Huawei P50 pocket folding phone review: A beautiful symmetry of technology and art

PROFESSIONALS:

  • Stylish and elegant design
  • The crease-free hinge folds the phone
  • Impressive camera performance and output

CONS:

  • There is no official IP rating for dust and resistance

EDITOR’S QUOTE:

The Huawei P50 Pocket masterfully embodies the symphony of art and technology in a design that perfectly blends form and function.

Beauty and power that fits in the palm of your hand, literally.

Smartphones are at their core computing devices, but thanks to advances in technology, manufacturing and design, manufacturers are free to go beyond utilitarian purposes. In fact, these gadgets have become so ingrained in our lives that they are now almost an extension of ourselves. They have become an expression of our personality and uniqueness, reflecting tastes, passions, aspirations and perceptions. We’re now in an age where smartphone design is becoming more than just a marketing point, but a critical part of the buyer’s decision-making process. Sometimes the things people want are on opposite sides: big screen but pocket-friendly, luxurious but affordable, powerful but uncomplicated. It’s a delicate balancing act that very few smartphone manufacturers have managed to pull off, but which the Huawei P50 Pocket handles with the grace of royalty.

Designer: Huawei and Iris van Herpen

Aesthetics

We’ve seen our fair share of luxury phones, especially from companies whose business revolves around covering ordinary smartphones with extravagant parts and designs. To say that they often look gingery and almost garish would not be an understatement. The Huawei P50 Pocket, the brand’s first clamshell-shaped foldable phone, is thankfully neither of those, radiating an aura that’s almost ethereal but also sublime in its beauty.

The secret of the Huawei P50 Pocket is the symmetry that permeates its design, both in concept and execution. As a phone, it folds horizontally exactly in half, resulting in an almost perfectly square device that you can easily slip in and out of your pocket or bag. Each half of the phone is also symmetrical, apart from the presence of buttons, and the two circles on its cover form a perfectly balanced square.

You can both feel and see the balance in the entire design and shape of the phone, especially with the Premium Gold edition. Gold is not something you would easily find in nature, it is often used as a product of mechanical and artificial processes. It is often a symbol of the richness and power of technology, such as the technology used to etch 3D micro patterns on glass. But at the same time, the delicate and flowing patterns on the back of the phone are reminiscent of the leaves and bumps of life. Designed in collaboration with renowned haute couture designer Iris van Herpen, this motif represents symbiosis, balance and symmetry between two seemingly opposite ideas, the power of cutting-edge technology and the artistic beauty of nature.

Even when the surface of the P50 Pocket surface is broken by two circles, there is still an undoubted element of harmony and symphony. These two circles are a nod to the groundbreaking Huawei P9, which raised the company’s profile in the field of mobile photography. The two circles are completely identical in size, but they also contrast sharply. One is flush with the back of the phone, displaying vibrant colors and dynamic images. The other is mostly black and unchanging, but rises from the surface to come into focus, literally and figuratively, as it houses the phone’s powerful cameras.

The Huawei P50 Pocket is truly a work of art, but its elegance is not loud or overbearing. It conveys its presence in harmony and symmetry, both in forms and themes, attracting opposites to dance on its surface in a delightful play of form and light, the latter thanks to Huawei’s innovative 3D micro-sculpture design, which creates a unique double sided 3D design. And just as importantly, it also brings that balance that smartphone users need, delivering powerful technology that looks stylish, especially when folded close and slipped into your pocket in style.

Ergonomics

A well-designed smartphone should not only be beautiful to look at, but also beautiful to hold. As a tool you’ll use day in and day out, folding and unfolding several times a day, a foldable phone like this needs to be comfortable to use and instill confidence in its durability. In other words, ergonomics also play a crucial role and, fortunately, the Huawei P50 Pocket does not disappoint here either.

The point of a foldable phone, especially a clamshell phone, is to improve the portability of the device without sacrificing its utility. Thanks to the P50 Pocket’s slim profile and foldable design, it does just that whether it’s open or closed. When unfolded, its light and slim body won’t weigh your hand down, although some may prefer to hold it with two hands, just like any phablet these days. When folded, the P50 Pocket is a sleek pocketable device that you can still use, thanks to the screen cover under the camera island.

