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Huawei’s P50 Pro launches with 200x camera zoom, but leaves out 5G

Huawei has launched the Huawei P50 and Huawei P50 Pro, its flagship smartphones for 2021, in China. Huawei has always captured hearts with its impressive camera systems, and the P50 Pro is no exception, plus there’s no chance you’ll mistake the phone for any other due to its distinctive design. However, neither P50 series phones have 5G connectivity, which is something of a shock for a top-spec 2021 smartphone.

There’s also the question about whether either P50 model will ever be released outside China. That’s not known at the moment, but in the meantime let’s take a closer look at what we do know about the new Huawei P50 series.

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Huawei P50 Pro

The back of the Huawei P50 Pro is dominated by what looks like two large, circular cameras, but these are actually glass modules that hold multiple camera lenses. The unusual design certainly stands out. They contain a main 50-megapixel camera with optical image stabilization (OIS), a 40MP monochrome camera, a 13MP ultra-wide camera, and a 64MP telephoto camera. The telephoto camera can apparently shoot at up to 200x zoom, but it’s not known what optical zoom levels are featured.

Huawei P50 Series launch event.

Enabling the zoom feature, night mode, and more new and updated camera features are various tech advancements. These range from an XD Optics system that promises to restore detail lost due to design constraints in the camera’s opticals, to a True-Chroma Image Engine that increases color accuracy in photos. These are joined by Super HDR for an even more dynamic range visible in photos, and a pro image stabilization system that will keep even zoomed-in 4K resolution video steady. Huawei’s cameras on P-Series phones have impressed for some time, and we’ve no doubt the P50 Pro will continue the tradition, but it’s impossible to get an idea of exactly how much Huawei magic has been worked into these cameras without trying them out.

What else? The P50 Pro has a 6.6-inch, 120Hz OLED screen with a curved edge and tiny bezels, a 4360mAh battery, 66W fast charging support, and Huawei’s Harmony OS 2 software installed. Unusually, Huawei has two different versions of the P50 Pro — one with a Kirin 9000 processor, and the other with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888. The Kirin-powered phone comes with either 8GB or 12GB of RAM, while the Qualcomm chip only gets 8GB.

Huawei P50 Pro from the back and front.

Unfortunately, neither chip connects to a 5G network. This is a serious concern for the P50 Series’s success, as it will likely struggle to gain much attention in China, where 5G has a high adoption rate, and 4G subscriptions are falling. Huawei’s device market share in China has been falling for the past year, and a 4G-only phone is unlikely to change the situation. Ironically, Huawei’s 5G equipment is used in at least 60% of China’s network infrastructure.

The existence of the 4G Snapdragon 888 version is also a mystery. It has Chinese pricing, so isn’t automatically only a phone eventually destined for the international market, where it would also find it difficult to grab attention without 5G.

Huawei P50

The Huawei P50 is only available with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 4G chip. It misses out on the P50 Pro’s 64MP telephoto camera, making do with a 50MP main camera, a 13MP ultra-wide camera, and a 12MP telephoto camera instead. The screen measures 6.5-inches and has a 90Hz refresh rate, and unlike the P50 Pro’s curved screen, sits flat on the phone. The battery capacity has been reduced to 4100mAh, and Huawei’s HarmonyOS 2 is installed. Both the Huawei P50 and P50 Pro have IP68 water resistance ratings.

Price and availability

The Huawei P50 Pro starts at the equivalent of $927 for the 8GB/128GB Snapdragon 888 4G model, or just over $1,000 for the 8GB/256GB model with the Kirin 9000 processor. The P50 starts at the equivalent of $695. In China, the phones will be available for pre-order on July 30 and released on August 12, but there are no details on an international launch for either version or model at this time.

Huawei had previously delayed the launch of the P50 Series phones, saying problems caused by ongoing restrictions placed on it by the U.S. government were to blame.

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