While it’s true that Huawei’s ongoing dispute with American authorities means that it doesn’t currently have access to the Google Play store – which hampers its phones’ software experience for many – there can be no question about the quality of its hardware.
In 2020, we were impressed with the Huawei P40 and Mate 40 series, but what does 2021 have in store? We look ahead to what you can expect from the – now officially teased – Huawei P50 series.
When will the Huawei P50 be released?
In June, Weibo user @TechnologyIsInteresting deciphered a binary code that suggested the P50 series would debut on 29 July.
This was then seconded as the arrival date for the base P50 (i.e. not the expected Pro or Pro+ models) in a China-exclusive launch that will also serve as the debut of the 4G-only variant of Qualcomm’s flagship Snapdragon 888 chipset.
On 29th July, we will be unveiling our newest products at the HUAWEI New Flagship Products Launch. Stay tuned to find out more.#LiveSmartWithHuawei pic.twitter.com/Be6dgSvOVh
— Huawei Mobile (@HuaweiMobile)
July 19, 2021
The date of the P50 launch was separately confirmed to MyDrivers by a Huawei store employee, with Huawei subsequently advertising the 29 July launch event on its social channels.
It has also been discovered that the P50 series is set to launch outside of China (despite this initial China-only launch). A company representative in Finland confirmed to GSMArena that the P50 series will launch globally, although additional details as to when that might be were not divulged.
Based on a subsequent Weibo post, the Chinese event is scheduled to kick off at 7:30pm local time (12:30pm BST/1:30pm CEST) and will be streamed across multiple platforms, including Weibo, BiliBili and Douyin (Chinese TikTok).
We discuss the ramifications of HarmonyOS and its relationship with the P50 series in episode 68 of our weekly podcast, Fast Charge:
How much will the Huawei P50 cost?
Pricing has been reasonably consistent for the last few years, as you can see from this breakdown of the previous models.
- P20 – £599/€699
- P30 – £699/€799
- P40 – £699/€799
Hopefully, Huawei will stick with this when the P50 arrives, offering it for £699/€799. Of course, if you’re happy to spend more on your device, then you can always move up to the Pro or Pro+ models, which offer additional features. In the P40 lineup, the prices for these models are £799 and £999 respectively, and the 2021 catalogue will likely walk a similar line.
To see where the extra money goes, read our Huawei P40 vs P40 Pro vs P40 Pro+ comparison.
What features and specs can we expect to see in the Huawei P50?
As the Huawei P50’s arrival moves closer, there are a variety of sites now reporting specs and features that they claim have been leaked by contacts within Huawei.
South Korean site The Elec, cited “people with direct knowledge of the matter,” suggesting that, despite the fact that in August 2020, Huawei President Richard Yu warned that the company may no longer be able to source Kirin chips after 2020 thanks to the US restrictions, the P50 Pro and P50 Pro+ will arrive with the Kirin 9000 that first appeared in the Mate 40 Pro, and has been seen more recently in the Mate X2 foldable.
The 9000 is an impressive design based on a 5nm die with 5G integration, which should bring improved performance and battery life over the P40 series. The aforementioned @RODENT950, meanwhile, was the first to suggest that the base Huawei P50 may instead use the marginally less powerful Kirin 9000E SoC.
Weibo user Xuan Mian XPro claims that the initial wave of Kirin 9000-powered phones will only arrive as 4G variants, with 5G versions coming later, while Weibo tipster Bald Panda suggests that a rumoured 4G-only Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 variant will fill the void of Huawei’s apparent P50 Kirin chip shortage, prioritising for devices destined for markets where 5G infrastructure is yet to take hold.
Huawei also isn’t able to use Qualcomm’s latest 5G-capable silicon as a result of the US restrictions, so – as a subsequent report from MyDrivers states – the likelihood of these 888-powered P50 entries being 4G-only seems increasingly likely.
The base P50 is on track to take the lead in the changeover as Kirin chips run out but the P50 Pro will also reportedly switch to Qualcomm silicon come December this year.
Of the rumours we’ve seen, there’s been little agreement on how large the panel on the P50 will be. Some state 6.22in with a 2340×1080 resolution, while others that it will be 6.58in with 2640×1200.
Prolific leaker @OnLeaks shared a render of what’s claimed to be the P50 Pro, allegedly measuring in at 6.6in but in near-identical dimensions to the standard 6.1in P40. Based on this, it’s possible that the P50 will measure in at 6.22in while the P50 Pro will sport a larger 6.6in screen.