Opening and closing the phone is something you’ll naturally do several times a day, and there’s no reason to worry about the hinge falling apart, which we’ll get to in a bit. Suffice it to say, the hinge is solid and gives a satisfying feel when folding and unfolding the phone. While it’s certainly possible to perform these actions with just one hand, some people may find it difficult or a little unnerving. To open the phone with one hand, you’ll need to insert your finger into the narrow space between the two halves, and some may worry about accidentally damaging the foldable screen. To close the phone, you may need to adjust your hand a bit to push down on the top half, which can lead to some unfortunate accidents.

Fortunately, the phone isn’t as flimsy as its luxurious appearance might suggest, and it’s made of durable materials throughout. It doesn’t have an official IP rating for dust and water resistance, but that doesn’t mean it will die on its first encounter with water. Huawei has taken measures to protect the phone from intrusion and may have decided that the expensive certification is not worth the price. Its glass back can make it slippery for some people, but its narrow bezel also makes it easier to grip with your hand. Huawei also provides a transparent case that offers additional protection without hiding the attractive appearance of the P50 Pocket.

productivity

Of course, the Huawei P50 Pocket is not just a fashion accessory. This is a smartphone that should meet people’s needs when it comes to web browsing, communication, social media and even gaming. Huawei gives this foldable beauty all the power to deliver that and then some. Considering how light and thin it is, it’s almost unbelievable that it manages to cram a 4,000mAh battery inside. Don’t let the numbers fool you, they are enough to get you through a day. And when you do need to reach for that charger, 40W fast charging technology will minimize downtime so you can be on your feet as soon as possible.

While the phone’s intricate patterns and luxurious finish give it personality from the back, it’s the foldable screen that gives it its defining feature from the front. After all, what would a foldable phone be without a foldable screen. As one of the pioneers in this field, Huawei was able to develop the technology and design of flexible panels ahead of the competition. The result is a large and equally beautiful screen that brings delight and comfort to the eyes, whether you’re scrolling through social media, watching your favorite shows or simply reminiscing about your last “revenge trip”. Best of all, this flexible screen shows almost no creases that tend to plague others of its kind.

This feat is made possible by Huawei’s latest multi-dimensional hinge, which creates that famous waterdrop-shaped cavity when the screen is folded. This is also the reason why, unlike other folding clamshells, the P50 Pocket can be folded completely flat without any gap. At the same time, a new multi-dimensional lifting design is responsible for lifting this part of the screen and remains flat without increasing the weight of the phone with unnecessary components. Watching the rise and fall of the screen is almost mesmerizing, and you don’t have to worry about doing it again and again thanks to the use of zirconium-based liquid metal and 2100MPa ultra-high strength steel to build the hinge, both durability and reliability of the mechanism.

The hinge offers enough resistance to avoid feeling flimsy, but won’t get in the way when you’re using the phone. However, it doesn’t support variable angles and will either fold or lie completely horizontal unless you leave it open at a right angle. This position is best for taking selfies or video multitasking, and leaving the phone open at odd angles is unlikely to have any significant benefit.

Value

It’s hard to fully compare the Huawei P50 Pocket to other flip phones, because while they share the same basic form and function, Huawei’s product goes above and beyond being just a gadget that fits in your pocket. At a time when smartphones have started to resemble each other and become an extension of our own personalities, the P50 Pocket is both a statement and a testament to what these devices can and should be. Just like its overall design, it’s a symphony of art and technology that you can proudly display and then fold up and hide in your pocket.

It’s not cheap, mind you, and there are other considerations beyond the scope of this review that can make or break people’s decisions. It’s a pretty serious investment that, fortunately, is made to last for a very long time. Design-wise, it’s definitely worth its weight in gold, even if you pick up the equally elegant white edition with its sparkling diamond-inspired design.

Judgment

It’s hard to fully compare the Huawei P50 Pocket to other flip phones, because while they share the same basic form and function, Huawei’s product goes above and beyond being just a gadget that fits in your pocket. At a time when smartphones have started to resemble each other and become an extension of our own personalities, the P50 Pocket is both a statement and a testament to what these devices can and should be. Just like its overall design, it’s a symphony of art and technology that you can proudly display and then fold up and hide in your pocket.

It’s not cheap, mind you, and there are other considerations beyond the scope of this review that can make or break people’s decisions. It’s a pretty serious investment that, fortunately, is made to last for a very long time. As for the design, it’s definitely worth its weight in gold, even if you pick up the equally elegant white edition with its sparkling diamond-inspired design.

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