Update: July 22, 2021 (12:37 AM ET): We’ve updated this hub with official launch details and rumors about the camera setup as well as the global release of the Huawei P50 series. Read on for all the latest information.
Original article: Huawei’s growth has buckled under the various pressures it experienced in 2020. Nevertheless, the Chinese manufacturer has big designs for 2021. Although the US sanctions against the firm show no signs of abating, the company is poised for the launch of the Huawei P50 series – the latest phone family in the company’s flagship line.
Like the Huawei P40 line and the P series’ previous iterations, we expect the P50 series to sport excellent camera performance and battery endurance. But what else could we see?
Unlike the switch-up of naming conventions we saw with the Samsung Galaxy S21, there’s little debate on what Huawei will label this flagship. The company confirmed the P50 name during its June product launch.
Although the company didn’t say as much, we might see a three-tier model approach as has become customary for Huawei. This would include a standard model, a Pro model, and possibly a more premium Pro Plus variant, too. However, leaks have only pointed at the standard and Pro model as of now.
The official release date for the Huawei P50 series is July 29. Huawei’s P series has traditionally seen a late March launch, but we’re well beyond that now. At this point, Huawei’s operating without a rule book, so this phone series could be further delayed to August by the time it hits the market after its July launch.
Since Huawei is still under the US ban, we didn’t expect a wide international release for the P50 series since it won’t come with Google Mobile Services (GMS) on board. However, according to an official confirmation from the company (via GSMArena), the phones will indeed see a global launch. The phones will run Huawei’s Harmony OS internationally, just like their Chinese counterparts.
Huawei P50 series: Design
The first alleged and vague image of the P50 Pro spilled in January. While it gave us a good idea of its shape, it didn’t showcase much of the phone’s design features. On March 10, we finally got a good look at the Huawei P50 Pro’s design.
Those renders, spilled by Steve Hemmerstoffer, point to a centrally-mounted selfie camera cutout with a curved display. At the rear, the phone wears a huge pill-shaped camera bump — much larger than the P40 series. This could be proof of a much larger camera sensor. On closer inspection, an IR blaster makes an appearance too, but there’s no 3.5mm headphone jack.
Renders of the standard P50 leaked a day later again via Hemmerstoffer. These renders showcase the phone in a silver colorway with a flat display and an equally large camera hump. The IR blaster makes an appearance here too, but again, the headphone jack is absent.
At the aforementioned June product launch, Huawei did us all solid and just showed us the Huawei P50. As expected, the phone matches up with Hemmerstoffer’s renders quite nicely.
Here’s what Huawei showed us:
This image gives us a great look at the quad-lens setup on the back of the phone (which would appear to be the Pro Plus model). Unfortunately, Huawei didn’t have any other images to share with us.
Huawei P50 series: Specs and features
Residual US sanctions may still be a spanner in the works for Huawei, but we still expect the P50 series to sport stellar hardware. The company was permitted in October 2020 to purchase some key components. Those include camera sensors from the likes of Sony and Omnivision and screens from Samsung Display. Reports suggest Huawei is now allowed to resume some chip purchases, too.
Processor, RAM, etc.
Huawei’s latest P series model usually shares key internals with the previous Mate series. Expect the P50 line to borrow some of the Huawei Mate 40 line’s hardware. While some reports suggested that the 5G-capable Kirin 9000 would be the last high-end Kirin to feature in a Huawei flagship, this may not be true. The Huawei P50 series may also sport the SoC. If the Kirin 9000 is at the heart of the P50 line, the 5nm chipset will be a big step up for NPU and CPU performance over the Kirin 990-powered P40.
It’s worth noting that Huawei hasn’t been able to produce any more Kirin 9000 chipsets after the US tightened restrictions against partners like TSMC. So if Huawei is sticking with its in-house flagship processors, it won’t have many on offer. This combined with the ongoing global chip shortage could therefore result in precious few devices compared to the P40 and Mate 30 series.
There are also rumors that suggest that the standard P50 might come with a 4G version of the Snapdragon 888 chipset.
As for storage and RAM, the base Huawei P40 arrived with 128GB of UFS 3.1 with 8GB of RAM. We don’t expect Huawei to decrease available RAM on the P50 series, but the storage amount remains unknown at present.
Earlier this year, Xiaomi debuted the Mi 11 Ultra with an enormous 1-inch camera sensor. With Huawei’s P series so heavily focused on imaging, it’s possible we could see a P50 series phone with this huge sensor. Group CEO Richar Yu has hinted that the series will bring a “new mobile imaging technology.”
A teaser for the series (via ITHome) revealed come key specifications of P50 Pro’s camera setup. The phone’s camera setup was shown with the writing — Leica VARIO-SUMMILUX-H1:1.8-3.4/18-125ASPH, matching the aperture and focal length of the P40 Pro and Mate 40 Pro. This means the phone will feature a 5X telephoto lens as well as an 18mm ultra-wide-angle sensor.
Staying with camera technology, a rumor late last year suggested that Huawei and Leica had ended their partnership. However, the Chinese manufacturer told Android Authority that this was “absolutely fake news.” So it sounds like Leica-branded cameras are still on the menu this year. For what it’s worth, the Leica branding appears on the leaked renders earlier in this article.
Will it run Android?
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority
Huawei confirmed in September 2020 that Harmony OS will be available on smartphones come 2021. While the company currently employs Android-based EMUI 11 on its devices, that could be coming to an end with the P50 series.
According to a report by China’s Sina Tech, the Huawei P50 series will be “officially equipped” with Harmony OS. Huawei recently unveiled Harmony OS 2.o during its June launch and with it a list of compatible devices, which included most of its smartphone lineup going back years. As such, it’s a safe bet we’ll see Harmony OS on the P50 series.
Whether it launches with EMUI 11 or Harmony OS, there’s little chance the P50 line will sport Google Mobile Services or Google apps due to the ongoing sanctions.
Huawei P50 series: Pricing and availability
Huawei tends to serve its home market first and foremost, especially in recent years. Those in Europe or other regions may see a delayed launch. Even then, the phone series itself may be hard to come by. It’s rumored that the phones will come to market sometime in August after their July 29 launch.
As for pricing, we can make a few hopeful predictions based on the P series’ track record. Huawei stuck with the same price across the P40 and P30 lines. The base P30 and P40 both retailed for €799 (~$971), while the base P30 Pro and P40 Pro models started at €999 (~$1,214). The P40 Pro also got double the storage of its predecessor, too.
Considering Huawei’s struggles to maintain its global market share, we expect to see the firm retain this pricing structure once again. It may even choose to drop these prices a touch, making the P50 series a more attractive offering compared to its competition.
That’s all we know about the Huawei P50 series so far. Be sure to bookmark this article and check back regularly so you’re always up to speed with the latest news.
Next: Huawei P40 Pro revisited: Should you still buy it?