OnLeaks later expanded on the P50’s leaked spec sheet, with mention of a flat 6.3in display with a centrally-positioned single hole-punch selfie camera and an in-display fingerprint sensor, set into a metal-framed, glass-backed body, measuring 156.7mm x 74mm x 8.3mm (10.6mm if you include the rear camera bump) with stereo speakers into the top and bottom.
Those hoping for 120Hz refresh rates look likely to be disappointed though, as even the recently announced Mate 40 Pro only comes with a 90Hz panel. All the rumours we’ve seen so far seem to suggest that this will be the case with the P50. While this will be an improvement on the base P40 which only managed 60Hz, it means the Huawei phones will be missing a flagship feature found on many of their rivals, particularly the OnePlus 8T and Samsung Galaxy S21.
Cameras have long been an impressive area for Huawei and during the company’s HarmonyOS launch on 2 June, when teasing the P50 Series, Huawei’s Richard Yu proclaimed that it would lift “mobile photography to a new level.”
On the P40, we were blown away by the quality of the images from the compliment of 50Mp f/1.9 wide-angle, 8Mp f/2.2 3x telephoto and 16Mp f/2.0 ultrawide optics.
The big shift with the next P Series cameras looks to be the addition of a ‘liquid lens’, according to numerous Chinese sources – something rival Xiaomi already introduced on its first foldable, the Mi Mix Fold.
As spotted by GSMArena, established Chinese tipster Digital Chat Station made mention of the technology, likely to be paired to Sony’s rumoured IMX782 image sensor. Meanwhile, a post on AnTuTu’s website, stated that numerous sources have suggested Huawei will be implementing the technology in its devices “for the first time next year.”
As for what a liquid lens actually does, it’ll supposedly allow for significantly faster autofocus speeds – down to a matter of milliseconds – akin to the human eye. It’ll also be able to deliver superior image stabilisation and better yet, should prove more durable than existing equivalent camera systems.
Due to these strengths, it’s thought that Huawei will use this feature on the P50 line’s telephoto sensors, as opposed to the primary camera.
The main camera is set for upgrades too, though. It’s tipped to feature the IMX800 sensor; the first 1in smartphone image sensor (i.e. the largest sensor you’ll find in any phone right now), granting a huge advantage in image quality, especially in low light.
Main + ultra wide + tele
Main + Ultra wide + periscope
Main + Ultra wide + tele + periscope + ToF https://t.co/5IWs05O3p6
— Teme (特米)? (@RODENT950)
February 24, 2021
As for what the entire camera lineup across the range might look like, the main change is likely to be the telephoto/zoom configuration across all three models, along with a ToF (time of flight) sensor for the Pro+. This is likely the same 5Mp camera mentioned in some reports, to aid with depth perception and focusing, for portrait and night modes.
Following on from the above tweet, come April additional details were shared about the rumoured camera hardware across the range; with continued usage of an RYYB sensor in numerous cases, as well as a snapshot of the potential layout of the camera setup on one member of the P50 series.
#HuaweiP50Series cameras are currently these
IMX 707Y 1/1.18″ (RYYB)
IMX 600 (UW) 1/1.74″
IMX 707Y 1/1.18″ (RYYB)
OV64A (U-W) 1/1.34″
5X periscope (RYYB)
IMX 707Y 1/1.18″ (RYYB)
OV64A (U-W FFL) 1/1.34″
3x tele (RYYB)
10x periscope (RYYB) pic.twitter.com/9lY0zWO2ip
— Teme (特米)? (@RODENT950)
March 26, 2021
The original renders shared by @OnLeaks seem to sport a single front-facing hole-punch camera on the alleged P50 Pro, down from the dual offering of the P40 range. This makes sense, given the amount of screen real estate a dual-hole punch takes up, but there aren’t any details about what the single front-facing camera might offer right now.
In white – the P50, in black – the P50 Pro
As for what the rear liquid lens system might actually look like, OnLeaks produced a trove of seemingly leaked P50 and P50 Pro imagery in mid-March, showcasing one of the most unusual looking camera setups of any smartphone in recent memory.
Renders of the Huawei P50 Pro+ have since emerged, courtesy of HoilNDI (embedded in the Tweet below), which display three cameras and a ToF sensor within the lower element, while a periscopic zoom camera resides within the top element, all on its own.
