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.

Reviews

POCO X5 Pro 5G review: Must-have mid-ranger?

Business as usual for POCO

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POCO X5 Pro 5G

Standing out in a crowded mid-range segment has become increasingly difficult in 2023. It isn’t enough to hit home runs; to stand out, you need to hit grand slams. To be a game-changer, a smartphone needs to be a generational talent. 

It’s difficult to be painted as generational, especially because mid-rangers, by nature, face compromises that force manufacturers to skimp on certain parts of a smartphone to keep its price as low as possible. A mid-ranger truly needs to be special, so it can be undeniable rather than undesirable.

The POCO X5 Pro 5G is the Chinese brand’s latest attempt at bringing a game-changing smartphone to the ultra competitive segment. They’re branding the X5 Pro 5G as ‘The secret to win’, a device that will help students and young professionals succeed with whatever challenges they’re facing. 

It’s one thing to make a hefty promise, but it’s another thing to walk the talk. Does the POCO X5 Pro 5G stand and deliver, or is it just another self-proclaimed game-changer exposed as a wannabe flagship killer? 

Design: Puts the MID in midrange

 

Remember when I said that manufacturers tend to skimp on certain parts of a smartphone to keep its price as low as possible? Right out of the box, even without holding the phone, you already know where POCO decided to make its necessary sacrifices. 

Allow me to describe this design with a Gen Z word made popular by Long Island’s very best in professional wrestling: mid. The X5 Pro 5G’s design, is quite frankly, mid. It doesn’t stand out in the mid-range segment, nor, does it even impress for any unique personality quirks. You’d prefer to purchase a unique case for this so you wouldn’t hesitate to bring this out during parties.

Durability: A phone that will last through an Iron Man Match

POCO X5 Pro 5G

First impressions matter, but they aren’t everything. While the X5 Pro 5G isn’t for those looking for love at first sight, its choice of materials will leave you impressed in the long run.

This phone simply works. It clearly isn’t the prettiest phone, but pretty doesn’t always mean substantial. Plastic is still the most practical material for a smartphone, and POCO’s choice of plastics for the X5 Pro 5G hit the mark. It’s so durable, in fact, you could confidently use the phone without a case even when walking around the streets of Metro Manila. 

The X5 Pro 5G’s battery performance enriches its durability. During the review period, I had the opportunity of using the phone not only as my main daily driver, but also as my primary hotspot source during remote work situations. Even for extremely heavy users, this is a phone that can last you through the day. In rare cases when you’ll need to charge in the middle of the day, the X5 Pro 5G comes with a 67W charger out of the box (yes, they still have chargers out of the box! Big W here by POCO). 

Performance: Will have you feeling like a generational talent 

POCO X5 Pro 5G

Most manufacturers hope to position their mid-rangers as bang-for-you-buck devices that can bring flagship-level technology. It’s a hefty promise. Most brands tend to miss the mark, one way or another. 

Coming from a flagship daily driver, I was already expecting a drop in performance when the X5 Pro 5G came in. Right out of the box, to my surprise, it didn’t feel like there was any drop in overall performance. Even a week after, the X5 Pro 5G’s maintained the smoothness it came with from Day 1. POCO did not miss the mark.

The 120 Hz refresh rate certainly helped accentuate that feeling of smoothness, especially when going through daily social media scrolling. But even when testing with a relatively high-intensive game such as DB Legends, the X5 Pro 5G and its Snapdragon 778G processor went through the gauntlet with relative ease. Relative to other mid-range phones, that’s generational. 

Camera: Consistently colorful 

POCO X5 Pro 5G

There’s a common misconception that when you have more cameras, the better shots you’ll get. Having multiple cameras isn’t enough; choosing the right lenses and having software that processes shots properly matters even more. 

I’m happy to say that at the very least, POCO was able to choose the right lenses for its multi-camera setup. Supporting its 108MP wide camera is an 8MP ultra-wide lens and a 2MP macro camera. Other manufacturers have missed the mark by taking out the ultra-wide, but thankfully, POCO did not make that mistake. 

The ultra-wide lens performs relatively well too. The difference in quality between the main lens and the ultra-wide isn’t as drastic as you’d expect. It captures detail very well, and HDR is on point too. 

Users concerned about their social media image don’t have to worry. Its ultra-wide lens is good enough for your much-coveted Gen Z selfies. 

Performance outdoors is definitely better. There’s a noticeable drop in quality when taking indoor shots, but its nothing too criminal. 

Night mode on the X5 Pro 5G was decent too. On this shot of my very good friend’s jersey, it captured the details well, although there’s noticeable grain in the background. 

In terms of processing, the X5 Pro 5G comes out with consistently colorful shots, which is to be expected at this point. It ups the saturation to intense levels, and shadows can be overblown at times. It’s nothing too concerning, just something to consider before posting your photos on the ‘gram.

Is this your GadgetMatch? 

POC X5 Pro 5G

With an SRP of PhP 16,999, the POCO X5 Pro 5G presents itself with an intriguing list of features. At first glance it won’t impress, but its value as a smartphone is all about what’s under the hood. It’s a powerful device that gets the job done. Whether you’re a busy workaholic, a student who’s trying to survive through modern hybrid setups, or a gamer who wants to pick up endless W’s, the POCO X5 Pro 5G is a great choice to have if you’re looking for a weapon that will bring you victory in whatever battles you’ll face. 

