The Huawei Mate 50 Pro has a thoroughly interesting camera department, as is the tradition with the company's flagships. While you won't see Leica logos on the Mate, it does impress with the lens for the primary camera that offer variable aperture between f/1.4 and f/4.0, something that Huawei has named Ultra Aperture XMAGE camera.
The rear camera setup includes 50MP primary, 64MP 3.5x telephoto, and 13MP ultrawide-angle shooters. The latter also doubles as a macro camera thanks to its autofocus. There is another 13MP ultrawide-angle camera inside the screen notch for selfies, accompanied by a ToF 3D helper.
The primary camera uses a 50MP sensor (1/1.56" Sony IMX766, 1.0µm) with a Quad-Bayer RYYB color filter and a stabilized 24mm lens (even if EXIF reports 27mm) lens with variable f/1.4-f/4.0 aperture. The Camera app choses the aperture automatically, but in Pro mode you can adjust it your self in 10 different steps.
The ultrawide camera relies on a 13MP sensor behind a 13mm f/2.2 lens. This camera supports autofocus, which allows it to capture some great closeups, too.
The telephoto system is quite interesting. It has a 64MP sensor (1/2" OmniVision OV64B, 0.7µm) with a stabilized 90mm (95mm per EXIF) f/3.5 periscope lens.
You may have noticed the focal length of the main and tele cameras are different as per EXIF - the reason is Huawei's practice of slightly cropping the sensor and upscaling the images back for reasons unknown.
There is a 10-channel multispectral sensor at the back for superb color accuracy, laser system that assists the autofocus across all cameras, and a dual-LED dual-tone flash.
What's interesting with this rear system is that the main camera promies high-quality digital zoom up to 3.5x, when the telephoto kicks in one and then again uses digital zooming for up to 10x magnifications. Some demosaicking and multi-stacking magic is involved to make the quality loss of the digital zooming less severe.
The front camera is advertised as 13MP, though the hardware scanning apps detect the sensor as 14.4MP. It sits behind 18mm f/2.4 lens, but the focus is fixed, unfortunately. Strangely enough, there is no simulated bokeh in Portrait mode for this camera - a huge miss opportunity to utilize the front ToF 3D camera.
When using the selfie camera you choose between three zoom modes - wide-angle (18mm, no crop), 0.8x (21mm equiv. crop but there should be no upscale) and 1x (27mm equiv. crop and upscale).
The camera is enhanced by Huawei's AI, just as before. It recognizes and tunes settings for a ton of scenes. There's a toggle in the viewfinder for turning AI enhancements off and on, so you don't have to go into settings for that. We tend to keep it on as the recent implementations are nowhere as aggressive as they used to be with phones in the past.
There's a Pro mode, too, where you can adjust parameters yourself - aperture for the main camera (f/1.4, f/1.6, f/1.8, f/2.0, f/2.2, f/2.5, f/2.8, f/3.2, f/3.5, f/4.0), ISO, shutter speed (1/4000s to 30s), exposure compensation (-4 to +4EV in 1/3 stop increments), and white balance (presets and specific light temperature). You can also choose the metering mode (matrix, center-weighted, and spot) and the focus mode (single, continuous, and manual). If the phone thinks you messed up the exposure, an icon will pop up to warn you.
The Pro mode works on the ultrawide and telephoto cameras, too. RAW mode is available only to the main and ultrawide cameras, though.
By the way, Pro mode is available for video as well, and the maximum ISO there is 6,400 (3,200 for the UW cam). And you can set the desired shutter speed.
Both the selfie and the primary camera interface offer zoom levels. For the back setup, you get UW, 1x, 3.5x and 10x options. Meanwhile, for the front one, you get W, 0.8x and 1x. The selfie camera has a higher-than-advertised resolution sensor, so most if not all zoom levels should be lossless.
First, let's talk about the benefits of having a variable aperture. While the Mate 50 Pro is not the first phone to offer such thing, it is the first to have this kind of sophisticated implementations - the previous solutions used two fixed steps instead. Now, Huawei offers ten steps, starting from f/1.4 up to f/4.0, which should be enough for even the most demanding smartphone users.
Having different aperture on for the lens is great - the camera can choose a brighter aperture to let more light at night, while opting for a slower one during the day to makes the photos sharper and extend the depth of field.
Shooting at f/1.4 offers a very shallow DoF and very pleasant natural bokeh. Dialing it up to f/4.0 lets you keep much more of your frame in focus. This lets you capture some marvelous bokehy portraits, while also having the option to capture more things in the background when you desire.
Here you can see the difference in the depth of field when shooting at the different aperture settings.
And now, let's look at some actual samples.
The main camera saves 12.5MP images by default and it chose f/2.0 aperture for all but one scene (the one with the hotel's front) throughout this bright sunny day. The photos are outstanding - there is plenty of resolved detail, we can't see noise, and the contrast is high.
The dynamic range is praise-worthy for not being over the top - it is realistic and while we can see some clipped highlights, there is no artificial HDR look.
