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Top-tier cameras & unique design


Huawei decided to rebrand its ‘P’ series smartphones this year. The Huawei P series became the Huawei Pura series. So instead of the Huawei P70 series, Huawei launched the Huawei Pura 70 series. Having said that, the Huawei Pura 70 Ultra is the most powerful smartphone in that series, and this is our review of that device. The Huawei Pura 70 Ultra is also Huawei’s new flagship smartphone. That phone did arrive in a global variant too, and that’s the model that we’re reviewing, just to be perfectly clear.

This is a phone that I’ve been looking forward to since it launched, mainly due to its camera and in-hand feel. Those are the two areas Huawei basically always exceeds on, and truth be said, this time is not different. The phone offers absolutely outstanding cameras and camera performance, and despite its size, it’s a joy to use. Let me stop getting ahead of myself, though. Let’s move forward one step at a time, starting with the phone’s design.

Table of contents

Huawei Pura 70 Ultra Review: Hardware / Design

As I spoiled in the intro, this phone offers a great in-hand feel. It’s made out of metal (aluminum), and vegan leather aka eco-leather. I always welcome eco leather on smartphones, especially large ones. Why? Because they add much-needed grip to phones. Smartphones with glass backs are too slippery, and you basically have no option but to use some sort of a case. This handset, however, doesn’t need a case… even though one is included in the box, more on that later, though.

The in-hand feel is outstanding. It’s very comfortable to use, and it actually doesn’t seem as large due to the way it’s built. One thing to note is that it’s quite top-heavy, which is not surprising considering its camera setup. The front and back sides are proportional and nicely curved. The display also has that curved feel on all sides, even though it seems to be like only the glass on top of the display is curved.

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The bezels are proportional

The bezels on the front are very thin and proportional, which is always nice to see. A display camera hole is placed at the top. All the physical buttons sit on the right-hand side of the phone, and while the power/lock button has a red line on top of it, it feels the same as the volume up and down buttons, so it’s not as easy to differentiate just be feeling it. That’s a missed opportunity on Huawei’s part, I’d say. I didn’t really miss the power/lock key all that much, though, for what it’s worth. It’s well-placed. The buttons are also very tactile, as expected. A Type-C port sits at the bottom of the phone, while an IR blaster is located at the top. There is no audio jack here.

The camera setup on the back is quite large, which is unsurprising considering today’s standards. It also has a unique design, and the main camera is retractable. We’ll talk more about that in the camera section, though. All that is a part of the same camera island, which is located in the top-left corner of the phone’s back. The company’s logo also sits on the back of the phone, by the way, as per usual.

It is a bit top-heavy, though, but that’s to be expected

Other than the missed opportunity to place a different finish on the power/lock key, and the fact it’s top-heavy, I don’t really have any complaints on this design. Those are very minor things when you consider everything, of course. Everything else is basically spot on, and the phone also screams quality when you use it. So Huawei really nailed the design here, as is usually the case with the company’s flagships.

Accessories

The Huawei Pura 70 Ultra comes with both a charger and a case. Many other OEMs ship their flagships without both of those, so this is definitely nice to see. You’re getting a 100W charger in the box, to enable max charging on the phone. On top of that, Huawei includes a nice case. That case has a similar feel to the back of the phone itself, on the outside. It feels like a thin layer of eco-leather is applied on top of it. The case is very thin, and it does protect the display, but not the rear camera setup, unfortunately (the camera setup protrudes even with the case on). The sides are exposed, which may not be everyone’s cup of tea.

Huawei Pura 70 Ultra Review: Display

The Huawei Pura 70 Ultra has a very, very nice display. It includes a 6.8-inch 2844 x 1260 LTPO OLED panel. That display has an adaptive refresh rate, it can move from 1 to 120Hz in order to save battery. A 300Hz touch sampling rate is a part of the package too. This panel also supports HDR content, and the peak brightness is technically at around 2,500 nits. Huawei calls this panel the ‘Huawei X True’ display. A 1,440Hz PWM dimming is also a part of the package, in case you were wondering. The screen-to-body ratio is at around 89 percent, in case you were wondering. The display is protected by Kunlun Glass (Basalt-tempered). This is a new version of an already extremely durable Kunlun Glass which has proven its worth on previous Huawei phones.

The display itself is flat, but the glass on top of it is curved on all sides. That makes for a very smooth usage of the display itself. I did remove the pre-applied screen protector (a plastic one) before I started using the phone, to be quite honest. I do that for a couple of reasons. First, I hate how greasy plastic screen protectors get. The second reason is the fact that my finger gets caught on the edge of screen protectors on curved displays or displays that have curved glass on top. The third reason is to test out the display protection through everyday wear and tear.

