Huawei P50 Pocket review: The folding smartphone brings some positive and negative surprises

Huawei P50 Pocket review: The folding smartphone brings some positive and negative surprises

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Huawei P50 Pocket smartphone review

After Huawei already offered a large foldable smartphone with the Mate X series, the Chinese manufacturer now catches up with Samsung and the Z Flip3 5G. The P50 Pocket is as compact as the foldable from the Koreans. While it uses a Snapdragon 888, it is a 4G version.    

Similar to the Z Flip3 5G, the Huawei smartphone uses a foldable AMOLED panel with a maximum refresh rate of 120 Hz and also includes a small display on the exterior. While there is a Premium Edition with 12 GB of RAM and 512 GB of storage, the “regular” Pocket model has to be content with 8 GB of working memory and 256 GB of storage. 

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In our test unit, the internal storage offers a capacity of 512 GB, with only 464 GB of this remaining available to the user in the state of delivery. Using an inserted Nano Memory card (NM), you can move various files such as photos or music to the external medium, allowing you to expand the UFS storage by up to 256 GB.

You can also connect peripheral devices such as USB sticks to the USB C port, which supports the 2.0 standard, by using an OTG adapters. In addition, the USB port supports the DisplayPort 1.2 standard. The P50 Pocket also allows wireless transfer of the display contents to external monitors via Miracast. Thanks to a sunscreen detection, the folding smartphone can also optionally check the face of the user to tell whether they have applied sufficient sunscreen or need to reapply more in some spots.

Huawei’s inhouse storage card type offers decent read and write speeds, and we measure 38 MB/s and 79 MB/s in the CPD test. In addition, the NM card connection impresses with a solid data transfer rate of about 35 MB/s in our copy test. 

The transfer rates with the P50 Pocket in the home network turn out constant. In our WLAN test in combination with our Asus ROG Rapture GT-AXE11000 reference router, the WLAN module, which supports the IEEE-802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax standards, impresses with a high speed. 

In terms of communication modules, in addition to the fast WLAN, the manufacturer supports Dual SIM as well as Bluetooth version 5.2. An NFC chip for nearfield communication and contactless payment is also included onboard.

While access to the LTE net is supported in many 4G frequency bands, you cannot take advantage of the fast 5G standard.

The ultra-spectrum camera setup consists of a “True Chroma” main camera with a 40-MP resolution, which is supposed to produce recordings with particularly accurate colors. And indeed, our analysis with the ColorChecker Passport is able to confirm a good color accuracy for the Huawei smartphone – with the exception of green tones.  

Although the P50 Pocket is a foldable, which puts the focus more on the foldability of the panel, we really like the pictures taken with the main camera. The sharpness and dynamics are on a very good level. The same also goes for the 13-MP ultrawide angle camera, which is able to produce a lot of details.     

Thanks to the foldable form factor, you can take selfies with the main camera using the cover screen. As expected, in terms of sharpness and low light performance, the 11-MP camera inside is unable to keep up with this, but it can still take relatively good pictures. 

Daylight doesn’t pose any problems to the Huawei smartphone. Thanks to the optical nano coating, annoying reflections should be reduced, but in direct sunlight, the reflections visibly limit the readability. However, there is currently no better way with foldable panels including the protective foil. Thanks to the OLED technology used, the viewing angles are at a good level.

The “PUBG mobile” shooter, where you can select the Ultra-HD setting, is reproduced smoothly at highest details. Our second test game, “Asphalt 9,” also runs without any problems, but the case gets noticeably hot while gaming.  

Huawei P50 Pocket smartphone review

Under load, the case of the P50 Pocket heats up to various extents in the performance mode. While the maximum temperatures we measure with the Stability Test app are at a rather low level, the heat development during the benchmarks is very pronounced. This quickly leads to overheating of the device and to a drastic reduction of the performance development inside. But even in normal mode, we measure throttling of almost 50%. 