The white balance was always spot-on and the color rendition remained consistently excellent across all photos we took.
Finally, but not of least importance - Huawei's incredibly mature processing is something that's been our favorite for quite some time. The foliage, the intricate objects, and all other random detail is resolved in the best possible way, looking natural without being soft or over-sharpened.
Overall, the primary camera on the Huawei Mate 50 Pro is certainly among the best smartphone cameras we've seen.
The 50MP sensor on the primary camera is potent enough to offer high-quality zoom. The photos we took at 2x zoom are almost as good as the native mode, with no major loss of detail. Huawei is indeed using some advanced computational photography to offset the digital zoom here and it works great.
The Portrait mode on the Mate 50 Pro offers 1x, 2x and 3x zoom levels - they all use the main camera and are shot at f/1.4 aperture to get the most of the camera's natural bokeh along with the artificially generated one.
The default 1x portraits are probably the best we've seen from a smartphone - class-leading subject rendition with natural detail, exposure, lovely colors, and no noise. The edge detection is perfect as it's delivered by the physics rather than AI. HDR is supported so a particularly bright background doesn't get clipped.
Just like it was with the 2x zoomed scenes, the 2x and 3x zoomed portraits are a close match to the default 1x ones. The advanced upscaling process does an even better job when working with a single subject and even at 3x magnification, the detail and the sharpness are solid.
Indeed, the Portrait shots are yet another test the Huawei Mate 50 Pro is passing with flying colors.
Huawei's camera app offers two high-res modes - 50MP and 50MP AI. The default 50MP option saves upscaled versions of the default 12.5MP images, which are of no use.
The 50MP AI was previously known as AI Ultra Clarity and it works by stacking multiple 50MP images. These shots are somewhat more detailed than the standard 50MP output, even if still far from amazing at pixel level. We tried downsizing them to 12.5MP, and the difference is barely noticeable though so you can safely avoid both 50MP modes.
Moving on to the ultrawide camera. It seems to be similar to the one used on the P50 Pro, and, unfortunately, has a similar issue. The 13MP camera has a 13mm f/2.2 lens and supports autofocus. Yet sometimes when it needs to focus at infinity, it starts to hunt uncontrollably, totally misses out and saves a blurry photo. This issue is usually detectable on the viewfinder and after some tapping and moving the phone a bit, we were able to produce a usable shot.
Even so the unreliable autofocus takes away from the user experience. We don't have the complete set of ultrawide photos, and the reason is obvious - we left the blurred ones out.
On the upside the 13MP photos the ultrawide camera got right are great. They are some of the widest we've seen from a smartphone, with proficient distortion correction and satisfyingly detailed corners. The images offer plenty of detail, low or no noise at all, and outstanding dynamic range. The contrast is high, while the color rendition and accuracy remain as great as on the main camera.
Just be sure to tap a couple of times on the viewfinder and more the phone a bit to stop the wobbling.
Super Macro is available as a separate shooting mode, and also appears as a toggle on the viewfinder when you try to focus on a very closely positioned object. We suggest avoiding these though, as they use different zoom levels that are achieved by cropping and upscaling from the default 13mm view and hurt the overall photo quality.
Instead, you can just shoot from as close as 3cm away with the ultrawide camera and you will get some exemplary close-ups with detailed centers, sharp, and well-developed intricate objects. The contrast remains high, the dynamic is great, and the color rendition is accurate and lively. We also want to praise these photos for the great handling of noise.
The telephoto camera on the Huawei Mate 50 Pro is lifted straight from the P50 Pro, except this time there is no actual promise for 7x lossless zoom. It uses a 64MP sensor with a lens for 3.5x optical magnification, though the high resolution means it has no issues going beyond that while retaining sufficient detail levels.
The viewfinder has two fixed zoom levels 3.5x and 10x, but you can pinch-zoom your way to all sorts of intermediate steps.
The 3.5x zoomed photos are awesome - nicely detailed with excellent rendition that impresses right out of the bat. The colors are a match to the other two cameras, the contrast is high and the dynamic range also deserves praise.
The photos are free of noise, too, adding up to arguably the best processing processing on the market.
We shot a couple of images at the 5x and 7x levels. These are overall very good, but the sharpness loss is already evident in the first case and quite pronounced in the second one.
And here are all the shots we took at the fixed 10x step. The photos are even less detailed, but considering how much digital zoom is applied they are quite impressive.
The 10x photos look great on the phone's screen, and are perfectly usable for sharing across social networks and chats, and they are fine even when displayed on a TV. Which for a lot of people means all the possible use cases are covered.
There are three FoVs available for the 13MP selfie camera corresponding to 18mm, 22mm and 27mm in 35mm equivalent, or as the UI calls them Wide, 0.8x and 1x. The camera always saves 13MP instead of 14.4MP photos as it is supposed to do, so you get either downscaling or upscaling at the two end of the range.
