Huawei’s Mate series typically bookends the year after the launch of their P-series phones in spring and just like clockwork, Huawei’s Mate50 flagship series are now here in Malaysia. We managed to get our hands on an early Mate50 Pro review sample and took it for a spin. Here’s our findings on their latest flagship phone to see if it still has the magic.
Huawei Mate50 Pro Review – Build and Design
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The Huawei Mate50 series is intended as the successor to the Mate40 series though the onset of the pandemic resulted in a bit of a time gap of two years. Fortunately, our Mate50 Pro review sample doesn’t skimp on the good stuff and has enough cutting edge tech to go toe to toe with 2022’s flagship phones.
Huawei has taken the time to further refine its design, especially in terms of camera performance and how the Mate50 Pro optimises storage with several unique tricks up its proverbial sleeves that other brands have yet to implement much less conceive of.
Aesthetically speaking, the phone adopts the same rounded rear camera ‘Space Ring’ housing as the centrepiece of its glass-sheathed backplate akin to the earlier Mate40 series though it lacks the Leica branding after the camera brand has parted ways.
The rear camera array itself is a step more sophisticated as it features a physical changeable aperture mechanism that can go ten aperture stops from F/1.4 all the way to F/4.0 which is a rare feat that hasn’t appeared with this level of sophistication in other smartphones yet. The closest thus far is Samsung’s implementation of their Dual Aperture mode in the Galaxy S9 series several years back though that only swapped between two aperture stops.
For Malaysia, the Mate50 Pro can be acquired in a shade of silver and in the case of our review unit, a reflective black. Alternatively, you can acquire the Mate50 Pro Vegan Leather variant which has similar specifications save for more storage to the tune of 512GB, a faux leather backplate done up in a startling shade of burnt orange and the inclusion of Huawei’s own ultra tough Kunlun glass for the front display that is effectively drop proof.
In an earlier press briefing, Huawei repeatedly dropped a Mate50 Pro Vegan Leather on the floor and used it to crack walnuts which is an impressive feat. Unfortunately, the Vegan Leather variants cost more so you’re paying for more storage and additional durability.
The standard Mate50 Pro units use Corning Gorilla Glass though there were no official mentions at press time of what exact variant it uses so they’re comparatively equivalent to other smartphones in terms of drop resistance.
Fortunately, all Mate50 Pro phones, regardless of material type do have IP68 water and dust resistance which puts them on par with other flagship phones. Much like other phones with a mirrored finish, our Mate50 Pro in black is a fingerprint magnet but it does look suitably classy at first blush.
On the right side of the phone, you get a volume rocker and a power button limned in red which adds a very premium touch to the design. The left and top sides are otherwise unremarkable though the base features a dual nano SIM card slot, a USB-C port for charging and docking duties as well as a speaker grille with the other speaker emplaced just at the top of the display.
Up front, the Huawei Mate50 Pro features a 6.74-inch curved OLED display with FHD+ resolution at 2,616 x 1,212 pixels, support for the P3 colour gamut, a 120Hz dynamic refresh rate and up to a 300Hz touch sampling rate.
Unlike the older Mate40 series which had an off-centre pill-shaped cutout, the Mate50 Pro embraces the notch and has a wedge-shaped cutout at the top for a speaker, earpiece, a 13MP selfie camera and a depth sensing camera for biometrics. Even with the notch, the display has an impressive 91.37% screen-to-body ratio.
The bottom quadrant of the phone features an under-display fingerprint reader as an alternative option to unlock the phone in lieu of facial recognition. As a nice touch, they’ve also added in a pre-applied screen protector to the display too.
Overall build quality does not disappoint with the Mate50 Pro and the combination of metal and glass ensures that it has the premium tactility and heft expected of a flagship phone. Unlike many other competing brands, the phone comes with a full set of accessories and our Mate50 Pro review retail sample includes a 66W fast charger, a USB-C cable, the usual paperwork, SIM eject pin and a soft TPU casing to protect the phone.
Huawei Mate50 Pro Review – Performance and Benchmarks
The Huawei Mate50 Pro, its tougher Vegan leather variant and standard Mate50 all come equipped with the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen1 processor, the fastest mobile processor for smartphones for 2022 albeit with the omission of 5G connectivity with all models capped at 4G LTE only.
