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Huawei Pura 70 Ultra camera housing up close
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

HUAWEI Pura 70 Ultra review: Should you buy it?

The HUAWEI Pura 70 Ultra banks on top-tier cameras to save it from being savaged by the competition... but they don't.

Published onMay 24, 2024

HUAWEI Pura 70 Ultra

The HUAWEI Pura 70 Ultra's superb cameras save the series from complete irrelevance, but the rest of the phone's features fall well short of the competition.

What we like

All-day battery life
Reliable cameras
Great-looking display

What we don't like

Sluggish performance
No 5G
Pre-installed bloatware
Still running Android 12
Inconsistent charging
No Google apps

HUAWEI Pura 70 Ultra

The HUAWEI Pura 70 Ultra's superb cameras save the series from complete irrelevance, but the rest of the phone's features fall well short of the competition.

HUAWEI Pura 70 Ultra review: At a glance

  • What is it? The HUAWEI Pura 70 Ultra is the latest premium flagship phone from one of China's favorite brands. It's the successor to the P60 Pro but with a few key changes, namely in the camera and chipset departments, to go along with the slightly revamped name.
  • What is the price? The HUAWEI Pura 70 Ultra isn't available in the US (or the UK currently) but costs €1,499 (~$1,621) in select EU markets.
  • Where can you buy it? HUAWEI sells the Pura 70 Ultra directly from its website in available regions. The phone is also available on Amazon.
  • How did we test it? I tested the HUAWEI Pura 70 Ultra for five days. The review unit was supplied by HUAWEI.
  • Is it worth it? HUAWEI continues to fight through the US trade sanctions, but the Pura 70 Ultra is a symptom of a losing battle. While the phone's reliable camera package will keep series fans happy, it's impossible to recommend a €1,499 phone that lacks 5G, flagship processing power, or a long-term update commitment to anyone else. Spend your money elsewhere.

Should you buy the HUAWEI Pura 70 Ultra?

Huawei Pura 70 Ultra homescreen in hand
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

If you’re contemplating a modern HUAWEI smartphone, you hopefully know what you’re getting into by now. The ongoing US trade embargo means that Google apps remain a no-go (without workarounds), which might suit some people. However, swapping Big G for HUAWEI isn’t exactly a privacy-conscious move. In global markets, the Pura 70 Ultra still runs EMUI (based on the increasingly outdated Android 12) rather than HUAWEI’s Harmony OS spin-off, which you’ll find in China.

If you’ve used a P series flagship — now rebranded to Pura — in recent years, you’ll be instantly familiar with the heavily iOS-inspired skin, unholy level of bloatware, and various Google-app replacements. I could install a good portion of my regularly used Android apps, but certainly not all of them. For example, the ecosystem split means that I couldn’t use any of my banking apps on the phone for a start. I suspect this, paired with the lack of 5G network support, is why HUAWEI isn’t selling the phone in the UK this time around. I also experienced far more app crashes than on this phone’s predecessor, the HUAWEI P60 Pro, but such is the risk with relying on APK installs.

Despite the name change, the Pura 70 Ultra carries a now signature HUAWEI design. The even larger camera housing signifies the phone’s biggest strength, but the glossy finish on the black colorway is an absolute dust magnet. Thankfully, the textured back is grippy and finished with faux leather. Combined with curved glass protected by HUAWEI’s Crystal Kunlun Armor, this design is bound to split the crowd. I’m not super hot on it, but it’s the least of my concerns about this phone.

The Pura 70 Ultra's hardware is fundamentally flawed in key areas.

The US-trade embargo hasn’t just impacted HUAWEI’s software; the brand can’t use US-backed silicon either, leaving it with some interesting compromises in the processor department. The HUAWEI Pura 70 Ultra is powered by its in-house Kirin 9010 processor. Sporting four custom Taishan CPU cores and four Arm A510s, the chip provides a low-end performance point that’s bested even by affordable smartphones like the Nothing Phone 2 and is a notable downgrade on the P60 Pro’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. Despite a revamped large CPU core from the Kirin 9000S, GeekBench 6 single-core results are well behind the Arm Cortex-X sporting competition. Furthermore, the SoC’s eight CPU cores score nowhere close to industry-leading chipsets.

