There are plenty of question marks over the Huawei Mate 50 series, the anticipated 2021 entry in Huawei's top-end Mate line of powerhouse mobile phones.
With the Huawei P50 series delayed, and still not out months after it was expected, few would be surprised to hear that the Mate series was delayed too - but then some sources think it's been cancelled altogether, and we'll have to wait a year to see another Mate phone.
That's a shame, because if it's real, the Huawei Mate 50 could be one of the best handsets of the year. That was true of the Huawei Mate 40 range in 2020, phones which – particularly in the case the Huawei Mate 40 Pro and Pro Plus – had brilliant screens, stunning designs, class-leading cameras, good battery life, and plenty of power.
So far we don’t know much about the Huawei Mate 50 range, but we’d expect a continuation of all that – likely coupled with a high price.
Below we’ll go through everything we have heard so far, along with details of the release date and price, and then a wish list of what we want from the phones, because there’s always room for improvement.
According to one source, there will be no new Mate phone this year - so no Huawei Mate 50 or 50 Pro - for the first time since 2013.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? The phablet successor to the Huawei Mate 40
- When is it out? Probably September or October, if at all
- How much will it cost? Unclear but a lot
Huawei Mate 50 release date and price
The Huawei Mate 50 will probably be announced towards the end of the year, but exactly when is less clear. The Huawei Mate 40 range was unveiled in late October of 2020, and went on sale from November, but the previous year the Huawei Mate 30 was both announced and released in September.
We could see a delay - the Huawei P50 series hasn't launched at time of writing, despite a usual March appearance, and perhaps the Mate line will get pushed back so the P devices have a chance to shine. That is, if the phone hasn't been cancelled, as one source thinks.
As for the price, the Huawei Mate 40 Pro was the only model of the current range to get a UK or Australian release, and that cost £1099.99 / AU$1,999 (roughly $1,430). None of the phones got released in the US, but the standard Mate 40 started at €899 (around £810 / $1,065 / AU$1,500) in Europe.
So pricing for the Huawei Mate 40 range might be similar – as might availability, but with no rumors yet we’re not at all sure. All we can be confident of is that the range probably won’t land in the US, thanks to the Huawei ban, although with a new administration in power even that might not be set in stone.
News and leaks
We don’t know much about the Huawei Mate 50 yet, but it’s possible that it will use the Kirin 9000 chipset. That’s actually the same chipset as the Huawei Mate 40 has, meaning the new phones might not get as much of a power boost as usual.
The reason this chipset is a possibility is because the US trade ban that Huawei is under means that it can’t easily source components to build chipsets. However, it’s reportedly held back enough stock of the Kirin 9000 to be able to equip the Huawei P50 range and perhaps also the Mate 50 range with it.
Actual and rumored LTPO Smartphones for 2021 so far- S21 Ultra- Oppo Find X3/Pro- Z Flip 3- Z Fold 3- Xiaomi Mi 12- Huawei Mate 50 Pro- Apple iPhone 12s Pro- Apple iPhone 12s Pro MaxJanuary 22, 2021
Elsewhere, Ross Young (a display industry expert and leaker) has tweeted that the Huawei Mate 50 Pro is among the 2021 phones that are rumored to have an LTPO (low-temperature Polycrystalline oxide) screen.
That’s a type of screen tech that we’ve seen on a few phones, such as the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, but not many. It allows the refresh rate of the display to dynamically change, without additional hardware components.
That in turn probably means two things for the Huawei Mate 50 Pro. Firstly, that it will probably have a refresh rate of above 60Hz (which is hardly surprising given that the Mate 40 range has a 90Hz refresh rate), and secondly that it will probably be a variable refresh rate, meaning it slows down when the extra refreshes aren’t needed, thereby conserving battery life.
What we want to see
We don’t know much about the Huawei Mate 50 range at the time of writing, but we know what we want.
1. More apps
The biggest problem with Huawei’s recent phones is one of software, and more specifically apps. Thanks to a US trade ban the company’s phones can’t access the Google Play Store or make use of Google apps such as Maps.
Huawei does have its own alternative store, called AppGallery, along with access on its phones to some third-party stores, but none of these can compete with Google Play, or in many cases Google’s own apps, so there are a lot of gaps in its app library.
Fixing this for the Huawei Mate 50 range would make it a lot more desirable, but short of an end to the trade ban (which might not be completely impossible now that a different government is in power) the situation probably won’t get much better.
2. Wider availability
None of the Huawei Mate 40 range landed in the US, and only the Huawei Mate 40 Pro landed in the UK or Australia, so for the Huawei Mate 50 range we want wider availability.
Specifically, we want to see every model land in the UK and Australia. The US is still likely to be out of the question given the Huawei ban there, but we want every region that can get these phones to get them.
3. A 120Hz or higher refresh rate
Every model in the Huawei Mate 40 range has a 90Hz refresh rate, which is a reasonable refresh rate for the basic model, but less impressive for the Mate 40 Pro, let alone the Mate 40 Pro Plus.
So we want the Huawei Mate 50 range to at least match the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S21 range in offering a 120Hz refresh rate on every model.
Better yet, we’d love to see an even higher refresh rate. Some gaming phones offer this, so there’s no reason a general purpose flagship can’t.
4. A lower price
The Huawei Mate 40 Pro was an expensive phone at launch, and had the rest of the phones been available in the regions we cover they likely would have been as well, so we’d like to see a price cut for the Huawei Mate 50 range.
Samsung slashed the prices for the Galaxy S21 range, so this isn’t out of the question, especially as Huawei will want to be able to rival those phones.
5. An in-screen camera
One thing that could help the Huawei Mate 50 range stand out is having an in-screen selfie camera. This is a feature we’ve now seen on the ZTE Axon 20 5G, and it’s also one that other companies are rumored to be working on, so by late this year it’s not unreasonable to start expecting flagships to have a camera in the screen.
Plus, one of our issues with the Huawei Mate 40 Pro was its large camera cut-out, which is something an in-screen camera would solve.
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