Huawei P Smart
£229 inc VAT from fave.co/2pF3ZWy
Huawei traditionally goes for mid-to-high-end smartphones and leaves the more budget versions to its sub-brand Honor. With the P Smart, though, it’s now well into budget territory.
It has an 18:9 screen, a decent processor and dual rear cameras, plus the latest version of Android along with Huawei’s new EMUI 8.0 software.
In 2017, 18:9 screens were the new fashion, but now it’s clear that you can have one even if your budget won’t stretch to even a mid-range phone such as
the Honor 7X. Check the specifications ( page 57) and you’ll note that the P Smart is pretty much just a slightly smaller, lower-spec version of the 7X.
Starting with the screen, it’s 5.65 inches across, with a 2160x1080 resolution. That gives it a decent pixel density of 428ppi, which means everything looks nice and sharp. Colours, contrast and brightness are all decent, too.
In the usual Huawei tradition, there’s a factoryapplied screen protector to keep the display scratch-free, but there’s no case in the box. Instead, you get some basic headphones along with a USB mains charger. There’s a standard headphone socket on the bottom edge along with a mono speaker and a Micro-USB port.
The tall screen leaves no room for a fingerprint sensor, so that’s on the back. With many phones taking
this approach, it’s becoming the norm and it’s easy to adapt: your finger falls naturally on the sensor when you pick up the phone.
Unlike the extremely similar Honor 9 Lite, the Huawei P Smart is a single-SIM phone rather than dual-SIM, but it still has the slot for a microSD card to bolster the 32GB of on-board storage.
RAM is the same at 3GB and the processor is also identical: the Kirin 659. That chip is also used in the Honor 7X, so performance is – as you might expect – largely the same.
This means it’s no speed demon: expect to wait four- to five seconds for the camera app to load and for there to be a delay when switching between apps. Once an app is running, however, performance is generally fine and you won’t notice any lag or
sluggishness. It’s the same for games: the P Smart will happily run games such as Pokémon GO smoothly with no jerkiness. You’ll never see high frame rates from benchmarks such as GFXBench’s Manhattan test, but that doesn’t mean it can’t run most games at an acceptable speed.
In terms of connectivity, you get GPS, Bluetooth 4.2, 802.11n Wi-Fi (just 2.4GHz single-band), and NFC. Unsurprisingly at this price, there’s no water resistance.
The dual-camera setup is much like Honor’s: you get a 13Mp main shooter with a secondary 2Mp camera whose only function is to supply depth information: it’s not for taking photos.
It does mean that you can take portrait photos with blurred backgrounds, as well as a ‘wide aperture’ effect, which does the same thing when you take landscape pictures.
Around the front there’s a single 8Mp camera: you don’t get the secondary front camera as you do on the Honor 9 Lite. So you can’t take deptheffect selfies on the P Smart. There is a Portrait mode when using the front camera, but using it makes no noticeable difference.
Video capabilities are somewhat limited compared to more expensive phones. The maximum resolution is 1080p at 30fps and there’s no stabilization to speak of.
It can track objects, but that’s about the only extra video feature you’ll find. Oddly, there’s a Pro Video
mode that allows you to focus manually, choose the white balance and change exposure settings. We can’t imagine many owners using any of these options, though it’s always nice to have more control.
There’s no slow motion, but you can select light painting (great for fireworks) and time-lapse. HDR is, sadly, also a dedicated mode and won’t be enabled automatically for photos.
In any case, the cameras aren’t wonderful. Selfies are perfectly acceptable, as are some shots from the rear camera in good light. However, zoom in on some photos and you’ll be disappointed at the lack of sharpness. This photo looks fine when zoomed out,
but the tree and building are actually quite blurry (see following image).
At night, the camera does a decent job of keeping noise at bay: the sky is inky black. However, the lack of detail in the building means there is plenty of noise reduction going on.
Annoyingly, the depth effect doesn’t work on every shot you attempt. Out of five attempts, the P Smart only successfully blurred the background on one: the others had no bokeh at all.
It’s good to see Android 8.0 Oreo, and we also happen to like Huawei’s EMUI 8 overlay. It won’t be to everyone’s tastes as it defaults to an iOS-style home screen. Hunt around in the settings though, and you’ll find the option to enable the app drawer, so you don’t have to keep all your apps across several home screens. EMUI adds quite a few useful features, too. You can enable gestures such as double touch to turn the screen on or off and double-press volume down to launch the camera app. Then you can wave (or just hold up your palm) to automatically take a photo. It also optimizes memory use in various ways to keep Android running as smoothly as possible and offers lots of battery-saving options.
The Google Assistant is just a swipe away from the first home screen and you get a fantastic photo on the lock screen which changes each time you wake the phone. The wider screen lends itself to split screen and you can use this to run two compatible apps side by side in landscape mode.
App twin is a feature we’ve seen on Huawei and Honor phones, and the P Smart gets it, albeit only for Facebook. It means you can sign into two different accounts on the phone at the same time.
The 3,000mAh battery is fairly standard for a largescreen phone such as this. Huawei doesn’t quote any usage figures, but we found the P Smart would last a full day with normal use. You’ll certainly be charging it every night, but unless you’re using GPS heavily or
playing a lot of intensive games, you shouldn’t need to carry a power bank around with you for any top-ups.
With a decent 18:9 screen, the P Smart is a fine Android phone that should appeal to anyone looking for a cheap contract phone. However, the fact it’s so similar to the Honor 9 Lite (which costs £30 less when bought SIM-free) makes it hard to recommend, especially as the Honor has a couple of extra features – dual SIM and a second front camera – which the Huawei lacks. Jim Martin
• 5.65in (2160x1080, 367ppi) IPS LCD capacitive display
• Android 8.0 Oreo • HiSilicon Kirin 659 processor • Octa-core 4x 2.36GHz Cortex-A53 and 4x 1.7GHz
Cortex-A53 CPU • Mali-T830 GPU • 3/ 4GB RAM • 32/64GB storage, microSD up to 256GB • Fingerprint scanner • Dual rear-facing cameras: 13- and 2Mp, autofocus,
LED flash • 8Mp front-facing camera: f/2.0 • 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi • Bluetooth 4.2 • A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS • Micro-USB 2.0 Type-C • 150.1x72.1x7.5mm • 165g
Dual camera setup
Images look blurry when you zoom in