Huawei’s latest smartphone in the Kenyan market for the last one month has been the Y7 Prime 2018. I have spent the last one month using the device and below are several observations that I have made as a result.
It is worth noting that some of the experiences highlighted here will likely vary greatly with the actual device that one buys from retail stores across the country.
This is because it appears that the review unit I have had with me for the last one month is either some sort of pre-production model or is running pre-production software or both. Or… I don’t know.
1. The “FullView” display is just as good as the promotional material you’ve probably seen elsewhere says it is
18:9 aspect ratio displays are all the rage at the moment and it is not hard to see why. I have become a fan and more often than not, I end up questioning why I still love the Xiaomi Mi A1 whose display looks and feel diminutive after I’ve spent hours on end playing around with devices with these taller displays like the Y7 Prime.
Having an 18:9 display is not the “be all”, though. The display has to be worth it. The Y7 Prime 2018’s display certainly is. Sure it’s just an extended 720p panel so text won’t be as crisp as it will be elsewhere on a more expensive device but you essentially get what you pay for. In this case, you get an experience that I pretty much prefer than on the Infinix Hot 6 Pro, the Y7 Prime 2018’s principal rival in the Kenyan market.
Sure, it won’t be scoring extra points for brightness outdoors when the sun is not holding anything back but it’s more pleasant to look at and it gives the impression that it’s a bit wider than other 18:9 displays I have used lately. I just like most things about it. “Most” because it is lacking in vibrancy and often comes across as being rather dull overall.
2. The overall design of the device is likeable
Huawei nailed the design on the Y7 Prime 2018, period.
3. The packaging is as minimalist as minimalist gets
I don’t know if the device I got from Huawei Kenya for the sole purpose of taking it for a spin and being able to report back to you guys like I am doing right now is meant to represent the eventual retail experience that one gets when they purchase the device or not. If it is then you are in for some nice shocks.
First of all, the box does not have any bells and whistles inside. It’s just the device itself and the necessary stuff, you know, a pin to eject the SIM and microSD card tray, a USB cable and the charger. Give or take some documentation.
4. EMUI is still, well, EMUI
The Huawei Y7 Prime 2018 is supposed to run on Android Oreo with Huawei’s custom overlay, EMUI 8. Unfortunately for me, due to the nature of the device I have, that is not the case (this one is still on Nougat) and, as such, I am not able to share my full experience since whatever I experienced…
However, I am still a fan of the little customizations that Huawei is able to bring to the table. Such as freeing up the fingerprint scanner to do more than unlock the phone.
For past users of Huawei devices, there is a sense of continuity since things will still be familiar. It doesn’t matter whether you’re coming from Huawei’s way of tweaking previous software on the device you’re coming from, be it one that ran on Android Marshmallow or one that ran on Nougat, like my review unit.
5. The performance is wanting
The Snapdragon 430 from Qualcomm which is the power behind the Y7 Prime 2018’s throne is not the most critically-acclaimed lower mid-range processor out there. I have well noted its misgivings previously and while it can definitely rise up to the occasion and deliver, you can almost always feel it struggling to punch above its weight. Since, I have had the complete opposite experience on its little sibling, the Snapdragon 425, its woes are most likely compounded by the intensive customization that goes into making EMUI what it is which is a pity because it lets down a really well-designed budget device.
That said, you will still be able to be just fine using the Y7 Prime 2018 but the occasional lag and stutter won’t be inescapable. You’ll feel it, you’ll notice it, you’ll, likely, be annoyed by it. Who knows, maybe, just maybe, I will have a different experience when my device finally gets the long-deserved upgrade to Oreo just like everyone who manages to buy this phone.
6. The camera is…
Good. Good here is relative.
How good? A Kshs 17,000 smartphone good though, to be honest, I remember reviewing another smartphone in this price range in early 2016, the Infinix Zero 3, and I managed to shoot some much better photos than I was able to with the Y7 Prime 2018.
See, the Huawei Y7 Prime 2018 has two cameras at the back. The additional shooter is for making it possible to take portrait photos i.e. images with an added depth of field, background blur… While the device is able to do that just fine, it takes a couple of moments to process and show the results. Coupled with the already described performance challenges, this and the fact that it takes the camera a few moments to come to life, comes in the way of what would otherwise be an unblemished good experience.
Selfies are a hit and miss.
However, taking photos in less ideal moments like when lighting is at a bare minimum, will end in a disaster.
7. The battery life is inexcusable
Again, I am inclined to blame the relatively bad battery life I have been getting on the Huawei Y7 Prime 2018 on the fact that the device I have does not seem to be optimized for anything but it’s what it is. I did not (and continue to not…) get good battery life at all. I tried to document that on Twitter…
Sure, I manage to get up to 5 hours of screen-on-time but that’s because I tend to read some quite lengthy articles (#teamlongreads) during my commute and is not indicative of the device’s real stamina. Things quickly take a turn for the worse when I forego my reading and take to my Twitter, play my Spotify music with my Bluetooth headsets connected and continue propagating fan theories in our Game of Thrones WhatsApp group. Just that, nothing heavy like a game or extended use of the device’s camera either to take photos or record videos.
The overall battery drain has also been quite fast.
To compound matters, accelerated charging of any sort is not supported.
8. The price is right
Definitely, one of the best things about the Huawei Y7 Prime is the price. It goes for Kshs 17,000 on Kilimall and the price varies when you opt to go with offline channels.
You can never go wrong with a sub-Kshs 20,000 smartphone in Kenya. More so when you plan to match the price with exciting features like Huawei tries to do with the Y7 Prime – too bad I am not in a position to highlight most of these.
9. There should be some face unlocking mechanism BUT…
Yes, you’ve already heard this song before… I have a weird review unit and as such I have not had the chance to try out the device’s face unlock feature. It should be there on the retail models, though, I guess.
10. If you have to get the Huawei Y7 Prime 2018 then get the blue one, it’s gorgeous!
Hands down the blue Huawei Y7 Prime 2018 looks good. It’s the one you want to be seen sporting and not any of the other colour options.
The blue Huawei Y7 Prime 2018 that appears in this article belongs to Kaluka Wanjala. Check out his work at Techarena.