Reviews

Huawei Mate 9 review: Does it get faster?

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The Mate 9 has a lot going for it, from the large 5.9-inch display to the incredible battery life, but there’s one feature Huawei is most proud of: machine learning to make the phone faster the more you use it. Does it really work, though?

After unboxing the Mate 9 and praising it as one of the best premium phones of early 2017, we’re now reviewing it the way it’s meant to be reviewed — by spending three months with it and letting it learn our usage behavior for a more optimized experienced.

Even with the release of the P10 — which we enjoyed using, by the way — the Mate 9’s design still holds up. It’s just as fancy-looking now as when we first unboxed it:

The specifications and features aren’t outdated by any means, either. Its Kirin 960 processor is the same one found in the newer P10 and P10 Plus, the 4GB of memory continues to be the standard for all things flagship, and its battery life lives up to expectations; more on those later.

Of course, with extended use, you truly get a feel of how a phone performs once the new gadget smells subsides. We’ve come up with nine review notes now that the Mate 9 grew accustomed to us, and vice versa.

You don’t really notice the machine learning take effect

The biggest gripe of any long-time Android user is the gradual performance decline after a few months or even weeks of use. This is caused by apps hogging more and more of the phone’s resources through time and software updates prioritizing cosmetic features and security patches over actual performance tweaks.

Huawei combated these effects by equipping the Mate 9 with machine learning to make sure everything runs smoothly no matter how old it gets. Does it actually work? So far, yes, but we can’t say for sure since there haven’t been many software patches since launch and we’re kind of responsible with our app downloads in the first place — no pointless virus scanners or “memory cleaners” for us.

With that, we’re still glad this feature is around. We did notice our usual software, consisting of social media and productivity apps, opening up faster than apps we use less often. We even tested how many simultaneously running apps it would take before the Mate 9 crashed. The answer is 50 — not bad!

Its camera does the trick, but it’s not the best

We already went ahead and compared the Mate 9’s Leica-infused dual-cameras and selfie shooter against all its rivals last February, and the results were so-so. With just a single win in 12 categories, it’s not exactly a leader in its class, but it gets the job done.

I believe the problem lies in its use of the dual-camera setup. While it does well enough for standard photos on Auto settings, using the secondary lens for artificial background blur didn’t really do it for me. As mentioned in our review of the Huawei GR5 2017, this bokeh mode feels gimmicky, and would be better off set aside.

Battery life lives up to its claims

Do we have any complaints about its massive 4000mAh battery? None at all! If anything, it may be the Mate 9’s standout feature, even more than the machine learning and Leica cameras Huawei loves to boast. Using the handset constantly for an entire day leaves us with enough juice for the next day. Getting over five hours of screen-on time is expected here.

Fast charging is actually fast

Our only concern with such a hefty battery is the charging time; it’s natural for larger capacities to take a long time to fill up (right, Xiaomi?). Fortunately for us, Huawei’s SuperCharge technology is no joke. The bundled fast-charger can bring the Mate 9 from zero to full in a little over two hours. Doesn’t sound that great compared to other phones, but when you take the larger battery into consideration, this is more than satisfactory.

There’s no learning curve

Huawei is getting better at cleaning up its Android interface called EMUI. Now on Nougat 7.0, the Mate 9’s skin doesn’t deviate from stock Android as much as before, and even gives you the option to bring back the app drawer, rather than have all apps on your home screens like on iPhones. It’s still not as pretty as Samsung or Google’s take on Android, but it’s heading in the right direction for once.

It definitely feels too big

There’s no getting around it: 5.9 inches of phone is literally a handful. Making matters worse is the recent release of the Galaxy S8+ and LG G6, which have redefined pocketability for large-screen phones. The Mate 9 is massive, takes two hands to handle in most cases, and gets even bulkier when the bundled case is installed.

The fingerprint scanner is typical Huawei

Huawei makes the best fingerprint scanners. Rival companies Vivo and OPPO have been on a tear, placing the fastest fingerprint readers on their entry-level smartphones, but Huawei has been doing this to perfection since the Nexus 6P. Quick, accurate, and never fussy — I wish Huawei would make everyone else’s authentication sensors.

Lower resolution? No problem!

Another concern when you first glance at the Mate 9’s specs sheet is the Full HD 1080p resolution. Stretched on a 5.9-inch IPS LCD, the pixel density is a lot lower than nearly every other flagship smartphone in the market right now. But you know what? It never really bothered us, and watching Netflix or YouTube shows were just as enjoyable here as compared to, say, on the OnePlus 3T or ASUS ZenFone 3 Zoom.

Speakers are just right

What would have been a treat, however, is a pair of front-facing loudspeakers on the Mate 9. Thanks to its large panel, it’s perfect for propping up on a table and watching videos, if not only for the weak and awkwardly placed stereo speakers (one on the bottom and another in the earpiece). There’s enough space on its now-relatively-thick bezels; we’re sure Huawei could have found a way to make this more of a mini theater.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

Despite the launch of some fantastic near-borderless phones since the Mate 9’s release, this supersized Huawei still has its strengths.

For one, it has the standard 16:9 aspect ratio for its display, so most videos won’t have those weird black bars on the side like with the Galaxy S8 and LG G6. Combined with the generous screen, this has to be a go-to option for those who value multimedia consumption while traveling.

Another unique selling point is the non-dwindling performance of the Mate 9. Chances are someone’s Mate 9 from early this year will outpace someone else’s Galaxy S8 by the end of 2017. This means Huawei’s phablet is a sure-fire bet for those looking for a long-time investment.

Finally, this smartphone simply lasts long. If battery life is a priority, it doesn’t get much better than this in the high-end segment. Coupled with fast-charging, the Mate 9 is the phone you want to bring on long trips.

The list of cons is no biggie: camera quality isn’t up there with the best and EMUI might not be for everyone. Having an international price of EUR 699 (although cheaper in some countries like the Philippines at PhP 31,990 or EUR 600), the Mate 9 is a top choice if you’re after a normal-looking, non-bezel-less, decently priced, supersized smartphone.

SEE ALSO: Mate 9 Pro is Huawei’s true flagship

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Reviews

Huawei P50 Pocket review: Glass cannon-esque bombshell

She’s a beauty and a beast, but with reservations

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The Tiger is out! Huawei’s daring new smartphone has marked its advent outside China, bringing a form factor and experience we’ve all seen coming.

Meet the Huawei P50 Pocket — the newest addition to the P-series, only it folds like your familiar flip phones. It’s got a clamshell form factor, an exquisite design, a picture-perfect camera system, and perhaps, a similar flagship Huawei experience we’ve come to love.

The Tiger will rise again

Huawei is no stranger to the foldable experience. In 2019, it went toe-to-toe with Samsung’s Galaxy Fold, starting a foldable war we’ve kept tabs in. Alas, Huawei somehow lost during its brouhaha in the United States against the former president Donald Trump. The loss of Google Mobile Services severely affected the market share, despite Huawei’s brilliance in producing excellent hardware.

Three years in, the Chinese company is making strides in pushing its own operating services and ecosystem. The HarmonyOS has been widely marketed in China and beyond. In some way, people are easing up to their new experience with Huawei. (It gets easier, people!)

That’s why there’s no wonder Huawei hopped in with a clamshell phone to match Samsung once more, which seemed to be unchallenged in the category. The P50 Pocket is the Chinese company’s fourth attempt at a foldable smartphone, albeit at a clamshell design. Away from the X-series that rivals the likes of the Galaxy Fold.

A piece of luxury

I received the Premium Edition of the Huawei P50 Pocket, which, frankly, stunned me with its box. It’s got a packaging featuring a pattern of glossy and hollow cuts, probably to tell us there’s a cutting-edge technology waiting.

Opening the box, you’ll find the Huawei P50 Pocket laid out like your regular slate. However, let’s skip past it and check what else’s inside.

Underneath, there is a thin layer of a board with the same design as the cover, paying homage to the world-renowned haute couture designer Iris Van Herpen, who co-designed the Premium Gold colorway.

It comes with a cable and an adapter, unlike most flagship smartphones nowadays. They come in white, though, in case you’re expecting the accessories to be coated in gold, much like the phone.

So golden

One look at the Huawei P50 Pocket Premium Edition, or P50 Pocket for brevity, and you’ll probably get the same, initial impression. It’s elegant.

The sculpted patterns, guided by the principle of symbiosis presenting the fusion of technology and nature, add depth to the body. Iris Van Herpen’s touch turned everything into gold, literally and figuratively. The design changed the look and feel of the P50 Pocket as compared to its White colorway, which focuses on the brilliance of shining, shimmering diamonds.

I remember the year 2016 when most smartphones painted their colors in gold. I bought the Huawei P9 simply because it’s coated in that magnificent color. One can say gold is an outdated color to paint for smartphones in this age, but I digress. The right texture, shade, and material can reorient its aesthetics.

Devil is in the details, babe

There’s more to the P50 Pocket than its exquisite clamshell design. I like how it’s thin, slender, and perfectly symmetrical to my eyes. It’s comfortable to hold — folded or unfolded.

When folded, the size is enough to caress on your palms à la Sylvie Grateau on Emily in Paris. It opens smoothly any way you want it, thanks to its hinge’s mechanism. And its heft when folded didn’t feel like I’m going to drop it accidentally.

My only gripe is how the screen made a creaking sound whenever I shut the clamshell phone, even if I do it gently. It made me uneasy.

On another note, using it as a slate gave me mixed feelings. For starters, it’s taller than the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE and the Honor 50 — smartphones I recently enjoyed.

I used the unfolded P50 Pocket with my two hands, and thankfully, the fingerprint scanner is within reach. The volume rockers are a bit higher so it’s quite difficult to adjust the sound during music playback. But that might just be me and my tiny hands.

Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed the engineering know-how and the careful thought that this phone went through. I personally enjoyed the slim silhouette, and the lighter weight when unfolded which Huawei calls a Multi-Dimensional Lifting design.

P50 Pocket

Sheep in wolf’s clothing

The P50 Pocket is stacked with all the essential features a foldable phone should have. It has a tough hinge which, according to Huawei’s claims, employs materials like a Zirconium-based liquid metal.

P50 Pocket

I can’t vouch for the durability and the mechanism’s reliability. But what I do know is it feels different as compared to my experience with the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G. The P50 Pocket doesn’t offer any resistance when opening and closing. The hinge might be far too smooth that I can open it with just one hand.

I’d feel more secure if I always have to open it with my two hands. More importantly, it doesn’t come with any IP rating to give me peace of mind.

P50 Pocket

Sure, you’re not supposed to dip your devices into a pool or drop them into the dirty ground. But foldable phones look and feel fragile enough, and if it doesn’t have any dust or water resistance — the general population would be too iffy to consider a foldable phone no matter how gorgeous they look.

Enchanting visuals

Nevertheless, using the P50 Pocket as a slate can be quite marvelous. It uses a 6.9-inch flexible OLED panel with a 21:9 aspect ratio — making it perfect for watching cinematic videos or scrolling through your favorite apps.

P50 Pocket

I watched Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings on the P50 Pocket, and I’m glad I didn’t strain my left arm — thanks to the phone’s lightweight design.

P50 Pocket

The dreaded crease becomes unnoticeable unless you look at the screen at a very low angle. You can feel it when you scroll in the middle, but you’ll grow into it over time.

P50 Pocket

While I’ve learned to settle back into compact phones, the unfolded P50 Pocket lets me delight in any content I want to consume with its taller screen. It has a 120Hz refresh rate so you can enjoy a smooth motion when multitasking, browsing on social media, or even playing games.

Jacked up with power and insane heat

Speaking of games, I played Honkai Impact to showcase the P50 Pocket’s power and performance. It is exceptional. After all, it’s still a flagship smartphone — just donning a different form factor.

My Premium Gold unit came with 12GB RAM and 512GB of internal storage, equipped with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 4G processor. That might be one of the dealbreakers, especially for Huawei loyalists considering this foldable. In this age, we’ll need a 5G-capable smartphone for future-proofing.

P50 Pocket

On another note, the P50 Pocket tends to heat up easily. Whether it’s because of the games I played, the environment I was in (like going outside on one hot, sunny day), or when charging up its battery. The heat is just insane.

Still, Huawei’s prominent long-lasting battery life is evident in the P50 Pocket. Even with a 4000mAh battery capacity, I didn’t have to worry about my phone draining easily even if I’m constantly playing music.

I managed to last a day even with heavy use — and I didn’t even bring my power bank. With its 40W Huawei SuperCharge, you only need an hour to get it back to a hundred percent.

Cover screen

Ah, the cover screen. It’s much like the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G’s cover display — only round and bigger. It gives you access to important notifications that you can preview at a glance, as well as widgets you might deem important in your everyday life.

But what I do like about it the most is its cameras. Taking selfies on the cover screen will require the P50 Pocket to use its rear cameras: a 40-megapixel True-Chroma camera, a 13-megapixel Ultra-wide-angle camera, and a 32-megapixel ultra spectrum camera.