All selfies, no matter the FoV, have great image quality. The subject(s) is always well-exposed with very natural rendition and well balanced sharpness. The resolved detail is high, impressive even at 18mm and 22m, there is no noise, and the colors are well rendered.
The dynamic range is wide, and yet it didn't hurt the contrast.
Sure, the 27mm samples are slightly softer due to them being cropped and upscaled, but the drop is minor and we can barely notice.
We were disappointed to find out that there is no portrait mode for the selfie camera, especially when you have a 3D ToF system next to the selfie camera, able to create an advanced depth map.
Huawei Mate 50 Pro's promo materials hyped up its low-light photography credentials, especially when it comes to its primary camera. All nighttime photos were taken with the brightest f/1.4 aperture and a shutter speed around 1/20s. And, as the ads promised, those are excellent, they look like photos other phones would have shot using Night Mode.
The photos are are well exposed, have a lot of resolved detail and little noise. We were impressed that even at night, the primary camera has excellent color rendition. The dynamic range is plenty wide, while contrast hasn't suffered.
You can switch to Night Mode, which takes about 2-3s to process on the main camera, but it will make the photos unrealistically bright. You will get better developed shadows, and brighter even if noisier skies, but those Night Mode photos will certainly not be to everyone's liking.
The 13MP low-light photos from the ultrawide camera are well-exposed, there is decent detail and noise is kept under control.
The Night Mode on the ultrawide camera usually requires 4 seconds and it will lead to a bit more resolved detail and slightly better sharpness. But sometimes it dials up the color saturation to some unrealistic levels with a noticeable red tinge.
Moving on to the telephoto samples. Those shot at the native 3.5x magnification offer adequate exposure, enough detail and little noise, while maintaining true to life colors and wide dynamic range.
When it gets really dark the Mate 50 Pro uses digital zoom from the main camera instead of the telephoto unit - this happened on the second and the fifth scene and you can easily tell that as these images have distinct pixelation.
We do recommend using Night Mode on the telephoto camera, as it benefits largely from it with more resolved detail.
Going for 10x zoom in low-light is really not recommended, but if you do insist the Mate 50 Pro will use the telephoto camera and actually produce a surprisingly usable image. Colors are alright and while detail isn't great it's adequate, which is far more than we would have expected.
You can make the 10x shots brighter by using the Night Mode and add a bit more detail too, but don't expect miracles.
The Night Mode also recognizes when you've mounted the phone on a tripod even if there is no indication on the viewfinder. Once you hit the shutter, you will see 15s-20s exposure time. And, the tripod Night Mode photos have a hard to believe amount of resolved detail, excellent exposure, great colors and zero noise. The dynamic range is impressive, too.
And here are photos of our usual posters taken with the Huawei Mate 50 Pro. You can see how it stacks up against the competition. Feel free to browse around and pit it against other phones from our extensive database.
The Huawei Mate 50 Pro records video up to 4K at 60fps all of its cameras. Huawei calls its stabilization AIS, which is either a combination of EIS with OIS, or just one of these.
Optical stabilization is available on the primary and zoom cameras, while always-on electronic stabilization is present across all shooters. You cannot turn the EIS off.
And the stabilization works pretty well too.
The 4K@30 clips have a bitrate of 39-40Mbps. Audio is always captured stereo with 96kbps bitrate, but don't let the low number fool you - the sound is usually clean of wind and other disruptions and decently rich.
The main camera captured very good 4K videos - good detail levels and polished processing. The footage is free of noise, the color presentation is accurate and contrast is high.
The ultrawide-angle 4K clips are about as good - they have somewhat muted colors, but otherwise - enough detail and excellent rendition.
We also liked the macro videos that are shot on the selfie camera even if the dog wasn't exactly happy. The focus tries its best to follow the subject but not overreact, which is important.
The telephoto camera has two zoom levels when capturing videos - 4x and 10x. The ones shot at 4x zoom are rather impressive, but there is no EIS on the zoom camera, so you can often see the optical stabilization kicks in.
The 10x zoomed videos are poor in detail, as you could expect, but not horrible in the grand scheme of things. Here the OIS compensation movements are even more obvious.
And this is a 22mm sample from the selfie camera, a FoV we think most people will be using. The 4K footage is well stabilized and the subject is always well exposed and detailed. The background has a nice rendition, as well.
Let's look at some low-light videos now.
The ones from the main camera are clean of noise, detailed and with true-to-life colors - certain among the better ones you can get from a smartphone nowadays.
The ultrawide clip we took at night is dark and underexposed, but at least get low noise. The colors are washed out, so it's certainly not great footage, but it can be useful in emergency cases.
The 4K videos from the telephoto camera are alright - they have decent exposure, adequate detail and good colors, and noise, while present isn't overly bothersome. The camera is usable at night and should you need it, it will do a nice job taking videos.
Even the 10x zoomed night videos are usable if the situation calls for it.
Finally, here is the Huawei Mate 50 Pro in our video comparison database.