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Huawei P Smart: hands-on review

Wednesday, February 7th 2018 by Oprah Flash

I’ve got a confession to make, when the Huawei P Smart landed on my desk I was very excited.

Why, I hear you ask? Well, Huawei has been big in the smartphone market for a while but only has made a substantial footprint around Asia. Here in the UK, most of the love is shown towards Samsung and Apple.

Last week saw the release of the Huawei P Smart, a mid-range phone that you can buy exclusively from Vodafone. The spec features some tech components you’d expect to find in a phone with a much higher price tag.

First impressions

At first glance, you’ll notice quite a large screen with no home or back buttons. The screen is 5.65-inches with an edge-to edge 18:9 resolution display. It’s quite a large screen but it’s also long and thin. This makes it easy to hold, and fits snugly in your palm so you can comfortably text using just one hand.

The display is remarkably clear and looks great when playing games, watching videos or even just generally using the phone. The colours are vibrant and images are sharp so if you’ve an attention to detail you will love this phone.

Initially, I scoffed at the 13MP and 2MP dual lens. With phones like the Sony Xperia XA1 offering 23MP or the Samsung Galaxy A5’s 16MP my expectations were pretty low. However, I stand corrected, the Huawei P Smart’s camera is pretty good. When put to the test, the depth and vivid colour that the camera managed to capture impressed me.

You may think I’m easily impressed as i’m a bit of a technophobe who currently owns a Samsung Galaxy J3 2016 (does the job but nothing to shout about) but upon inspection, my colleague agreed the picture quality is very high. With the Bokeh effect, you can hone in on the main focal point of the scene and blur out the background. I tested this using an apple on the desk and just as Huawei says, it really does take a striking, rich image of the object and blur out the rest. It gave a more professional feel than i’m used to with my Samsung Galaxy J3.

Getting my selfie face on

It’s always a bit awkward testing a selfie camera, but no complaints there either. On the front of the phone there is an 8MP camera which is very clear and crisp so there’s no ignoring those wrinkles that you’re in denial about. But fear not, it’s nothing a good filter can’t fix and there are a range of Beauty modes that smooth out lines while still looking relatively natural.

Huawei is pitching this phone at Millennials and Generation Z and it’s easy to see why. The enhanced camera features would work well for uploading high quality pictures to blogs or social media sites.

What’s under the hood

The Huawei P Smart runs on the latest version of Android (Oreo 8.0), so if you’re used to the operating system you’ll find it very easy to operate. Even if you’re new to Android, it’s very straightforward and you’ll pick it up quickly. Combined with Huawei’s own EMUI 8.0 platform it’s generally a nice hassle-free experience.

When using the phone for general use, it’s quite nippy. You can open apps and switch seamlessly. This is the Kirin 659 Processor in action. If you think things are starting to lag, it’s easy to close some of the background apps to free up some of the 3GB RAM.

Larger apps do take a bit longer to open. I downloaded the CSR2 racing game to test it and had to wait a good few minutes for it to open for this first time. In between levels there is a bit of a lag as well. I have to be fair though, this game is quite a big file and after more frequent use, it does speed up.

That being said, once the game was open the graphics looked phenomenal on the screen. Lower level games that don’t take up as much memory, like Candy Crush, work quickly with little to no hiccups.

The graphics on CSR2 looked great on the P Smart

There is no home button so if you’re a bit of a technophobe it can take a few minutes to figure out how to navigate between apps. Once you’ve figured it though, (swipe down from the top and it will appear) the phone does so quite efficiently.

There’s a bit of a debate about watching Netflix on your phone. Some people swear by it and like the convenience, whereas others say it’s a waste of good TV to watch on such a small screen. Whichever side of the debate you’re on, you’ll enjoy watching videos on this phone. The images are distinct and rich in colour.

Good battery life

The 3000 mAh battery is quite powerful so with standard use (texting, using Google maps and watching a few videos on Youtube) it lasts for around a day and a half before you have to recharge it. However, when you do put it on charge, it takes about two and a half hours to charge up fully which isn’t very fast.

Most of the new phone releases include a fingerprint scanner. This phone is no exception. For me, it being positioned at the back of the phone was convenient as you don’t have to change your hand positioning much to use it when you are already holding the phone. You can use it for unlocking the phone, taking pictures and turning the alarm off.

Internally there is 32GB of storage in total. Some of this is taken up by built-in apps (some useful, some not so useful) so this leaves you just over 20GB of free storage to use for your apps, picture and videos. This is plenty but there is room to expand it up to 256GB using a Micro SD card.

The Huawei P Smart is not as stylishly designed as some of its competitors. There’s a lot going on inside the phone which, I didn’t feel is reflected in the exterior. This could explain how you get such a decent phone for such a small price, the big bucks were spent on making the components of the device so savings could be made on the casing.

Don’t get me wrong it’s not bad, it does the job it sets out to do, but it’s very simple. The matte black casing is made of plastic and looks like it could scuff quite easily, so I would recommend buying a protective case to keep it looking newer for longer.

Final verdict

This is a very good phone – available exclusively from Vodafone – for the price you’re paying. If gaming is your thing you will be frustrated but if you’re using the phone to carry out standard tasks like uploading to social media and watching videos this phone definitely deserves your attention. It is packing some powerful tech under the hood.

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