The Huawei P50 Pocket feels like the beginning of something special for the future of Huawei‘s premium smartphone lineup, especially if you’re already weary of annual rectangle flagships from the industry’s biggest players.
(Update, February 2: Check out the prices, availability, trade-in promo, and preorder freebies and other details of the Huawei P50 Pro and Huawei P50 Pocket in the Philippines!)
Having debuted globally alongside the Huawei P50 Pro early this year, the P50 Pocket, unlike earlier iterations in the P series, adds some much-needed excitement to the industry with a sizable folding display that bends on a proprietary hinge that prevents creases and gaps when folded.
But apparently that’s only half the appeal of the P50 Pocket, which doesn’t feel like a prototype that isn’t quite there yet, despite it being Huawei’s first attempt at a modern flip phone.
And although we initially thought it would pale in comparison to the Huawei Mate X2, after a few weeks of use, we’ve come away convinced the P50 Pocket is unlike any device out there right now. If you look at it as an extremely convenient phone with almost all the strengths of Huawei’s best shooter, the P50 Pro, it suddenly makes for a compelling purchase.
SEE ALSO: Huawei P50 Pro camera test: Legendary P series does it again
Modern yet luxe at the same time, the Huawei P50 Pocket is right up there with the best-looking flagships on the market today. The Premium Gold color variant, in particular, looks like it strictly belongs on the runway or in a designer handbag, though the White edition we have is incredibly stunning as well. In the right light and at the right angle, the P50 Pocket in White shows a glossy diamond 3D pattern across both halves of the foldable.
As you can tell, the Huawei P50 Pocket has a clamshell form factor, making it more like Samsung’s Galaxy Z Flip3 and less like Huawei’s other foldable, the Mate X2, which takes after the standard folding-phone design that unfolds into a tablet.
And to be clear, the P50 Pocket isn’t a phone-tablet hybrid; instead, we look at it as a mini phone that can transform into a big-screen handset quickly and without fuss. That’s probably where the Pocket moniker comes from. In contrast to most other phones on the market — and unlike many other foldables — this model from the P50 series is absolutely pocketable and such a damn joy to use every day.
To give you a better idea of how the device stacks up to other phones size-wise, consider the Mate 40 Pro. When stretched out, the P50 Pocket is just slightly taller than Huawei’s last-gen flagship and has about the same width and depth as the Mate 40 Pro.
Everything changes when you fold the Pocket — something you obviously can’t do with the Mate 40 Pro — and slip the new model’s into your shirt pocket. There’s a whole lot of places Huawei’s new foldable can fit into that would otherwise be impossible for traditional smartphones.
The only downside we can think of is that the Huawei P50 Pocket will also double the thickness of other handsets when in clamshell mode. The brand has listed the depth of the foldable at 15.2mm after folding the screen, so keep that in mind. Talking about its weight, the Pocket weighs approximately 190 grams, with the battery included, which is great considering its form factor, screen size (of the main display), and battery capacity.
Comparing it with the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3, the P50 Pocket is both taller and wider — hardly surprising given its massive foldable display. But one-handed use isn’t an issue, especially considering the P50 Pocket’s flexible design. Just don’t expect to wrap your fingers around the device comfortably if you have average-sized hands like us.
Reaching the top of the display may pose a challenge given the unit’s 6.9-inch screen size, but not always. By default, you should be able to swipe down from anywhere on the home screen to bring up EMUI’s search page, which lets you find apps and settings options on your device, as well as trending news with just one gesture.
Our favorite feature is the shortcut on the search bar that allows you to scan QR codes without opening the Camera app. We found it to be extremely useful in today’s pandemic world.
Another feature worth mentioning in the same context is the physical fingerprint reader embedded in the power button on the side of the P50 Pocket. Not only is it generally more accurate than under-display scanners, it also lets you unlock the phone while wearing a mask and when the main display is folded, allowing you to use the secondary screen to check for notifications and other quick tasks.
When folded in half horizontally, its body is perfectly symmetrical, the folding mechanism at the center being one of the main attractions here. Huawei says the P50 Pocket uses Zirconium-based liquid metal and 2,100MPa high-strength steel to improve the durability and reliability of its new-generation Multi-Dimensional Hinge.