I like how the selfies turned out, and I honestly enjoyed taking them than the selfie camera situated on the punch-hole, which only uses a 10.7-megapixel ultra-wide-angle lens.

Just look at these cover-screen selfies.

Now, look at these selfies taken using the front-facing camera found on the punch-hole.

They’re warm, a little bit saturated for my liking, and create unnecessary smoothening that blurs some details.

Continuing the P-series’ legacy

Back at the rear cameras, we know how well-revered the P-series is. For years, Huawei’s camera hardware continues to excel and improve. And we’re certain you’ll love how much the phone captures plenty of details.

P50 Pocket

Portrait

1x

2x

5x

10x

UWA

Macro

Lowlight

Flagship experience we’re familiar with

If you haven’t used one of the Huawei phones released from 2020 to the present, then you might find it difficult to transition to a new interface with a different setup. In China, the P50 Pocket runs on HarmonyOS 2.0. Outside, it uses EMUI 12. But one thing’s clear, there are no Google Mobile Services.

There are plenty of workarounds that we’ve detailed in the past, but it still seems daunting to try to navigate a Google-less smartphone experience when most of our lives, we’ve been reliant on it.

Despite the struggles, the AppGallery — in lieu of Google’s Play Store — is aggressively working on bringing more apps that most people use.

APKPure, which we use to install third-party apps, doesn’t need to be searched on the browser anymore. When you search the apps you like in the AppGallery and discover they’re not yet available, the store will offer the right link to an APK that you can install.

P50 Pocket

For what it’s worth, the Huawei flagship experience is still the same. It’s got the power, speed, and performance you’d expect out of a flagship smartphone — foldable or not. You just need to tinker a little bit since it’s made easier now, and if you’re up for the adventure, using the P50 Pocket will be a breeze.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

The Huawei P50 Pocket is an exquisite attempt for a flip phone, and it poses a magnificent promise. There are plenty of pros and cons that you might want to consider. It’s gorgeous, sure, but there’s something more to the P50 Pocket than its looks.

P50 Pocket

You can call it a beauty and a beast, but with reservations for reasons we already know. These are the GMS issue, a seemingly fragile hinge mechanism, and the lack of dust and water resistance.

For the package it offers, it might not be enough to break your wallets for a smartphone that perfectly fits your pocket. The P50 Pocket (8GB/256GB) retails for EUR 1,299 while the P50 Pocket Premium Edition (12GB/512GB) retails for EUR 1,599.

If you have some extra money lying around, by all means, go ahead and buy it. It can be a premium item that you can add to your collection. But when compared to the foldables out in the market, the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G is still the smarter choice.

For those looking for the same experience such as better cameras, premium design, and flagship experience — you might be better off with a Huawei P50 Pro.

The Huawei P50 Pocket is expected to roll out internationally across key markets from Asia Pacific, Middle East, Africa, Europe, and Latin America.

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Reviews

Huawei P50 Pro review: 5 topnotch cameras, 5 drawbacks

Using a Huawei smartphone in 2022 doesn’t seem bad at all

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Huawei P50 Pro

Huawei was already at the peak of their popularity — not until the US vs China feud happened. Three years later, the Chinese tech giant hasn’t given up on the global smartphone market race.

The Huawei P50 and P50 Pro were teased last June 2021 and got announced in China a month after. After six more months, they finally made their latest flagship available to the rest of the worldSingapore and the Philippines included.

I’m keen on using their newest P-series smartphone as the last Huawei phone I tried was the Mate 30 Pro from 2019. But does this phone deserve the credit for being called a “legend reborn”? Did it actually get better over those years of despair and doubts? Read my honest thoughts below.

In a nutshell

This in-depth review is divided in four (4) parts. You can skip ahead and scroll down depending on what you’re curious about:

  1. Topnotch cameras
  2. More great stuff
  3. The drawbacks
  4. Is the Huawei P50 Pro your GadgetMatch?

For the spec-obsessed, here’s a rundown of the P50 Pro’s internals between the Chinese and Global version:

P50 Pro (China) P50 Pro (Global)
Display 6.6” 120Hz OLED 6.6” 120Hz OLED
Processor Kirin 9000 5G
5nm chipset
Snapdragon 888 4G
5nm chipset
Memory 8/12GB 8GB
Storage 128/256/512GB 256GB
Battery 4360mAh
66W Wired SuperCharge
50W Wireless SuperCharge
4360mAh
66W Wired SuperCharge
50W Wireless SuperCharge
Operating System HarmonyOS 2.0 EMUI 12 (Android 11)
Colors Black, Gold, White, Pink, Blue Golden Black, Cocoa Gold

Topnotch cameras

I’d like to talk about its cameras first since its the main highlight of this flagship.

