Huawei P60 Pro hands-on: Still a photo-taking beast
Huawei P60 Pro hands-on: Still a photo-taking beast
Note: This feature was first published on 15 May 2023.
Huawei’s new premium flagship for 2023 — the Huawei P60 Pro — has left us with a longing that’s quite hard to explain.
A handful of things about the P60 Pro aren’t very remarkable by modern phone standards. It’s hard to move past the lack of native Google Mobile Services compatibility. Also, having a powerful processor (Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1) that stops at 4G networking feels a little dated in countries and cities with increasingly commonplace 5G coverage.
Yet, the Huawei P60 Pro is still a dream handset in other ways, and it was apparent once we had our hands-on with the Chinese smartphone at its regional launch in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
@hwztech Should ask Huawei to use Kunlun Glass to protect my heart #huaweip60pro #huaweisg @Huawei ♬ I Wanna Ride With You - Fuse Adventures in Audio x Precarious Perch
That’s because Huawei has done a remarkable job producing a true premium flagship phone inside and out, with little compromise beyond its known flaws.
For starters, we felt that Huawei has gone beyond recolouring palettes in the P60 Pro’s Rococo Pearl and Black variants. Most brands would throw on another hue and call it a day, but the Chinese brand went further with both models.
Our TikTok clip above shows that every Rococo Pearl’s rear plate is unique. Huawei didn’t share its manufacturing process, but we know it is made from mineralised pearl powder for its Mother of Pearl appearance. Given its unlikely choice of materials would mean a less uniform design, but it addresses a huge aesthetic problem in bar-type smartphones: Huawei P60 Pro looks different in a crowded premium flagship market, and we like its approach.
Even its feather-sand Black was not lacking in style, as it had a crystallised, sanded glitter that’s typical of high-fashion accessories.
That’s on top of having amazing construction, with the 8.3mm body feeling sturdy in hand, with an unmistakably balanced centre of gravity despite its rear camera housing and placement. Short of your other big names like Apple and Samsung, it’s uncommon to find a well-designed phone with this level of attention to detail.
Topping it all off is a durable Kunlun Glass on its 6.67-inch LTPO AMOLED display (2,700 x 1,200 pixels resolution), which is Huawei’s proprietary glass technology that counters the U.S.-based Corning (and its famous Gorilla Glass).
Thunderstruck by Ultra Lightning cameras
The rear cameras are another reason why it’s Google's loss for not having Huawei’s phones under its fold. According to its spec sheet and launch details, Huawei P60 Pro has a new XMAGE imaging system called Ultra Lightning XMAGE on two out of its three rear lenses.
The Ultra Lightning Main Camera is 48MP, and it’s paired with many components to milk its RYYB sensor’s capabilities (auto-adjustable physical aperture, high transmittance lens group, and a dedicated XD Fusion Pro image processor, to name a few).
Besides the phone’s natural tendency to exaggerate contrast in its shots, the Huawei P60 Pro’s main camera would make a photographer out of nearly anyone. The main camera has excellent detail retention, colour reproduction, and it’s fast and easy to use. The camera is also equally competent in low-light situations too.
The 48MP Ultra Lightning Telephoto Camera is just as impressive with its support for 3.5x optical zoom that goes all the way up to 100x digital zoom.
If you use its preset 3.5x zoom or 10x zoom from the default camera app’s interface, it’s easy to get clear photos that are ready for uploading to social media.
Even its 13MP ultra-wide camera still plays well with its Ultra Lightning counterparts, since it made fisheye distortion nearly impossible to spot.
All in all, the Huawei P60 Pro offers a competent set of rear cameras that produces satisfying photos in a jiffy. It’s a pity you need to work up some elbow grease to have some Google features on the device.
The new name of the game: virtualisation of Google apps
That led us to find new ways to get some semblance of Google on our Huawei P60 Pro. Ardent users might recall certain tools like Petal Search and sideloading of third-party app stores, which leaves considerable room for infected APKs and malicious apps to make their way onto the device. In our installation tutorials, we’ve highlighted how it’s usually the apps that specifically use GMS that are disabled for Huawei phones, and even sideloaded ones don’t always work as intended.
There are many new ways to overcome that, but the preferred method (for now) comes from AppGallery (Huawei’s own app store). You can find virtualisation apps like Gbox to create a sandbox to hold all your Google apps. In essence, it tells Google Mobile Services that you’re not using a Huawei device, but only within the space it’s allowed to operate in. That means your Google apps won’t be interoperable with the rest of HMS and Huawei phones, but you can still check your Gmail emails, watch your YouTube videos, and edit your Google Docs. There are also paid versions of such apps with more features, such as Gspace.
Still, that doesn’t take away the fact that you have to find workarounds to get your Huawei P60 Pro to work like their pre-sanction phones once did.
Available in Singapore
The Huawei P60 Pro retails at S$1,548 from 20 May 2023 at Huawei Experience Stores (313@Somerset, Westgate), telcos (StarHub, with M1 only carrying P60 Pro), and other electronic retailers (Best Denki, Challenger, Courts, Gain City, MetaPod, SprintCass).
They are also available online via Lazada and Shopee.
Customers can pre-order between 11 to 19 May 2023 at Huawei Experience Stores or Lazada. Doing so nets the customer multiple free gifts worth up to S$366, while stocks last.