Many call Pixel smartphones the kings of mobile photography – apparently only because they are unfamiliar with the Mate 50 Pro
The Huawei Mate 50 series has several smartphones, but at the time of writing, only one of them is officially on sale outside of China – the Pro version. That is what we got for review, and in the version with vegan skin. Although the Mate 50 Pro is sold in the global market, it still comes without Google Mobile Services and 5G access, but these shortcomings can be covered by at least amazing cameras.
- Display: 6.74 inches, OLED, 2616×1212 pixels, 120Hz.
- Processor: Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 4G (4nm), 1× 3.19 GHz (Cortex-X2) + 3× 2.75 GHz (Cortex-A710) + 4× 2 GHz (Cortex-A510).
- RAM: 8 GB.
- User memory: 256 or 512 GB, support for NM memory cards.
- Main camera: 50 MP (f/1.4–4.0, OIS) + 64 MP (f/3.5, OIS, 3.5× optical zoom) + 13 MP (f/2.2, 120° FOV)
- Front camera: 13 MP (f / 2.4) + ToF 3D.
- Battery: 4700mAh, 66W wired charging, 50W wireless charging, 5W reverse wireless charging.
- Preinstalled ROM: EMUI 13 (Global Version) or HarmonyOS 3.0 (Chinese Version).
- Dimensions: 162.1 × 75.5 × 8.5 mm.
- Weight: 205 grams.
Huawei Mate 50 Pro comes in two main variants – leather and glass. The orange Mate we reviewed has a glass front and leather back. The black and silver models use unidentified glass panels on both sides.
Huawei has been releasing curved flagships with sleek designs for some time now, and the new Mate 50 Pro doesn’t break that trend. In fact, the new Mate borrows many key elements from the latest Mate flagships – a curved front with a long screen cutout, a curved leather back, and even a circular camera island.
Huawei Mate 50 Pro, like previous models, has an aluminum frame that you can see and feel on the sides. The frame is glossy and matches the color of the back panel. The metal is impressively thin on the left and right sides at just 2mm, while the top and bottom are as thick as the phone itself at around 8-9mm.
The phone has an IP68 dust and water resistance rating and can survive in water at a depth of 2m for 30 minutes. But wait, there is one twist. The orange version (which we have) has a special Kunlun glass on the screen. It is claimed to be very drop resistant, 10 times better than the glass used in other versions of the Mate 50 Pro. Equally impressive is the improved water resistance – the orange Mate 50 Pro can dive into water to a depth of 6 meters and survive. So far, iPhones have been the only non-secure phones to make that kind of promise.
The front panel is reminiscent of the 2018 Huawei Mate 20 Pro – a curved display with a long thin notch. The notch is back, replacing the pill-shaped notch we saw on the Mate 40 Pro. The Mate 50 Pro features a 13-megapixel ultra-wide-angle front-facing camera, 3D ToF for Face ID, and a speakerphone that complements the stereo system.
The Huawei Mate 50 Pro features a 6.74-inch curved glass OLED screen that gives the illusion of a curved display panel. Beneath it is a flat panel with a resolution of 2616×1212 pixels (428 PPI), as well as a long cutout for the Face ID system and speaker.
The Mate 50 Pro’s screen comes with all the features you need, such as a 120Hz refresh rate, 10-bit color depth for over a billion colors, HDR10+ support, and 1440Hz PWM high-frequency dimming for users who are sensitive to conventional PWM dimming.
Let’s start with a brightness test. The Mate 50 Pro’s display achieves a maximum brightness of around 570 nits when manually adjusting the slider. In bright light, the screen glows up to 950 nits, even if you don’t have auto-brightness turned on. It’s great for outdoor use and we didn’t have any issues even on the brightest days. The minimum brightness was below 2 nits, which is also very good.
The screen resolution can be selected between choose, the following settings are available: Smart (dynamic), high (native) 1212p or low 808p to save battery.
The refresh rate is also selectable: standard (60 Hz), high (120 Hz) and dynamic (switchable between 60 and 120 Hz). High frequency mode (120Hz) always uses 120Hz in compatible apps and interfaces, switching to 60Hz only in apps that don’t support it, and when playing video.
