Huawei were once known for their very cheap and very budget-looking handsets but in recent years they’ve been competing at the top level. The Huawei P smart is their latest budget friendly Android handset but with a feature set often found in high end phones.
The handset itself is a sleek, black thin slab which could be easily mistaken for a more expensive model. It has a wide 18:9 screen measuring 5.65 inches with very slim bezels on either side and only the top and bottom bezels show that it’s not an end-to-end screen. Even so, there is a lot of real estate here and the screen itself is bright and colourful.
The back of the phone features a dual lens camera, unusual for a budget model, though the results are rather mixed. There’s also a large indented fingerprint sensor on the back, far away from the lenses, so less chance of smudging (take note, Samsung!). It’s a joy to use, too, with very little in the way of error whenever I needed to wake the phone in a hurry and a great placing meant finding it with my finger was second nature. The sides feature the standard volume adjustment, sdcard and sim card slots and a headphone port and single speaker on the base.
A standard Android 8 OS is overlaid with a few Huawei specific tools and widgets, though these help rather than hinder the user experience and the overall feeling of responsiveness is good. While it doesn’t have the fastest processor out there, it copes with day to day tasks well.
Entertainment-wise, the single speaker is rather tinny sounding and fairly forgettable, not really able to cope with anything loud and you’ll be wanting to use headphones to get the most out of music. Games tax all phones and there’s some noticeable lag in Minecraft on the P smart, as with other high end mobile games, though it still handles them well enough to be playable. Playing video, though, shows off the benefits of the larger screen. It might not be an all-singing 4k display, but at this size it’s more than up to the task of making movies look good. Colours don’t quite pop as with higher end screens, it’s true, but it’s still surprisingly good at displaying a crisp, clear picture.
The camera is something which Huawei have focused on for this budget phone, with a dual camera 12 megapixel setup. In natural light setups the pictures can look stunning, though the camera app seems to take a while to get going, no good for quick reaction shots. However, in low light the phone shows its budget origins and photos lack clarity and colour. It’s disappointing that there is such a disparity between the two environments as otherwise the camera could be seen giving other expensive phones a run for their money.
The battery seemed to last between one and two days depending on what I was using it for, which is slightly above standard but very welcome. The only issue is that the phone doesn’t have fast charging so you’ll be waiting around for it to charge. It also uses the old micro-USB port and doesn’t support wireless charging, though this is to be expected in a budget phone.
It’s difficult to be too hard on the Huawei P smart, the phone exceeds the expectations of its price and is a good all-round handset, but a few tweaks here and there with the camera and speaker could have made this the leader in the budget end of the market. As it is, you’d still feel proud to be seen with it in your hand and day-to-day tasks perform really well.
This phone was provided by The Insiders UK for review.