It’s been three years since I last held and spent significant time with a OnePlus phone. It doesn’t feel like it’s been that long probably because we’ve been stuck indoors for over a year now, but it has and I’m pretty excited to be back in OnePlus’ arms. Specifically, the OnePlus Nord 2 5G.
In the last three years, OnePlus’ reputation has taken a bit of a dive. Once touted as the champion of tech bros who saw the brand as a cool alternative to the iPhones and Samsungs of the world, OnePlus has since gone on a new direction. With its merger with the other BBK Company OPPO, the message that echoes in the annals of tech twitter and socials is that its “OPPOfication” is ultimately a bad thing.
But that’s a topic for another article. For now, we’re looking at one of the results of this new direction — the Nord. As the company marketed it, Nord is supposed to be a return to form for OnePlus. It’s a smartphone that doesn’t compete with the flagships. Rather, it’s everything that OnePlus has always promised — a capable but more affordable phone so that people don’t feel like they settled.
Here’s a quick look
It looks clean as ever in this Blue Haze colorway. It says blue but it really looks more like teal in person. The phone also comes in Gray Sierra in the Philippines and Green Wood in the parts of the world.
The camera module is easily noticeable
That’s a 50MP, f/1.9 wide angle main sensor along with an 8MP, f/2.3 ultrawide angle sensor, and a 2MP, f/2.4 monochrome lens. We’ll get to the samples later.
Sound mode slider and power button
The sound mode slider has been a staple for OnePlus phones. It’s a convenient way to switch from Ring, Vibrate, and Silent modes. Just right underneath it is the power button. The volume rockers are on the left side of the phone.
Usual ports at the bottom
At the bottom are the usuals — speaker grille, USB-C port and the SIM card tray. The OnePlus Nord 2 5G supports dual nano SIM cards.
Glass and plastic build
The phone has a glass and plastic build. That’s Gorilla Glass 5 for the front and back with a plastic frame. This helps make it feel a little more premium than most other phones in its price range. But the glass back is slippery AF.
Thankfully, OnePlus included a clear jelly case in the box. There’s also a slight pattern to it that adds a little bit to the design. I certainly recommend using the OnePlus Nord 2 with a case to avoid the risk of it slipping out everywhere like how you let your ex slip away.
Breathing Oxygen again
The one thing that really makes me want to keep coming back to OnePlus is OxygenOS. Now based on Android 11 and on Version 11.3, the OS is still as clean and snappy as ever.
There was news a couple of months back that it was merging with OPPO’s ColorOS. I’ve used a handful of OPPO phones in the last three years and can say it’s ColorOS that really took plenty of inspiration from OnePlus.
The two are nearly identical now but OxygenOS comes with less native (bloatware) apps and its animations, while subtle, still make it seem like a smoother OS overall.
Spending time day-to-day
Daily life with the OnePlus Nord 2 5G is nothing short of enjoyable. It’s a pretty good size with its 6.43” display. Not too big, not too small. Just right.
On lazier work days, I usually start by browsing through my emails. Marking as read the unimportant ones, and immediately replying to those that need an urgent response.
After switching over to my laptop for work, I usually have the phone in hand to check socials and get a brief reprieve from the worries of the job. That means watching a few clips on TikTok, seeing what’s going on in stan Twitter, and occasionally visiting crush’s IG profile.
That’s about my normal usage day-to-day. Initially, I thought the 4500mAh battery drained a little too quickly. But as the days went on, the battery consumption became steady, lasting me a day or a day and a half before I juice up.
Charging the phone isn’t a hassle. It supports up to 65W charging. Yes, it comes with a charger in the box, but I used a different 65W charger and I still get the promised 1-100 percent in 30 minutes, or at least that rate of charging.
Naturally, you’ll drain the battery longer with more media play. I don’t really play a lot of games on my phone but for every review, I do take time to go a few rounds on Call of Duty: Mobile.
What I noticed is the phone heats up rather quickly. I could already feel the MediaTek Dimensity 1200 5G pumping heat after just three rounds of multiplayer battles. It never gets too uncomfortably hot but it’s another reason to suggest using this with the case on.