The dynamic frequency uses 90 Hz for EMUI and a number of applications. For most of the apps we installed, it reverted back to 60Hz. In this mode, only in benchmarks, we observed a frequency of over 90 frames per second.
Huawei Mate 50 Pro is powered by a 4700 mAh battery. In our battery life test, the Mate 50 Pro achieved a score of 104 hours, making it an excellent flagship. The Mate 50 Pro performed admirably on screen tests, lasting over 15 hours of web browsing and over 17 hours of video playback. Talk time of 22 hours can also be considered good.
It is worth noting that the Mate 50 Pro, with its Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chipset, offers better standby autonomy than competitors with similar specifications.
The Huawei Mate 50 Pro supports Huawei’s 66W SuperCharger and 50W Wireless SuperCharge. The retail box includes a 66W adapter and a 6A USB cable so you can quickly charge your Mate 50 Pro right out of the box.
Like many other phones, the Mate 50 Pro supports Smart Charge, which slows down charging when it reaches 80%. You can also choose the security mark yourself if you don’t want it to be fixed at 80%.
Huawei Mate 50 Pro supports reverse wired and wireless charging. The wireless option must be enabled in the battery options.
Huawei Mate 50 Pro is powered by Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 from Qualcomm. This is a custom 4G version as Huawei is not allowed to purchase chipsets with 5G support. However, in terms of performance, the chip remains a familiar beast.
The Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 uses the most powerful processor in the Android world currently available.
The same goes for the Adreno 730 GPU, the most powerful GPU for Android devices right now. Don’t forget that the Mate 50 Pro has a 1212p screen, while phones like the Sony Xperia 5 IV and OnePlus 10T have slightly less demanding 1080p displays.
The AnTuTu 9 test also places the Huawei Mate 50 Pro among the most powerful Android phones in the world.
Clearly, the Huawei Mate 50 Pro has hardware capable of handling whatever apps and games you might install and run on it, and it will run smoothly. Like other Huawei phones, it offers a dedicated Performance mode that relaxes throttling restrictions to prolong CPU peak performance by boosting temperatures. In real life, the difference is negligible both in performance and in heating.
We also ran the usual stress tests to see how the Mate 50 Pro performs under prolonged and very heavy use. It turned out that the processor is running at 59% of peak stable performance, which is not terrible. However, the fact that it only takes 8 minutes to reach the 60% level means that cooling is rather limited.
In the graphics stress test, the Mate 50 Pro scored 35% stability, which is quite disappointing. Looking at the graph, we can see that the 35% drop occurred five times within 20 cycles, while most of the time the phone kept 80% GPU performance.
The Mate 50 Pro gets quite warm, but never gets hot, even during stress tests.
Real life performance isn’t as bad as these benchmarks show, as it’s actually hard to push the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 to that extent. We left the game running for a long time and it didn’t cause the phone to throttle or noticeably lag. It also did not get hot in the hands, only slightly warm.
Right away, let’s talk about the benefits of having a variable aperture – the main camera has it. While the Mate 50 Pro isn’t the first phone to offer this capability, it’s the first to have such a complex implementation – previous solutions used two fixed steps. Huawei now offers ten stops, from f/1.4 to f/4.0, which should be sufficient for even the most demanding smartphone users.
Having different lens apertures is great: a camera can choose a wider aperture to let in more light at night, and a smaller aperture during the day to sharpen photos and increase depth of field.
Shooting at f/1.4 provides very shallow depth of field and very nice natural bokeh. When zoomed in to f/4.0, much more of the frame remains in focus. This allows you to shoot great portraits with bokeh, and if you want, you can capture more objects in the background.
Here you can see the difference in depth of field when shooting at different apertures.
Now let’s look at some real samples.
The main camera saves 12.5-megapixel images by default, and it chose f/2.0 for all but one scene (the one with the front of the hotel) during this bright sunny day. The photos are excellent – a lot of detail, we do not see noise, the contrast is high.
Dynamic range is to be commended for its lack of congestion – it’s realistic, and while we do see some clipped highlights, there’s no faux HDR. White balance has always been accurate, and color reproduction has consistently been excellent in every shot we’ve taken.
