The Huawei P50 Pocket is hamstrung by its sanction-imposed limitations, including lack of 5G and Google Mobile Services, but it executes the foldable clamshell format with aplomb and offers a great screen and camera.
The Huawei P50 Pocket is a clear response to the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3. The two handsets closely resemble one another with their folding clamshell design, and the competition between the two echoes the tussle over Android supremacy that occurred a couple of years ago.
Since then, times have changed; due to US government sanctions, Huawei products struggle to be viable propositions to Western consumers due to major issues. The lack of Google Mobile Services and 5G connectivity are both tough to swallow when you’re spending this much.
Nonetheless, there is still a charming novelty in this new form factor that is delightful to try out, and the screen and camera are still top class. This might not be a handset to rush out and buy (particularly due to limited availability in the UK), but it still demands your attention.
Availability has not yet been confirmed for the P50 Pocket in all markets, and it’s not clear if it ever will be launched in the UK, but we do have some pricing information.
The standard P50 Pocket will cost €1,299 (~£1,090), while the Premium Edition will cost €1,599 (~£1,345). This is by no means a cheap proposition, which makes the device’s unfortunate flaws all the more glaring.
The form factor is the distinguishing feature of this device, without question. When it’s tucked away in your pocket it takes up a very small amount of space, but then you can take it out and open it up for a large-screen smartphone thanks to the 6.9-inch display within the clamshell.
It’s very satisfying to open and close the device, particularly at the beginning, and naturally brings back a wave of nostalgia for the flip phones that used to be omnipresent before the irresistible rise of the iPhone.
A lot of the foldable aspects are well executed here; the two screens lie completely flat next to each other when the phone is clipped shut, and the small bump in the middle of the fully extended screen was never significant enough to bother me at all.
However, the one let-down is the size of the outer screen, which is so small that you can only select a couple of functions (camera or weather forecast) and check notifications, but for any real interactivity, you’ll need to flip it open. In this one way it’s not quite as readily useful as the Motorola Razr or Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3.
Once it’s open, you’ve got a great phone on your hands. The fully extended inner display measures 6.9-inches, with the unusually long 21:9 aspect ratio we’ve previously seen on phones such as the Sony Xperia 1 III, which is intended to be ideal for watching widescreen-format content such as movies or TV shows. This OLED panel is very sharp, with a 1188 x 2790p resolution, and it also boasts a 120Hz refresh rate that’s pleasingly smooth.
There’s a triple camera system on the rear cover of the phone, which consists of two wide angle sensors (one 40-megapixels, the other 32-megapixels), and a 13-megapixel ultrawide lens.
I was generally very happy with the image quality, and below you can see a selection of images taken with the main wide-angle sensor:
The general performance was very good, packing in plenty of detail but not too much post-processing, with colours being vivid but natural.
When using the ultrawide snapper, you can cram more into the frame but the quality still held up fairly well. It’s always good to have this versatility, but you can see that there is very significant distortion with these images, especially around the edges of the frame.
There’s no telephoto or optical zoom lens here, so you’ll just have to make do with the digital zoom options (which goes up to 5x). Above, you’ll see the results of 2x digital zoom taken from the same position as the previous image of Canary Wharf. While not perfect, it’s certainly an acceptable image to use in place of a true optical zoom.
The 10.7-megapixel selfie camera also makes for fairly good images, and one unique aspect of the form factor is the phone’s ability to stand up half-folded, so that you can take a timed selfie without needing to have your arm outstretched.
The P50 Pocket runs on a Snapdragon 888 chipset, and while it has so far delivered a snappy level of performance in my limited experience of using it, there’s no 5G modem here so you’ll be stuck with 4G mobile data speeds. In terms of benchmarking scores, the device registered a single-core performance score of 919, and 3,266 for the multi-core score on Geekbench 5.
Even more concerning than the lack of 5G is the lack of access to Google Mobile Services. Ever since 2019, the US government sanctions on Huawei have meant that the manufacturer cannot use full-fat Android software, or the associated apps and services from Google, on its phones. Therefore, you’ll be stuck with the limited choices available on the Huawei AppGallery and you’ll not be able to download many of the most popular smartphone apps.
The battery capacity is 4000mAh, which isn’t all that high compared to similarly-priced phones, but with more hands-on time we’ll be able to judge whether it can still hold up a decent amount of endurance.
Without Google Mobile Services or 5G, it’s always going to be difficult to recommend this phone, especially with such a high starting price. That said, the folding format is well-executed here — although a larger outer screen would add plenty of utility — and the screen and camera are very good too.Trusted Score
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Camera tested in variety of situations
Tested with synthetic benchmarks and real world use
No, unfortunately you can’t get GMS on this phone, so you cannot access apps such as the Play Store. Instead, you’ll have to make do with the apps available on Huawei’s App Gallery, which has a fairly limited selection.Does this phone have 5G?
No, the Huawei P50 Pocket is limited to 4G connectivityWhich colours is it available in?
We reviewed the white edition; it’s also available in black, and there’s a premium edition that is gold.