The Huawei P50 Pocket is their first foldable for Malaysia and has seen distribution in other markets like Europe and Singapore. At launch, we had a hands-on of the P50 Pocket and delved into the nature of its design and a quick look at its specifications. This time around, we’ll put it to the test in our Huawei P50 Pocket review.
Huawei P50 Pocket Review – Performance and Specifications
The Huawei P50 Pocket comes in two variants, each of which have the same hardware but differ slightly with a mainstream White variant that has less RAM and storage with a lower price tag and a higher end Premium Gold version with a higher price tag and commensurately more RAM and storage. Our P50 Pocket review sample is the former done up in white with 8GB RAM and 256GB of built-in non-expandable storage.
Here’s how it stacks up on paper…
|Price||RM5,999 (8GB RAM, 256GB storage) RM7,299 (12GB RAM, 512GB storage)|
|Display||6.9-inch foldable OLED 1,188 2,790 pixels, 120Hz, 21:9 aspect ratio + 1.09-inch Cover display, 340 x 340 pixels|
|Processor||Snapdragon 888 4G|
|OS||EMUI 12.0.1 w/ Huawei AppGallery|
|Memory||8GB RAM/256GB storage / 12GB RAM/ 512GB storage|
|Camera||40MP F/1.8 w PDAF and laser autofocus + 13MP F/2.2 ultra wide w/ autofocus + 32MP F/1.8 w/ autofocus [rear] / 10.7MP F/2.2|
|Battery||4,000mAh w/ 40W fast charging + 5W reverse charging|
|Size/Weight||87.3 x 75.5 x 15.2mm [folded] / 170 x 75.5 x 7.2mm [unfolded] / 190g|
The Huawei P50 Pocket uses one of the most powerful mobile processors for 2021, the Snapdragon 888 CPU paired with 8GB RAM and 256GB of non-expandable storage.
Powering the phone is their own EMUI 12.0.1 firmware for units sold outside of China with their own Huawei AppGallery for sourcing apps. In terms of connectivity you have fast WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2 connectivity as well as 4G LTE; unfortunately the phone lacks a 5G modem due to the ongoing US embargo.
When subjected to synthetic benchmarks, our P50 Pocket review sample scored the following results:
|3DMark Wild Life||5,073|
|3DMark Wild Life Unlimited||5,235|
|3DMark Wild Life Extreme||1,422|
|3DMark Wild Life Extreme Unlimited||1,220|
|Geekbench 5 single core score||1,053|
|Geekbench 5 multi core score||3,028|
|Geekbench 5 OpenCL score||4,785|
|Geekbench 5 Vulkan score||4,724|
|PCMark Work 3.0 score||12,726|
|PCMark Battery Life||8 hours 49 mins|
Overall performance for the P50 Pocket in synthetic benchmarks is excellent in comparison with other Android phones with Snapdragon 888 CPUs like its sibling the P50 Pro.
It was able to handle the likes of Call of Duty Mobile at the highest settings without issue and was able to swap between a dozen open tabs in their proprietary browser. While most apps necessary for Malaysians are available in the AppGallery, you’re able to sideload alternatives via their Petal Search app which points you to third party repositories like ApkPure.
In any case, EMUI has matured to a point that it has credible alternatives to Google’s suite of apps and services. Gmail can be routed through their own email app without any loss in performance, their Petal Maps covers whatever Google Maps can do including routing and turn-by-turn directions and their Huawei Docs is a direct analogue to Google Docs to handle documents and spreadsheets including cloud storage for documents.
In case you really need something that requires Google Mobile Services, you can still use these apps via their Gspace app that emulates an Android phone.
Unfortunately, all this results in quite a bit of sideloading which is not a complete deal breaker for more experienced users though novices may balk at the additional hoops to hop through.
In practical field tests as a primary phone over the course of several weeks, the P50 Pocket didn’t disappoint and it’s compact and nimble though the smaller form factor and muscle memory to unfold the phone takes some getting used to. The lack of 5G makes it a cause for concern a few years down the line but at present, it’s not that big of an issue and with 4G and fast WiFi 6, you’ll get most of your streaming and downloads sorted without issue.
Battery life is sufficient for a full day’s worth of use with data or WiFi on, browsing the web, a bit of gaming, watching videos and plenty of social media. In PCMark’s battery benchmark, it managed 8 hours and 49 minutes of active usage before running out of juice. If you dial the refresh rate down to 60Hz and kick in battery saving mode, you can likely increase its endurance significantly.
Huawei P50 Pocket Review – How is the main OLED display
When something important demands your attention you can unfold the main 6.9-inch FHD+ 120Hz OLED display and the long 21:9 aspect ratio and thin bezels allows for plenty of screen real estate for web browsing though it’s a bit too wide for most movies which ends up with vertical letterboxing on the sides.
The main screen supports the DCI-P3 colour gamut and while the percentage isn’t officially stated, it served up wonderfully vibrant hues that veer slightly on the warm spectrum, excellent detail and text along with deep blacks and brilliant whites out of the box when subjected to test footage.
