The new Huawei P Smart has a larger screen, more powerful hardware and larger battery than its predecessor. But the low price, which has remained. Does that make the Huawei P Smart 2019 review already the best budget gadget of the new year?
Huawei P Smart 2019 review: everything you need to know
Cheap smartphones are increasingly difficult to distinguish from expensive top devices. Dual cameras, fingerprint scanners, and front fill screens also get you in the house. Of course, the difference is in raw power and photo quality, but the time that your budget device was uselessly slow after a few weeks is long gone.
The new Huawei P Smart is a good example of this. This Android phone has a suggested retail price of 249 euros and thus remains below the BKR limit. Yet the device is at first sight just as complete as Huawei’s more expensive flagships, including a dual camera with artificial intelligence, a large screen, and a big battery. Whether there is a snag, you can read in this Huawei P Smart (2019) review.
Design: hip but not flawless
Where the first Huawei P Smart still had a fairly neutral design, this new model comes out a lot more flashy. The back was made of metal last year, this year Huawei uses shiny glass. Moreover, there is not only a black version but also a model with a blue ‘gradient’ color. The color gradually changes from light to dark blue.
Although it looks cool, it is also a terrible magnet for fingerprints. You just have to look at the P Smart and the back is already smudgy. A (transparent) case is not an unnecessary luxury in that area.
However, the P Smart is very well put together, especially if you realize that this is a budget smartphone. The housing is firm but slim and is nice to hold. The screen is large, but because the edges remain small, you can still operate it reasonably with one hand.
Screen: large with a light leak
The screen of the Huawei P Smart 2019 review is especially large and measures 6.2 inches. That is a considerable upgrade compared to the first P Smart, which had ‘only’ a 5.6-inch screen. Yet the device itself is hardly larger, due to the narrower edges around the display. The LCD screen has a full HD resolution (nice and sharp) and is easy to read with lots of daylight.
Around the edges of the screen, there seems to be some backlight bleeding. The light of the image ‘leaks’, creating a strange shadow around the edges. This is particularly noticeable if you have opened an app with a white or brightly colored background color. Especially at the notch and at the bottom of the screen, the light is not completely proportional to the rest of the image. On the picture above you can see it for example: around the notch, there is an edge that seems slightly darker.
It is not very disturbing, but the screen is clearly not as white as most competitors. However, we do not dare to say whether this problem occurs with all copies, or whether we have a review model with a mistake. Something to keep an eye on when you get the device in the store.
Hardware and fingerprint scanner
The P Smart is equipped with a Kirin 710 chip, developed by the manufacturer himself. At the end of last year Huawei used this chip in smartphones of almost 400 euros, now the same power is used for a much cheaper smartphone. The Kirin 710 is up to 70 percent faster than the chip in the first P Smart. Everything runs smoothly. Apps start quickly, run without hesitation and switching between applications is smooth.
There is also 64GB of storage space available, of which about 50GB is available for the user. That is probably more than enough for all your apps, games, photos and music. If you still need more space, then the P Smart (2019) offers space for a micro-sd memory card.
New compared to last year is that the P Smart (2019) also supports WiFi over 5Ghz frequencies. If you are in an apartment complex or multi-story building with lots of Wi-Fi networks, that can be a godsend. You have much less interference on this frequency of other devices and thus a better range. The P Smart also supports NFC and Bluetooth 4.2, just like last year.
The fingerprint scanner on the back does its job well. Almost immediately after you touch it the device is unlocked. The small notch makes it easy to find by touch.
Software: not Huawei’s strongest point
Are you used to smartphones from Motorola, Nokia and Xiaomi, then the EMUI interface of the Huawei P Smart is probably getting used to. While most manufacturers make less and fewer adjustments to the look and feel of Android, Huawei throws almost everything. How you think about such an interface is of course very personal, but I’m not really a fan of it.
Huawei’s software is full of bright, colliding colors and therefore looks cluttered. Compare, for example, the settings on the Nokia 8.1, with those on the Huawei P Smart (2019). With the standard version of Android everything is neatly aligned and there are clear labels. Of the most important functions, you can almost see where you need to be.
The P Smart menu, on the other hand, is full of text and options, which at first sight seem very similar. Do I have to change my notifications under ‘Apps’, ‘Notifications’ or ‘Smart assistance’?
