Huawei Mobile boss Richard Yu was last year quoted saying that the company would be shifting its focus to the high-end segment of the market and totally abandoning the “ultra low-end”. That has turned out to be true as the company has surprised everyone with a world beater in the P20 and P20 Pro smartphones it unveiled last month and which we expect to go on sale in the country in another month, if the past is anything to go by.
However, that shift in strategy to concentrate on high-end devices has not meant that Huawei is completely off the budget smartphone market. Its subsidiary, Honor, continues to churn one impressive budget device after another; we can hardly keep up. In markets where the Honor sub-brand does not operate, like in Kenya, Huawei fills the void with several devices in the Y and G series, as well as several other outliers as you can see below:
1. Huawei Mate 10 Lite
The Mate 10 Lite has been overshadowed by its more popular and pricey siblings, the Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro. Even its local launch, in mid-December last year, was rather muted. While this low profile approach is deserved since there’s not much to write home about the Mate 10 Lite when viewed through the same lens as its superior siblings, tables turn when the Mate 10 Lite is compared to similarly-priced devices as well as other budget smartphones from Huawei.
At a price of Kshs 30,000 or less (up to Kshs 28,000 as of the time of writing this even though there’s some crazy bloke on Masoko who has priced it at Kshs 40,000), the Mate 10 Lite is every bit impressive and easily one of the best budget Huawei smartphones one can buy in Kenya.
It has four cameras, two on the front and two at the back. Technically, only two cameras (one on the front and another at the back) really matter that much since the other two simply serve to add depth of field information and not much else but still, the guys in Huawei’s marketing department are having a field day running away with this and pitching the device as the go-to for photography purposes on a budget.
Its other features include 64GB of onboard space so that one doesn’t run out of space quickly when taking those 4 cameras (13MP+2MP on the front and 16MP+2MP at the back) for a spin, 4GB memory, a fingerprint sensor, Android Nougat (why?), the 5.9-inch FullView display and more.
Noteworthy omissions to the feature list include 5GHz Wi-Fi, a feature that can be important more so if you happen to frequent airports or plan to keep the phone for longer than 2 years by which time 5GHz wireless hotspots should’ve become a thing. NFC, too, is gone and there’s no indication whatsoever that Huawei added any protection (something like Corning’s Gorilla Glass) to the glass front. The device is however meant to make up for most shortcomings by promising over-the-top battery life.
2. Huawei P Smart
For Kshs 24,000 to Kshs 26,000 one can get a FullView display (Huawei’s name for 18:9 aspect ration displays) like the one on the Mate 10 Lite above alongside several other features that I outlined when I reported on it going on sale in Kenya in late February.
3. Huawei P10 Lite
The Huawei P10 Lite is set to go down one step in the pecking order when the new P20 Lite, its successor, arrives in the local market. Until that happens, though, it still remains the king of the roost; a device that I can recommend any day any time thanks to its reasonable feature set which is, however, a far cry from the more impressive device whose name it borrows.
For Kshs 30,000, or thereabout, the amount of quality snaps you’ll be able to get from the device will surprise you at first and also spoil you as from then on, it will become the benchmark of your expectations of every similarly-priced device. Looking at some of the options I have previously explored, you will be in for a rude shock and only the OPPO F5 will equally quench your thirst for quality photography on a budget.
Now, if only Huawei Kenya sold the Sapphire Blue-coloured model here!
4. Huawei GR5 2017
I loved the first generation GR5 smartphone and I even loved the GR5 2017 more when I used it briefly last year (I sold that device before I could pen a proper review, unfortunately).
When it launched, early last year, the GR5 2017 was the first smartphone from the Chinese device maker that did not belong to its premium lineup that had dual cameras. While that has since worn off in the wake of other budget devices with as many as 4 cameras and the fancied 18:9 displays, it’s still got it. If you can get a good deal on it then go for it. Just know that sooner rather than later, you will be stuck with a dud that no one from Huawei will ever bother to update.
Price: Kshs 21,000
5. Huawei GR3 2017
When it launched in May last year, the GR3 2017 earned the distinction of being the very first budget smartphone in the Kenyan market rocking Huawei’s then latest EMUI version 5. Today, it’s nothing more than a fitting sibling to the GR5 2017 and a good alternative for those looking to spend less.
Price: Kshs 18,000-19,000
6. Huawei Y7 Prime 2018
This happens to be the latest budget smartphone from Huawei having gone on sale only last week and I’ve already said quite a bit about it. Follow the link below for more on that:
7. Huawei Y5 2017
The only reason why the Huawei Y5 2017’s price hasn’t dropped an inch since it went on sale in the Kenyan market last year is because this is a low-margin business and things can only go so far. However, it will be ripe for massive discounts if retailers are not able to clear its inventory soon. If you ask me, it is still a much better option than the other device it was launched with last September and the next one on this list, the Y3 2017.
I am not so sure if it has ever received an update to upgrade it from the Android Marshmallow it arrived with last year but at least there’s 2GB RAM and 16GB onboard storage in there tucked next to an MT6737T MediaTek processor. The infamous Android lag is almost assured on this device and the next one on this list and since HMD Global has similarly-priced devices that even get updates (surprise!), it would be worthwhile to have a look at those before making up your mind whether to pay rent or get one.
Price: Kshs 13,000
8. Huawei Y3 2017
The Huawei Y3 2017 is one of the devices that had already been announced before Huawei’s about-turn regarding low-cost phones. At just under Kshs 9,000 wherever you will be able to buy it from, it is the last of a dying breed: ultra low-cost smartphones from Huawei.
The only problem with the Y3 2017 is that Huawei simply doesn’t know when to stop when it comes to cementing its brand identity on the devices it makes by way of customizing the software they run. EMUI 4.1, which runs on the Y3 2017, has been one of the heaviest custom skins out there. The device could do with some help from Google in the form of Android Go because of the 1 gig of RAM it packs under the hood and the 8GB onboard storage which is taken up mostly by the system leaving users with little to install apps and keep some essential files. The battery is also going to be ****.
This is how this list looked almost a year ago: