shot in normal mode with the 1x zoom of the P50 Pro.

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Under the same conditions and settings with the ultra wide-angle sensor.

Under the same conditions and settings with the ultra wide-angle sensor.

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1x zoom, this time with the “Night shot” mode.

1x zoom, this time with the “Night shot” mode.

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Displaying a good white balance, the shots reproduce colors close to reality, without exceeding with saturation, like some Android competitors. With a 3.5x optical zoom, the P50 Pro is capable of 100x digital zoom, but the shots result in poor quality with such a level of magnification.

Verdict

Huawei has once again shown its know-how by launching the new version of its spearhead. It boasts improved design, performance and photographic capabilities. It’s a pity that this evolution is not accompanied by a simpler Android experience for the average client. The absence of Google’s services necessitates finding alternatives, although Huawei is looking to do everything possible to reduce the effort. We would also have liked to benefit from a smartphone compatible with 5G, given its price of 1199 francs which places it in front of high-end smartphones on the market.

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