Hands-On, Smartphone

Huawei P50 Pocket Hands-On: Pricey, But Enticing

While we’re seeing the introduction of more foldable phones recently, there aren’t as many foldable “flip phones,” which is why the new Huawei P50 Pocket is quite exciting. After all, it goes head to head with Samsung’s Galaxy Z Flip 3; the sole option for a foldable flip phone in Malaysia, given that it’s quite difficult to get the Motorola Razr now.

But retailing from RM5,999, the P50 Pocket undoubtedly carries a premium price tag, especially in comparison to the Z Flip 3’s much more affordable RM3,999 starting price. But even though it’s a pricey device, it’s also quite an enticing foldable phone, even when faced with a competitor like the excellent Z Flip 3.

Now, one of the biggest differences between the P50 Pocket and the Z Flip 3 is when the two devices are folded. Unlike Samsung’s offering, the P50 Pocket has absolutely no gap when it’s folded. Granted, this isn’t exactly groundbreaking – Motorola’s Razr already accomplished this – but it is a difference worth pointing out.

Is there any benefit to this? Well, when you keep the P50 Pocket in your pocket (excuse the pun), having no gap between the two halves of the screen does protect it from dust or fine grains in your pocket. This, in turn, reduces the chance of scratching the screen.

Speaking of which, I’m very impressed with the screen durability of the P50 Pocket. Earlier foldable phones have screens that get scratched and dinged up easily, but that is not the case at all with the Pocket. I even tried running my fingernail on the foldable display to see if it will leave a mark on the screen, but to my surprise, it stayed pristine!

Of course, the P50 Pocket does seem to have a screen protector installed; just like any other foldable phone, basically. Either way, it doesn’t get scratched easily, and it feels quite smooth as well. Not quite as smooth as glass, but definitely good enough to provide a pleasant user experience.

As for display quality itself, the P50 Pocket does have a high quality screen. Sporting a 6.9-inch Full HD+ OLED panel with a 120Hz refresh rate, it’s a fast, bright, vibrant display. This being an OLED panel, you also get deep, true blacks for a more enjoyable viewing experience, especially if you’re watching content with dark scenes.

Oh, Huawei mentioned that the P50 Pocket’s display doesn’t have any noticeable crease when it is unfolded, but that’s…well, not the case. In normal use, the crease is barely noticeable, but if you look for it, you’ll definitely see and feel the uneven surface.

Is this a big deal? Not at all. I doubt the screen crease will negatively affect the user experience much, though it is a little annoying when the crease is visible under bright lighting.

Okay, enough about the display: what about the performance of the P50 Pocket? Powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 4G chipset (yes, 4G), you can expect to get flagship-tier performance out of the phone. Though you don’t get 5G connectivity with this chip, it’s not really an issue here. 5G isn’t exactly widely available in Malaysia yet.

Build quality of the P50 Pocket is commendable as well. It feels solid in my hands, and the unique textured finish on both the White and Premium Gold colour options feel quite good to the touch. However, despite the fact that Huawei said they’re made of glass, the textured panels do feel slightly plasticky, in my opinion.

The hinge of the P50 Pocket, on the other hand, is a bit of a mixed bag. While I like how the phone “snaps open” when I unfold it to a certain angle, the hinge itself feels a tad too soft; there’s not much resistance as I move the hinge. In contrast, the Z Flip 3 has a firmer, more solid-feeling hinge. Personally, I prefer Samsung’s implementation.

Anyway, packed with a 4,000mAh battery, I reckon the P50 Pocket will be able to deliver good battery life. This battery capacity is above average for a phone this size, and when you need to charge it up quickly, the 40W fast charging should be able to juice up the Pocket quickly.

Last but not least is the camera performance of the P50 Pocket. Sporting a triple camera system made up of a 40MP primary shooter, a 13MP ultra-wide angle lens, and a 32MP “ultra spectrum” sensor (it can supposedly capture a greater range of colour), it can take reasonably good-looking shots. Judge for yourself with these sample shots.

Granted, these images were taken under ideal lighting, so it’s a given that the P50 Pocket will be able to deliver good results. Aside from image quality, the camera interface feels quite responsive too, and it can lock in focus quite quickly as well; as expected of a flagship smartphone.

So…is the Huawei P50 Pocket worth it? As far as first impressions go, it does feel like a high-end foldable phone through and through, but whether or not it can really justify the RM5,999 price tag – or a whopping RM7,299 for the Premium Edition – can only be explored in a full review of the Pocket.

After all, there are a lot of factors to consider for a phone that sits at this price point. A brief hands-on is not enough to really assess these factors, such as battery life, camera performance, and more importantly for a Huawei device, software experience.

Given that the P50 Pocket does not ship with Google Mobile Services, not having access to Google’s range of apps and services on this foldable phone can be a legitimate dealbreaker to some folks. But Huawei’s own selection of apps through the AppGallery have grown immensely over the years, so it may just be able to fill the void left by Google.

Again, only a full review of the P50 Pocket can shed a light on this, among other aspects.

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