The Huawei P50 Pocket is the kind of phone that will turn heads. Not only is it a foldable flip phone, but its unique patterned finish makes it feel like part tech gadget and part fashion accessory. It has a different appeal that sets it apart from other foldable phones today. Huawei might not be able to sell the P50 Pocket in the US due to ongoing government restrictions, but it has several features that could be adopted by other flip phones we can buy.
I’ve been using the P50 Pocket for a month with theto see what the next generation of flip phones like the Flip 4 might bring. The P50 Pocket starts at 1,299 euros (equivalent to $1,400, £1,080 and AU$1,910) but the premium gold finish of the model I’m using costs 1,599 euros. There’s a joke here about needing deep pockets, but I’ll drop that one for now.
It’s important to note that Huawei’s phones can’t use Google apps and services, which means no Gmail, Google Maps, YouTube or Play Store. This immediately puts it at a disadvantage against other Android flip phones available today, including Samsung phones and the Motorola Razr. Instead, it runs Huawei’s EMUI 12 operating system, which is based on an open-source version of Android. There’s also no 5G connectivity, a huge downside for a phone released in 2022, especially at this price.
The P50 Pocket display reduces creases… and glare
Huawei’s phone has a seamless hinge, the same design Motorola used on the 2020 Razr, so there’s no gap between the screen when you close it. There is less room for dust and debris to settle in the space. The crease is also less pronounced than on Samsung’s phone, both to the eye and to the touch. When scrolling through apps or web pages, I noticed it went much less under my thumb than the crease on the Z Flip 3. To be fair, after a few days I definitely don’t notice the crease as much on the Z Flip 3, but under certain lighting conditions and when watching videos or movies, it suddenly reappears.
The P50 Pocket’s screen is also less reflective than the Z Flip and that’s something I hope Samsung really takes into consideration in the design of its next flip phone. The P50 Pocket is easier to see outdoors, not because of its screen’s maximum brightness, but because there’s not as much glare thanks to the anti-reflective coating.
There are, of course, compromises with the P50 Pocket’s hinge as it doesn’t stay open as smoothly as the Z Flip 3. Most native apps aren’t optimized for split-screen mode either, unlike the phone of Samsung.
It would be remiss not to mention how visually appealing this phone is, especially in the gold etched edition. It’s ostentatious in every way and really nice to see a builder taking chances with a finish like this. I also like the aesthetic of the circular screen, especially how its size mirrors that of the camera module. Sometimes I look at the phone and see two googly eyes looking back, which is just funny and something I can’t say about the Z Flip 3’s screen. Of course, it’s more convenient for read text notifications, but just doesn’t have the same wow factor.
You don’t sacrifice camera quality on this flip phone
Camera features we take for granted today, like ultra-wide lenses, larger image sensors and low-light performance, owe a lot to earlier Huawei phones like the P20 Pro and P30. Pro. Even though the P50 Pocket’s cameras lack the flagship features of its predecessors, they show that you don’t need to compromise on image quality when choosing a flip phone.
The main wide-angle camera on the P50 Pro has better dynamic range than the Z Flip 3. I noticed this especially when shooting landscapes because you can see it retains more detail in highlight areas , like the sky in the image comparison below. It also performs better for low-light shots and for video recording on the main camera at 4K/60fps.
Colors on the P50 Pocket also look more natural than the Z Flip 3, which tends to oversaturate images at default settings. It’s more of a personal preference than anything, but I generally prefer images straight out of the Huawei phone. There’s also a macro mode that really gets you closer to the P50 Pocket and the ultra-wide camera has autofocus, which the Z Flip 3 lacks.
Plus, the P50 Pocket’s 40-megapixel sensor lets you take even higher resolution images if you want. That said, these photos don’t look as good or as sharp as its 10-megapixel photos.
Bigger battery will last you all day
The P50 Pocket comes with a 4000mAh battery, a larger capacity than the two 3300mAh batteries in the Z Flip 3. In my colleague Patrick Holland’s review, he noted that the battery life of the the Z Flip 3’s battery was one of the biggest downsides. . With three or four hours of screen use at 120Hz, he had to charge the phone after 11 hours.
So the larger battery in the P50 Pocket will let you go a bit longer between charges and the phone also supports 40-watt wired charging. You need the Huawei SuperCharge charger to take advantage of it, but even with my usual 25-watt adapter, I was able to get the P50 Pocket from flat to full in just over an hour. I found myself really missing out on that faster charging when I switched back to the Z Flip 3 which is no more than 15 watts.
The P50 Pocket also has the option of expandable storage up to 256GB via nano memory card, which is a huge plus for people like me who like to take lots of photos and videos.
But the P50 Pocket isn’t a slam dunk…yet
Besides the obvious availability issues and its insanely high price, there are several things the P50 Pocket doesn’t do quite as well as Samsung’s flip phone. The Z Flip 3 is IPX8 rated, which means you can dunk it in up to 1.5 meters of water for up to 30 minutes. Naturally, I had to test this claim for myself and spoiler alert: the phone survived. Even eight months later, I’m still using the Z Flip 3 which I submerged in soft, chlorinated water with no issues to report.
With the P50 Pocket, there is no water resistance or durability rating. I’ve only used the phone for a month and have been pretty careful with it during that time, but there’s no way of knowing how it’ll perform in the long run – or if I’ll end up giving it up or accidentally soak it.
Then there is connectivity. The P50 Pocket only supports 4G LTE, which is one of the biggest issues considering its price. If you plan on keeping your phone for several years, this might be more of an inconvenience than you think, especially as 5G connectivity continues to roll out across the world. Huawei’s EMUI also has a significantly higher learning curve than I’d like, especially when it comes to its aggressive battery management.