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Huawei Mate 50 Pro: An excellent, exciting reflection of things to come

East Bel Air 728 X 90 for Business Mirror

Punitive trade restrictions imposed by the US government in 2017 on prominent China-based tech companies that included Huawei and ZTE, ostensibly due to potential national security threats, have not been eased, and there appears to be no indication the blacklist – which adopted some of them – will be lifted. US allies anytime soon.

Such sanctions would have crippled, even wiped out most businesses. Indeed, Huawei, one of the world’s top three smartphone brands before the US ban, “rapidly lost global and domestic market share of consumer electronics,” according to financial times (on.ft.com/3W74DbA), forcing the company to regroup and adopt measures to prevent the bottom from falling. First, it sold the lucrative mid-range Honor mobile sub-brand, and then – after losing access to Google and its apps and services – the company quickly leveraged its considerable technical skills to create its own software ecosystem based on the open Android operating system.

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The Huawei Mate 50 Pro is now also available in Kunlun Carbon Black, which gives the already great looking phone an even more premium look and feel.

Five years after those US sanctions, Huawei appears to have regained its footing on what Eric Xu, the company’s current rotating chairman, calls “the new normal.” Shaw, according to a January 5, 2023 report by www.sdxcentral.com (bit.ly/3k5lG0n), he said: “In 2022, we successfully pulled ourselves out of crisis mode. US restrictions are now our new normal, and we’re back to business as usual. Everything has been in place for the past year as every member of the Huawei team has worked hard to meet challenges and improve the quality of our operations.” .”

While it continues to return to its pre-US sanctions glory days, Huawei has clearly not lost any of its smartphones – as evidenced by its latest flagship, the Huawei Mate 50 Pro.

First launched in China in September 2022, the phone continues to improve upon Huawei’s long-established reputation as no slack in combining hardware and software together to create something of strength and beauty — and the Mate 50 Pro is certainly all of that.

With dimensions of 162.1 x 75.5 x 8.5mm, the phone weighs around 205g, which gives the Mate 50 Pro just the right amount of heft that makes it feel comfortable and secure in the hand, while the rounded edges and curved glass overlay on the screen make it look sleek and modern. Undoubtedly adding to this aesthetic is that gorgeous glass back panel that, of course, makes the phone a fingerprint magnet — but who said this gorgeousness is never high-maintenance? However, if you’re not inclined to re-polish the phone back to its brilliant shine after every use, the problem can be easily fixed with a nice case — a clear silicone jacket is included in the package, although we did get a nice hard case.

The glass back panel, aluminum frame, and glass screen overlay are all fused together so seamlessly that the phone feels like a full slab of glass. Huawei’s flawless design has become known for easily winning the Mate 50 Pro’s IP68 certification for splash, water and dust resistance under IEC 60529 standard.

For those who hate fingerprint smudges, apart from the usual black and silver models, the Huawei Mate 50 Pro is also available in a vegan leather variant for the back panel in either Kunlun Orange or the just-released Kunlun Carbon Black. This type of vegan leather not only eliminates the need for a smudge-proof case, like we did, but it also gives the phone a more premium look and feel.

In this age of social media, especially in terms of content creation and consumption, not only the camera chipset matters but also the size and quality of a phone’s display panel. The Mate 50 Pro’s display will have no critics: a 6.74-inch OLED display with a resolution of 2,616 x 1,212 pixels (428 pixels per inch), a 120Hz refresh rate, 10-bit color depth for over a billion colors, and HDR10+ support — all those specs yield Sharp, brilliant colors and a viewing experience that can only be described as completely immersive and totally enjoyable even in extended scenes. Sure, the Mate 50 Pro’s display has a long section for the Face ID system and earpiece, while most premium phones and even some mid-range phones now use “holes” or “cut-outs” for those. However, Huawei’s choice to go with the notch makes the Mate 50 Pro stand out — and yes, that nick isn’t all that obtrusive to take away from the overall user experience.

By the way, it is not the Mate 50 Pro’s curved screen but the glass panel overlay, which gives the illusion of a curved screen. The glass panel is built from what the company now calls Huawei Kunlun Glass. In a statement, the company talked about the new technology:

Surveys reveal that half of all aftermarket maintenance cases in the industry are related to cracked or broken screens. A minor breakage on the glass is often enough to require repair, or even lead to the replacement of the entire screen, middle bezel, and battery. Huawei engineers harnessed the strong features of reinforced concrete structures, and carefully considered the needs of phone users in creating Huawei Kunlun Glass.

