Huawei's P50 Pro, P50 Pocket get wider release with glaring omissions
The phones are coming to the UK and Europe, but without key features you'd expect for their high price.
Andrew LanxonEditor At Large, Lead Photographer, Europe
Andrew is CNET's go-to guy for product coverage and lead photographer for Europe. When not testing the latest phones, he can normally be found with his camera in hand, behind his drums or eating his stash of home-cooked food. Sometimes all at once.
Huawei's foldable P50 Pocket and flagship P50 Pro will finally go on sale this month in the UK and wider Europe for about £1,090 and £1,005, respectively, following their unveiling in China last year. Due to ongoing issues between the US government and Huawei, the phones won't go on sale in the US, but those prices convert to about $1,470 and $1,355.
Although both phones run Android at their core, due to US sanctions neither phone offers Google services such as Gmail, Chrome or the Google Play Store. And despite their high prices, neither phone has 5G.
It's increasingly unusual for a phone not to include some type of 5G compatibility, especially in this price range. (The UK price, by the way, is converted from the official pricing of 1,299 euros for the Pocket and and 1,199 euros for the Pro.)
The P50 Pocket is Huawei's answer to Samsung's Galaxy Z Flip, with a clamshell design that folds down into a small square. Visually it's very similar to Samsung's phone, although its outside features two large circles, one featuring a triple camera unit and the other acting as a handy external display for showing incoming notifications.
When unfolded, the phone has a 6.9-inch display with a 120Hz refresh rate, slightly bigger than the Z Flip 3's 6.7-inch unfolded screen. There's a 4,000-mAh battery under the hood and the camera -- which features a 43-megapixel main sensor and a 13-megapixel superwide -- uses the company's XD Fusion Pro Ultra Spectrum Image Technology (seriously), which Huawei claims results in better HDR and more natural colors.
The P50 Pro, meanwhile, is the company's more usual flagship phone, with a high-resolution 6.6-inch display, 4,360-mAh battery and 66W wired fast-charging. Based on the images, the P50 Pro has quite an attractive design, echoing the P50 Pocket's two-circle design.
The P50 Pro is particularly geared toward photography with a 50-megapixel main camera, a 40-megapixel monochrome camera (which Huawei claims adds better detail and contrast to color images), a 13-megapixel ultrawide camera and a 64-megapixel telephoto camera that offers up to 200x zoom (including digital zooming). It also packs similar image processing technology to the P50 Pocket, promising improved colors, detail and low-light performance.
Inside is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chip which, based on the performance of last year's Galaxy S21 Ultra (US version), should be extremely capable at most tasks you'd likely throw at it.
However these phones continue to come up against the barrier of having no Google services, which in particular means no downloading apps or services from the Google Play Store. While Huawei has expanded its own app store in recent years, many big names still aren't on its shelves. The lack of 5G is against these phones too. Although 5G is yet to be readily available everywhere, the networks are expected to build up substantially over the two to three years that a customer will likely hold onto a phone for.
The result is that these phones will have to seriously impress from a hardware perspective -- including photography, screen and fast-charging capabilities -- to make up for the high price, lack of Google services and lack of 5G. We'll have more thoughts once we've put these phones to the test.