Graphics performance is no better. HUAWEI’s custom Maleoon 910 GPU again scores well below rivals. Stress test temperatures hit an uncomfortable-to-hold 47.0°C, though the phone is reasonably stable compared to rival handsets. I booted up Genshin Impact and was greeted with 30-fps, medium graphics as the preset option. It didn’t take long for the phone to warm up, and cranking the settings up to high (let alone highest) caused noticeable splutters. This isn’t a phone for the serious mobile gamer.

HUAWEI has optimized EMUI, but performance is lacking for enthusiasts.

While the Kirin 9010 will handle your daily tasks fine (HUAWEI has done a solid job optimizing the UI), the phone is well behind rivals regarding power-user and gaming capabilities. Heat is an issue regardless; I struggled to cool the phone below 30°C, even with long rest periods. Excess heat negatively impacts charging power; the phone heavily throttles back from its 90W peak level to just 18W when temperatures reach 40°C. This makes it impossible to predict how quickly the phone will have you back on your feet, especially if you’ve been using it for moderate tasks beforehand. On average, charging the phone consumes 39W and takes about 46 minutes when left alone, which is still pretty quick.

Huawei Pura 70 Ultra Charging Graph
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Photography has historically been the foundation of a great HUAWEI handset, and the Pura 70 Ultra updates its successful camera phone formula with a 1-inch primary sensor paired with an f/1.6-f/4.0 aperture and retractable lens. The retractable lens keeps the phone reasonably thin while providing sufficient distance between the lens and sensor for a conventional 23mm focal length. As you would expect, this large image sensor produces very good snaps in both strong HDR and dimly lit environments. In fact, the level of detail captured with very little light is perhaps the most impressive thing about this camera.

Speaking of details, they are a little soft, but this more natural look is preferable to oversharpening. I’m less convinced by HUAWEI’s color science; rather than “boring” realism, the phone leans into a more vivid presentation. It doesn’t pop aggressively, but the adjustment is nowhere near interesting enough to be considered a creative color profile. Think Instagram- rather than frame-worthy.

The primary lens is solid, but the 13mm ultrawide, upgraded to a 40MP sensor, is a little too distorted for my tastes. Photo edges suffer from smear and aberration, and there’s not even a lot of detail in the frame’s center, either, and this only gets worse in dim lighting. I don’t really like ultrawide cameras anyway, but this feels like a low-effort implementation for an ultra-premium phone.

By contrast, the 90mm 3.5x lens is my favorite for framing, but I’m again disappointed in the softness. Detail capture seems heavily reliant on HUAWEI’s image refinement algorithms, which take a long time to process on the sluggish processor. Sadly, the focal length is too long for portraits, so the Pura 70 Ultra defaults to the primary, which has an equally non-ideal 23mm focal length. Of the two, I prefer the look of flipping to the 3.5x lens for natural bokeh, but the lens doesn’t provide the same robust dynamic range in indoor lighting conditions. The telephoto camera holds up OK at 10x in good lighting, with image quality roughly on par with the Pixel 8 Pro‘s long-range zoom. Don’t push the camera further; the results quickly deteriorate.

XMAGE continues to be the real star, combining and refining image data to produce levels of detail and HDR that are as good as any other on the market. The phone seldom hands in a poorly exposed image, blends detail for “super macro” very well, and packs plenty of software tweaks to help customize your portraits. However, I don’t find HUAWEI color science as exciting or interesting as OPPO or Xiaomi’s, and the phone’s over-saturation leaves a lot to be desired for realistic skin tones. There are other issues here, too. Portrait edge detection on selfies is below par, often missing or blurring hair far more than competitor devices. However, the rear camera’s edge detection is very good. Looking at the big picture, this is a fine camera phone, but it feels like HUAWEI’s technology has hit a plateau and the competition has quickly closed the gap.

No 5G, a slow processor, and unknown years of OS support makes the Pura 70 Ultra impossible to recommend at €1,499.