The POCO X5 Pro 5G may just be better than you, and you’ll know it. Its design is mid, but everything else, you wouldn’t hesitate to call generational.

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Computers

Apple M2 Mac mini Review

More Affordable, More Powerful

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Apple silently revealed the 2023 M2 Mac mini to the world.

Back in 2005, the Mac mini G4 was the cheapest Mac you can buy for US$ 499.

Almost 18 years after, the Mac mini still is the cheapest Mac at just US$ 599.

That’s still a lot of savings versus buying a US$ 1299 iMac.

The biggest difference? The newest Mac mini runs two of the most powerful chips right now — the M2 and M2 Pro.

But is it actually the right Mac for you?

Watch our Apple M2 Mac mini review now!

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Gaming

Forspoken review: Outspoken with little to speak of

Wait for a sale

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Forspoken

It doesn’t take a lot to create a decent roleplaying game. All you need is a fish-out-of-water character, a vast open map, and a seemingly endless list of objectives. Though it has all three, Forspoken struggles to keep up with its pretenses as a Western roleplaying game.

First, the good

Credit to where it’s due, Forspoken is a fun game for the first few sections. Exploring the incredibly huge map with magical parkour is enjoyable. Eclipsed only by Elden Ring’s Torrent, magic parkour is one of the most innovative ways to quickly traverse large distances, especially after learning more advanced techniques.

Likewise, fighting balanced enemies with limited powers provides enough of a challenge to keep players on their toes in Athia. Neither the player nor the first enemies feel overpowered.

Unfortunately, the game’s novelty quickly evaporates after you figure out that you have to repeat the same motions dozens upon dozens of times. Forspoken’s map is much larger than it ever should have been. Though abundant in number, every point of interest is separated by large distances, some platforming challenges, and a battle sequence. The greater map is empty. Do this over and over, and the game gets stale quick. With adequate rewards, this shouldn’t be a problem, but Forspoken also suffers from a communication issue.

A communication issue

For most roleplaying games, completing an objective on the map usually nets palpable rewards for the player: a significant experience boost, new skills, new gear, or a bag of loot. An open-world game necessitates a lot of exploring. Even if a game is repetitive, earning substantial rewards is satisfying, at least. Forspoken does not have this — not in an easily discernible way, at least.

Treasure chests, which account for most of the points of interest on the map, reward players with a litany of crafting materials. Most of which will go unused because the game doesn’t easily tell players how to use them. After a dozen hours of collecting materials, I had a wealthy cache of each ingredient to make practically anything. Even then, I had little idea where each one went.

The map’s major rewards — new cloaks, new nail arts, and experience — also do little to explain how Frey improves with each completed objective. Clearing out an enemy camp, for example, rewards players with +1 magic. The game does not tell you how much damage that conveys. Certainly, after completing a few of these, Frey feels stronger, but it’s not easy to see how much stronger, especially when most enemies are bullet sponges with absurd health pools anyway.

Plus, these don’t even scratch the surface of objectives wherein the main reward is literally just a lore dump you have to read from a menu.

Forspoken

Difficulty shouldn’t always mean more enemies

Another issue with clearing out Athia’s large map is how Forspoken handles difficulty. Though there are options to adjust difficulty, the game relies on a limited bag of tricks to make it more difficult for players: increasing enemy health and quantity. In moderation, relying on this strategy works. However, Forspoken does this to an obnoxious level.

Prepare to fight five mini-bosses in one encounter for a lore entry. What compounds this issue more is an insane enemy health pool which causes encounters to last a lot longer than they should. One mini-boss encounter took me 15 minutes, even with appropriately leveled gear and the right spells.

Because of the sheer number of enemies, an encounter can stun-lock Frey for an absurd amount of time. The player can hardly prevent this since it relies on chance. Despite offering a wide array of moves, the risk of knockbacks shoehorn players into a slow run-and-gun tactic (which might not even play into an enemy’s weaknesses), instead of using each ability to the max.

On paper, Forspoken’s combat offers a fluid way to take down enemies by seamlessly switching between spells and moving through the battlefield with magic parkour. Unfortunately, an imbalance in enemy strategies bogs the game down in prolonged sequences that often reward players with only middling boosts.

Forspoken

A lack of optimization

For a game released on modern hardware, Forspoken took a while to launch. The game was delayed a few times. Given how delays often work, you’d think that it would release in a fairly optimized state. It’s not.

Though I haven’t hit major game-breaking bugs, there were a number of performance dips throughout the game. Even on performance-focused settings, framerates dropped to a standstill when there were high particle effects on screen. Frey constantly clipped through the terrain and found herself stuck on finnicky edges (which sometimes required reloading from previous saves).

The game is also dragged down by numerous cutscenes. Though not a bug per se, it’s not a great sign of optimization that the game has to pause for a cutscene just to show enemies arriving. For a game featuring fluid movement and combat, Forspoken often takes players out of the action by pausing for unnecessary cutscenes.

Forspoken

Better on sale

Overall, Forspoken is persistently flawed. However, amid the game’s shortcomings, the title still has an exciting combat and movement system. Plus, if you disregard the tedious open world, Forspoken’s linear story, featuring the wide range of abilities, are enjoyable. My interest always bounces back after beating one of the game’s main bosses.

Still, it’s hard to call Forspoken a game worthy of its AAA price tag. It might be better to wait for a discount.

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