Last but not least, Huawei’s incredible processing algorithms are something we’ve loved for a long time. Foliage, intricate objects, and all other random details are rendered in the best possible way, looking natural, without being soft or overly harsh.
Overall, the Huawei Mate 50 Pro’s main camera is definitely among the best smartphone cameras we’ve seen.
The 50-megapixel main camera sensor is powerful enough to offer quality zoom. The photos we took at 2x zoom are almost as good as in native mode, without significant loss of detail. Huawei does use advanced computational photography to make up for the digital zoom, and it works great.
Portrait mode on the Mate 50 Pro offers 1x, 2x, and 3x zoom levels, all using the main camera and shooting at f/1.4 to maximize the camera’s natural bokeh along with artificially created bokeh.
The default 1x portraits are probably the best we’ve seen on smartphones – best-in-class rendering of subjects with natural detail, exposure, great colors and no noise. Edge detection is ideal as it is provided by physics rather than artificial intelligence. The HDR function is supported, so a particularly bright background will not spoil the picture.
As with 2x scenes, 2x and 3x portraits are close to 1x portraits. The improved scaling process handles single-subject even better, and even at 3x magnification, detail and sharpness remain at their best.
Indeed, portrait shots are another test that the Huawei Mate 50 Pro passes with flying colors.
The Huawei camera app offers two high-resolution shooting modes – 50MP and 50MP AI. The 50MP option saves enlarged versions of standard 12.5MP shots by default, which doesn’t make sense at all.
The AI 50MP feature was formerly known as AI Ultra Clarity and works by stacking multiple 50MP shots. These shots are somewhat more detailed than the standard 50-megapixel options, although at the pixel level they are still far from stunning. We tried downgrading them to 12.5MP and the difference is barely noticeable, so we can safely avoid both modes at 50MP.
Moving on to the ultra-wide-angle camera. It is similar to the one used in the P50 Pro, and unfortunately has a similar problem. The 13-megapixel camera is equipped with a 13mm f/2.2 lens and supports autofocus. However, sometimes when she needs to focus on infinity, she starts to move uncontrollably, completely misses and saves a blurry photo. Usually this problem is noticeable in the viewfinder, and after a few taps and movements of the phone, we managed to get a usable shot.
However, the unreliable autofocus is a distraction from using the phone. We don’t have a full set of ultra-wide photos, and the reason is obvious – we’ve removed blurry photos.
On the other hand, the 13-megapixel photos taken with the ultra-wide-angle camera are great. These are some of the widest shots we’ve seen on a smartphone, with good distortion correction and satisfactorily detailed corners. Images are highly detailed, low noise (or even no noise), and excellent dynamic range. Contrast is high, and color reproduction and accuracy remain as great as on the main camera.
Super Macro is available as a separate shooting mode and also appears as a toggle in the viewfinder when you are trying to focus on a very close subject. We recommend avoiding this mode, however, as it uses the varying zoom levels achieved by cropping and enlarging a standard 13mm image and degrades the overall quality of your photos.
Instead, you can simply shoot from 3cm away with the ultra wide-angle camera, in which case you get exemplary close-ups with detailed centers, sharp and well-detailed complex objects. Contrast remains high, dynamics are excellent, and color reproduction is accurate and vibrant. We also want to commend these photos for their excellent noise handling.
The Huawei Mate 50 Pro is definitely one of the best camera phones on the market, if not the absolute leader. The phone also has a stunning screen, great performance and all the flagship hardware packed into a great looking and well built case.
The only caveat, as with other Huawei smartphones, is to be prepared for missing Google services.
- Sleek design, leather back, Kunlun glass, IP68 water and dust resistance.
- Excellent OLED screen, 120 Hz.
- Loud good quality stereo speakers.
- Fast charging, good battery life.
- adequate performance.
- Universal camera sets on both sides.
- Outstanding photo and video quality, day and night.
- EMUI 13 is impressive even without Google.
- Works well and pairs with other Huawei devices.
- Touch ID and Face ID.
- Expensive at the start of sales.
- No Google mobile services.
- No 5G.
- Throttles quickly at peak loads.
- There is a ToF 3D system, but there is no selfie portrait mode.
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