Huawei P50 Pocket Premium Edition Review: The most fashionable foldable smartphone

Huawei’s latest foldable smartphone, P50 Pocket, is a throwback to the flip phones of old. It closes like a Motorola Razr but it does not have a keypad. Instead, it unfolds to become a 6.9-inch smartphone.

In China and some parts of the world, the P50 Pocket comes in colours of white, black and the gold Premium Edition. Here in Singapore, we will only be getting the Premium Edition (version reviewed). Guess Huawei knows Singaporeans only want the top-of-the-line model for everything.

SPECS
PRICE: S$2,398, available tomorrow (Feb 12) in Lazada and Shopee
PROCESSOR: Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 4G
DISPLAY: 6.9-inch Foldable OLED, 2,790 x 1,188 pixels (main); 1.04-inch OLED, 340 x340 pixels (cover)
OPERATING SYSTEM: Android 11, EMUI 12.01
REAR CAMERAS: 13MP ultra-wide-angle, 40MP main wide-angle, 32MP ultra-spectrum
FRONT CAMERA: 10.7MP
MEMORY: 512GB (NanoMemory card expandable up to 256GB); 12GB RAM
BATTERY: Non-removable 4,000mAh
WEIGHT: 190g

Created in collaboration with Dutch couture designer Iris van Herpen, the P50 Pocket Premium Edition features her signature feather-like patterns on the foldable smartphone’s golden exterior.

The packaging for the P50 Pocket Premium Edition is pretty elaborate. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

Even the packaging itself is pretty elaborate in the form of a large golden box with a cover that has the same “feathery” cut-outs for thematic unity. And unlike some flagship smartphones, this foldable smartphone comes with a power charger in the box. Plus, it features expandable storage via its NanoMemory card slot.

DESIGN
The P50 Pocket Premium Edition (Pocket) looks really sleek and exquisite with the embossed “feathery” patterns on its exterior. It will immediately increase your fashionista level by simply holding it in your hand.

Your fashionista level gets up a notch by simply holding the Huawei P50 Pocket Premium Edition. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

While the exterior has a metallic feel, it is actually made of glass. Only the sides and the frame of the P50 Pocket are made of metal. And there are some fingerprints or smudges on the exterior when using the phone.

It might look funny on press pictures, but it looks normal in real life. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

There is a 1-inch circular cover screen on its exterior below the similar circular rear camera module, so that you can view notifications when the smartphone is folded.

At only 190g, the Pocket feels really lightweight. When folded, its clamshell design means it can easily fit into any pocket of your pants. Furthermore, there is no visible gap when the Pocket is folded. This is unlike the Samsung Galaxy Flip3 (see review) where you can see some gap at the hinge.

There is no visible when the P50 Pocket is folded. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

I also find that it is much easier to unfold the Pocket with one hand, as compared to the Flip3. The flip side is the P50 Pocket’s hinge does feel a little loose and not as rigid as the Flip3. But I prefer the convenience of one-hand unfolding without the fear of dropping the phone.

Also, I found that the Pocket does not really fully straighten when unfolded. This is especially so when you look at it from the side and close enough. A minor quirk, as the unfolded 6.9-inch display looks really sharp and vivid.

It does not fully straighten when unfolded. But you need to look close enough to notice that. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

While there is still a visible crease where the P50 Pocket is being unfolded, it is not as obvious as the crease on the Flip3. And when you playing games or browsing through social media, you will not even notice the crease.

There is still a visible crease when the display is unfolded. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

CAMERA
The Pocket packs a rear triple-camera system consisting of a 40-megapixel (MP) main wide-angle camera, a 13MP ultra-wide-angle camera and a 32MP ultra-spectrum camera. It does not have optical zoom camera found in the P50 Pro. Still, the Pocket offers two digital zoom focal lengths of 2x and 5x.

On bright sunny day, the images shot using the Pocket looks really good with excellent dynamic range with the main camera. There are great details, even in the shadow areas, with pretty sharp rendition of pixels.