Another innovation is the phone’s “Multi-Dimensional Lifting design, which allows the device to be lighter when unfolded, with a smoother screen.” It also helps deliver a more seamless fold-unfold transition, allowing the screen to gently rise and fall into place, while also minimizing any creases on the main display.
True enough, the combination of Huawei’s improved folding mechanism and Multi-Dimensional Lifting design makes everyday use more comfortable when folding and unfolding the screen. The fact that the crease on the folding display is barely visible is equally impressive.
The Huawei P50 Pocket adopts the double-ring design of the Huawei P50 Pro, with the upper ring sporting three cameras and the bottom ring housing the cover screen. This display can work independently from the primary screen, providing you instant access to important information. Currently, the exterior screen has four widgets available, namely Calendar, Camera, Today’s Schedule, and Weather.
You can also swipe from the edge of the screen to take selfies using the highly capable rear camera of the P50 Pocket (which we’ll get to in a bit). The outer display supports themes, too, and there’s a number of preinstalled options to choose from if you’re not a fan of the default theme.
Tapping the display gives you a quick glance at your lock screen, so you can check the date, time, and battery level of your device, but it needs to be unlocked first via the side fingerprint reader if you want to take a selfie or adjust media playback. It’s a cool trick that helps you extend your phone’s battery life, though there’s also an always-on setting at the expense of higher battery drain.
The 6.9-inch OLED main display has an FHD+ resolution of 2,780 x 1,188 pixels, a tall 21:9 aspect ratio, and refreshes at up to 120Hz (choose from Dynamic, 120Hz, and 60Hz), while the touch-sampling rate is rated at up to 300Hz. It also supports the full P3 color gamut and HDR10+, as well as 1,440Hz PWM dimming to reduce screen flickering and make the screen more comfortable for viewing.
It should be noted that the P50 Pocket features the largest screen fitted on a clamshell foldable. And it’s even more impressive when you realize there’s no visible gap in the hinge when it’s closed, thanks to Huawei’s proprietary folding mechanism.
The picture quality is among the best in its class, with the main display offering excellent color accuracy at wide angles and exceptional black levels. This is particularly evident when switching to EMUI’s Dark mode or watching a movie that showcases the phone’s ability to retain shadows in dark areas of a scene. And really, besides the wow factor of its folding OLED panel, the other thing the P50 Pocket has going for it is that it’s a fantastic device for consuming content purposefully made for extra-wide screens.
On the other hand, viewing the display in portrait mode will give you a tall and wide screen that can show multiple tweets and social media posts on a single page. It’s great for long articles and emails as well.
The Huawei P50 Pocket features a small punch-hole cutout at the top for the 10.7-megapixel selfie camera, which has an f/2.2 ultra-wide lens for group pictures and selfies against a wide background. As one would expect, the front-facing camera is pretty good in daylight and supports Night and Portrait modes if you need more flexibility.
But unless you are taking a group selfie, your best bet is likely the camera system on the upper ring, which comprises a 40-megapixel True-Chroma Camera, a 13-megapixel unit for landscapes, and a 32-megapixel Ultra Spectrum Camera, which adds color information to the primary and ultra-wide cameras, alongside multiple sensors for color and fast and reliable focus locks.
Based on our camera test, the difference between selfies taken with the P50 Pocket’s rear and secondary cameras is immediately recognizable, regardless of the lighting situation. That’s not a knock on the punch-hole camera, by the way; the P50 Pocket is simply the camera beast we expected following its launch.
True to its P series pedigree — and like the P50 Pro — the P50 Pocket marries top-grade hardware with Huawei’s state-of-the-art camera software to produce high-quality images no matter where you are and what your subject is. The results are nothing short of spectacular, and it’s only natural to think that the phone’s Ultra Spectrum Camera — a first for Huawei’s P series — has a lot to do with its imaging prowess.
And though the P50 Pocket is not being marketed as one of the top-performing camera phones today, it can give the best in the business, including the P50 Pro, a run for their money. The only thing lacking here is a telephoto camera, which most flagship phones carry. The Pocket does offer up to 10x digital zoom, if you need to capture a photo from not so far away.