“Kunlun glass coating is composed of 10 quadrillion-level nanocrystals, which are made possible by composite ion strengthening, 24-hour growth of nanocrystals at high temperatures, 108-step micro-crystalline matrix and plate processing techniques, 1600-degree platinum smelting technology, which enhances the durability of the glass. The phone’s drop resistance has been increased by 10 times. The Huawei Mate 50 Pro phones are the first smartphones to receive the five-star glass drop resistance certification from Swiss SGS.”

We haven’t called up the nerve to test this drop resistance, but YouTube and TikTok are full of videos of the Mate 50 Pro emerging from drops from pocket-heights with a minor scratch on its screen.

The other major feature of Huawei’s latest flagship is, of course, the rear camera system with all the sensors now housed in a huge circular island that definitely gives the Mate 50 Pro a very premium look. It’s distinctive enough, yes, to make Huawei’s design decision quite polarizing — but it’s something it quickly embraced, as the sheer immensity of that island not only separates it from a crowd of design-blossoming mobiles but also doesn’t make the phone wobble when laid out on a table, which isn’t a thing. You can say it about the iPhone 13 Pro Max.

The imaging system that Huawei has assembled on the back of the Mate 50 Pro includes a 50MP primary camera, a 64MP camera with a 3.5xa lens, a 13MP ultra-wide angle camera, as well as a laser autofocus system. The front camera is another 13MP ultra wide angle camera that is carefully hidden in the screen hole. The company has ended its long and successful partnership with imaging giant Leica, replacing it with Huawei’s own XMAGE camera system. We don’t claim to be a photography expert by any means, but we imagine that amateurs and aspiring photographers will be happy that the primary camera offers variable apertures that they can play with to get their images just the way they like them. Meanwhile, we have no complaints about the photos we took on the Mate 50 Pro. The phone is an excellent shooter.

As with all premium mobiles, the Mate 50 Pro has the highest hardware specs one would expect: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen1 4G SoC, Adreno 730 GPU, 8GB RAM, 256GB storage or 512 GB (the device we were playing with is the 256 GB variant), Dual SIM support (the second SIM slot for the NM card can also be used instead), 4G LTE, WiFi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, NFC fingerprint scanner, 3D facial recognition, IR blaster, USB 3.1 Type-C and soon. Yes, there is no 5G here, largely due to those US trade restrictions. However, 4G is a powerful technology and has much stronger infrastructure support than 5G – a fact that Huawei understands clearly and intelligently.

Needless to say, while the Huawei Mate 50 Pro remains a true Android device, it doesn’t have Google nor its apps and services — a fact we thought we couldn’t live with in a phone, given our dependence on Gmail, YouTube, and a host of other Google services. Hell, we even pay a monthly fee to enjoy more storage than the free 15GB of storage that comes with every Google account.

However, as we’ve written about other Huawei devices in the past couple of years, the company has much mitigated the impact of Google’s absence by creating a robust app ecosystem with Huawei’s App Gallery, which now carries plenty of must-have apps – from TikTok to Twitter and from Snapchat to WeChat, Facebook to Grab, Zalora to Zoom. And yes, other apps are also becoming more comfortable helping out with Google’s so-called crisis, most notably Gspace. This great app allowed us to continue to use and enjoy everything from Google, from Gmail to Chat, Maps, YouTube, Keep, Photos, Calendar, and Books, with all our data and settings intact.

Listen up, Gspace is free to use, sure, but if you want to get rid of the benign but annoying ads that appear when you launch Gspace and the Google apps you have installed, charge a hefty one-time fee to get rid of the ads. And that’s what we did – and it was one of the best in-app purchases we’ve ever made.

All things considered, Huawei still needs to do to regain its lofty position in the mobile phone market. However, with its deep technology expertise, successfully leveraged not only in networking but also in cloud services, automation and wearables, it will continue to be relevant and vital in consumer and other markets – and the excellent and exceptional Huawei Mate 50 Pro really reflects that.