Video viewing is pretty great too. As mentioned earlier, the screen is a decent size and is perfect for watching quick clips on YouTube like this TWICE JIHYO x Cosmopolitan Behind the Scenes on YouTube.
The notch housing the 32MP front facing camera is on the upper left hand side when held upright and on the lower left side when in landscape mode. It’s a nice spot since it’s barely noticeable and is a spot you’ll likely cover with your hands anyway.
A pleasant surprise for the eyes
Since I already mentioned the front facing camera, let’s dive right into the camera samples starting with some selfies.
Pardon my face, I really dislike taking selfies, but couldn’t help but do so on the OnePlus Nord 2 5G. The one on the left is a regular selfie while on the right side is one taken with portrait mode.
Love the implementation of the bokeh here. It looks natural and I don’t look like some weird sticker slapped onto the background. It is worth noting that this was taken under fantastic natural light. I tried taking some at night but the results I wasn’t too happy with. Those samples, though, aren’t for public consumption. Just take my word for it.
1X, 2X, 5X
The 50MP main camera is pretty outstanding and I was surprised at how good some of the photos came out despite me zooming in. Just look at the samples below:
The ability to zoom and still retain a fair amount of detail can be pretty useful as demonstrated in the samples above.
The portrait mode on the main camera looked pretty good too. Although I can’t say my model was too eager to be photographed.
Most of these were taken with AI assist turned off. Sometimes they are enough. Other times you get a more dull looking image — which is actually better for post processing. But if you want something that already pops, just go ahead and toggle the AI button on.
You can also play around with filters built into the camera if you’re not keen on post processing.
The wide angle camera, despite having less megapixel count than the main shooter, is still pretty serviceable. Here’s a side-by-side shot of the main and ultrawide cameras.
Fantastic at night
What really stood out to me is how good its night mode is. I took shots of a couple of feline friends and they came out better than I hoped.
These shots look fantastic and retain plenty of detail despite the relatively low lightsource. I swear it did not look this bright in real life. Here are a few more night shots.
Is the OnePlus Nord 2 5G your GadgetMatch?
The first OnePlus I owned was the OnePlus 3T. It cost about the same as this version of OnePlus Nord 2 5G that I reviewed. That’s PhP 21,999 (around US$ 438) for the 8GB/128GB variant. There’s also a 12GB/256GB variant that retails for PhP 25,999 (around US$ 498).
It’s a sweet spot of a price for something that offers wonderful performance with surprisingly good cameras. I keep telling most people that nobody really “needs” a flagship. At least, not in 2021. The only feature I missed from flagships is the wireless charging, but I can live without that, just like most people.
I was worried about OnePlus because of all the negative chatter online. But using the OnePlus Nord 2 5G, I was reminded of everything I loved about OnePlus. A clean UI, a capable daily companion, and now with cameras that are a joy to use. Plus, the logo is still kind of cool.
The OnePlus Nord 2 5G has sparked my affection for OnePlus once again. It certainly is my GadgetMatch, and I can confidently say it can just as easily be yours too.
Huawei P50 Pocket review: Glass cannon-esque bombshell
She’s a beauty and a beast, but with reservations
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Huawei P50 Pro review: 5 topnotch cameras, 5 drawbacks
Using a Huawei smartphone in 2022 doesn’t seem bad at all
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 world — Singapore 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:
- Topnotch cameras
- More great stuff
- The drawbacks
- 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
|Snapdragon 888 4G
66W Wired SuperCharge
50W Wireless SuperCharge
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|
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
Unlike flagship smartphones I’ve reviewed in the past, the cameras of the Huawei P50 Pro are pretty consistent across the board.
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.
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.
Surprisingly, all lenses performed coherently even at night. The vast camera array of the P50 Pro proved to be topnotch with that consistent look.
And yes, that bokeh effect works on closer subjects (like that cute stray cat) even when it’s already past golden hour.
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.
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.
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
Or maybe I was just right all along. The P50 Pro tends to produce warmer shots whenever night mode is turned on.
The same goes when AI is turned on while trying to capture food photos.
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 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
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.
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.
I was even able to watch Netflix’s 그 해 우리는 (Our Beloved Summer) in its full glory. How? I’ll explain more later.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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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.
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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