Exclusive to the P50 Pocket is the new Fluorescence mode that gives photos a cool ultraviolet-light effect in an extremely dark environment. Huawei’s 4K 60 fps, Dual-View, and Story Creator video modes are also present here, and along with Petal Clip, a powerful and free video editor for Huawei users, you have all the software tools you need to shoot and edit quality content without the need for a computer and third-party apps.
Sample shots. Click on an image to launch the gallery
The Huawei P50 Pocket boots EMUI 12 out of the box and ships with AppGallery and Petal Search for your third-party app needs. As you may have gathered, it doesn’t come with Google apps or Google Mobile Services. It’s unfortunate, but expected at this point. If you must have Google apps on your device, downloading the Gspace app from the Huawei AppGallery might be the best — and most straightforward — solution to your problem.
Gspace works by creating a virtual instance of Android on your device, allowing you to log in your Google account and install Play Store apps on your P50 Pocket with just a few taps, but at the cost of speed and stability (and ads for free users). So far, the app works like a dream on our unit. There’s hardly any lag when switching from one Google app to another provided they are already running in the background.
Powering Huawei’s pocket-sized foldable is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 4G, which is the same processor as the one in the P50 Pro. That processor is paired with 8GB RAM and 256GB of storage on the White edition of the P50 Pocket, whereas the Premium Gold edition steps up to a 12GB/512GB configuration. Both should deliver similar performance in most day-to-day and gaming scenarios. However, if you must have more storage for photos and videos — and we certainly understand considering how well the P50 Pocket performs its duties as a versatile mini camera — you should feel justified unloading the extra cash.
Generally speaking, Qualcomm Snapdragon 888-based devices are true flagship-level performers, able to maintain 120 fps in system apps and run the most demanding games at the highest graphics and frame-rate settings, and the P50 Pocket is no exception. Heavy gamers will find plenty to like when it comes to the display and performance, while the sound through the stereo speakers at the top and base is satisfyingly loud and clear.
The P50 Pocket has a 4,000mAh battery that tops up using a 40-watt Huawei SuperCharge fast charger. The average user will probably get a full day of mixed use from a single charge. But if you intend to be out all day, or use the phone to do some online gaming, you’ll need to bring the charger. We get around four to five hours of screen-on time with heavy usage on our unit.
To prolong the battery’s lifespan, Huawei has included several nifty options in the Settings, including the ability to set your device’s charging-temperature limit and maximum charging level between 70% and 90%. You can also take a look at Super Privacy mode, which prevents apps from accessing the P50 Pocket’s camera, microphone, and location when folded, while stretching your battery life even further.
Alternatives and final thoughts
Huawei has yet to set the local pricing for the Huawei P50 Pocket in the Philippines. Just to give you an idea, the 8GB/256GB storage version was priced at ¥8,988 (around P72,214) when it came out in China last year. The Premium Gold edition, on the other hand, sold for ¥10,988 (P88,282) at launch.
With only a handful of foldables on the local market, the P50 Pocket’s biggest rival when it launches should be last year’s Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3, which currently retails at P52,990 ($1,037) for 128GB of storage and P56,990 ($1,115) for the 256GB storage model. While it may be cheaper and has IP-rated water resistance along with 5G connectivity, it also comes with a more compact folding display, a smaller battery with slower charging, and dual-camera system that is nowhere near as good as the rear camera on the Huawei.
Which brings us back to what ultimately makes the P50 Pocket such a compelling device, especially to people who want a compact phone that doesn’t compromise on performance. Except here, you get both of those things, plus a massive and high-tech display and a camera setup that takes some of the best photos and selfies you can get from a smartphone.
Huawei P50 Pocket specs
- 6.9-inch OLED main display, FHD+ resolution, 120Hz refresh rate, 300Hz touch-sampling rate
- 1.04-inch OLED secondary display, 340 x 340 resolution, 60Hz refresh rate, 120Hz touch-sampling rate
- 5nm octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor with 4G
- Adreno 660 GPU
- 8GB/12GB RAM
- 256GB/512GB storage
- Triple 40-megapixel True-Chroma, 13-megapixel ultra-wide, 32-megapixel Ultra Spectrum rear cameras
- 10.7-megapixel front camera
- Side fingerprint reader
- 4,000mAh battery with 40-watt fast charging
- EMUI 12
- Color options: White, Premium Gold
Where to preorder the Huawei P50 Pocket
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