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Huawei P60 Pro hands-on review: A shot in the dark

The Huawei P60 Pro is a valiant effort to overcome the brand’s international trading restrictions, but it’s a tough sell at this price

The Huawei P60 Pro is the Chinese brand’s latest flagship smartphone, launching alongside its new folding handset, the Huawei Mate X3. Both of these models have already been released in China, in March and April this year, but at least they’re not taking upwards of five months to reach UK shores, as we saw with the P50 Pro.

Various international restrictions mean that the Huawei P60 Pro still lacks Google’s core suite of apps and 5G support, like its predecessor, but if you can overlook those shortcomings, there’s a lot to like here. The display and performance are impressive enough, but the real standout here is the camera suite, complete with what Huawei claims is the largest aperture on any smartphone telephoto camera to date. If photography is more important to you than apps and 5G, this could be one to watch.

Huawei P60 Pro hands-on review: Key specifications

  • 6.67in, 120Hz, 1,220 x 2,700 OLED display
  • Octa-core 3.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1
  • 256GB or 512GB of storage
  • Rear cameras: 48MP (f/1.4 – 4.0), 48MP (f/2.1) telephoto, 16MP (f/2.2) ultrawide
  • Selfie camera: 13MP
  • 4,815mAh battery
  • 88W fast charging
  • Dimensions: 161 x 75 x 8.3mm
  • Weight: 200g
  • UK Release date: 9 May 2023
  • Price: £1,200 (8GB/256GB), £1,300 (12GB/512GB)

Huawei P60 Pro hands-on review: Design, key features and first impressions

As you’d expect, Huawei has updated the design from the previous P50 Pro, starting with a slightly larger 6.67in display. The panel is still an OLED, so we can expect near-perfect black and contrast levels, and the resolution is 2,700 x 1,220, giving an overall pixel density of 444ppi. New for this model is LTPO technology, which allows the display to dynamically adjust the refresh rate between 1Hz and 120Hz, based on the needs of what’s on the screen, which should help to extend the battery life.

The display curves elegantly off all four sides into the aluminium frame, with a layer of Kunlun glass sitting over the top for protection. Huawei claims that the Kunlun glass has improved drop resistance over the previous version, and can withstand up to 32kg of weight pressure. Rounding out the protective qualities is an IP68 rating, certifying the phone as fully dustproof and able to withstand a 1.5m dunk in water for up to 30 minutes.

Around the edges, you’ll find the volume and power buttons on the right-hand side, the USB-C port and dual-SIM tray on the bottom and the IR blaster on the top, which allows you to use the phone as a universal remote. The SIM tray can either take two nano-SIMs or one nano-SIM and a microSD card, supporting capacities up to 256GB. In terms of biometrics, you’ve got an optical fingerprint reader beneath the display, and the 13MP selfie camera also supports face unlocking.

Only two of the colour schemes will be making it to UK shores, and each only comes in one memory variant. The standard Black model is made with slightly reflective and apparently anti-fingerprint “Feather-Sand” glass, and comes with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. The Rococo Pearl model, meanwhile, offers 12GB of RAM and 512GB of storage, and features a particularly stylish mother-of-pearl-like rear panel. Huawei states the individual marbling gives each phone a unique look, and that certainly held true during my hands-on.

The rectangular camera module in the upper-left corner has been redesigned to more closely resemble a classic camera aesthetic, with the main 48MP lens set in a large central housing. Above the main camera, there’s a 16MP ultrawide sensor, with the 48MP telephoto lens in a mirrored position below. Top right on the module is the LED flash, while the bottom left shows off the Xmage logo.

As for the internals, the Huawei P60 Pro isn’t quite running the most up-to-date hardware – with Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 cropping up in recent phones such as the OnePlus 11 and Samsung’s Galaxy S23 – but it’s only a year behind. The octa-core 3.2GHz Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 processor is a 4G version, owing to the aforementioned 5G issue. In use, the phone is as snappy as you’d expect of a flagship, with the 120Hz refresh rate keeping scrolling smooth and stutter-free.

On the battery front, there’s also been a fairly large upgrade, with the P60 Pro using a 4,815mAh unit, compared to the 4,360mAh capacity found in the P50 Pro. 50W wireless charging carries over, but wired jumps from 66W to 88W, which Huawei says can take the battery from empty to 50% in just ten minutes. A compatible 88W dual-port block is included in the box, with the option to charge either by USB-A or USB-C, though you can’t use both ports simultaneously.

