huawei P50 Pro in the test: The Throne of The Camera King is Trembling | Tech Reviews
The number one question about the P50 Pro is: Is the camera worth not having Google Services? The short answer is: mostly.
The P30 Pro and the P40 Pro (Plus) were considered camera miracles among smartphones. So the P50 Pro has big shoes to fill if it wants to hold that title.
Beyond the camera, the Huawei P series has always stood for excellent hardware in our tech reviews. However, since the P50 Pro was launched in China in August (first as a Kirin version and then with a Snapdragon SoC), the hardware has a certain 2021 vibe. As always, you can fold out all the technical data under these lines.
1x 2.84 GHz + 3x 2.4 GHz + 4x 1.8 GHz
Expandable by up to 256 GB with NM Card
FHD+ 2700 x 1228 px
21:9, 450 ppi
300 Hz Touch-Sampling-Rate
13 MP – f/2.4
50 MP True-Chroma – f/1.8
40 MP True-Chroma Mono – f/1.6
13 MP Ultra wide angle – f/2.2
64 MP Tele photo lens – f/3.5
|Battery||4360 mAh lithium polymer battery
wireless charging (Qi) with 15 watt
reverse wireless charging
|Particulars||Dual Nano SIM Karte
Fingerprint-Reader in Display
WiFi: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax
2,4 GHz und 5 GHz
|Dimensions, weight and colors||158,8 x 72,8 x 8,5mm
Golden Black & Cocoa Gold
Design and Processing
A quick charger is still included with the P50 Pro. So here Huawei is taking a different approach than most manufacturers of top smartphones, who throw everything out of their packaging apart from the smartphone, charging cable and paper. Immediately after unpacking, the first thing that catches your eye is the new camera module on the back.
When it comes to design, you can expect absolute top quality. The P50 Pro feels extremely good in the hand. Even the 6.6″ doesn’t feel as big as it is. Transitions are flawless and even the curved display edges, which I hate, merge smoothly into the case. The P50 Pro is a beautiful smartphone and the color Cocoa Gold is also a real eye-catcher. The back is also a magnet for fingerprints.
A very good AMOLED display
With the Huawei P50 Pro you can expect exactly what you expect from a top smartphone in 2021/2022. 120Hz, almost 1440p resolution (450ppi), fingerprint reader in the display and the rounded display edges already mentioned.
Thanks to the very good display, games, media consumption or simply surfing the Internet are a lot of fun. Huawei does everything right here with the P50 Pro, but it doesn’t stand out from the competition anywhere either.
Since for many (including me) the smartphone has become the most important source of media consumption (YouTube, TikTok and Co.), good speakers are more important today than ever. The speakers of the P50 Pro are good. Not a revelation, but not a point where Huawei slipped up either.
Treble, middle and bass have a good balance and thus form a good interaction in music and video. For my taste, there is a bit of a lack of midrange kick, which is particularly beneficial for conversations, but the overall acoustic picture of the P50 Pro is good, but could be louder.
Performance by Qualcomm
It is clear that Huawei does not play the numbers game of other manufacturers with the P50 Pro. No 16GB RAM, no 108MP camera and no 80W fast charging technology. Nevertheless, the performance is very good. Thanks in large part to the Snapdragon 888.
This point actually surprised me the most when the P50 Pro was announced. The latest Huawei top smartphone does not rely on an in-house Kirin SoC, but on the Snapdragon 888 in a special LTE edition from Qualcomm.
The P40 Pro still had its own Kirin chip. A special design of the ARM architecture that was mostly ahead of its time for years. For example, the first 5G chip was a Kirin chip. However, due to the US ban, Huawei no longer has access to the ARM chips. The design is not affected by the US ban, but the chips are made with US tech.
The Snapdragon 888 is interesting because it comes with an integrated 5G modem ex works, but only supports LTE in the P50 Pro. A condition that Qualcomm certainly had to meet in order to do business with Huawei. The modem was probably deactivated at the firmware level. The P40 Pro (Plus) still supported 5G.
As you’d expect, the Snapdragon 888 packs plenty of power into the P50 Pro. It’s the top chip of 2021 among the tech reviews for chips. Apps open quickly and games load quickly and run buttery smooth. The new Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen1 is currently in the starting blocks, but it has not yet arrived in the wild.
However, the Snapdragon 888 chip could also be the reason why the photo and video quality of the P50 Pro is not “better”. The post-processing of photos and videos runs via the SoC and if Huawei doesn’t (can’t) build anything better than the competition, photos and videos can’t look much better than the competition either.