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The display is great, vivid & protects your eyes

So, when it comes to actual usage, is this display any good? Yes, actually, it’s outstanding. The vast majority of mainstream flagships have great displays, and so does the Huawei Pura 70 Ultra. The display is not only vivid and sharp, but it also has great viewing angles, and it’s more than bright enough in all situations, basically. Its adaptive refresh rate works really well, and the touch responsiveness is also really good. High-frequency PWM dimming is always a welcomed addition, and those of you who get headaches from using your phones with OLED displays will certainly appreciate that. It will also help keep your eyes safe over time.

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I had a great time using this display and also appreciated that the glass on top of it is curved on all sides. I also didn’t notice a single scratch on the Kunlun display, even though I removed the screen protector on day one. Do note that I didn’t drop it a single time, so I can’t really attest to that. The day-to-day wear and tear, however, Kunlun did a fantastic job.

Huawei Pura 70 Ultra Review: Performance

The Huawei Pura 70 Ultra is fueled by Huawei’s very own chip, made by SMIC. The chip in question is the Kirin 9010, a 7nm processor. That is Huawei’s best chip at the moment, as the company didn’t really kickstart its chip-making business until last year. The US ban managed to mess up their plans years ago. In any case, this chip enables 5G connectivity in China, but not outside of it. Despite the fact the global variant contains that chip, due to restraints, only 4G connectivity is available. That was not a problem for me at all, as 4G is great where I live, but keep that in mind if you’re planning to get the device. Huawei can technically enable 5G is something changes down the road.

What about the performance? Well, this is technically a mid-range chip, based on its performance. It’s in the same ballpark as really good mid-range chips from Qualcomm and MediaTek. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as it performs really well, but just keep in mind it’s not on the same level as the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 or anything like that. Huawei is prevented from making 3nm and 4nm chips at the moment. A 5nm chip, however, is expected to arrive later this year.

It doesn’t have a top-tier chip, but that shouldn’t bother most of you

The fact that this is not a top-of-the-line chip didn’t really bother me during usage. Why? Because I didn’t notice it. During day-to-day use, the phone’s performance was immensely smooth. I didn’t really notice any lag or anything like that. You’ll realize that this is a mid-range tier chip if you run benchmarks, or if you end up playing a truly demanding game. Basically everything that you’ll find in Huawei’s AppGallery app store runs really well on this chip. I even tried sideloading some games to see how they’ll fare, and it did a good job. Chances are you’re not considering this device if you’re in the market for a gaming machine either way.

I’m not sure if this chip will stand the test of time, in terms of performance, but it performed admirably here. Huawei is really good when it comes to optimization, and this is also the company’s very own processor, so… that surely helps in that regard. The bottom line is, the performance was great.

Temperature Genshin Impact

Huawei Pura 70 Ultra Genshin Impact temperature testHuawei Pura 70 Ultra Genshin Impact temperature test

Geekbench 6

Huawei Pura 70 Ultra GeekbenchHuawei Pura 70 Ultra Geekbench

3D Mark Wildlife Extreme Stress Test

Best loop: 1,390
Lowest loop: 1,379
Stability: 99.2%

Video export test (CapCut)

Huawei Pura 70 Ultra CapCut video export time (lower is better)Huawei Pura 70 Ultra CapCut video export time (lower is better)

Huawei Pura 70 Ultra Review: Battery

The Huawei Pura 70 Ultra has a 5,200mAh battery on the inside. If you’re worried about battery life, there’s really no need to be. The device provides great battery life. Not once were I forced to charge it during the day or anything like that. With my regular usage, boosted by testing the device, I was comfortable getting over 6 hours of scree-on-time with plenty left in the tank. When I pushed it a bit more, it crossed the 7-hour screen-on-time mark and still had almost 20% left in the tank. That happened several times. I had no problems with battery life whatsoever. The only thing that I didn’t do on those days was play games, but with plenty of camera use and everything, it did an admirable job.

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Even in our battery drain test the phone did great. I also did not notice that 4G connectivity is draining the battery more than usual. The difference between being connected to WiFi and 4G was not noticeable, which is always good to see. Another thing to note is that the battery life was constant, basically. There were no usage cycles when the battery dropped off too fast or anything like that, which is something we’ve seen happen, mostly with Google’s Pixel phones at times.

