There’s so much to like about the latest budget smartphone from Huawei.
As already noted, the design matches what we have previously liked from other budget smartphones from the Chinese device maker. It’s feature-set is extensive and, its continued dalliance with extreme modification of Android means that users get more than asked for which can be both a good and a bad thing.
However, when all is said and done and it boils down to the very 3 best features, these, in my considered opinion, are where the party is at:
That Huawei has mastered the art of making sure its devices have some of the best endurance numbers on the market is not lost on anyone.
At the very top of the global smartphone pyramid sits the Huawei Mate 20 Pro, giving every competing device, some of the best smartphones on the planet right now, a deserved run for their money.
The same extends all the way down to the company’s budget offerings as can be very well demonstrated by the Huawei Y7 Prime 2019. The device often lasts 2 days on a single charge, managing well over 7 hours of screen on time regularly, all the while without making me undertake drastic measures like scaling down the display resolution (which is possible) or turning on power saving mode.
Part of the apparent efficiency in battery use stems from two words that are almost a recurring theme when talking about Huawei smartphones over the last 3 years: Artificial Intelligence.
I’ll be lying if I don’t admit that AI (Artificial Intelligence) is one of the most abused terms of our times (up there with “crypto”, “the cloud” and others) and I have personally made the transition from doubting its existence on devices I use (the Huawei Mate 9 I still keep has proven itself beyond any doubt) to rooting for it in others – like in the Y7 Prime 2019. Huawei says that the device learns a user’s usage patterns to improve efficiency and thus resulting in better battery management.
The other part that may also explain my impressive battery stats may also have something to do with my own usage patterns. You don’t expect a serious drain when the only heavy-lifting a device you’re using has to do is transit and maps apps (Swvl, Little and HERE We Go) because, GPS.
Still, I don’t think my experience would be much different had I veered off my focused course and did a little Riptide GP: Renegade or other similar obsessions of mine that would’ve taken most of my me-time 2 years ago.
Unlike the other two features that are highlighted in this piece, this one is supposed to be the biggest. The one that stands out the most.
In fact, it is.
It is also the one feature that Huawei has thrown most of its marketing behind.
From my usage of the Huawei Y7 Prime 2019 for about a month now, it’s not hard to see why.
You see, the Huawei Y7 Prime 2019 is just Kshs 18,000 (a little more if you get it from parties like Safaricom). At such a price, as has been my experience over the years, there are no guarantees as to what one gets. It could be something that blows your mind. Or something that just proves the conventional wisdom when it comes to smartphones: need quality? Pay more.
For the camera (as well as other features), the Y7 Prime 2019 mostly falls in the former camp.
Remember that Artificial Intelligence we have talked about under the battery section? It’s what mostly influences that conclusion.
Straight out of the box, the Huawei Y7 Prime 2019 can detect as many as 22 different scenes and things and optimize everything to get the best shot. Clear blue skies? It knows. A flower? It knows. Your wilting potted plant? It knows (though there’s this hilarious case of someone’s mat at the Safaricom International Jazz Festival that got recognized as a plant – which was technically correct but not exactly what I wanted or expected). An amazing sunset? It will detect it correctly and get you a bomb shot. Watching a live performance? It knows.
Heck, it even recognizes ancient buildings. You can colour me surprised when the camera I was using to take some photos in southern Johannesburg was pretty much good at identifying buildings of historical importance than I was.
The end results are good! Even better is the camera’s performance at night.
My only qualms are with the equally impressive selfie camera. It lacks a portrait mode and that is where the Y7 Prime 2019’s profile as a step below the Y9, comes back to bite it. Otherwise, the selfies are pretty much on point.
The other low point is that the auto-focus can be a bit slow, especially at night.
Gestures on Android devices are not a new thing. While the iPhone-totting crowd made everyone hate themselves with their endless chatter about the gestures on the iPhone X, Android has had gestures for the longest time. The problem, as is almost always the case with quite a lot of things where our favourite mobile platform is concerned, being first doesn’t mean much when the implementation is not properly hammered.
That’s what happened.
However, since Apple first went “HAM” on gestures with features like 3D Touch (remember it?) which was essentially gestures on steroids (with a proper haptic feedback mechanism to support them), Huawei has taken an almost similar approach. First it was with the premium Huawei Mate S, which never made it to the Kenyan market (at least officially), then, later on, it built-on what it had already started long before the Mate S and delivered the current bunch of gesture-related features found on EMUI, Huawei’s custom overlay.
Recent versions of EMUI have had one strength: they tend to bring almost all notable features available on Huawei’s premium devices further down the food chain by incorporating them on budget devices while still taking care of their ability to handle them. The biggest beneficiaries of Huawei’s decision to do so go without saying.
The Huawei Y series, as noted when we had a look at its then-latest Y-series member available in the Kenyan market, the Y9 2019, packs software that allows users to make gestures their primary means of navigating and getting around their device. This is important because at the moment, whenever we are talking about gestures on Android then conversation tends to end with Android Pie, an upgrade these Y-series devices, as currently available, may never get. However, that is not or should not be an issue as EMUI’s gestures have got us covered. So good are they that I have withdrawal symptoms every other time I pick a different device. I end up swiping sideways instead of doing that the old way.
Users can choose to which extent they get to use gestures on the Huawei Y7 Prime 2019 (as well as other Huawei devices running EMUI 8 or later).
Enabling the universal use of graphics frees up even more screen real estate as it enables one to get what is truly a “full view” display set up.
Gestures are also what one turns to when they either have small hands or need to use the Huawei Y7 Prime 2019 one-handed (like when you’re carrying something on the other hand and balance is of the essence) as that 6.26-inch display can be quite overwhelming at times.
There’s the bit where even the cameras described above can also be operated via gestures but I found that particular feature to be more of a gimmick than something I always turned to and found useful. This, of course, will vary by user as it’s purely a choice one makes.
Sure, one can still experience some of these features on slightly better devices like the Huawei Y9 2019, for instance, and get a watered down version of events on the entry-level Y5 Lite but the Y7 Prime 2019 remains the best affordable way to do so.