For conscious mobile photographers, the Huawei P50 Pro consists of five cameras: four at the back and one in front.

  • 50MP f/1.8 wide (PDAF, Laser AF, OIS)
  • 13MP f/2.2 ultra-wide
  • 64MP f/3.5 periscope telephoto (PDAF + OIS)
    • 3.5x optical zoom
    • 100x digital zoom
  • 40MP f/1.6 B&W sensor
  • 13MP f/2.4 front camera

If you look closely, you’ll find the lens and its sensors all along that monstrous dual-circle camera layout. Fortunately, the LEICA partnership is still here.

Consistency is key

Auto: Ultra-wide | Wide | 3.5x zoom

Unlike flagship smartphones I’ve reviewed in the past, the cameras of the Huawei P50 Pro are pretty consistent across the board.

Auto: Ultra-wide | Wide | 3.5x zoom

Whether you use ultra-wide, wide, or the periscope telephoto lens during day time, it will provide you great results with little to no adjustments in color and contrast.

Auto: Ultra-wide | Wide

In the example above, both the ultra-wide and wide lenses performed like it came from a single sensor with the right amount of highlights and shadows. Even the AWB (Auto White Balance) looked similar. Other phone brands aren’t consistent with how they process their images despite having great camera sensors and chipsets.

Night mode: Ultra-wide | Wide | 3.5x zoom

Surprisingly, all lenses performed coherently even at night. The vast camera array of the P50 Pro proved to be topnotch with that consistent look.

Night mode: Wide | 3.5x zoom

And yes, that bokeh effect works on closer subjects (like that cute stray cat) even when it’s already past golden hour.

Night mode: Ultra-wide | Wide

There are times where zooming out gets a better overall shot. Shooting the greenery through ultra-wide night mode actually helped in emphasizing the scenery better than what the main lens produced.

Auto: Wide | 3.5x zoom

Sometimes, you don’t even need to shoot with night mode on to get desirable results. For instance, this indoor shot was taken just via Auto Mode. Both the wide and telephoto shots still looked good and consistent.

The main star of the show

Using the main (wide) angle lens should be enough for most occasions. Whether it’s for food, places, or portraits, the P50 Pro delivers well.

Even when they’re not taken using Portrait mode, the amount of subject-object segmentation is clear especially with that creamylicious bokeh at the back.

For an even wider view

I prefer using the ultra-wide lens mostly in perspective and landmark (pun intended) shots.

By framing the shot first before hitting the camera shutter button, the P50 Pro will surely produce great shots that doesn’t need any adjustments prior posting on social media.

Zooming in is my very best friend

Admittedly, I’ve used the P50 Pro’s periscope telephoto lens more than the wide lens for most subjects.

In hard-to-reach areas such as buildings and structures (architecture), I prefer zooming in and see what’s the best frame before capturing one.

It’s also very useful in scenarios that require rapid movement such as flying birds, as well as trees, grasses, and flowers getting hit by the breezy wind.

Most of the food shots I took were also captured using the zoom lens more than its wider counterpart.

The more I zoom in, the more I can focus on the intricate details of the food. It’s also helpful in hiding the phone’s annoying shadow when taking a photo through the main lens.

I’m a real sucker for golden hour shots. Even with just auto mode, the P50 Pro was able to capture these scenes just like how I see them in person. Truly astonishing.

Cafés at night also looked more warm and cozy just by pinching in onto the composition and focus on the shop’s decor instead of capturing the usual full façade.

Finally, the P50 Pro truly stunned me when I was able to take a clear shot of the moon — both in 30x and 100x. Even though it was digitally zoomed and the camera preview looked messed up, its AI algorithm produced such detailed moon shots even with just using Auto mode. No need to buy a telescope just to capture the whole full moon view.

Night mode saves the day?

While we’re already on the topic of night photography, I just also want to hype up Huawei’s Night Mode feature.

That heading might sound stupid but in situations where abundant source of light is missing, the Huawei P50 Pro was still able to process and display dark shots into something beyond the naked eye.

