Huawei Mate 50 Pro gets a fancy camera but still no 5G

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Launched in China earlier this month, Huawei’s Mate 50 Pro has now officially launched in Europe, sporting a suite of fancy tech including a vari-aperture camera, but still without Google services or 5G connectivity. Two points that sting somewhat, especially given the phone’s £1,160 price tag.

The Mate series has typically been where Huawei has launched some of its best innovations, and the 50 Pro seems to maintain that spirit. Along with the 13-megapixel ultra-wide cameras and the 64-megapixel telephoto cameras, the main 50-megapixel camera packs an aperture that can be changed from f/1.4 to f/4. Shoot it wide open, and it’ll let in more light (up to 24 per cent more, according to Huawei) and give that attractive blurry ‘bokeh’ to your portraits. Stop it at f/4 and you’ll get your shot more in focus.

Samsung’s Galaxy S8 packs a similar system, with only two opening options. The Mate 50 Pro uses six aperture blades to vary the size of the aperture, just like a professional camera lens. It remains to be seen what impact this has on the images in real life.

The 6.74-inch OLED display has a 120Hz refresh rate, is HDR-certified, and is covered in a material Huawei calls ceramic glass that has been hardened at temperatures reaching 1,600 degrees Celsius. The company claims this is the most impact-resistant screen around – a claim I’m more than happy to test when I have one (or maybe two, just to be sure) between the hands.

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Huawei claims its screen coating is the toughest on the market.

Huawei

The phone is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 processor, but it’s mostly a 4G-only version as Huawei can’t use 5G networks due to restrictions in the US. These same restrictions also mean that, as with other recent Huawei phones, the Mate 50 Pro will not have any Google services, including Gmail, Chrome or the Google Play Store. While Huawei’s own app store has grown significantly in recent years, it’s still missing a lot of big names, and if you like playing the latest games with your Android or iOS friends, this probably won’t be the fit.

The lack of 5G and Google services would be a significant issue even for a budget phone, but at a starting price of 1,299 euros (which converts to £1,160 or $1,254, although it’s not likely to go on sale in the US during his lifetime) the phone is surprisingly expensive given its glaring omissions.

Huawei Mate 50 Pro Key Features

  • 6.74-inch, 2616 x 1212 pixel display
  • 120Hz refresh rate
  • IP68 water resistance
  • In-screen fingerprint scanner
  • 4700mAh battery
  • 66W fast charge, 50W wireless charge
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 processor (4G only)
  • 50-megapixel main camera, 13-megapixel ultra-wide camera, 64-megapixel telephoto camera (3.5x optical zoom)
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