This is accompanied by an Adreno 370 GPU, 8GB RAM and 256GB of storage for our Mate50 Pro review unit and the Mate50 though the Mate50 Pro with Vegan Leather gets 512GB of storage. Storage is non-expandable across all of the Mate50 series though Huawei has added in a special storage optimisation feature that we’ll get into later in the review.
Under the hood, the Huawei Mate50 Pro and its siblings all run the latest EMUI 13 user interface with apps sourced from their own AppGallery which has been the case for the last several years. Here’s how our Huawei Mate50 Pro review unit stacks up on paper:
|Price||RM4,599 (standard) RM5,299 (vegan leather variant)|
|Display||6.74-inch OLED, 1,212 x 2,616 pixels, 120Hz|
|Processor||Snapdragon 8+ Gen1 4G|
|Memory||8GB RAM/256GB storage|
|Cameras||50MP F/1.4-F/4.0 w/ Laser AF + OIS, 64MP F/3.5 telephoto w/ PDAF + OIS + 3.5x optical zoom, 13MP F/2.2 ultra wide w/ PDAF [rear] / 13MP F/2.4 + TOF 3D camera [front]|
|Battery||4,700mAh w/ 66W fast wired charging, 50W fast wireless charging, 5W reverse wireless charging|
|Size/Weight||162.1 x 75.5 x 8.5mm / 205g|
While detractors will deride the official omission of Google apps and the lack of 5G connectivity, the Mate50 Pro is in every respect a flagship phone and has the performance to match. At present, EMUI 13 does not have the ability to implement virtual RAM, it does efficiently manage the 8GB it does have without issue. Here’s how it stacks up in benchmarks:
|3DMark Wild Life||Maxed|
|3DMark Wild Life Unlimited||10,937|
|3DMark Wild Life Extreme||2,727|
|3DMark Wild Life Extreme Unlimited||2,680|
|Geekbench 5 Single core||950|
|Geekbench 5 Multi core||3,471|
|Geekbench 5 Vulkan||5,723|
|Geekbench 5 OpenCL||6,347|
|PCMark Work 3.0||11,291|
|PCMark Battery Life||14 hours 4 mins|
The Snapdragon 8+ Gen1 is a proven CPU that is currently seeing service on the most powerful phones in 2022 so its performance envelope here is similar to other similarly configured flagship phones.
In terms of performance, phone is easily able to swap between a dozen open browser tabs on their default browser and easily run through games and other tasks without issue. Perhaps the biggest bugbear for many users is the lack of Google apps on Huawei phones.
Our Mate50 Pro review sample has been tested for the past couple of weeks ahead of the official launch in Malaysia and thus far, all the aforementioned Google apps ran smoothly without a hitch.
Of note is that EMUI 13 has a passive storage optimisation that Huawei refers to as SuperStorage mode which is claimed to save 20% off existing storage size by removing file duplicates and compacting unused apps. It’s a feature that sees the most benefit in the long term and we weren’t able to fully field test it in the short time we’ve had our test unit.
The 120Hz OLED display is top notch and to Huawei’s customary standards for flagships with excellent colour reproduction and detail along with superb legibility under direct sunlight while the stereo speakers are able to kick out good levels of volume with a fair level of detail too.
Functionally speaking, the Mate50 Pro has it where it counts and the biggest quibble is primarily the lack of 5G connectivity which is irksome but a phone case that confers 5G connectivity does exist in the China market. It’s not inconceivable that it could make its way here but there is thus far no official news as yet if it will make its way here.
When it comes to endurance, EMUI 13’s aggressive management of background apps helps quite a bit here with battery life. On an average day, you’ll easily see a full day of use and a bit more without issue with enough to last the commute home off its 4,700mAh battery.
Charging it is equally swift off its 66W fast charging and if push comes to shove, Huawei has implemented a potent last ditch Emergency mode that can eke out 2 hours of standby time or 12 minutes of call time even on just 1% of battery life. This, in itself, is an impressive ace in the hole and it works as advertised though it’s not something you should employ on a regular basis except in the most dire of circumstances.
Huawei Mate50 Pro Review – Can the Mate50 Pro run Google apps?
Ahead of press time, Huawei showcased an app called Lighthouse on their AppGallery that allows for support for Google applications on the Mate50 series as well as other Huawei phones and tablets of recent vintage.
While it does not feature the Google Play store, the Lighthouse app allows Google’s apps including Gmail, Google Docs, Google Sheets, YouTube, Google Earth, the all important Google Maps and the like to run without issue including receiving notifications. You can check out how to install the Lighthouse app from the Huawei AppGallery and the official list of supported Huawei devices here.