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Huawei P60 Pro hands-on review: Software

The Huawei P60 Pro will be the first device to ship with the latest EMUI 13.1 OS, which sits over a pared-down version of Android. It’s easy enough to navigate, with plenty of customisation options, but the phone does come preloaded with a ridiculous amount of bloatware.

As mentioned, the biggest drawback is that you won’t have access to the Google suite of apps, meaning no Chrome, Gmail, Drive or Play Store. Instead, you’ve got Huawei’s own AppGallery app store, which can’t help but feel like a cheap knock-off.

To be fair, AppGallery has improved its selection in the time since the original trade ban with Google, adding popular apps such as TikTok and Snapchat, as well as useful utilities such as Trainline and Just Eat. Most of the top apps are still missing, with Netflix, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter all AWOL, but if you search for any of these, the store will usually direct you to an apk download, to bypass the restrictions. It’s not a perfect solution, but if you have your heart set on Huawei, it’s at least possible to install your favourite apps.

Huawei P60 Pro hands-on review: Cameras

As the P in P60 Pro stands for Photography, it makes sense that the cameras are the stars of the show here. Huawei states that the main lens is the most advanced Xmage Huawei camera yet, with the 48MP sensor using a variable aperture, with ten levels between f/1.4 and f/4.0. At f/1.4, the aperture is apparently the largest in any smartphone on the market, and capable of taking in up to 2.9x more light than the P50 Pro.

My time with the P60 Pro certainly gave me no reason to doubt those claims, with ultrawide shots achieving a terrific balance in the lighting, with deep shadows on the sides of the hedges and stark highlights along the tops. Colours are vibrant, with the freshly mown grass a particular standout, but natural enough to not look overprocessed.

That large aperture comes into play when the sun goes down as well. Even directly facing the setting sun, the camera picked up plenty of detail in the shadowy foreground, with individual branches and the giraffe’s spots all standing out clearly.

Despite the impressive light intake of the main lens, Huawei calls the 48MP telephoto shooter the highlight of the camera array. Huawei claims that f/2.1 is the largest you’ll find on any smartphone telephoto. It also takes in more light than its predecessor, apparently drawing in up to 3.05x more light than the P50 Pro’s telephoto lens.

By itself, the telephoto lens can reach a 3.5x optical zoom, and can be used for macro shots, as well as long-distance shooting. From there, the camera can digitally zoom (essentially cropping in on the image) to achieve up to 100x magnification. While you naturally lose a lot of detail going that far in, zoom ranges between 3.5x and 10x proved very impressive during testing.

Even though it’s a cropping of the 3.5x optical zoom, the 10x magnification retains a terrific amount of detail, with individual strands of this gorilla’s fur clearly visible. You can even see the leftover remnants of his lunch stuck on his chin.

As mentioned, the telephoto lens also handles macro duties, and the results are very impressive. The lines around the focal subject are sharp, with a decent background blur behind it, and the colours are as punchy as the ultrawide shots.

The telephoto lens also performs just as well as the main sensor in low-light conditions. The artificial brightening lit up the night sky without overblowing any of the colours, and the twinkling lights in the tree are all enhanced with a bokeh flare. The floodlight to the left is blooming a little more than I’d like, but otherwise this is an impressive night-time shot.

Video hasn’t seen any upgrades from the P50 Pro, with the phone still shooting 4K up to 60fps and a 960fps slow motion mode up to 1080p. What we get is still decent enough, with great handling of exposure changes and solid image stabilisation. However, at this price I really would have liked to see 8K or 120fps included.

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Huawei P60 Pro hands-on review: Early verdict

Huawei phones tend to feel like they’re trying to make up for the lack of Google apps and 5G, and the P60 Pro is no different. The design is slick, the display is gorgeous and the hardware is decent – albeit not the best on the market right now.

If anything is going to lure you away from the Samsungs and the Googles of the world, it’s going to be the camera array, which Huawei has made clear is the main focus. While the lenses here are certainly promising, I’m just not convinced that they’re worth such a high price tag, especially when you can get the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra for around the same money or the Google Pixel 7 Pro for significantly less, and get 5G and Google apps to boot.

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