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(Pocket-lint) - Huawei's transition from Android disruptor to Google outsider has seen a poignant shift over the past couple of years.

The Huawei P40, the flagship phone for 2020, launched without access to Google services, as Huawei continued to follow its own path. There's no a new champion, wanting, once again, to lead the way in mobile photography.

Release date and price

  • 29 July launch in China
  • P50 Pro+ likely to launch later
  • Pre-order 30 July, in store 12 August

The Huawei P50 and P50 Pro have been announced in China, but there have been no other announcements in other regions.

There's also been no pricing announced for regions other than China, but with a wide range of models available, there's a full spectrum of prices, from ¥4488 (£500) for the Huawei P50 (8/128GB) up to ¥8488 (£940) for the Huawei P50 Pro Special Edition (12/512GB).

Pre-orders in China open on 30 July with in-store date of 12 August. The Kirin 9000 versions of the phones will ship first, followed by the special edition and then the Snapdragon 888 models in September.

There's been no word on the rumoured P50 Pro+.

Huaweiofficial photo 5

Design and build

  • P50 Pro: 158.8 x 72.8 x 8.5mm, 195g
  • P50: 156.5 x 73.8 x 7.92mm, 181g
  • IP68 protection

The biggest design element of the P50 series is the dual ring cameras on the rear. This is designed to evoke memories of traditional cameras, with Huawei packing the lenses into those two roundels on the rear of the phones. 

There's a slight difference in size, but the P50 Pro is the more premium design, offering more colours and with a curved display compared to the P50's flat display. Huawei says this is a more minimalist design, with teh focus being on those two "matrix" cameras.

The Huawei P50 Pro will come in a special edition black version, while there's also a Dynamic Sky Blue version, which gives a 3D effect to the back of the phone - although this version is slightly thicker and heavier than the other versions. This version will use a photochromatic rear glass to change the colour when there's an incoming call.

Both have IP68 water and dust protection and both have dual stereo speakers.

Display

  • P50 Pro: 6.6-inch display, OLED, 2700 x 1888 pixels, 120Hz, curved, HDR
  • P50: 6.5-inch, OLED, 2700 x 1224 pixels, 90Hz, flat, HDR

As we mentioned, the big difference between the two devices is the the Pro has a curved display while the regular model has a flat display. 

That's not the only advantage that the P50 Pro gets, however. It's a little larger at 6.6-inches and it has a faster 120Hz refresh rate, compated to the 90Hz of the P50. 

Otherwise, both are OLED, both have similar resolutions and both support HDR.

Huaweiofficial photo 6

Hardware specs

  • P50 Pro: Kirin 9000/SD888 4G, 8/12 GB RAM, 128/256/512GB + NM, 4360mAh
  • P50: SD888 4G, 8GB RAM, 128/256GB + NM, 4100mAh

The P50 will come equipped with a version of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 with 4G, with just a couple of storage choices, 128 or 256GB, while 8GB RAM is standard.

There will be a 4100mAh battery and it will support 66W wired charging.

There will be both Snapdragon 888 4G versions of the Huawei P50 Pro and Kirin 9000 4G versions. Most will have 8GB RAM with 128/256/512GB sotrage choices, but the special edition will jump to 12GB - and 512GB storage. All models will support Huawei's NM card up to 256GB expansion.

There's a USB C for charging, with the P50 Pro also supporting 50W wireless charging - although you'll have to buy these fast chargers separately.

All of the P50 phones are 4G, because Huawei says that 5G is beyond its reach.

Huaweiofficial photo 3

Cameras

  • P50 Pro quad rear camera:
    • Main: 50MP, f/1.8 OIS
    • Monochrome: 40MP, f/1.6
    • Ultrawide: 13MP, f/2.2
    • Telephoto: 64MP, f/3.5, 3.5x optical, 100x digital, OIS
  • P50 tripe rear camera:
    • Main: 50MP, f/1.8, OIS
    • Ultrawide: 13MP, f/2.2
    • Telephoto: 12MP, f/3.4, 5x optical, 50x digital, OIS
  • Front camera: 13MP

The camera is a huge part of any Huawei phone and in the P50 series, Huawei says that it's breaking boundaries once again. There's a slightly different loadout on each phone, with both centred around a 50-megapixel main sensor. On the P50 Pro, this is supported by a 40-megapixel monochrome sensor. 

Key to the cameras is Huawei's new XD Optics, which claims to be able to reduce the amount of information lost when the list passes through the lenses. The result is that there's 25 per cent more information preserved, so the image can be more true to life and better as a result. The promise is that you'll get better zoom images and more preserved detail, as well as better low light and night shooting.