The night mode photos are pretty decent too. But it is not as good as those taken with an iPhone 13 Pro, as you can see visible noise artefacts. The 5x focal length in both night mode and normal (to a lesser extent) mode is best avoided as there are just too much pixelations and image noise.

The night mode in P50 Pocket is decent. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

The camera does have a unique Fluorescence mode that uses the ultra-violet light on its rear camera module to illuminate objects. This mode should be used in darkness and it does offer some interesting pictures. However, it feels more like a gimmick.

The P50 Pocket’s Fluorescence mode offers some interesting images. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

Like the P50 Pro, the Monochrome mode is my favourite for Pocket. It offers much details in both the light and shadow areas, while keeping the exposure spot on.

The monochrome mode is still my favourite. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

One of the party tricks of the Pocket is taking selfie using the cover screen. You have to unlock the cover display with the side fingerprint sensor, swipe to the camera option and tap to take a photo.

You can take selfie using the cover screen as a viewfinder. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

The camera will automatically start a 3-second timer before taking a photo. So your hand have time to move, so as not to block the camera. And the rear camera captures better and sharper selfies compared to the hole-punch front-facing camera.

PERFORMANCE
The Pocket runs on Huawei’s EMUI 12 operating system that is based on Android 11. And with the Snapdragon 888 4G chip, this foldable smartphone will easily make other smartphones flip in shame. In the GeekBench 5 benchmarking test, the P50 Pocket scored 893 (single-core) and 3,105 (multi-core).

FOR
+ Exquisite design
+ No gaps when folded
+ Can unfold the phone with one hand
+ Great overall and camera performance
+ Expandable storage

AGAINST
– Expensive
– Fingerprint magnet
– No wireless charging
– No Google Mobile Services

To put its performance into context, the Xiaomi 11T Pro – powered by Snapdragon 888 5G chip – has a single-core score of 810 and a multi-core score of 3,331. Also powered by the same chip, Samsung’s flagship Galaxy Z Fold3 foldable smartphone managed to score only 853 (single-core) and 2,897 (multi-core).

As such, whether you are having multiple apps open or playing games like Asphalt 9, you will not experience any lag or slowdown with the P50 Pocket.

Playing Asphalt 9 or other games is smooth on the P50 Pocket. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

I know I am sounding like a broken record. But unfortunately, I have to mention that the P50 Pocket does not come with Google Mobile Services (GMS). In other words, this does not come with Google Play Store. And consequently, it lacks the daily staple, such as Google Maps, Google Pay, Youtube Gmail and so on, for most Android smartphone users.

That said, Huawei has been building its own AppGallery app store for a while. Most of the apps you need in Singapore, such as TraceTogether, Grab, DBS and etc, are on AppGallery. But the collection of apps is not as extensive as Google Play Store.

BATTERY LIFE
As always, battery mileage will depend on your personal usage. In our usual 720p video loop battery test with the main display’s refresh rate set at 120Hz and maximum brightness, the Pocket lasted 9 hours and 22 minutes. This is considered pretty good. By comparison, the Flip3 lasted only 8 hours and 33 minutes with its display set to adaptive refresh rate.

During my tests, I found that it still has around 35 per cent battery juice left by the time I go to bed. This is with the cover screen in maximum brightness and periodically flipping the phone open to check social media and emails. It is probably a good idea to charge the Pocket every night before you go to bed. And do note that this smartphone does not support wireless charging.

VERDICT
Priced at S$2,398, the Huawei P50 Pocket Premium Edition is unquestionably expensive. For that same amount of money, you can get the Samsung Fold3 256GB model.

Of course, the Fold3 is not as beautiful. But it does have a bigger foldable display and comes with GMS, which is a distinct advantage.Unfortunately, with the lack of GMS, the P50 Pocket might not appeal to many who cannot live without the services from Google.

However, if you are looking for an exquisite and unparalleled smartphone that will turn or flip heads each time you pull it out from your pocket, the P50 Pocket Premium Edition is definitely for you.

RATINGS
FEATURES: 8/10
DESIGN: 10/10
PERFORMANCE: 9/10
BATTERY LIFE: 8/10
VALUE FOR MONEY: 7/10
OVERALL: 8.5/10