Huawei Pura 70 Ultra battery life rundownHuawei Pura 70 Ultra battery life rundown

Charging

Even if you run out of battery before it’s time, there’s no need to fret. Why? Because this phone charges immensely fast. That goes for both wired and wireless charging. A full charge takes less than 50 minutes. It took us 46 minutes to fully recharge the device with the bundled 100W charger. Do note that the charging slows down after you cross the 80% mark, though. A Type-C to Type-C cable comes included too, by the way. The phone gets to a 30% charge in only 5 minutes, while a 60% charge takes around 15 minutes. So you can technically get up to 80% immensely fast.

In addition to offering 100W wired charging, the phone also supports 80W wireless charging. We did not have a compatible charger for that, so we really couldn’t test it, but that’ll also get the phone charged up really fast. On top of that, 20W reverse wireless, and 18W reverse wired charging is supported. That makes this phone the most complete charging package in the market, basically. You can technically charge phones faster with this phone, wirelessly, than Apple’s most expensive phones can charge themselves with the original charger. Let that sink in for a bit. You have a ton of options here.

Huawei Pura 70 Ultra wired charging (lower is better)Huawei Pura 70 Ultra wired charging (lower is better)

Huawei Pura 70 Ultra Review: Camera

On paper, the Huawei Pura 70 Ultra has a great camera setup, as expected. That, combined with the company’s camera software, makes for a truly compelling camera offering here. This is easily one of the best-performing camera smartphones to date. Let’s take it one step at a time, though, starting with the hardware.

The Huawei Pura 70 Ultra includes a triple camera setup on the back. A 50-megapixel main camera is the phone’s main camera. Huawei utilizes the Sony IMX989 1-inch sensor from Sony here. On top of that, it offers an f/1.4-f/4.0 variable aperture and a recractable lens. There is also sensor-shift stabilization included in the package. We’re looking at a 22.5mm focal length here, and Huawei also threw its XD Motion engine on top of everything, for handling fast-moving objects. It actually works really well, more on that later.

Its ultrawide camera is very capable, but the periscope telephoto unit truly impresses

A 40-megapixel ultrawide camera is also included here. It has a 13mm equivalent focal length, and it supports autofocus too. This camera is also supposed to be used for macro photography, though I used the telephoto unit more for that purpose, as it’s actually meant to be used for macro shots You can do it with the ultrawide shooter too, though. It all depends on what you’re trying to capture.

Speaking of which, the third camera on the back is a 50-megapixel periscope telephoto unit. The sensor itself is placed behind a periscope 90mm f/2.1 telephoto lens. OIS is supported here, and this camera offers 3.5x optical zoom. Huawei claims you’re getting ‘lossless’ zoom up to 10x thanks to software. Much like the ultrawide camera, this one is also meant to be used for macro shots, it all depends on what you’re taking a picture of. You can get up to 5cm to the subject of the shot thanks to the 35x super macro mode on this camera. On top of these three cameras, Huawei also included a 13-megapixel selfie unit. That one is coupled with an 18mm f/2.4 aperture lens. It supports autofocus.

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Variable aperture does play a role here… an important one

The performance you can get here is… outstanding. The variable aperture aspect does come into play in the end results, as this camera adapts to different lighting conditions with ease. This is a 9-stop variable aperture, well, at least when it comes to fixed steps. You can take manual control if you want. You get immense control of depth of field too, thanks to variable aperture. If you want, you can really tune down your shots to absolute details, or allow Huawei to do it for you. The phone does a great job in auto mode, and all the camera samples that you’ll see at the very end of this entire section are taken via auto mode.

By default, the main camera takes 12-megapixel photos. The details you can get during both day and night are excellent. During the day, the sharpening is spot on, it’s not overboard, and there’s no noise to speak of. The dynamic range is very good, but also not too strong, which makes the photos look more realistic. The white balance is very good, though that’s one area that could use a tiny bit more optimization in some (rare) situations. The colors are vibrant, but not too much. There’s a Vivid mode that you can switch to if you want, though, which will boost the colors, and contrast of the shots too. There are several shooting modes, actually, Original, Vivid, Bright, and Mono.

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2x photos look outstanding

The 2x shots are also great, taken with the main camera. They look almost the same as the ones you take with the main camera, which is great to hear. There are very rare occasions that you’ll spot a difference if you really zoom in and look for it, some artifacts, but that’s extremely rare.

What I was most interested in when it comes to this camera is its ability to shoot fast-moving objects. Its fast shutter and Huawei’s XD Motion engine are supposed to make that happen. Is that the case? Yes, indeed it is. My dog is hyperactive, to say the least, and this camera did a fantastic job of capturing her while she was playing around. I tried to take pictures of some birds in the park, and so on. It did a fantastic job. I was having a hard time getting a blurred photo, to be quite honest. The same thing also works in low light. The reliability is a bit lower, but still, it was immensely impressive, as not a single phone I’ve used was able to do the same… not even close.

