While its parent company attracted all sorts of unfortunate headlines, Huawei the phone manufacturer had a phenomenal 2018. Huawei P Smart Review: A budget device to look at it
The Mate 20 Pro was arguably the phone of the year. But the world’s second-largest smartphone maker isn’t just focused on those with big bank balances.
2019 is starting with a budget handset, the Huawei P Smart. Not that you’d think it’s a budget device to look at it.
Built and Hardware:
As the name suggests, it’s a smart-looking device with slim bezels and a display that pushes across the entire front of the device, barring a small circular notch at the top.
It can still unlock the phone via face recognition, but there’s a handy fingerprint reader on the rear of the phone.
Holding the P Smart reveals that this isn’t a flagship: it feels light and flimsy by comparison to the Honor View 20 and the plastic back is clearly cheaper than the sandwiches of aluminium and glass favoured by the big players.
A further cost-cutting tactic is sticking with micro-USB rather than USB-C charging.
Unsurprisingly, that big 6.2in screen isn’t OLED, but you do get a 1,080 x 2,340 resolution IPS screen, and it’s not a bad one at all for the price.
We found the display covered 94.5% of the sRGB colour gamut and offered a respectable contrast ratio of 997:1.
Brightness reached a peak of415cd/m2, which is decent enough for most conditions.
That puts it ahead of the Moto G6 (86.3%, 931:1, 408cd/m2) and the Mate 20 Lite (88.9% sRGB, 1,279:1, 397cd/m2).
Storage and Processor:
Huawei backs the mid-range Kirin 710 processor with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage.
Performance is snappy in day to day use, and as you can see from the graphs on p70 the 2019 P Smart is a match for much more expensive phones.
It’s a similar story when it comes to graphical performance, with the P Smart registering an average of 21fps in the 1080p Manhattan test.
That’s more than double what last year’s P Smart and the Moto G6 were capable of.
It lasted for 12hrs 16mins in our video-rundown test, which is a fine result for a phone at this price; only the plus-sized Moto G6 lasted longer in our tests.
OS and UI:
The 2019 P Smart comes with Android 9 Pie out of the box, although as ever with Huawei phones, it’s coated in a sheen of the company’s own Emotion UI software overlay.
This is one area where both Nokia and Motorola have the edge, as both offer almost pristine Android experiences, only a little short of the pure experience found on Google’s Pixel phones.
As is now the fashion, the 2019 Huawei P Smart comes with not one, but two cameras on the back.
Unlike top-end phones that provide optical zoom, or wide-angle options, the second camera is purely here to add depth to shots, and provide that blurry
background bokeh effect that’s all the rage on Instagram.
The main snapper is a 13-megapixel affair, while the supporting depth-mapping camera is two megapixels.
Both have an aperture of f/1.8, and there’s no optical image stabilisation. Unfortunately, this is where the goodness established elsewhere deserts the P Smart.
First off, the AI identification is little more than a party trick. Point it at a cat, and it will recognize it well enough, but the adjustments it makes are almost pantomime in their saturation and colour picks.
You’re best served by turning it off from the get go.
In low light, images are soft and smudgy when compared to the Moto G6. Outside, things are even more stark.
When zoomed right in, the Moto G6’s camera is leagues ahead: for example, in one test photo of a building the G6 captured the brickwork well even when zoomed in, while the P Smart turns things into a blurry mess.
The 8-megapixel front-facing camera can also recognise scenes and adjust colours. Results are okay, with enough detail for video calls and Instagram selfies, but don’t expect snaps to rival most rear cameras.
Finally, we’re back to disappointment with the video capture. The 2019 P Smart can shoot 1080p footage at 60fps, but there’s no stabilisation.
As a result, the footage is unusable. Not only because it jumps, but the focus hunts distractingly before locking on.
The footage is a bit dark, too, and the exposure compensation visibly steps up and down when you shift the camera from dark to bright scenes and vice versa.
So the buying decision is quite simple. If the camera isn’t important to you, the 2019 P Smart outperforms its key rival – the Moto G6 in every metric.
It’s faster, with a better screen and has more stamina to boot. But with a likely Moto G6 successor only a matter of months away, the camera may be a deal breaker.
The Performance of Huawei P Smart feels suitably snappy in day to day use. and the 2019 P Smart is a match for much more expensive phones.
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