Huawei Pura 70 Pro Review: Fantastic Camera, Same Software Limitations
May 31, 2024 Andrew Cheng

Despite various challenges to its smartphone business – the US sanctions and what not – Huawei continues to innovate in the mobile space. The Huawei Pura 70 Pro is really a testament of the Chinese company’s perseverance and capabilities, offering a fantastic phone camera system that I personally had a lot of fun shooting with.

Unfortunately, the software limitations imposed on Huawei is also very much present on the Pura 70 Pro despite the workarounds baked into the phone. While it can still serve as a good Android phone, the incomplete software experience ultimately makes it a tough recommendation despite its incredible camera performance.

What It Is

Display6.8-inch LTPO OLED (2844 x 1260), 1-120Hz
ChipsetKirin 9010 2.3GHz octa-core
GPUMaleoon 910
Storage512GB, non-expandable
Camera (rear)50MP f/1.4 – f/4.0 adjustable aperture, OIS
12.5MP f/2.2 (ultra-wide)
48MP f/2.1 (macro telephoto), 3.5x optical zoom, OIS
Camera (front)13MP f/2.4
5,050mAh with 100W charging
Dimensions162.6 x 75.1 x 8.4 mm
OSEMUI 14.2 based on Android (without Google Play services)
Bluetooth 5.2
WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax (2.4/5GHz)
USB Type-C

Hardware wise, the Pura 70 Pro is a reasonably well-equipped flagship smartphone, especially the camera system. The 50MP primary sensor’s adjustable aperture makes it a versatile camera, and the macro telephoto lens can take some great-looking shots too, as you can see in the camera samples below.

That being said, the Kirin 9010 does fall behind the latest chipsets from Qualcomm and MediaTek in terms of raw performance and lack of 5G connectivity. While it performs reasonably well in everyday tasks, it does show its limits in more intensive tasks like gaming. I’ll elaborate more in the next section.

The Good Stuff

Since the camera performance of the Pura 70 Pro is one of its most highlighted features, let’s talk about that first. In short, it’s almost effortless to snap stunning images with this smartphone. While the 12.5MP ultra-wide lens does struggle in low light conditions, the 50MP primary sensor and 48MP macro telephoto camera feel very capable. Judge for yourself with these sample shots:

Whether its nighttime or daytime, the Pura 70 Pro can deliver great-looking shots. Granted, Huawei’s colour profile does dial up the saturation quite a bit, but there’s no denying that the results look great. I especially love taking the phone out for low light photography; the detail preservation and dynamic range of the 50MP shooter even in less than ideal lighting, are just impressive.

Next, there’s the display quality of the Pura 70 Pro. Sporting a 6.8-inch 2844 x 1260 OLED panel with a 120Hz adaptive refresh rate, it’s a pleasant display to look at. It has all the qualities you’ve come to expect from an OLED screen: bright, vibrant colours; deep, true blacks; and wide viewing angles. If I were to nitpick, it would be the curved nature of the screen. I would much prefer a flat panel for ergonomics reason.

Anyway, in the performance department, the Kirin 9010 is a decent chip as I’ve mentioned earlier. The Pura 70 Pro feels fast and zippy as I use it as my daily driver over the past couple of weeks; it’s only when I fire up some games that the chip starts showing its limits. While I can play most games with maxed out graphics settings with the latest Qualcomm or MediaTek chip, I do have to turn them down with the Kirin 9010 to get the same frame rates.

Nonetheless, what the Pura 70 Pro lacks in firepower is made up in excellent battery life. Throughout the review period, the phone’s 5,050mAh battery can easily get me through a typical workday. In fact, I reckon I can even stretch the battery life to two days, provided I don’t do too much gaming.

While there are plenty of things to love about the Pura 70 Pro, it also has its fair share of shortcomings; let’s get to them in the following section.

The Bad Stuff

Software. This is really where the Pura 70 Pro shows its weakness. Since Huawei isn’t allowed to use Google Play services in its range of smartphones, the company had to implement some workarounds to EMUI 14.2 to install and run apps that require said services. In the case of the Pura 70 Pro, microG is the workaround.

Essentially, microG works by emulating the functionalities of Google Play services, which is actually used by various custom ROMs. The downside of this is the fact that it may not be as secure as Google’s own solution, given that microG is…well, a third-party service that is not offered by the company.

Now, for the most part, microG does allow me to install various apps that are not offered on the Huawei AppGallery, including WhatsApp, YouTube, Google Chrome, Google Photos, and so on. However, there are some weird bugs here and there, such as the inability to share an album on Google Photos and not being able to update Google Chrome natively.

This, in turn, makes for a rather unpleasant user experience that requires users to find out solutions to problems that shouldn’t have existed in the first place. To me, this can be a dealbreaker to users that are looking to get a phone that “just works.” But, to be fair, not having access to Google Play services is not Huawei’s fault; the company is a victim of circumstance.

And then there’s the asking price of the Pura 70 Pro. Retailing at RM4,899, the phone has to contend with other smartphones such as the Samsung Galaxy S24+ and Xiaomi 14. Basically, high-end, premium devices that offer superior software experience and performance for the money.

Is It Worth It?

It’s a tough question to answer. On one hand, the Huawei Pura 70 Pro has a fantastic camera system with long battery life and great display. But on the other hand, the software limitations of EMUI 14.2 create another layer of problem that other phones simply don’t have to deal with, which can really be a dealbreaker to some folks.

Now, if you’re willing to deal with the incomplete software experience of the Pura 70 Pro – and you don’t mind its RM4,899 price tag – you will get one of the best smartphone cameras in the market now, which is a big selling point. But if you’re hoping that Huawei had come up with the perfect solution to not having access to Google Play services on the Pura 70 series, you…may want to look elsewhere.