The Huawei P Smart is the latest budget smartphone from the Chinese smartphone manufacturer. The spec is high for a so called budget phone, with an 18:9-ratio, 5.65-inch screen, as well as a body crafted from a single block of aluminium.
The P Smart launched in the UK this month, but is this handset worth the money? That will be a resounding YES.
Huawei P Smart Review – Design
The Huawei P Smart is made from a single sheet of aluminium – complete with a set of antenna lines on the rear. The overall construction is solid and is capable of withstanding the odd knock or two. I found, however, that the aluminium frame’s matte black coating is prone to chipping on the corners.
But, don't worry as this is nothing new when it comes aluminium smartphones.
While the matte finish may look gorgeous and feel great it’s proved to be somewhat of a grease magnet during my weeks testing, picking up residue from just about every surface I’ve placed the device placed on!
The Huawei P Smart has a 5.65-inch IPS LCD screen. To be more specific, it’s an 18:9 panel like the one found on Samsung’s Galaxy S8, which essentially means it’s been stretched horizontally. Which is great because it means you can fit even more on the screen than you would on a standard 16:9 screen.
Mounted above the screen is a standard speaker, which is sharp and clear. Also above the display is an 8-megapixel camera. The bezels are so thin – the display occupies around 76% of the front of the unit and goes right up to the sides, leaving a little bit of space at the top and bottom.
At the rear there’s centre-mounted fingerprint sensor. It’s about as responsive as you’d expect from a budget smartphone and can be used to wake the device from a deep sleep. In the upper-left corner you’ll find a dual-camera setup (13-megapixel plus 2-megapixel) and a powerful LED flash.
On the bottom of the handset is a 3.5mm headphone jack, a Micro USB slot and a loudspeaker, which does not offer much in the way of audio quality. The right is home to the power button and volume rocker – both of which are constructed from cheap plastic – while the left houses the microSD/Micro SIM tray.
The Huawei P Smart is robust, surviving various drop tests from varying heights onto a hard surface crack and chip-free.
Huawei P smart (black) unlocked £188.62
Huawei P Smart Review – Screen
The 5.65-inch IPS LCD screen on the Huawei P Smart is much better than that of most budget smartphones. It’s an ultra-tall 18:9 panel, with its HD+ resolution (1080 x 2160 pixels) constantly churning out rich text and offering vibrant colours.
I’m especially fond of the brightness of the display. It’s super bright and such a pleasure to use. But, the viewing angles aren’t great, so you’ll need to make sure you’re holding it head on to benefit from the intensity of light.
The display here is much better than the majority of other phones at this price point.
Huawei P Smart Review – Software
The P Smart ships running Android 8.0 Oreo which is good, however Huawei has once again done away with the traditional Android interface in favour of its silly Emotion skin – despite a plethora of criticism.
EMUI has come a long way since we reviewed the Huawei P8 Lite back in 2017. There’s now an option to enable the torch from Quick Settings, for example. But despite the firm’s best efforts, it still feels unpolished and unrefined.
The good news is that a quick visit to the Play Store to install an aftermarket launcher will restore some native Android goodness to the handset. After a week playing with the EMUI interface, I downloaded the official Google Now Launcher. The changes weren’t purely cosmetic, either. The unit felt a lot more responsive as a whole.
Huawei P Smart Review – Performance
The Kirin 659 processor driving the handset is fast for such a low cost smartphone. It handled just about every task I threw its way with ease, remaining composed while switching between a handful of day-to-day applications and streaming a song from Spotify.
I ran the P Smart through a Geekbench 4 simulation – a process designed to assess a phone’s performance. It scored 946 in the single-core and 3738 in the multi-core test, putting it on par with the Galaxy Note 7.
Swapping from an iPhone X, I’m used to top-of-the-line performance – and I’m pleased to report that the P Smart does not disappoint. It’s silky smooth in next to all real-world scenarios, and at a mere £188.00 left me wondering why I’m regularly spending much, much more money on flagship smartphones.
Huawei P Smart Review– Camera
The Huawei P Smart’s dual-camera setup (13-megapixel plus 2-megapixel) which is decent enough.
Shots taken in daylight look crisp, but – as we saw with the P8 Lite – shots taken indoors or in low-light environments loose all clarity and detail. The same can be said for the 8-megapixel front-facing shooter, though it’s a little better when it comes to highlighting detail.
My biggest complaint when it comes to the P Smart’s camera isn’t that the hardware is subpar, but rather that the camera application misses the mark.
It’s very slow, taking between two to five seconds to capture an image after you hit the shutter button – when it works, that is. And it isn’t a fan of selective focusing, so you’ll have to rely on the mediocre Auto Mode to get the best shots.
Huawei P Smart Review – Battery life
The Huawei P Smart sports a 3000mAh cell, which offers enough to see the unit through at least a day of intermediate use. On average, I was picking up the handset at 8:00 am and using it to scroll through social feeds, respond to messages and stream Spotify throughout the day and had 30% remaining when I plugged it in at 11pm.
My biggest qualm with the P Smart is that it doesn’t support fast charging. I was able to add 13% to the handset in half an hour using the standard charging apparatus. To that end, a full charge took around an hour and a half, which is slow for a modern smartphone.
If you do find yourself running low on battery, you can take advantage of Android’s integrated Power Saving and Extreme Power Saving Mode to throttle processing power and harness background refreshing which works surprisingly well.
Huawei P smart (black) unlocked £188.62
Huawei P Smart Review – Verdict
If you’re in the market for a reliable budget smartphone, the Huawei P Smart is the perfect handset for you. It’s durable, fast and reliable.
But if you’re looking for something a little bit cheaper, the one-year-old Huawei P8 Lite is a cheaper alternative. You can’t go wrong with either.
A fantastic budget smartphone that does not fail to impress.