Both have a 13-megapixel ultrawide camera, but offer different telephoto capabilities. The P50 has a 12-megapixel telephoto with 5x optical and 50x digital zoom, but the P50 Pro has a 64-megapixel sensor, with 3.5x optical, but 100x digital zoom. 

Huawei is also talking up the colour performance of the camera, saying you'll be much more accurate colour from your photos. 

Software

  • Harmony OS 2

As this isn't a regular Android phone, it's worth saying a little more on software. We know that Huawei can't offer Google services and is instead pushing its own software solutions with Huawei Mobile Services sitting on an Android core.

Huawei has for some time been developing its Harmony OS. This was officially announced on 2 June and the Huawei P50 Series to be launched with Harmony OS 2. Huawei claims that it's more efficient than previous software for a faster experience with better battery life.

What's in the run up to launch?

Here's a chronology of leaks for the Huawei P50 series so far.

28 July 2021: Huawei P50 Pro 4G specs leaked in full on eve of launch

A substantive leak has revealed a lot of details about the Huawei P50 Pro.

21 July 2021: Huawei's P50 camera is said to capture true to life colour in latest teaser video

Huawei has confirmed the 29 July launch event while teasing about the camera's performance.

24 June 2021: Huawei P50 and P50 Pro likely to launch first, P50 Pro+ to follow

A minor snippet of information has suggested that the Huawei P50 and P50 Pro will launch first, with the P50+ to follow.

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22 June 2021: Rumour suggest 29 July launch date

Rumours online have suggested that Huawei will launch the P50 Series at an event in China on 29 July.

21 June 2021: Huawei P50 to have high quality camera

The Huawei P50 is said to feature a 1/1.18in sensor. 

2 June 2021: Huawei officially teases the P50 Series

Huawei held a launch event for Harmony OS on 2 June and at the end of the presentation, showed off an official tease for the P50 series, focusing on showing off the camera design.

13 May 2021: 'Official' Huawei P50 series images leak

More images have leaked, giving us another detailed look at the cameras on the back of the phone.

7 April 2021: P50 Renders reveal flat screen

Renders were published - based on leaked schematics - and show a completely flat screen, but the same distinct camera housing as the other models. 

25 March 2021: P50 Pro+ leak shows penta rear camera

We could see five cameras in the back of the ultra premium model if this leak is to be believed. 

22 March 2021: Huawei P50 launch could be significantly delayed

The Huawei P50 launch could be pushed back to May rather than the original March date that was rumoured.

12 March 2021: Huawei P50 design revealed in white colour.

11 March 2021: Huawei P50 Pro design leak shows off a huge camera on the rear

A design leak from a reliable source shows off huge camera openings on teh rear of the P50 Pro.

25 February 2021: Further Huawei P50 camera details leaked as 1-inch Sony IMX800 sensor is teased

The Huawei P50 is expected to house a 1-inch Sony IMX800 sensor according to a reliable leaker.

22 February: Huawei will "roll out Harmony OS to existing devices" after April

The Huawei Mate X2 is expected to launch in April and will have the option to update to HarmonyOS. This suggests that the P50 will also have this option.

15 February 2021: More details on P50 models suggested

A Twitter leaker has weighed in to provide more details on what models to expect for the Huawei P50.

21 January 2021: Huawei P50 and P50 Pro said to use reserved Kirin 9000 chips, offer 90 and 120Hz respectively

Debate around what will power the next Huawei devices still rolls on, with sources saying that reserved Kirin 9000 chips will power the P50.

12 January 2021: More apparent specs leak for P50 series

A slightly questionable leak has appeared with little to verify the details, but it does suggest that there will be Harmony OS and Android versions of the P50 models.

5 January 2021: Apparent Huawei P50 Pro leak shows quad rear cameras - but is it real?

Images claiming to be the Huawei P50 Pro leak showing off camera details, but there's little to verify their authenticity.

5 January 2021: 135W charger could power Huawei P50

A new Huawei charger which can deliver up to 135W has been certified and could be the charger for the future P50 series.

31 December 2020: Huawei P50 Pro gets its first design leak

A leak from a reliable source has shown off an rendered image for the future Huawei P50 Pro.

23 November 2020: Huawei P50 to launch in 2021

A report from The Elec discusses display suppliers and some of the hardware for the future Huawei P50 models.

Writing by Chris Hall. Originally published on 7 January 2021.