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 phone’s software experience for many – there can be no question about the quality of its hardware.
In 2020 we were impressed with the Huawei P40 Series, but what does 2021 have in store? We look ahead to what you can expect if the Chinese company weathers its current storms and delivers the Huawei P50.
When will the Huawei P50 be released?
For the past few years, Huawei has kept a regular release cycle, with the P20, P30 and P40 lines all announced at the end of March and released a week or so later. We see no real reason why this should change in 2021, global pandemics and US embargoes aside. So, expect the company to pull back the covers on the P50 in March 2021 and the devices to be available in the first week of April.
Of course, customers in the US are unlikely to see any Huawei products turning up on their shores unless the administration lifts its ban on the Chinese manufacturer.
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 we expect the 2021 catalogue to stay along similar lines.
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?
There’s still a bit of time before the Huawei P50’s rumoured arrival, but there are a variety of sites now reporting specs and features that they claim have been leaked by contacts within Huawei.
The consensus seems to be that the P50 will arrive with a high-end Kirin processor, most likely the Kirin 9000 that first appeared in the Mate 40 Pro.
That’s the prediction of South Korean site The Elec, citing “people with direct knowledge of the matter.” That’s 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 that stop the company sourcing the necessary components.
Whether Huawei has found another manufacturer, or simply stockpiled enough Kirin 9000 chips already to use them in the P50 series, we’ll find out. The 9000 is an impressive design based on a 5nm die with 5G integration, which should bring improved performance and battery life.
Should the American interference prove too much, then it’s possible that Huawei will move from its Kirin processors to MediaTek or Qualcomm, although there has been nothing to confirm this so far.
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 x 1080 resolution, while others that it will be 6.58in with 2640 x 1200.
Most recently, 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.
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 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 S20.
Cameras have long been an impressive area for Huawei. 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.
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 will 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.
There’s also talk of a 5Mp camera to aid with depth perception and focusing; for portrait and night modes.
The renders shared by @OnLeaks seem to sport a single front-facing holepunch camera on the alleged P50 Pro, down from the dual offering of the P40 range. It makes sense given the amount of screen real estate a dual holepunch takes up, but there aren’t any details about what the single front-facing camera might offer right now.
The P40 could already capture video at 4K/60fps, so there’s not much room for improvement there, but Huawei could implement software enhancements to bolster the already excellent stabilisation and focussing in 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 had its biggest impact on the software available for its phones. Google Play services are not on offer, so accessing the Google Play store is off the table unless you want to use a rather technical workaround. Whether this changes or not in the foreseeable future is uncertain. The US Presidential elections may have some bearing, but it will just be a case of wait and see.
In the meantime, Huawei has been working on its own operating system, HarmonyOS, which could make its first appearance on devices in 2021. So, if the P50 does arrive then it could be quite different to its predecessors.
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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