HUAWEI P SMART REVIEW
Traditionally, Huawei is betting on smartphones from mid-range to high-end and leaving the cheaper versions to its sub-brand Honor. With the Smart P, however, it is now within budget.
It has an 18:9 screen, a decent processor and two rear cameras, in addition to the latest version of Android along with Huawei’s new EMUI 8.0 software.
HUAWEI P SMART PRICE
You can only get the Vodafone P Smart in the UK at this time (it is not available in the U.S.). Until the end of February it is exclusive to Vodafone, but then it will be available in other networks, as well as without a SIM card for £299.
The cheapest Vodafone contract for P Smart is £ 17 per month with an initial cost of £ 9.
That gives you 250 million data, 250 minutes and unlimited texts. For 1 GB and unlimited minutes, you will pay £23 per month, again with the initial cost of £ 9.
The phone is not blocked for Vodafone, but it is only available in black. Huawei produces a blue version of it, which may be available from other retailers from March.
If you opt for the £ 17 Vodafone contract per month, it would cost you a total of £417 in 24 months. Or, if you want 1GB of data, that’s a total of £ 561.
By way of comparison, you can get a 64 GB Huawei P10 for around £ 350, then get a SIM only deal for £ 10 per month, which would add £ 530 in two years. Another alternative is the 9 Lite Honor cost, very similar, which is available without a SIM card for only £ 199 from John Lewis (and also in blue).
Neither Honor nor Huawei phones are sold in the US. UU (Apart from the Mate 10 Pro), so a decent alternative would be the Motorola G5s Plus, which costs $ 279 with Motorola.
HUAWEI P SMART: CHARACTERISTICS AND DESIGN
In 2017, the 18: 9 screens were the new fashion, but now it is clear that you can have one, even if your budget does not extend even to a mid-range phone like the Honor 7X.
Check the specifications and you will notice that the Smart P is simply a slightly smaller version with a lower specification of the 7X.
Starting with the screen, it measures 5.65 inches wide, with a resolution of 2160×1080. That gives it a decent pixel density of 428ppi, which means that everything looks good and crisp. The colours, the contrast and the brightness are all decent, too.
In the usual Huawei tradition, there is a screen protector applied at the factory to keep the screen free of scratches, but there is no case in the box. Instead, you get some basic headphones along with a USB network charger.
There is a standard headphone jack on the bottom edge along with a mono speaker and a micro USB port.
The high screen leaves no room for a fingerprint sensor, so it is on the back. With many phones taking this approach, it is becoming the norm and is easy to adapt: your finger falls naturally on the sensor when you pick up the phone.
Unlike the Honor 9 Lite, which is very similar, the Huawei P Smart is a simple SIM phone instead of dual SIM, but still has the slot for a microSD card to reinforce the 32 GB of onboard storage.
The RAM is equal to 3GB and the processor is also identical: the Kirin 659. That chip is also used in the Honor 7X, so the performance is, as expected, practically the same.
This means that it is not a speed daemon: wait between 4 and 5 seconds for the camera application to load and there is a delay when switching from one application to another. However, once an application runs, the performance is good and you will not notice any delay or slowness.
It’s the same for games: the Smart P will play games like Pokémon GO without problems and jolts. You will never see high frame rates of landmarks like the Manhattan test of GFXBench, but that does not mean you can not run most games at an acceptable speed.
Regarding connectivity, you get GPS, Bluetooth 4.2, 802.11n Wi-Fi (only 2.4GHz single-band) and NFC. As expected at this price, there is no resistance to water.
The dual camera configuration is very similar to Honor: you get a main shooting game of 13Mp with a secondary camera of 2Mp whose only function is to provide depth information: it is not to take pictures.
It means that you can take portrait photographs with blurred backgrounds, as well as a “wide aperture” effect that does the same when you take landscape images.
Around the front there is an 8Mp camera: you do not get the secondary front camera as you do in the Honor 9 Lite. Therefore, you can not take selfies with depth effect in the P Smart.
You can track objects, but that’s the only additional video feature you’ll find. Interestingly, there is a Pro Video mode that allows you to focus manually, choose the white balance and change the exposure settings. We can not imagine many owners using any of these options, although it is always good to have more control.
There is no slow motion, but you can select light paint (ideal for fireworks) and time-lapse. HDR is, unfortunately, also a dedicated mode and will not be automatically enabled for photos.
In any case, the cameras are not wonderful. The selfies are perfectly acceptable, as are some shots from the back camera in good light.
This photo shows that it is capable of attractive images with excellent colours and reasonable sharpness.
However, enlarge some photos and you will be disappointed by the lack of sharpness. This picture looks good when it moves away, but the tree and the construction are quite blurred.
At night, the camera does a decent job to keep the noise at bay: the sky is black as ink. However, the lack of details in the building means there is a lot of noise reduction.
It is annoying that the depth effect does not work in every shot you try. Of the five attempts, the Smart P only successfully deleted the background in one: the others had no bokeh.
It’s good to see Android 8.0 Oreo, and we also like the Huawei EMUI 8 overlay. It will not be for everyone since by default it has an iOS-style home screen. However, look in the configuration and you will find the option to enable the application drawer, so you do not have to keep all your applications on several home screens.
EMUI adds many useful features, too. You can activate gestures such as double-tap to turn the screen on or off and double-press the volume down to start the camera application. Then you can shake (or simply raise the palm of your hand) to take a picture automatically.
It also optimizes the use of memory in several ways to keep Android running in the best possible way and offers many battery saving options.
The Google Assistant is just a touch away from the first home screen and you get a great picture on the lock screen that changes every time the phone is activated.
The wider screen lends itself to split the screen and you can use this to run two compatible applications side by side in landscape mode.
The twin app is a feature we’ve seen on Huawei and Honor phones, and P Smart gets it, even if it’s just on Facebook. It means that you can log in to two different accounts on the phone at the same time.
The 3000 mAh battery is quite standard for a large screen phone like this. Huawei P smart does not cite any usage figures, but we found that the Smart P would last a full day with normal use.
Surely it will charge you every night, but unless you are using GPS exhaustively or playing many intensive games, you should not have to carry a power bank with you for any recharging.
Huawei P Smart: specifications
- Android 8.0 Oreo with EMUI 8.0
- Touchscreen of 5.65in Full HD + 2160×1080 18: 9, 428ppi
- Processor Kirin 659 octa-core (4×2.4GHz, 4×1.7GHz)
- 3GB of RAM
- 32 GB of storage
- Slot for microSD card (up to 256 GB)
- Rear camera: 13Mp + 2Mp, video up to 1080p
- Front camera: 8Mp
- Fingerprint sensor
- Wi-Fi 802.11b / g / n
- Bluetooth 4.2 4G LTE
- Headphone jack
- Single nano-SIM
- Micro-USB (USB 2.0)
- 3000mAh non-removable battery
SHOULD I BUY HUAWEI P SMART?
With a decent 18: 9 screen, the P Smart is a good Android phone that should appeal to anyone looking for a phone with an affordable contract. However, the fact that it is so similar to the Honor 9 Lite (which costs £100 less when purchased without a SIM card) makes it difficult to recommend, especially since the Honor has a couple of additional features: dual SIM and a second camera frontal, that the Huawei P smart does not have.