Huawei Mate50 Pro Review – How are the cameras?
The Huawei Mate50 Pro features a rear triple camera array dubbed the Ultra Aperture XMAGE camera system after Leica has parted ways though this doesn’t affect camera performance as it’s actually better than ever before. The two year hiatus has allowed Huawei to further refine the neural processing engine to create even better shots with the power of computational photography while also enhancing the hardware significantly.
What truly impresses with the XMAGE camera system is its 50MP F/1.4 primary camera that has a changeable aperture system – an actual physical aperture – that lets it dilate or narrow to let in or reduce incoming light from F/1.4 to F/4.0 on demand. By default, this is set on auto but the skilled users can set it to Pro mode. This is paired with optical image stabilisation (OIS) and laser autofocus too.
Paired with this is a 64MP telephoto camera with 3.5x optical zoom that also has OIS and phase detection autofocus. It also has the ability to consistently snag up to 100x hybrid zoom shots; a feat only matched by a few other flagship phones in the market. Rounding things off is a 13MP ultra wide angle camera with a 120-degree field of view.
The inclusion of hardware-based image stabilisation in both the Mate50 Pro’s primary and telephoto camera is impressive as it’s typically only implemented in full-fledged flagship phones on account of their cost. Combined, the Ultra Aperture XMAGE camera system allows our Mate50 Pro review sample to capture up to 4K@60fps footage as well as stills in RAW and JPEG. Up front, it has a 13MP selfie camera ideal for video calls and up to 4K@60fps video capture.
When taken for a spin around the block shooting a variety of subjects, the Mate50 Pro’s rear XMAGE camera system performed like a champ with performance that easily give other flagship phones from Cupertino and Suwon a run for their money. Shots in daylight with the ultrawide at 0.5X zoom, the primary camera at 1x zoom and all the way to 3.5x lossless optical zoom were crisp while featuring great colour rendition and dynamic range.
The physical aperture here is primarily handled in a competent fashion when set in auto mode though more skilled photographers can handle this manually. The settings allow for up to 10x zoom but you can pinch zoom further all the way to 100x which is quite a feat matched only by the Galaxy S22 Ultra though you’ll get the best results under 10x zoom.
Prior to recent events, Huawei had an edge in the implementation of low light computational photography and they haven’t lost their touch here. The Mate50 Pro was capable of excellent low light shots that have a surprisingly low amount of noise while retaining a good amount of detail and even gradations of colour. Low light shots off the ultra wide angle camera and all the way up to 3.5x zoom are excellent though shots get slightly softer beyond this.
You can also use the phone’s built-in Night mode that trades in 3 seconds of extra exposure time for brighter shots which works well for extremely dim scenarios though by and large, the Mate50 Pro can offer great shots off the cuff.
Captured 4K@60fps video is excellent with the built-in image stabilisation ensuring judder free footage. The front selfie camera acquitted itself well with good skin tones and background separation and you’ll get good video calls and vlogger footage with it without having to fiddle too much with the settings.
Should you buy the Huawei Mate50 Pro?
The Huawei Mate50 Pro is a return to form, ticking all the check marks needed in a flagship phone. You get superb build quality, an excellent display with top notch performance and, in particular, a workaround for Google apps access. Add in one of the best camera systems made in a smartphone for 2022, as DxoMark would attest to, and you have a fantastic phone that ought to be tops on your Christmas shopping list.
The omission of 5G connectivity is somewhat irksome but it’s a long way from becoming mainstream locally so it’s not something that ought to factor in your consideration of what is otherwise one of Huawei’s best phones in ages. Overseas readers ought to note that the Lighthouse app is currently only available for Huawei phones with the region set to Malaysia for now though it’s likely to expand to other regions later on.
Huawei Mate50 Pro review unit courtesy of Huawei Malaysia. For more details and to purchase please visit their official site here.
Huawei Mate50 Pro
Huawei Mate50 Pro
The Huawei Mate50 Pro is a return to form with a powerful camera array offering excellent image quality along with flagship grade performance and build quality. The biggest stumbling block – the lack of Google – has a workaround, making this a flagship alternative worthy of consideration.
Excellent camera performance
Superb 120Hz OLED display
Good performance Great battery life
Has Google support via Lighthouse
IP68 water resistance
No 5G connectivity
Finish is a fingerprint magnet
Only orange vegan leather variant has Kunlun armoured glass