While true-to-life shots are what we want, activating night mode especially after sunset and in pitch dark areas are recommended for better night shot output.

I actually haven’t used any tripod nor any accessory in shooting those stars. All you need is to breathe, stay calm, be firm, and let the less than a second processing of the P50 Pro do its night mode magic for you.

Et voilà! With the right amount of passion and patience, you can also take great night time photos if ever you’re planning to buy this smartphone.

Fast AF

It can either mean “auto focus” or “as f***”. Whichever came to mind, I just want to point out that its Phase-Detection Auto Focus (PDAF) system, Laser AF, and OIS work wonders!

Whenever I ride my bicycle or sit at the back of a tricycle, the P50 Pro doesn’t miss a focused frame. This also adds a motion effect while the subject in-focus is still focused.

Even your pets in motion can be captured in an instant with its quick shutter release. Mind you, it works in both wide and zoomed modes.

Too warm? Or just right?

We all have our preferences in photos. Sometimes, I just feel like the P50 Pro produces warmer shots than what I see in reality.

But sometimes, having a warmer tone in photos adds more life to them.

AI (sometimes) hates you

Night mode ON | OFF

Or maybe I was just right all along. The P50 Pro tends to produce warmer shots whenever night mode is turned on.

AI mode: ON | OFF

The same goes when AI is turned on while trying to capture food photos.

AI mode ON | OFF

Whether it’s the green salad or these ensaymada buns, the P50 Pro’s AI algorithm over-enhances photos compared to what I see in real life.

Night mode OFF | ON

Night mode also brightens up photos a bit too much. When I know it’s too much, I turn off night and AI mode completely.

When in doubt, just use Black and White

If you want to add more drama to your shots, the B/W sensor of the P50 Pro can result to well-toned monochrome shots.

Two lens modes for the price of one

Unlike the past P-series flagships, the P50 Pro only has one selfie camera placed at the center instead of the usual upper left side.

Aside from the regular angle lens, you get an even widee view at 0.5x for better groufies.

This became very helpful especially during this time where we’re all required to comply with social distancing for the safety of everyone.

Selfie: 0.5x | 1x

And even though I look empty in these selfies, it amazes me that the P50 Pro’s front camera can shoot an ultra-wide angle selfie.

More great stuff

1. Eleganza extravaganza

The Huawei P50 Pro screams elegance and sophistication. From its shiny back and metal railing, it looks and feels like any other premium flagship.

The colorway that I have is the Cocoa Gold. But when you actually see it in person, it looks more silver-y with some hints of bronze. It’s hard to explain but If feel my photos did the phone’s color some justice anyway.

The most eye-catching feature for me isn’t actually the color, rather the camera cutout itself. Looking back at the Huawei P9 with its dual-camera design, Huawei made a “legend reborn” with the P50 Pro by having what they call the “Dual-Matrix” camera design.

While most of you might not be a fan of it (some of my friends even pointed out it looks like a washing machine and dryer combo), I’m a fan of its form that goes hand-in-hand with the overall ergonomics of the phone.

Holding the phone one-handed isn’t a sore at all!

Whenever I hold it, it feels surprisingly light but with the right amount of heft. Whether I use it for calls, chats, social media, shooting photos, and even playing games, the phone is comfortable to hold.

2. Astounding audiovisual experience

Probably one of the biggest features of the P50 Pro is its 6.68-inch OLED display with a punch-hole cutout. Let us remember that the Huawei nova 4 was one of the first smartphones to introduce the display tech.

If you remember the P40 Pro from 2020, it had a dual notch at the left side. Now, Huawei has also decided to move it into the center just like Xiaomi did with their recent 11T and 12 series. Its refresh rate was also bumped up from 90Hz to a 120Hz panel for a smoother and snappier UI navigation.

Napaka-ganda ni Wonyoung sa true lang

K-Pop music videos are known for their bright and color-popping visuals. Thanks to the display’s 1B colors, the P50 Pro was able to show colors that my IPS monitor cannot even produce.

It’s mandatory for K-Dramas to have rain scenes — and Kook Yeon-su isn’t exempted

I was even able to watch Netflix’s 그 해 우리는 (Our Beloved Summer) in its full glory. How? I’ll explain more later.

We don’t talk about Bruno. We talk about Isabel’s perfection

Was even able to play a 4K HDR copy of Disney’s Encanto. The moment I played it, that’s when I realized the P50 Pro has one of the most immersive and true-to-life smartphone displays out there.