Fast shutter camera samples:

What about low light? As you’d expect, it’s excellent. This phone not only has the largest camera sensor on the market (a phone sensor), but it also offers sensor-shift stabilization and f/1.6 aperture lens (variable aperture). That allows it to adapt to various lighting scenarios, including low light. Boosted by Huawei’s image processing, this phone delivers some great low light shots. You don’t even have to switch to a dedicated night mode, not at all. The phone will do that for you, automatically.

The result is that you’ll get plenty of details, basically no noise, and very nice-looking saturated colors. The exposure is also spot on, and yes… the dynamic range too. There’s really nothing to complain about when it comes to low-light shots here. If we really, really had to nitpick, then we would highlight the fact that noise reduction can be a bit aggressive at times, but for a reason. What about the dedicated night mode? Well, if you fire it up, the photos will look even brighter, but unnaturally so. If you really need more detail from a photo for some reason, you can fire this up, but the auto mode does a far better job overall.

Main camera samples:

The ultrawide camera offers good, balanced photos

When it comes to the ultrawide camera, it’s very useful. You’re getting a very wide field of view here. The phone managed to provide ultrawide photos with a bevy of details. The dynamic range is good, and the sharpness is also spot on. There is a little bit more noise than in photos from the main camera, but it’s still very minimal. As I mentioned earlier, this camera can be used for macro photography, but you’d be better of sticking to the telemacro camera (the phone’s telephoto shooter).

Low light photos with the ultrawide camera end up looking good, but the quality does drop off compared to the main camera, of course. There’s enough detail in the pictures, though, low levels of noise, and excellent dynamic range. You’ll also be getting nice colors as a result. They’re great, all in all.

Ultrawide camera samples:

When it comes to telephoto camera, it’s outstanding across the board, basically. The 2x lossless zoom photos we already mentioned, as they look basically the same as the ones taken at 1x. You can see the difference if you’re pixel-peeping, but… yeah. What about 3.5x? Well, those also look great during the day. The colors are in line with the main camera, and you’re getting plenty of detail, great white balance, outstanding colors, and no noise. Up to 10x, this phone provides great photos. Up to 7x they’re simply great, and from 7-10x very good. Everything over that is… well, what you’d expect.

Macro shots from the telephoto camera are some of the best around

Macro photos from this camera look outstanding. You can get as close as 5cm to your subjects/objects, and the photos do look great. There’s plenty of detail in them, and they’re well-balanced.

When it comes to low-light telephoto photos, well…the 3.5x photos provide more than enough detail and manage to keep noise in check. The colors end up looking great, and the dynamic range too. 10x photos don’t look bad either, considering that we’re talking about hybrid zoom here. The details are not as great, but they’re well-balanced with good colors, and dynamic range. Just stick to auto mode, don’t use night mode for telephoto night mode pictures in general.

Telephoto camera samples:

When it comes to video recording, it’s good, but not the best around. For stills, you can argue that the Huawei Pura 70 Ultra is the best camera around, but not for videos. The phone can capture videos up to 4K at 60 FPS, and they do look good. During the day, there’s enough detail, though that area could be better. They do tend to look a bit overexposed, however, and the dynamic range is very wide. There’s no noise to speak of, and the colors are as great as you’d expect them to be.

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Videos in low light are good. In fact, I preferred low-light videos to daytime ones. The colors are outstanding, and the noise is kept in check. The dynamic range is excellent, and you’re getting plenty of details.

Huawei Pura 70 Ultra camera thermals (5min & 10min 4K video recording)Huawei Pura 70 Ultra camera thermals (5min & 10min 4K video recording)

Colors sample controlled environment:

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Huawei Pura 70 Ultra Review: Software

As many of you already know, the story with Huawei’s Android software is a rather complicated one. The US ban managed to complicate things a lot for the company, as Google Play Services are not an option since then. Huawei has its own services rolling on top of its Android OS implementation. HarmonyOS 14 comes pre-installed on this phone, on top of Android 12. It’s Huawei’s very own implementation, and… well, you have to prepare for what you’re getting. It works really well, but just keep in mind it’s not as simple as firing up the phone and downloading all the apps you had on your previous phone.

Let’s get into that app situation first, before we get to the UI design and everything else. Huawei has its own app store running here, AppGallery. There are plenty of apps on there, but chances are you’ll be missing quite a few you’re used to using. So, for example, TikTok is available, Facebook is not. Viber is available, WhatsApp is not, etc. Huawei does pull up recommendations from app repositories as well, though, so you can easily install the app if it’s missing from the AppGallery. There are also third-party Android app stores, like Aurora Store, that will even pull up your purchases from the Google Play Store if you log in with your credentials.