If colours are not to taste, you’re able to tweak it in the settings via a full fledged colour wheel which is a welcome bonus. Screen brightness was good with sufficient clarity under direct sunlight.
Of note is the fact that the crease in the display is much less noticeable than in competing models and it’s really only visible if you’re viewing something with a stark white background.
The dynamic refresh rate defaults to either 60Hz or 120Hz depending on what you do onscreen and scrolling through the interface and web pages is a wonderfully smooth experience. Paired with the excellent display are a pair of stereo speakers emplaced at the top and at the base of the phone. It’s a pretty decent setup with good volume and a fair amount of detail.
Unfortunately, the P50 Pocket lacks a flex mode where you can use it halfway folded up and EMUI currently lacks any modes that support this action. The design itself is also not physically able to stand up in this fashion and either flops open or snaps shut so you’ll have to use it in a strictly open or closed configuration.
Much like other phones with a similar design, the front cover screen is used for notifications in lieu of opening the main display and to also act as a means to control the main camera for selfies by acting as a viewfinder and shutter release.
The round front cover display is visually distinctive but is a bit too small for anything beyond skimming through notifications and as a viewfinder for the main camera. There’s not much integration with third party apps either but this will hopefully be addressed in the future.
Huawei P50 Pocket Review – Cameras
The majority of the photos and videos are captured via the rear triple camera array which is built around a primary 40MP F/1.8 True Chroma camera that handles most of the grunt work, a secondary 13MP F/2.2 ultra wide angle camera with a 120-degree field of view for wide angle shots and a 32MP Ultra Spectrum camera that, as far as we can ascertain, is used primarily to obtain colour and additional detail when capturing shots.
All of the three cameras lack optical image stabilisation and there’s no optical zoom camera or lens though the ultra wide and primary camera both have autofocus. To tackle hand judder, the P50 Pocket uses Huawei’s own AIS Pro image stabilisation tech which relies on both software and the Snapdragon 888’s neural processing unit (NPU) for steady video and stills.
While the camera array lacks optical zoom, it can crop the feed of the main 40MP camera to achieve a facsimile of digital zoom with your choice of 2x, 5X and a maximum of 10x digital zoom. In terms of video capture, the rear camera is capable of up to 4K@60fps video. The front 10.7MP F/2.2 selfie camera is also capable of a similar 4K@60fps video capture.
On paper, this seems like a somewhat modest setup but the P50 Pocket leverages several technologies culled from the P50 Pro including its XD Fusion Pro image engine for better image quality and improved low light performance.
When put to the test, our P50 Pocket review sample was able to serve up both videos and stills that are better than the leading competing model under both daylight and night time conditions by dint of sheer specifications as the 40MP primary camera and 13MP ultra wide camera offer plenty of detail and Huawei’s experience at computation photography allows them to eke out surprisingly good shots even with the lack of OIS. Zoom shots are fair even at 2x and 5x but at 10x they start getting soft. You can click on the P50 Pocket review image samples below to get a closer look.
Night shots offer a fair amount of detail with a surprisingly vibrant palette. While they’re not exactly realistic, they look great on social media. Zoom shots in low light on auto mode are understandably soft if you pixel peep though Night mode helps to salvage a bit more detail and dynamic range.
The ability to use the main cameras for selfies also means that it’s arguably one of the most powerful selfie camera phones available and portrait shots turn out well with accurate skin tones in both daylight and in dim light conditions.
For what you pay for, the P50 Pocket’s cameras are competent indeed though they don’t hold a candle to its sibling the P50 Pro that packs much more powerful hardware.
Should you buy the Huawei P50 Pocket?
No matter how you slice it, the Huawei P50 Pocket foldable phone doesn’t come cheap. Our base model costs a substantial RM5,999 with the Premium Gold retailing for a whopping RM7,299. But what you pay for is a very unique design, a compact form factor and great performance including a solid set of cameras that’s a few steps short of greatness.
The lack of Google Mobile Services is irksome but it’s not as big a handicap as it used to be. If you desire a compact, high performing phone that is a real head turner and if you’re willing to jump through a few extra hoops to get your favourite apps to work, the Huawei P50 Pocket is well worth consideration.
Huawei P50 Pocket review sample courtesy of Huawei Malaysia. To purchase, please visit their official Huawei Online tore at https://consumer.huawei.com/my/phones/p50-pocket/buy/
Huawei P50 Pocket
Huawei P50 Pocket
The Huawei P50 Pocket is their first mainstream foldable smartphone that melds a luscious 120Hz OLED, solid performance and a good primary camera into a compact form factor that has been lavished with premium build quality and an exceptionally posh looking design. If you can live with the omission of 5G and a few extra hoops to jump through for access to Google, the P50 Pocket is a powerful, compact offering that marks a return to form for Huawei.
Premium build and design Bright and vibrant 120Hz OLED display Excellent performance Good main camera array
Limited to 4G connectivity Gets a bit warm with heavy use No water resistance No wireless charging