That one song that makes me feel in-love even if I’m not

Its stereo speakers are also loud enough with a decent amount of bass and treble. TMI but it’s the perfect device companion whenever I take a shower so I can sing while the music is playing. And if you’re worried about accidental splashes and submersion, it has IP68 water and dust rating too.

3. Once an Android, still an Android

While the new HarmonyOS 2.0 is making waves in China, Huawei still decided to ship the global version with EMUI 12 based on Android 11. If you’ve grown into Huawei’s custom Android skin, this wouldn’t be a problem. I even enjoyed navigating through the phone’s UI even if I’m accustomed to Apple’s iOS.

With the presence of the Huawei AppGallery, I was able to download most apps I use in my other phones: Telegram, Viu, 9, Lazada, Shopee, GCash, and other local banking apps.

If you’re still worried about other apps that are not found in the AppGallery, there’s also APKPure integration. That’s what I used to download APK versions popular streaming apps such as Netflix, Disney+, Apple Music, Spotify, and more.

Shenter Xiaoting will always have a place in my heart 🥺

If you’re worried about missing your social media apps, don’t worry as you can also install Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Slack, Discord, among others.

I was even able to download Genshin Impact and Call of Duty: Mobile with ease. If you’re worried about updates, installing the APKPure app will notify you just like Google’s Play Store.

4. Speedy performance

After installing those graphics-intensive games, I immediately tested how the P50 Pro performs. As we all expect, Snapdragon 888 performed great. There’s even a dedicated Game Booster tab whenever you open a game so you can turn off unwanted notifications and take screenshots or screen recordings at ease.

Asphalt 9 is always the best racing game to test out in any smartphone — though it’s a different case if you own Forza Horizon 5 and are subscribed to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate.

Although Genshin Impact was stuck with medium settings, playing it still felt smoother and more responsive. And if you wish to bump up the graphics quality, you’ll just end up overclocking the smartphone — which you don’t want to do since this is a device with a chipset that isn’t user-replaceable (unlike PC rigs that can be replaced when the overclocked chipset breaks).

For people who continuously whine about Snapdragon 888’s overheating issues, sorry to break it to you but I didn’t experience any significant heating or lagging issues when I played these games.

5. Small yet long-lasting battery

With just a 4360mAh battery, most of you wouldn’t expect a full-day of battery life with moderate usage but my experience begs to differ.

One of Kim Doki’s best acts in Taxi Driver — and I’m not complainin’

I was able to binge-watch three episodes of 모범택시 (Taxi Driver) in Netflix continuously from 35% before the phone died. If I’ll do the math for you, that was more than three (3) hours worth of video playback.

If that isn’t believable enough, I also went out with this phone to take a lot of sample photos plus some social media updating in-between. Believe it or not, it only managed to consume 15% of its overall percentage. This is also safe to say that the 4G-only Snapdragon 888 was efficient to save battery life in times where you don’t play hard on it.

The drawbacks

1. 2021 flagship with a 2019 back

Despite loving its dual-matrix camera design, I’m not a total fan of this finish. While there’s an included silicon case in its packaging, dust and smears still accumulate over time.

I haven’t even started yet but it’s difficult to clean its back when I did beauty and usage shots for this device — even when I used a soft microfiber cloth for it. I’d rather have a “boring” matte back over a shiny back that’s ultra-glossy and smudgy that made waves until 2019.

2. Not all curves are pretty

I used to love curved smartphone displays way back when Samsung announced the Galaxy S6 Edge in 2015. But after realizing it’s more of an aesthetic rather than function, it became more of a “gimmick” for me.

I don’t think having a curved display means “premium” especially when most phone brands slowly transitioned their flagship smartphones back to flat displays for durability and better display legibility.

Surprisingly, the P50 Pro’s embargo lift shared the same day as Sheon’s birthday from Billlie 🥳

During those instances where you’re surrounded with uncontrollable bright lights, those make the curved display more prominent. It may be immersive for some, but it’s distracting for me. It’s also just more expensive to get repaired if ever it gets knocked down on the floor and shattered.

And should I also mention that its in-display fingerprint scanner sometimes require multiple presses in order to get recognized?

3. Where’s 5G?

I know you’re wondering and it isn’t a typo. The P50 Pro is equipped with a flagship-grade Snapdragon 888 — but only with 4G.