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I managed to get Google apps working without a problem… if that’s what you need

With that being said, the vast majority of apps that I installed from third-party sources worked really well. Some, though, unfortunately, require specifically Google Play Services. Such apps are very few and far between, but it’s worth noting. If you’re wondering what about Google apps? Well, you won’t find those on the AppGallery either. Even if you download them, the vast majority of them won’t work due to the lack of Google Services… well, unless you use a tool like GBox. GBox is an emulator of sorts, and it allows you to access Google apps. That app worked great for me, and I was able to run whatever I wanted, pretty much. I had the same experience with GSpace back in the day until it started being a problem battery-wise, and also some apps stopped working. GBox works great thus far, though.

In regards to the UI, it’s different than stock Android, but if you’ve used an Android phone thus far, it’ll also be very familiar. The notification shade and quick toggles are split, though. If you swipe down from the top-left side, you’ll get access to the notifications, if you do the same from the top-right, you’ll get quick toggles.

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EMUI 14 is different… but good

EMUI 14 does come with some nice features, like the fact that you can swipe from the right side and pause to access quick apps. One-handed mode is handled differently too. You need to swipe along the bottom of the phone to either the left or right side to make the screen smaller and thus easier to reach. Big folders are also a part of the offering, making it easy to launch apps directly from an unopened folder. Another feature worth noting is widget stacking, which not many Android phones offer, and it can be really useful.

I’ve only scratched the surface when it comes to features, though, of course. EMUI 14 works great on this phone, and it’s very smooth. Huawei handles animations with grace, and they didn’t bother me at all. Most animations do annoy me as they’re too slow, this is a really nice balance, and they work really well. The notifications are not as well-handled as on stock Android, as you’re missing some shortcuts and the sheer look of notification cards is not my cup of tea, but all in all, everything works well enough. The app issue is still here, though, and you need to prepare yourself for that if you intend on getting this phone.

Huawei Pura 70 Ultra Review: Audio

The Huawei Pura 70 Ultra is equipped with a stereo speaker system. There is a bottom-facing speaker backed by the earpiece. Do note that the earpiece does have two sound outlets (front and top-facing), though. The bottom speaker is louder than the top one, but the sound balance is really good. It’s worth noting that the Huawei Pura 70 Ultra doesn’t have the loudest speakers around, not at all. In fact, it’s not as loud as any of the recent flagships, even though it’s not far from that point. Don’t let that worry you, as the speakers are plenty loud as they are, and not many people will have a problem with that.

We’ve used our own audio tracks in order to test out this setup. The audio output is very good and well-balanced. The vocals are nicely highlighted, and there’s enough bass included here too. Higher and lower ends up fo the spectrum are well-balanced here, and we did not notice a single major issue with the audio output. There is no audio jack here, though, so keep that in mind. You can use either the Type-C port at the bottom or if you prefer wireless audio, there’s always Bluetooth 5.2 which is offered here.

Huawei Pura 70 Ultra: Should you buy it?

Should you buy the Huawei Pura 70 Ultra? Well… there are a lot of factors that you should consider here. This is a great phone, there’s no doubt about that. It has an excellent camera performance, some of the best. It’s immensely comfortable to hold and use, and it has a great display too. The software is very optimized, plus it’s the most versatile phone on the planet when it comes to charging.

There are a lot of benefits here. You need to consider the elephant in the room, though, apps. AppGallery grew so much, but chances are you’ll still have to rely on app repositories, GBox, and Aurora Store. If that’s not a problem for you, you can get pretty much any app running on the phone. Still, the experience is not as streamlined as it would be if Google Services came pre-installed. This is not a phone for everyone, but if you’re willing to make a couple of sacrifices along the way, it is a very compelling device.

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You should buy the Huawei Pura 70 Ultra if you:

…want to step away from Google.
…don’t play a lot of games on your phones.
…want one of the best camera smartphones in the market.
…need a large smartphone that is truly comfortable to hold and use.
…would love to have the most versatile smartphone in terms of charging.
…love thin bezels on phones.
…don’t want to buy a charger separately.

You shouldn’t buy the Huawei Pura 70 Ultra if you:

…use Google applications.
…if you use a lot of apps and you’re not willing to use app repositories/third-party app markets.
…play a lot of games on your phones.



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John Smith

My John Smith is a seasoned technology writer with a passion for unraveling the complexities of the digital world. With a background in computer science and a keen interest in emerging trends, John has become a sought-after voice in translating intricate technological concepts into accessible and engaging articles.

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