  35.7 °C
96 F
34.5 °C
94 F
30.5 °C
87 F
  32.7 °C
91 F
32.7 °C
91 F
30.6 °C
87 F
  32.4 °C
90 F
32.8 °C
91 F
29.7 °C
85 F
Maximum: 35.7 °C=96 F
Average: 32.4 °C=90 F
28.8 °C
84 F
27.9 °C
82 F
27.4 °C
81 F
34.9 °C
95 F
32.1 °C
90 F
30.7 °C
87 F
34 °C
93 F
33.2 °C
92 F
32.1 °C
90 F
Maximum: 34.9 °C=95 F
Average: 31.2 °C=88 F

Power Supply (max.)  27.9 °C=82 F | Room Temperature 22 °C=72 F | Fluke t3000FC (calibrated) & Voltcraft IR-260

(±) The average temperature for the upper side under maximal load is 32.4 °C / 90 F, compared to the average of 32.8 °C / 91 F for the devices in the class Smartphone.
(+) The maximum temperature on the upper side is 35.7 °C / 96 F, compared to the average of 35.1 °C / 95 F, ranging from 22 to 52.9 °C for the class Smartphone.
(+) The bottom heats up to a maximum of 34.9 °C / 95 F, compared to the average of 33.8 °C / 93 F
(+) In idle usage, the average temperature for the upper side is 27.3 °C / 81 F, compared to the device average of 32.8 °C / 91 F.

The P50 Pocket uses stereo speakers that are loud and sound really good. Our measurements of the Huawei smartphone show a fairly linear frequency development for the mids and highs, and you can even divine some bass in the sound spectrum. 

Those who prefer sound output richer in bass can use a wired or wireless headphone solution. In addition to the USB port, the Bluetooth 5.2 standard is also supported.

The 4000-mAh battery can be recharged from 10 to 100% within about one hour at a maximum of 40 watts. In addition, we measure a quite pronounced power consumption during idle operation.

In our WLAN test and with 120 Hz, the P50 Pocket only achieves a battery life of about 8 hours, which is below average. We should also mention here that EMUI always terminates our battery test going into standby at a remaining capacity of 10%. This is why we added 44 minutes to our measured runtime of 7 hours and 18 minutes (from 10 to 100%).  

Testing the Huawei P50 Pocket. Test unit provided by Huawei Germany.
Testing the Huawei P50 Pocket. Test unit provided by Huawei Germany.

The P50 Pocket gave us some surprises in our test. On the positive side, we can mention the quality of the camera in the back. Compared to our test pictures taken with the Apple iPhone 13 Pro, the photo quality of the P50 Pocket is a real bonus. Surprisingly, Huawei has also managed to fit a powerful, 4000-mAh battery into the slim case of the Pocket, but the battery life is rather disappointing due to the thermal problems.

On the negative side, the large surprise is the performance development. The Snapdragon 888 4G in the P50 Pocket overheats relatively quickly, and even in normal mode with the system related throttling of the Qualcomm SoCs, we measure throttling of 50% at times.    

The recommended retail price being much too high spoils the mass appeal of the P50 Pocket. 

Before a purchase, those who are interested in a foldable smartphone should consider that a P50 Pocket supports neither Google Services nor the 5G standard due to the US sanctions that still remain in place. But aside from that, the Huawei P50 Pocket offers some interesting equipment. On the other hand, the current prices of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G (of about 650 Euros, ~$709) don’t turn the purchase of a 1200-Euro (~$1310) foldable from Huawei into a more attractive proposition. 

While the Huawei P50 Pocket is available from Huawei Global in various European, Asian, and other countries, an unlocked international 512-GB version is available from Amazon for $1989 in the US.  

Marcus Herbrich

I have always been very passionately interested in mobile technologies, especially smartphones. Being a tech enthusiast means the half-life of my devices isn’t exactly long, and being the latest hardware is not enough to suffice as the manufacturer and operating system play a minor role – the most important aspect for me is that the device is state-of-the-art. After posting for Mobi Test I joined Notebookcheck in 2016, where I have been pursuing my enthusiasm for technology by reviewing the latest smartphone, tablet, and accessory trends.

Mark Riege

Translator: Mark Riege – Translator – 291 articles published on Notebookcheck since 2018

Having worked as a programmer for 20 years (medical devices, AI, data management systems), I’ve been following the computer scene for many years and especially enjoy finding out about new technology advances. Originally from Germany but living in the US, I’ve been working as a translator more recently, with Notebookcheck allowing me to combine my interest in new devices and translation. Other interests include Buddhism, spending time in Tibetan monasteries, and translating ancient Tibetan texts.

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