HUAWEI P Smart
★★★★★ £230 • From www.carphonewarehouse.com
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.
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.
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.