Huawei’s P50 announced with Snapdragon 888 and HarmonyOS

Huawei has announced its latest flagship phones for the Chinese market, the P50 and P50 Pro. They are the company’s first major phones to launch with HarmonyOS, the company’s proprietary mobile operating system, which matches Huawei’s typically well-specified cameras and hardware, including Qualcomm’s flagship Snapdragon 888 processor in some models.

The launch of the P50 series has come a little later in the year than the P40 in 2020, thanks to US sanctions that have severely impacted Huawei’s ability to produce new phones and limited its ability to buy chips and other components from companies. using American technology. When he first teased the phones last month, Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei’s consumer company, said no launch date had been set at the time “for reasons you all know”.

These sanctions mean that, like other recent Huawei phones, the P50 series will not feature Google’s apps and services if it ever launches outside of China. In fact, according to Huawei, the P50 does not run on Android at all, thanks to its own HarmonyOS software. The extent to which HarmonyOS actually distinguishes itself from Android is a point of contention, however, following reports that it is in fact a fork of Android’s open source code.

The Huawei P50.
Image: Huawei

US sanctions have prevented every P50 from using Huawei’s proprietary Kirin chips. The P50 and one version of the P50 Pro use Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 processor, according to spec sheets on the company’s site. Qualcomm was allowed to sell chips to Huawei last year. A version of the P50 Pro will also be shown with Huawei’s own Kirin 9000 processor. The P50 Pro is available with 8 or 12 GB of RAM with up to 512 GB of internal storage, while the P50 is available with 8 GB of RAM and up to 256 GB of storage.

What you won’t find on the spec sheet of either phone is any mention of 5G. Speaking at the on-stage launch event, Huawei consumer affairs CEO Richard Yu said US sanctions meant “5G phones are out of reach and we need to go with 4G by removing the 5G module from our chip design.”

The P50 Pro has a 6.6-inch 120Hz 1228p OLED display, while the P50 has a slightly smaller 6.5-inch 90Hz 1224p OLED display. The P50 Pro has a 4,360 mAh battery, compared to a 4,100 mAh battery in the P50. Both can be charged quickly at 66W and the P50 Pro can be charged wirelessly at 50W. There is an IP68 rating for dust and water resistance.

If Huawei’s recent flagships have anything to offer, it will be the P50 series cameras that will be their most interesting feature. The P50 Pro is housed in two circular camera bumps and has four cameras on the rear: a 50-megapixel main camera, 64-megapixel telephoto with a 3.5x optical zoom, a 40-megapixel monochrome and a 13-megapixel ultra-wide angle lens. The P50 has a similar camera bump, but has one less camera lens. It has a 50 megapixel main camera, a 12 megapixel telephoto lens with 5x optical zoom and a 13 megapixel ultra-wide angle lens. Both have 13-megapixel selfie cameras.

The P50 Pro starts at 5,988 yuan (about $927) for a model with 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage and will go on sale in China on August 12. Huawei says the first models will ship with the Kirin 9000 processor, with Qualcomm models to follow by the end of the year. The P50 starts at 4,488 yuan (about $695), also with 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage, and will go on sale in September. It is unclear if and when both phones will be released outside of China.

Update July 29, 10:24 AM ET: Updated with Richard Yu’s comments about the phones’ lack of 5G support due to US sanctions.