HUAWEI P Smart

★★★★★ £230 • From www.car­phoneware­house.com

Computer Shopper - - REVIEWS - Christo­pher Mi­nasians

VER­DICT

The P Smart isn’t a bad phone, but the Honor 9 Lite of­fers more and costs less

THE P SMART is Huawei’s lat­est bud­get phone, fi­nally mak­ing its way to the UK af­ter be­ing an­nounced in De­cem­ber 2017.

Bud­get phones have come a long way in terms of de­sign. Long gone are the days of ugly bricks; the Huawei P Smart looks as el­e­gant as any flag­ship hand­set, with its rounded edges rem­i­nis­cent of its older sib­ling, the Huawei P10 (Shop­per 361). Al­though an­tenna lines are vis­i­ble, they smartly com­ple­ment the phone’s de­sign.

The P Smart comes in a range of four colours (black, blue, gold and rose gold), but right now only black is avail­able in the UK. It looks taste­ful enough, al­though it does tend to pick up fin­ger­prints.

On that note, Huawei has gone for a rear-mounted fin­ger­print sen­sor, which we found per­fectly re­spon­sive and easy to use. Keep­ing up with re­cent trends, there’s also a dual-lens cam­era at the back, with dual-LED flash. At the front, a sin­gle selfie cam­era sits atop the elon­gated 5.65in dis­play.

On the left-hand side, there’s a dual-SIM slot, which will al­ter­na­tively take a sin­gle SIM and a mi­croSD card, to add up to 256GB of stor­age. At the bot­tom, there’s a Mi­cro USB port, a 3.5mm head­phone jack and a sin­gle down­ward-fir­ing speaker.

TALL, BRIGHT AND HAND­SOME

The P Smart’s IPS dis­play has a res­o­lu­tion of 2,160x1,080, for an as­pect ra­tio of 18:9. This is be­com­ing a pop­u­lar shape, and it’s good that you don’t have to pay a pre­mium to get it, as was the case when hand­sets such as the Sam­sung Galaxy S8 first adopted it.

It looks good, too. Our col­orime­ter mea­sured an im­pres­sive peak bright­ness of 600cd/m2, so you’ll have ab­so­lutely no trou­ble view­ing it even in the bright­est sun­light. That’s a step above even the Honor 9 Lite, which achieved 570cd/m2.

Colours, mean­while, look vi­brant, and with a con­trast ra­tio of 1,500:1 the P Smart makes for good video play­back. We sus­pect that some dy­namic con­trast is at work, as the bright­ness drops a lit­tle (to 570cd/m2) when dis­play­ing colours other than white. Still, the screen isn’t over­sat­u­rated and doesn’t suf­fer from any no­tice­able colour shift when viewed at ex­treme an­gles.

Packed in­side the P Smart’s alu­minum shell is an octa-core 2.36GHz HiSil­i­con Kirin 659, part­nered with 3GB of RAM. That’s plenty of power for ev­ery­day tasks and light gam­ing, but don’t ex­pect it to cope with graph­i­cally in­tense games.

In use, An­droid 8.0 Oreo (with Huawei’s EMUI 8 cus­tomi­sa­tions) feels very fluid, and it helps that the phone doesn’t come filled with bloat­ware. There are a few pre-in­stalled apps, in­clud­ing Face­book and In­sta­gram, but these can sim­ply be unin­stalled if you don’t want them.

Our per­for­mance bench­marks showed that the P Smart per­forms more or less equally to its clos­est bud­get com­peti­tors. Its Geekbench scores of 916 in the sin­gle-core and 3,525 in the mul­ti­core test aren’t sig­nif­i­cantly dif­fer­ent to those of the Honor 9 Lite or Honor 7X (Shop­per 362), but they are some way ahead of the Mo­torola Moto G5S (Shop­per 360). The same could be said of its GFXBench Man­hat­tan show­ing, scor­ing 9fps in both the on­screen and off­screen tests.

SHORT OR­DER

Our test­ing did throw up one dis­ap­point­ment, how­ever: the Huawei P Smart’s 3,000mAh bat­tery lasted a mere 7h 48m in our video rundown test. The Honor 7X, by con­trast, lasted for 9h 47m.

If you’re shoot­ing in day­light, the P Smart’s dual-lens 13-plus-2megapixel cam­era does a great job of cap­tur­ing clean, sharp pic­tures. There’s plenty of detail on show, even in low-con­trast ar­eas, and colour re­pro­duc­tion is good too.

Sadly, as with many low-cost phones, cam­era per­for­mance isn’t so great in low-light con­di­tions. HDR pro­cess­ing helps a bit, bright­en­ing up the im­age and sup­press­ing im­age noise, but only to an ex­tent: we still saw plenty of noise and grain­i­ness in our darker test shots.

Turn on HDR, how­ever, and the im­age dras­ti­cally im­proves. There’s much less im­age noise and the en­tire scene is brighter and better bal­anced. En­able the flash, and both shad­ows and im­age noise are com­pletely elim­i­nated.

Around the front of the phone there’s a sin­gle 8-megapixel selfie cam­era; this does an ac­cept­able job, with rel­a­tively good detail and colour ac­cu­racy. It’s nowhere near as vi­brant or as sharp as the re­sults you get from the rear cam­era, how­ever; this is one big ad­van­tage of the Honor 9 Lite, which has a dual-lens 13+2-megapixel cam­era on the front as well as the back.

OUTSMARTED

The Huawei P Smart is an im­pres­sive bud­get smart­phone. With an 18:9 as­pect ra­tio, an at­trac­tive de­sign, a de­cent set of cam­eras and a blis­ter­ingly quick fin­ger­print reader, there’s lots to like about this hand­set.

Un­for­tu­nately, Huawei seems to have shot it­self in the foot by putting it up against the Honor 9 Lite. That phone – made by Huawei’s own sub­sidiary com­pany – has a better selfie cam­era, plus a longer-last­ing bat­tery. It’s also ar­guably pret­tier, and it’s around £30 cheaper. That makes it im­pos­si­ble to rec­om­mend the P Smart over its com­pe­ti­tion; it’s a de­cent phone, but you can do better for the money.

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