Overall, the HUAWEI Pura 70 Ultra is a barely passable smartphone that’s elevated by one of the better camera experiences money can buy. Even so, the broader package is certainly not a flagship-tier product that can command a €1,499 tag. A mid-range processor, an outdated version of Android with no prospect of long-term OS updates, no global 5G bands, and a lack of cutting-edge AI features surely means this phone shouldn’t be considered in the same breath as the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra or Xiaomi 14 Ultra — two phones that cost just as much and do virtually everything better. As someone who loved the early P-series, I’m disappointed with my time with the Pura 70 Ultra and find it hard to recommend to anyone except the few remaining HUAWEI faithful.

HUAWEI Pura 70 UltraHUAWEI Pura 70 Ultra
HUAWEI Pura 70 Ultra
All-day battery life • Reliable cameras • Great-looking display
MSRP: $1,381.00
Quality cameras.
The HUAWEI Pura 70 Ultra is the latest premium flagship phone from one of China's favorite brands. It's the successor to the P60 Pro but with a few key changes, namely in the camera and chipset departments, to go along with the slightly revamped name.

What are the best HUAWEI Pura 70 Ultra alternatives?

Huawei Pura 70 Ultra versus the competition
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

€1,499 is a fair chunk of change for any flagship smartphone, and this price tag puts the HUAWEI Pura 70 Ultra firmly up against the best in the business. Lack of Google apps aside, here’s how HUAWEI’s phone stacks up against its rivals.

  • Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra ($1419.99 at Amazon): Starting at a very similar €1,449 in Europe, Samsung’s Galaxy S24 Ultra is the premium Android phone to beat for all-round specs. Boasting a far faster processor, seven years of update support, and Galaxy AI to elevate your software experience. HUAWEI’s phone charges faster and the camera has a few neat extras, but that’s about all the praise I can offer.
  • Xiaomi 14 Ultra ($989 at Giztop): If you’re looking for a photography-focused flagship, you can’t beat the hugely impressive Xiaomi 14 Ultra. It’s the best camera phone I’ve used this year, yet it also houses a powerhouse chipset and charges as fast as you’ll ever need. It’ll also set you back £1,299 / €1,499, the same as the latest HUAWEI. Honestly, get this one instead.
  • Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max ($1199 at Amazon): If you’re happy stepping outside the Android ecosystem, top-dollar pricing nets you Apple’s top-tier iPhone 15 Pro Max. The cameras and charging capabilities are definitely inferior to the Pura 70 Ultra, but iOS provides a robust app ecosystem, years of updates, and the Max is a superbly built handset.
  • Google Pixel 8 Pro ($999 at Amazon): Google’s Pixel 8 Pro is always in the mix when talking about the best camera phones. If you can live with the slower charging and equally mid-range performance metrics as the Pura, you can have all the benefits of Google’s ecosystem and long-term updates for a fraction of the price HUAWEI charges.

HUAWEI Pura 70 Ultra specs

HUAWEI Pura 70 Ultra
6.8-inch LTPO OLED, QHD+ resolution (2,844 x 1,260)
120Hz display refresh rate (1Hz-120Hz)
Kirin 9010
100W wired charging
80W wireless charging
Charger in box
- 50MP main
F/1.6-4.0, 23mm
1-inch sensor
Sensor-shift OIS, Dual Pixel PDAF

- 40MP ultrawide
f/2.2, 13mm

- 50MP telephoto
3.5x optical zoom
f/2.1, 90mm
OIS, Dual Pixel DPAF

- 13MP
f/2.4, AF
4K at 30/60fps (all lenses)

4K at 30/60fps
4G (5G China-only)
Wi-Fi 5
Bluetooth 5.2
NFC support
USB 3.1 Gen 1
Dual nano-SIM tray
Ultrasonic under-display fingerprint sensor
Kunlun Glass front
Android 12
EMUI 14.2
Dimensions and weight
162.6 x 75.1 x 8.4mm
Green, Black

HUAWEI Pura 70 Ultra review: FAQ

No, there are no Google services on the Pura 70 Ultra. HUAWEI provides its HMS and AppGallery alternatives.

The HUAWEI Pura 70 Ultra supports some 4G networks, but you won’t receive a 5G connection on any US carrier.

The HUAWEI Pura 70 Ultra sports an IP68 rating for dust and water resistance.

There is no eSIM in the HUAWEI Pura 70 Ultra, but the phone has two physical nano-SIM slots.

The HUAWEI Pura 70 Ultra wireless charging at up to 80W of power on a compatible SuperCharge pad.

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