Opinion: Huawei Mate 50 is too pricy as a 4G phone
Huawei's latest flagship smartphone Mate 50 Pro. /Huawei

Huawei's latest flagship smartphone Mate 50 Pro. /Huawei

Editor's note: Gong Zhe is a senior sci-tech editor at CGTN Digital. This article represents his own opinions, not necessarily CGTN's.

The used-to-be Chinese smartphone giant Huawei has released its latest flagship product – the Mate 50 series. Though the new phones are packed with unique new features, the premium prices and lack of 5G support may scare away many potential buyers.

As a Chinese, I really hope domestic phones can get better. As a gadget fan, I also want more solid products competing in the market so buyers will have more options. But as a tech writer I can't recommend the Mate 50 to a wide range of people. And here are my reasons for that.

You may need 5G one day

Lack of 5G could be a deal breaker for many people. To be fair, the current 5G network is far from being matured. But that's not an excuse to buy a 4G-only phone.

Many Chinese smartphones fans like to say that "I may not use this feature. But you have to offer it." And this is exactly the case.

Huawei fans may argue that the company wanted to make 5G phones, they just can't – the U.S. government took extreme measures to make sure this big contributor to the 5G standard has no access to 5G chips.

But such argument won't stop people from buying other phones that have 5G.

You may not want to pay a premium

Huawei is obviously charging a premium compared with other brands.

The Mate 50 is powered by a Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chip (Qualcomm really needs to figure out a better naming scheme), which is in no way unique like the Kirin chips in previous Mate phones. Xiaomi has the Mi 12S; Vivo has iQOO 10; OnePlus has the Ace Pro. All these alternatives are at least $100 cheaper with the same chip, which means they can run as fast as the Mate 50.

So, what does Mate 50 have to justify the premium price? Harder front glass, a potentially better camera system, more water resistance and the ability to send satellite messages without a SIM card.

Mate 50 is world's first smartphone to support satellite messaging through the Beidou system. /Huawei

Mate 50 is world's first smartphone to support satellite messaging through the Beidou system. /Huawei

These features are cool but may not be good enough to lure potential buyers.

Old Mates are still fine

Huawei spent a lot of time talking about their HarmonyOS 3 upgrade at the press release. It offers some creative features like AI-based privacy protection, a file system that saves more space and a last-minute battery saver.

Those software upgrades may sound interesting to people using other brands. But for those already holding a previous Mate phone, they can just wait for the upgrade to get almost all the new benefits without paying a dime.

The Mate 40, powered by Huawei's 5-nanometer Kirin 9000 chip, is still fast enough for most daily tasks and even games like PUBG Mobile. Resource-heavy games like Genshin Impact and Diablo Immortal are popular but not necessary for everyone, not to mention they can still run on the Mate 40 with some visual effects tuned down.

With all the cons listed, the Mate 50 will be welcomed by a significantly large group of Huawei fans in the Chinese mainland, who will just buy the phones without asking much about specifications – this happened a lot to iPhones and other products from established brand.

The new phones still look cool like previous products and offer many more features – except for 5G – compared with the Mate 40.

Maybe that's why more than two million people paid full price to pre-order the new phones, emptying Huawei's initial stock almost instantly after the sale began.

"This phone is too expensive and I'm kindly asking you to not line up for it," said a user, who got nearly 700 upvotes for the comment. "So I can get mine."

Search Trends