Fortunately, you get used to it quickly, and most features and functions are identical to what the standard version of Android offers. It is a shame that Huawei supplies a handful of advertising apps, including Booking.com, Amazon, and eBay. Fortunately, you can remove them all.
By default, the Huawei P Smart (2019) runs on Android 9.0 (Pie). Our review copy still has the security update of November 2018, but according to the manufacturer, the P Smart is updated at least once a quarter, until two years after its release. For the time being, you are well protected.
Camera: smart camera with double lens
On the back, you will find next to a primary 13-megapixel camera also a secondary 2-megapixel camera. That extra lens measures depth, so you can provide your photos with a bokeh effect. With the portrait mode, the background is blurred, and everything in the foreground is sharper.
On the first P, Smart was also a dual camera of 13 and 2 megapixels. Nevertheless, improvements have been made: the old model had an aperture of f / 2.2, this year it is f / 2.0. This means that the sensor absorbs slightly more light, making photographs taken in situations with less light sharper eyes. On the back is an ‘AI Cam’ logo, which means that the P Smart uses image recognition to automatically set the correct settings for taking a picture. Software and hardware come together for nicer photos, so
This works very well in practice. The P Smart does not reach Huawei’s top machines, but they are also three to four times as expensive. Most of the photos we took are nevertheless sharp and colorfast. Even if there is a relatively large amount of detail, you have to zoom in a lot before you see hazy spots.
The P Smart does well with slightly less light. Cheap smartphones often have trouble with indoor photos, and then deliver unsharp images. Not the P Smart. An office or living room looks good. Only with detail shots in a dark room, it becomes difficult: then you have to keep the P Smart well, otherwise, you get motion blur.
The front is an 8-megapixel camera for selfies. As we are used to from Huawei, you can find a built-in beauty filter in the camera app. If you turn it on, pimples, bags and other unevenness will be automatically polished away. But even without filtering, selfies are sharp.
Battery life: good with a small one
The battery capacity of the P Smart is 3400 mAh, about 10 percent more than the battery used in the previous model. The device is also slightly wider and thicker than its predecessor. We do not notice much about this in daily consumption: the P Smart does well, but not exceptionally. Usually, about 20 to 30 percent of the battery was left at the end of the day. On a very busy day, he may have to be on the charger in the meantime.
Although USB-c connections are now fairly standard, the P Smart still has to do with a micro-USB port. Why is not clear, but Huawei probably does everything to keep costs down. Partly because of this the P Smart, unfortunately, does not support fast charging. After half an hour of charging, the battery is only 25 percent full, and a full battery costs almost 2.5 hours.
Last year Huawei still had quite the realm alone. There were, of course, more budget smartphones, but the P Smart was really a lot above. In the past year, however, competition has increased considerably. For (less than) 250 euros you can now also choose from the Motorola Moto G6 Plus or Nokia 6.1.
The P Smart wins that battle at first glance. The device has a larger screen and a more powerful chipset than both devices. The battery of the P Smart is also larger, although the actual battery life hardly differs in practice.
However, both the Moto G6 Plus and the Nokia 6.1 run on a virtually unadapted version of Android. It has less bloatware and is therefore slightly smoother. In addition, the Nokia 6.1 gets monthly security updates up to three years after its release. As a result, Nokia has, in theory, a longer lifetime than the P Smart, which will not receive any support in two years’ time. If you prefer software to hardware, the Nokia 6.1 is the better choice.
Conclusion Huawei P Smart 2019 review
2018 was a good year for users of cheap Android smartphones. Anyone who wants good hardware for a relative habakkrap has a lot of devices to choose from. The new Huawei P Smart, however, knows how to keep standing in a field full of affordable alternatives. In terms of power, camera work, and battery life, Huawei is very strong.
However, the gap with the competition is a lot less than last year. The smartphones from Nokia or Motorola are perhaps less powerful but have other strong, distinctive plus points such as the software. The Huawei P Smart (2019) is still one of the best choices among the budget smartphones, but the company can keep an eye on the competition in the coming months, or it will lose that crown.
Buy Huawei P Smart (2019)?
Through our price comparison, we help you find the best deals on new smartphones. A separate Huawei P Smart is sold at the recommended price of 249 euros at the time of writing. If you are going for a P Smart with a subscription, you can go to all the major providers.