Huawei P Smart 2018 review
In this Huawei P Smart review, I take a look at how my device performed after using it over a two month period. I’ll provide an overview of the device and its design, display, specs, performance, battery life, price, and availability. Before we get started, take a look at my quick rundown of some of the pros and cons about the Huawei P Smart below.
Huawei P Smart Price: £149 - Buy it here
Incredibly cheap for what you’re getting
Fingerprint sensor included
Great display and build quality
Excellent OS that feels close to stock Android
Battery life isn’t the best
Camera app is missing Huawei’s AI magic
Performance is great, but expect occasional freezes
The build design of the Huawei P Smart is one of my favourite aspects of this phone. The P Smart is as durable as a phone can be. The entire phone is surrounded by a sturdy metal and the edges are curved to make holding the device a pleasure. When holding the Huawei P Smart for the first time, I’m instantly reminded of the iPhone 7 Plus - the overall build quality, shape, texture, and design felt incredibly similar.
Thanks to smaller bezels, though, the P Smart fits in a 5.65” display and still has a slightly smaller footprint than the iPhone 7 Plus. When you consider that the 7 Plus was Apple’s premium device just two years ago, it’s fascinating to see something that feels so similar available for just £149.
I’m a big fan of what Huawei has done with their OS overlay for their Android smartphones. It adds very small touches to the Android OS without changing up too much. The biggest change perhaps comes with the settings menu. Huawei was one of the first to introduce an intuitive search based settings menu, making it very easy to find what you’re looking with a quick text or voice search.
You can also use Huawei’s split screen feature to have two apps open at the same time - not all apps are supported, and now that Google is pushing for apps to support picture in picture mode, it isn’t as useful as it once was, but it has some use cases.
You also get Huawei ID, which is Huawei’s answer to iCloud. Once signed up, you can backup all of your data, photos and apps. Huawei ID also serves as a place to store your personal data - you can save your messages, WiFi passwords, and contacts. Huawei offers great security and protection over the data you store here and it makes it easy to switch to a new Huawei device in the future.
Display and sound
I’ve been very impressed with the performance of the 5.65” display on the Huawei P Smart. From my experience, the colours were bright and accurate, and my viewing experience for everything from watching movies to playing games was very enjoyable. Obviously, this isn’t a Samsung display and the contrast falls a little flat, but I was incredibly impressed by the brightness and overall colour quality.
The Huawei P Smart display resolution is also 1080x2160 with a 18:9 aspect ratio, making it an excellent movie watching device. Unfortunately, the solo speaker that sits at the bottom of the device is pretty quiet and it gets muffled easily when your hand sits where the speaker is located. Thankfully, the Huawei P Smart does have a headphone jack so you can bring along any old pair of earbuds whenever you need better quality audio.
Specs and performance
We have a device here that has a solid display, a build quality that competes against a 2016-era iPhone and it’s all available for £149. It’s at this point that you start to wonder where the corners have been cut.
I will say that some corners have been cut on the performance, but not by anywhere near as much as I would have expected. The Huawei P Smart comes equipped with the HiSilicon Kirin 659 processor and 3GB of RAM. In real world performance, I’ve found this setup to be excellent for smooth operation, say, 90% of the time. However, there are times where I’ve noticed sudden spikes in performance - the UI suddenly feels laggy, or things slow down to a complete crawl. This seems especially true when charging the device whilst using it.
While little slowdowns like this are rare, it does impact your overall experience of the phone. You get an almost blazingly fast experience for the majority of your usage, but those small freezes from time to time may be enough to turn somebody with little patience away from what is otherwise an absolute bargain buy.
I also wanted to test gaming performance and I noticed the same results, even in games like PUBG. You would get decent performance 70-80% of the time but there were occasional slowdowns that would make it more difficult to play. If you can put up with the occasional drop in frames, the P Smart is more than capable of playing Fortnite, PUBG, and other 3D games.
The battery capacity of the Huawei P Smart is 3,000mAh, which is quite typical for a device with a 5.65 inch display. In my experience, though, it feels like the Huawei P Smart’s battery life doesn’t match what you’d expect it to. It may be that the HiSilicon Kirin 659 chipset doesn’t quite share the same battery efficiency as more popular Qualcomm Snapdragon chips do, because I notice myself struggling to get through a day’s worth of battery on one charge when using the P Smart as my primary device.
If you’re a power user that likes to listen to music, browse the internet, respond to emails, and even watch a video or two on your commute, the P Smart may not cut it, especially if you’ll be without a charger for the day. If your usage is not as extreme as mine, or you’re happy to take around a small portable charger, you may be able to look past the fact that the P Smart has a pretty bad battery balance.
The Huawei P Smart has a 13 megapixel primary camera with an additional 2 megapixel depth sensor. The selfie camera is an 8 megapixel single lens camera.
In my experience, the camera was pretty much in line with what I expected at this price point. It’s a far way away from competing with the excellent camera on my Google Pixel 2 XL, but I am still consistently impressed with the results when I consider the phone costs just under £150.
For images with a lot of detail, you really start to see what is missing. You aren’t going to be winning any photography competitions with this camera, but it’s more than enough for capturing memories with friends and family.
Below you can see how the P Smart compares with the Google Pixel 2 XL, which features one of the best cameras in the market right now. Obviously, it’s not quite a fair match considering the price difference, but you can see how the P Smart falls off a little.
There is no optical image stabilization, so video can be a little shaky and you’ll need to stay extra still to get your images in focus. On the flip side, HDR is included which helps to sharpen up otherwise grainy shots.
The brightness and colour quality from the images I took wasn’t excellent - you can see how the Huawei P Smart captures colour compared to my Google Pixel 2 XL.
So with the P Smart failing to pull in much light in good conditions, it’s no surprise then that low light or night shots are pretty abysmal. You can see here that the P Smart does little to adjust for the lack of light.
I understand that the hardware on the P Smart camera isn’t perfect, but the real downer is the chipset. Without Huawei’s magical camera AI enhancements, we miss out on what makes other Huawei phones so great. We’d of course need a much more powerful chipset for that, though.
Price and availability
The Huawei P Smart is currently in stock and available from giffgaff for just £149. Buy it now, or pay just £6.16 monthly and pair it with one of giffgaff’s no commitment goodybags. Find out all of the details and the full spec sheet here.
So, there we have it, the Huawei P Smart 2018. This phone delivers excellently in almost all areas, creating an experience that can hardly be beat at £149. I did make some criticisms on the battery life and camera in this review, but it’s important to note that I was comparing it directly to a premium handset worth 3-4 times the price. Ultimately, the Huawei P Smart blows all other budget options from competing manufacturers out of the water. There’s no denying that this would be £150 well spent in my opinion.