The China-exclusive P50 units were shipped with Kirin 9000 — which is a 5nm 5G chip that made its debut through 2020’s Mate 40 Pro. If you’ve been keeping track of the Huawei for the past few years, Qualcomm has offered only 4G chips for Huawei, not those with 5G in it.

With the ongoing global chip shortage that also affected major players such as Apple, Sony, and Intel (and could last until 2023), it’s quite understandable for Huawei to reserve the Kirin chips in their homeland.

But admit it or not, most of us want a smartphone that could last up to three to five years. By then, 5G has continually evolved. And as someone who has experience the instantaneous speeds of 5G and how it helped me do tasks faster such as downloading heavy files for editing or playing intensive games whenever I’m outside, the P50 Pro lacking 5G support is a dealbreaker for me.

Considering its competitive price tag in an already highly-competitive smartphone market full of 5G midrangers and flagships, this is where Huawei might able to make or break a customer’s satisfaction.

4. Super fast charging? Only with Huawei

To fully maximize the Huawei’s super fast charging feature, you only need to use its bundled 66W SuperCharge adapter and USB-C to USB-A cable. I know they’re not the only one as Chinese manufacturers such as Xiaomi and vivo also do the same for their phones. But hey, the good thing is the chargers are still bundled!

Not that third-party chargers and cables won’t totally work, they’ll just charge the P50 Pro slower than what’s advertised. So if you have a large GaN charger and fast USB-C to USB-C cables like I do, forget it. The Huawei P50 Pro will still treat that as a normal 25W charger.

Here are the charging results using the 66W charging brick:

  • 3 minutes = 4%
  • 5 minutes = 10%
  • 10 minutes = 25%
  • 15 minutes = 38%
  • 25 minutes = 55%
  • 30 minutes = 67%
  • 45 minutes = 92%
  • 50 minutes = 98%
  • 55 minutes = 100%

Whereas the third-party chargers and cables took longer as expected for about more than 65~70 minutes as Huawei limits the fast charging capabilities using other accessories.

5. Still, the lack of Google

While it may not be a problem for others, the lack of Google Mobile Services (GMS) is still a problem for most.

As someone who relies on Google apps often such as YouTube, Gmail, Meet, and Drive, it’s hard to justify buying this phone if the user wants the best of everything with Google in it. There is and will always be other Android smartphones out there with Google Mobile Services.

Fortunately, there’s an app that could temporarily fix this issue. By installing GSpace from Huawei’s AppGallery, it will be able to open apps that rely on GMS. Albeit, you have to withstand another layer of pop-up ads before you can use an app — unless you pay for a premium and remove ads for life.

With it, I was able to open and play videos on YouTube, glance at emails on Gmail, upload photos to Drive, and even color-grade photos in VSCO. Just expect casual app crashes in-between.

And with GMS in mind, one more rant is that EMUI doesn’t show music controls on the lock and control center if you play from third-party apps such as Apple Music, YouTube Music, and Spotify — unless it’s played by Huawei’s native Music app.

Is the Huawei P50 Pro your GadgetMatch?

If you’re that eager to own a smartphone with a superior set of cameras, astounding display and speakers, slim and lightweight design, flagship-grade performance with an efficient battery life, the P50 Pro is no doubt the best option for you. But if the lack of GMS, 5G, and other considerable drawbacks affect your purchasing decision, owning a Huawei smartphone simply isn’t for you.

For now, the Huawei P50 Pro has one of (if not the) best cameras in a smartphone today. This might be a bold statement but the P50 Pro can even beat last year’s Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra in terms of camera prowess. But remember, the Galaxy S22 Ultra is just around the corner so we have to wait before we can tell which smartphone has the best cameras in this specific quarter.

The Huawei P50 Pro is currently available in Europe for EUR 1199 (approximately US$ 1337, SG$ 1810, PhP 68,503). Stay tuned for the official Singaporean and Philippine pricing as they will be announced soon.

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Amazon Fire TV review: Best $250 TV?

Which Fire TV is your GadgetMatch?

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Sometimes, all we need is a generic flat-screen TV to fill the void in our living space. But the thing is, you don’t need to sacrifice picture quality alongside a cheaper price tag.

From the Kindle to Echo Show, Amazon now has its own smart TVs — and by that we mean smart TVs, not just a smart TV stick you attach.

Ranging from 43 to a whopping 75-inches, which Amazon Fire TV between the Omni and the 4-series is your GadgetMatch?

Watch our Amazon Fire TV review to know more.

 

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