Huawei hasn’t had the easiest time in recent years, with political restrictions cutting off its access to Google services.
However, with the Huawei P50 Pro and Huawei P40 Pro, the company has still managed to produce a pair of high-quality flagship phones brimming with cutting-edge specs wrapped up in sleek designs.
The question is how much has Huawei been able to improve on last year’s flagship given its well-documented issues? Is the P50 Pro a real upgrade?
Huawei P50 Pro vs Huawei P40 Pro price and availability
The Huawei P50 Pro was announced in China on July 29, 2021, with an initial local market rollout on August 12 of the same year. It started rolling out to other regions from January 12 and finally arrived in Europe on January 26. The phone will not be launched in the United States.
In terms of pricing in the UK and Europe, the P50 Pro costs £1,099.99 / €1,199 for 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. This equates to approximately $1,500.
The Huawei P40 Pro was announced at an event in late March 2020, with the phone hitting stores April 7 in the UK and April 16 in Australia. Again, Huawei released the P40 Pro in a single 8GB RAM/256GB storage configuration, with an initial price of £899 / AU$1,599 (around $1,100).
As you can see, the Huawei P50 Pro received a hefty price hike over its predecessor, which isn’t a great start.
Huawei always makes sleek and well-built flagship phones. The Huawei P50 Pro is sleek and fits well in the hand.
At 158.8 x 72.8 x 8.5mm, it’s about the same size as the Huawei P40 Pro’s 158.2 x 72.6 x 9mm. Interestingly, though, it’s a bit lighter at 195g, while the Huawei P40 Pro feels a bit heavy at 209g.
Both phones boast IP68 dust and water resistance. Both phones also come with dual-curved displays, but only the Huawei P50 Pro gives you stereo speakers. This has always been a confusing omission in the P40 Pro, so it’s good to see the error corrected.
But the biggest design difference can be found when you flip the two phones. While the P40 Pro has a fairly traditional camera setup, the P50 Pro goes for something quite bold.
Instead of the standard rectangular mounting of the P40 Pro, the P50 Pro uses two oversized circles arranged vertically on a diamond-shaped mounting. It’s quite distinctive.
The P50 Pro is available in four colors: Golden Black, Pearl White, Charm Pink and Cocoa Gold. The P40 Pro gave you five color options: Silver Frost, Ice White, Deep Sea Blue, Blush Gold, and Black. Either way, the availability of these colors will depend on your particular region.
The Huawei P50 Pro gives you a 6.6-inch OLED display, which is about the same size as the 6.58-inch OLED in the P40 Pro. However, the P50 Pro ups the max refresh rate from 90Hz to 120Hz, so it’s the smoother panel of the two.
Our reviewers found the P50 Pro and P40 Pro displays to have excellent color reproduction and brightness, while both reviewers noted how good they were for watching video.
In terms of resolutions, both phones hit a point somewhere between the FHD+ and QHD+ of many rival flagship Androids.
Both are somewhere in the region of the iPhone 13 Pro Max for pixel density, which is far from a negative point, but you will get more sharpness with the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra and the OnePlus 10 Pro .
The Huawei P50 Pro gives you a feature-rich four-camera setup, while the Huawei P40 Pro provides a three-camera system.
Both are led by large 50MP wide sensors and both phones use Leica optics. That’s about where the similarities end.
While the P50 Pro comes with a 13MP ultrawide, the P40 Pro gives you a 40MP ultrawide. On the telephoto side, the Huawei P50 Pro provides a 64MP 3.5x optical zoom. The P40 Pro is equipped with a 12MP periscope telephoto lens offering 5x optical zoom.
There’s a fourth sensor with the new P50 Pro, which comes in the form of a 40MP black and white sensor. The P40 Pro also has a fourth sensor, in this case, but it’s a 3D TOF sensor for dedicated depth sensing.
Even the selfie cameras are different and the P40 Pro has bragging rights. The Huawei P50 Pro gives you a single 13MP sensor, while the P40 Pro comes with a 32MP sensor backed by a secondary 3D TOF depth sensor.
The latter not only works to reinforce portrait selfies, it also serves as a secure biometric authentication system. It’s not as secure as Apple’s Face ID or the Huawei Mate 30 Pro, but it’s still a feature the P50 Pro lacks.
When it comes to image quality, our reviewer found that the P50 Pro can take “stunning images” that are “sharp, detailed and with wide dynamic range”. We were also impressed with the P40 Pro when it launched, especially its advanced AI assistant, which does a lot of heavy lifting. It also “performed phenomenally in low-light conditions.”
One of the good things about the Huawei P50 Pro is that its colors tend to be more true to life than previous Huawei flagships, which might look a little off.
Specifications and performance
The Huawei P50 Pro is powered by a Snapdragon 888 4G in Western markets, initially launched in China with the Kirin 9000.
This means that even though the phone made it west in 2022, it’s running on 2021 hardware. Still, that makes it faster than the Huawei P40 Pro, which runs on the 7nm+ Kirin 990 5G, which was a contemporary of the Snapdragon 865.
Not that there’s a huge difference in raw processor power. The P40 Pro scored an average of 2,997 in our Geekbench 5 benchmark, while the P50 Pro scored 3,018. However, the P50 Pro’s Snapdragon 888 has the more capable GPU and, of course, it’s more efficient.
There is one major way the Huawei P40 Pro chip beats the P50 Pro chip. It’s right there in the chip names: only the P40 Pro supports 5G.
The lack of up-to-date network connectivity is a major omission from the Huawei P50 Pro and is apparently due to the restrictions Huawei faces. Whatever the reason, the P50 Pro feels somewhat disconnected from its flagship peers.
Elsewhere, but the phones offer 8GB of RAM as standard, but there’s also a 12GB version of the P50 Pro in some regions. Meanwhile, both phones offer 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB storage options. Again, it depends on your region.
None of these phones have a particularly huge battery by modern standards. The Huawei P50 Pro has the larger cell of the two at 4,360mAh, while the Huawei P40 Pro’s battery is only 4,200mAh.
Considering most of their rivals pack 5,000mAh, that’s not terribly impressive.
Of course, in the case of the P50 Pro, it doesn’t have to support 5G connectivity, while the P40 Pro doesn’t have to power a full 120Hz display. That makes a difference.
As a result, both phones will see you through at least a full day of light to moderate usage. Our reviewer found that the P40 Pro could hold up a bit more and praised it for its “phenomenal battery life.”
The Huawei P50 Pro gains in charging speed, however. With wired 66W support, it replaces the 40W of the P40 Pro. It’s a similar story with wireless charging, where the P50 Pro supports 50W and the P40 Pro supports 27W.
The Huawei P50 Pro is clearly a better phone than its predecessor, the Huawei P40 Pro. It has a more attractive design, stereo sound, higher power, faster charging and a smoother design.
Not that the new phone gets its own way in any respect. The P40 Pro has 5G connectivity and a much lower price, even if we only consider the RRP.
In the end, it’s a bold choice to go for one of these phones without Google Play support. But if you’re hungry for something a little different from the usual brands and money’s no object, then the P50 Pro gets the nod.