While it’s true that Huawei’s ongoing dispute with American authorities means that it doesn’t currently have access to the Google Play store, which hampers the software experience for many, there can be no question about the quality of its hardware. In 2020 we were impressed with the Huawei P40, but what does 2021 have in store? We look ahead to what you can expect if the Chinese company weathers its current storms and delivers the Huawei P50.
For the past few years Huawei has kept a regular release cycle, with the P20, P30 and P40 all announced at the end of March and released a week or so later. We see no real reason why this should change in 2021, global pandemics and US embargoes aside. So, expect the company to pull back the covers on the P50 in March 2021 and the devices to be available in the first week of April.
Of course, customers in the US are unlikely to see any Huawei products turning up on their shores, unless the administration lifts its ban on the Chinese manufacturer.
How much will the Huawei P50 cost?
Pricing has been reasonably consistent for the last few years, as you can see from this breakdown of the previous models.
P20 – £599/€699
P30 – £699/€799
P40 – £699/€799
Hopefully, Huawei will stick with this when the P50 arrives, offering it for £699/€799. Of course, if you’re happy to spend more on your device then you can always move up to the Pro or Pro Plus models, which offer additional features. In the P40 lineup, the prices for these models are £799 and £999 respectively, and we expect the 2021 catalogue to stay along similar lines.
To see where the extra money goes, read our Huawei P40 vs P40 Pro vs P40 Pro+ comparison.
What features and specs can we expect to see in the Huawei P50?
There’s still a bit of time before the Huawei P50’s rumoured arrival, but there are a variety of sites now reporting specs and features that they claim have been leaked by contacts within Huawei.
The consensus seems to be that the P50 will arrive with a high-end Kirin processor, most likely the 990 5G or new 9000 that first appeared in the Mate 40 Pro.
The former would be a surprise as it is already found in the P40, P40 Pro and Pro+ models, but the latter could face delays as Huawei has experienced the US government flexing its muscles and preventing TSMC and other processor manufacturers from making the chips for Huawei without first obtaining a special license.
If the company can circumvent these sanctions, then the Kirin 9000 is an impressive design based on a 5nm die with 5G integration, which should bring improved performance and battery life.
Should the American interference prove too much, then it’s possible that Huawei moves from the Kirin processors to MediTek or Qualcomm, but there has been nothing to confirm this so far.
Of the rumours we’ve seen, there’s been little agreement on how large the panel on the P50 will be. Some state 6.22in with a 2340 x 1080 resolution, while others that it will be 6.58in with 2640 x 1200. Both would be a step up in terms of size from the 6.1in 2340×1080 already present on the P40.
Those hoping for 120Hz refresh rates look likely to be disappointed though, as even the recently announced P40 Mate Pro only comes with a 90Hz panel. All the rumours we’ve seen so far seem to suggest that this will be the case with the P50. While this will be an improvement on the P40 which only managed 60Hz, it means the Huawei phones will be missing a flagship feature found on many of its rivals, particularly the OnePlus 8T and Samsung Galaxy S20.
Cameras have long been an impressive area for Huawei. On the P40 we were blown away by the quality of the images from the compliment of 50MP f/1.9 Wide, 8Mp f/2.2 3x Telephoto and 16Mp f/2.0 Ultrawide optics. So far, the only change to this lineup we’ve seen mentioned is the addition of a 5Mp camera to aid with depth perception and focussing for portrait and night modes.
The P40 could already capture video at 4K 60fps, so there’s not much room for improvement there, but Huawei could implement software enhancements to bolster the already excellent stabilisation and focussing. Whatever arrangement Huawei decides to offer in the P50, we’re sure it will be one of the best around.
At the time of writing, the US ban on Huawei had its biggest impact on the software available for its phones. Google Play services are not on offer, so accessing the Google Play store is off the table unless you want to use a rather technical workaround. Whether this changes or not in the foreseeable future is uncertain. The US Presidential elections may have some bearing, but it will just be a case of wait and see.
In the meantime, Huawei has been working on its own operating system, HarmonyOS, which could make its first appearance on devices in 2021. So, if the P50 does arrive then it could be quite different to its predecessors.
For a roundup of devices that the Huawei P50 will be up against, take a look at our guides to the best smartphones and best Chinese smartphones.