#TECH: Small and stylish

Huawei's P50 Pocket clamshell phone brings back memories

I STILL remember when clamshell phones were the craze back then. It's all about appearing sophisticated with a device that fits in your palm and with a flip-open-to-answer-call feature, which really makes you look professional and cool.

Now, with Huawei's P50 Pocket clamshell phone making its debut, the sweet memory of using one came rolling back to me; I once owned a clamshell phone in the late 1990s.

Marketed as a fashion accessory as well as luxury device, the P50 Pocket made its first appearance in the Chinese edition of Harper's Bazaar, something new for a feature-packed smartphone.

The phone comes in two elegant colours — textured, shimmering, diamond-like white or gold (premium edition model). It is a charming novelty device aimed at collectors, enthusiasts and fans of Huawei products.


The P50 Pocket features a signature double-ring design, similar to the P50. One ring houses the camera module and the other, a highly interactive Smart Cover Screen. This look makes the P50 series easily recognisable. And yes, it was the first thing that caught my eye.

Its 328 ppi 1.04-inch OLED screen supports display of notifications, schedules, calendar, music, weather and control of other features. It allows owners to customise their Cover Screen interaction experience, which is so unexpected, as I thought it was a sticker.

I even asked if the unit I was holding was a dummy during a special preview prior to the phone's official launch as it had a circle with a print-like image on it with no bump. Can you blame me?

This mini always-on display is a wonder; it keeps giving me surprises. On top of taking selfies or recording videos using the main camera without needing to unfold the phone, it also offers a one-of-a-kind feature. At first, I thought it would be something that is more for the ladies, but later on, I believe it is a good feature for all to have — an ability to check your sunscreen application.

This is what sets the P50 Pocket ahead of the pack — Huawei's advanced technology. The feature utilises one of the cameras on the Pocket to measure UV light reflections from skin to point out where there's sunscreen and where you've missed — a niche feature. But, hey, it works and it helps in terms of caring for skin health. To me, this is a very handy feature.


Photography is not all about the tools. The photographer is the one responsible for creating "good photos" — but of course, the device is also important in capturing quality images, and you can indeed rely on the phone for this job.

The main camera produces true-to-life photos. Generally, it performs very well, packing in plenty of details with no oversharpening or a ridiculous level of vibrancy commonly incorporated in smartphones. Don't get me wrong, the colours are vivid but also natural, which is a real bonus.

I expect nothing less from Huawei's P-series. After all, they are Huawei's flagship products that lead the smartphone photography industry.

This time, Huawei presents the Ultra Spectrum Camera on the P50 Pocket. This smart feature lets you get up close and personal with your subject, a good thing if you like shooting stuff at close range without having to manually change the settings, as the camera can automatically switch to a macro mode.

And, if you're a photographer or familiar with camera settings, you will be happy to explore the Pro mode. Although it gives you more creative control over the settings, please keep in mind that the photo quality may drop a bit.

But above all, its Ultra Spectrum Fluorescence Photography feature is something you can look forward to too. This feature captures details that are unseen by the naked eye — the first time I see such a feature available on a smartphone.

The ultra wide camera, meanwhile, produces decent photos, not too distorted unlike some. There's no telephoto or optical zoom lens on this phone, but the digital zoom options produces acceptable quality images and the selfie camera, though it is hardly used (in my case), gives you the option of not having to outstretched your arm.

All in all, the camera setup on this phone offers great features which translate into quality photos.


It's not a surprise that Huawei managed to fit a 4000-mAh battery pack into the P50 Pocket, which also supports 40W fast charging, as well as reverse charging.

However, I'm rather disappointed with the phone's thermal issue. It is a very fun device to use because of its petite form and the attention it demands from everyone near me, but the P50 Pocket heats up under load. This has interrupted what I am doing a couple of times.

Besides that, the development of Huawei phones, including the P50 Pocket, has been hobbled by United States sanctions, which means it has no 5G capability and does not come with Google Mobile Services.

However, one has to laud the company's resilience by developing its own ecosystem with the HarmonyOS and AppGallery, which have been actively adding more apps to the platform. For the Malaysian market, the P50 Pocket operates on EMUI 12, which is the same user interface used by other countries outside of China.

Though tough, there are ways to make "banned" applications to function on Huawei phones. For example, YouTube can be viewed from the browser, and Gmail and other US-made social media apps that you cannot live without may work via third-party apps. It's not ideal, but it works.

Screen wise, it looks great. It also doesn't really exhibit a crease in the folding point. This is the other area that Huawei one-ups against its competitors — the crease is not as visible and can be easily overlooked.

Another one-up is that the P50 Pocket can fold completely flat without any gap. However, the Pocket can't stay open at any angle. It will open fully flat and is also pretty stable around 90 degrees. But at other angles, the phone will succumb to gravity.

I am also a bit disappointed with the fact that the P50 Pocket has no IP rating.

The Huawei P50 Pocket price starts from RM5,999.

Verdict: 3.5/5

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