#Huawei #HuaweiP50ProPlus #HuaweiP50 pic.twitter.com/6eDFWoMLnm
— HoiINDI (@HoiIndi)
March 22, 2021
As of May, the base P50 has since been spotted in real life, with spy shots supplied by users DigitalChatStation and Technology Yu on Weibo; again highlighting the base phone’s unique quad rear camera setup and bringing to light mention of HarmonyOS on the phone’s supposed 6.3in display (affirming Huawei’s intention to replace Android out the box on the P50 line).
@RODENT950 promptly popped up again on 12 May, this time showcasing apparent press imagery of the P50 series, although some theorise that these images are simply mock-ups.
And here is the exclusive first look at the Huawei P50 Series.#HuaweiP50Pro #HuaweiP50ProPlus #HuaweiP50Series #HuaweiP50 pic.twitter.com/piL3IYqriI
— Teme (特米)? (@RODENT950)
May 12, 2021
Cropping in, flipping and brightening the text around the Leica logo in the image also reveals that one of the phone’s cameras features a 13-90mm equivalent lens.
While Huawei’s official imagery has since shed more light on what the camera setup on the back of its next flagship phone line will look like, Weibo user Bald Panda made mention the ultrawide on one entry leveraging a 1/1.18in sensor, to accompany that sizeable 1in lead camera sensor.
Chinese video sharing site Bilibili played host to additional leaked hands-on images of one member of the P50 series, with particular attention paid to the camera setup.
There’s also no getting around the fact that the device in question (shared by user Deep Reflect) is rendered in sparkly pink, making for one of the most outlandish finishes we’ve potentially ever seen on a Huawei phone.
On 19 July, Huawei pushed out a promo video on its official Weibo profile, focusing on the camera’s distinct design, which gave eagle-eyed fans yet another chance to glean new information about the photographic hardware on the phone, based on the text around the phone’s four rear snappers that appeared on-screen for about 3.5 seconds during the teaser.
A frame from Huawei’s P50 camera teaser video on Weibo, featuring key new camera information
The text in question, positioned under the Leica branding, next to the phone’s cameras reads, ‘VARIO-SUMMILUX-H1:1.8-3.4/18-125 ASPH’. As for what that all means, it’s predominantly Leica’s terminology in reference to photographic components, specs or principals.
Both the terms ‘Vario-Summilux’ and ‘ASPH’ relate to the types of lenses at work on the phone; effectively stating that the P50 uses a Leica-designed aspheric lens, the shape of which helps with photographic qualities like colour, contrast and sharpness.
The ‘1.8-3.4/18-125’ meanwhile, is in regards to the range of apertures and focal lengths supported by the P50’s camera setup; meaning its apertures will range from f/1.8 and f/3.4 across its various sensors, while the effective focal lengths – from what’s assumed to be an ultrawide and a telephoto sensor specifically – clock in at 18mm to 125mm, with additional snappers operating within that range.
With only a few days between now and the phone’s official unveiling, Huawei has even gone as far as to release an actual camera sample from one of the P50 series, showcasing an impressive result from a challenging photographic scenario.
A supposed camera sample, taken on a member of the Huawei P50 series
While the shot of the fencers was compressed when uploaded to Weibo, it still offers up insight into the P50’s photographic capabilities. The scene is both low light and high contrast, while the subjects themselves are fast-moving, providing an additional challenge for the camera.
It would appear that the P50 is equipped to handle all of these hurdles, demonstrating realistic colours and contrast, a promisingly broad dynamic range and great low light shooting abilities, not to mention crisp details, despite the fast-paced action of the lunge in the scene.
In the video department, the P40 could already capture footage at 4K/60fps, so there’s not much room for improvement there (aside from perhaps the jump to 8K), but Huawei could implement software enhancements to bolster the already excellent stabilisation and focusing on video. Whatever arrangement Huawei decides to offer in the P50, we’re sure it will be one of the best around.
At the time of writing, the US ban on Huawei has most directly impacted the software available for its phones. Google Play Services are not an option, so accessing the Google Play store is off the table. Whether this changes or not in the foreseeable future is uncertain.
In the meantime, Huawei has been working on its own operating system, HarmonyOS, which, according to Fast Technology via Weibo, may see its out-of-box debut on the P50 series. The company’s foldable Mate X2 was originally cited to be the first device to receive an update to HarmonyOS 2.0 but the P50 line looks set to come pre-installed with the platform from the get-go.
For a roundup of devices that the Huawei P50 will be up against, take a look at our guides to the best smartphones and best Chinese smartphones.
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