The Huawei P50 Pro is the latest P-series high-end smartphone. The camera setup combines a large-sensor primary camera with a 13 mm ultra-wide, a 90 mm tele, a monochrome sensor, and a multispectral color temperature sensor for optimizing white balance and color rendering. It also revives the concept of using a monochrome sensor alongside the primary sensor, something last seen in the P20 Pro from 2018. The monochrome sensor improves fine detail rendering and reduces noise, especially in low light. It also helps with depth estimation for the simulated bokeh effect. Let’s see how the camera performed in camera tests.
The camera delivers outstanding still image quality in all conditions, earning itself a new top mark in the Photo category, where its score again one point higher than the Mi 11 Ultra’s. The P50 Pro’s results in our tests are the best or among the best to date in pretty much all Photo sub-categories. The only exception is preview, where there are often visibly significant differences between preview images and final captures, especially in high-contrast light conditions.
The P50 Pro has an eye-catching design, with two giant circular camera modules placed off-centre on the phone’s back. It’s a new look for a smartphone, but opinions on whether it looks good or garish seem divided.
The top camera island houses the “main camera system”, featuring a 50-megapixel main lens, a 13-megapixel ultra-wide-angle lens, and a 40-megapixel monochrome sensor. The bottom circle is home to a 64-megapixel Periscope zoom lens with a 3.5x optical zoom.
On paper, these specs don’t top the competition – or even Huawei’s last two flagship phones. But the hardware, working in concert with a new image signal processing software Huawei dubs “XD Optics”, produces photos and videos that are more than the sum of its parts.
Elsewhere, the P50 Pro has a 6.6-inch OLED screen with a 120Hz refresh rate. It’s a great-looking panel with minimal bezels, but standard fare for flagship phones in 2021.
Powering the phone is either Huawei’s own Kirin 9000 or the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor – Huawei has been forced to use the latter after no longer being able to produce its own chips because of US sanctions.
Haptics and speakers – previously weak points in Huawei phones – have improved significantly compared to last year’s P40 series. The P50 Pro has loud, full stereo speakers and precise vibration feedback. The P50 series are the first phones to ship with Huawei’s own HarmonyOS software – and no, it still cannot run any of Google’s core apps like Gmail, YouTube, or Google Drive and Docs.
However, for all the brouhaha about HarmonyOS being an all-new operating system, it still looks and performs mostly like the EMUI Android skin on which Huawei phones ran over the past several years. There are some nice touches, such as a home screen full of interactive widgets and seamless connectivity with Huawei’s other devices such as tablets, laptops, and earbuds, but those who buy this phone hoping to see an entirely new operating system different from Android will be disappointed.