The software and its pitfalls
The software of the Huawei P50 Pro still applies – no Google services and therefore no PlayStore. In addition to Huawei’s own AppGallery, you also have the option of loading alternative stores onto the P50 Pro. The best known are probably F-Droid and the Amazon App Store. In an earlier post , I had already examined in more detail whether my favorite 15 apps run on a Huawei smartphone.
Something Huawei has always been able to do, with and without Google, is long battery life. However, Huawei does not buy this battery life by “killing” apps in the background or by dimming the display. I don’t know what black magic Huawei is using here, but it works. The battery life of the P50 Pro easily reaches a day with heavy use – two days with normal use.
(Not) an unrivaled camera
Since the P9, the P series has stood for camera smartphones at Huawei. The Leica branding contributed a lot to that back then. At that time, the P10 received a large advertising budget and thus moved more into the public eye. With the P20 Pro, Huawei started the race for the best smartphone camera. The P30 Pro felt like it was more of a camera than a smartphone.
The US ban came even before the release of the P40 Pro. Without Google Services, however, the device was completely uninteresting for many. The same applied to the even better camera of the P40 Pro Plus. It was actually on a different level back then, or to put it in the words of my editor-in-chief:
“The camera of the P40 Pro Plus messes you up for all other smartphones because nothing can get close to it”
The problem with many smartphone cameras, however, is that they are often only really good in one category. Most of the time it’s photography, and then video quality drops dramatically. That was always the problem with Huawei smartphones. The almost legendary P30 Pro had no equal when it came to photos, but was only “okay” when it came to video.
Almost all smartphone manufacturers can now take photos, and the flagships in particular are all very good – 120x zoom, night photography, more megapixels, etc. When it comes to video, however, almost all of them are still weak. The iPhone is still a big exception. So the P50 Pro had to score here. Let’s start with some daylight photos.
As expected, photos in daylight are not a challenge for the Huawei P50 Pro. But it’s not really better than the competitors from Samsung, Apple and Co. either. When it comes to zoom, things are different again. The Huawei P50 Pro is way ahead of the pack. Not in the zoom capabilities, but in the zoom quality.
I can count the bricks in the chimney with 10x zoom. This at a distance of about 100 meters. That’s very impressive. In the next step, we test the capabilities of the Huawei P50 Pro in artificial light. All photos were taken in very warm light (2200-2300K).
The camera of the Huawei P50 Pro is also convincing under mediocre lighting conditions. It captures an impressive number of details and also hits the lighting mood almost perfectly without messing up the white balance. It’s time for the supreme discipline: night shots.
This is where the photo quality starts to fluctuate. Subjects that are closer (shield) have extremely high detail and almost no noise. A lot of subtleties are still visible at medium distance, but it starts to get noticeably muddy at the edges. At a long distance and with almost no light at all, the Huawei P50 Pro then raises the ISO value very high and the final image shows even more than you can see in reality. The price, however, is a muddy and slightly unnatural look. There is also some noise at the edge of the image. No worse than the competition, but no better either.
Selfies with the Huawei P50 Pro are a little over-sharpened (you can tell by the beard), but they shine with a lot of detail and don’t have excessive colors. The result is a very natural photo without too much AI post-processing – very good.
The video quality of the Huawei P50 Pro is very impressive. Lighting mood, sharpness and image stabilization are at the top level and details are captured very well. The videos have neutral colors. Videographers will be happy about that.
Overall, the photo quality of the Huawei P50 is very good and only drops a little in the dark. Due to the good photo and video quality, the P50 Pro is a real all-rounder in the field of cameras.
Conclusion on the Huawei P50 Pro – looks good, but the others have caught up
What remains after almost two weeks with the Huawei P50 Pro? It is a great smartphone that does not have to hide from any other top smartphone in terms of workmanship, display, sound and performance. But that’s to be expected given the price.
Even in the area of software, Huawei is now a real option for users who are willing to do minimal tinkering without any problems. It’s annoying to have to go through several app stores for a +1000€ smartphone like the P50 Pro, but it’s not the end of the world.
However, the P50 Pro only partially deserves the title “camera king”. It’s a very good camera, but Samsung, Oppo and Google have caught up a lot in recent years. So it’s not worth buying the P50 Pro just to have the best camera.
But it’s worth it if you want a very good camera and are willing to put up with the little pitfalls that currently come with a Huawei smartphone. Then the P50 Pro is a top smartphone with a fantastic camera. Don’t forget to explore more of our tech reviews here.