The P smart 2021 faces some tough opponents from brands with budget segment pedigree. Realme 7, for example, has been on our mind from the get-go. It comes with a vastly more powerful chipset and a 90Hz display that's also brighter than the P smart's 60Hz one. The Realme adds NFC to the list of features, plus it can record 4K video. With battery life similarly great between the two and a tie for the I/O basics (headphone jack and dedicated microSD slot), the Realme is looking like a much better package.
Most of the above applies to the Poco X3 NFC, and then some. The Poco, too, has an HRR screen, and this one goes all the way to 120Hz. It also delivers an overall superior camera experience to what the P smart 2021 can muster - better ultra-wide, 4K video with stabilization. It then adds stereo speakers and IP53-rated splash proofing, plus an aluminum frame for a touch of 'premium.' The X3 NFC is about 10% more expensive. In its base trim level, it comes with half the P smart's storage, not to mention it uses a shared memory slot, while the P Smart 2021 has a dedicated one. Even so, we'd pick the Poco out of these two.
If you're after a more familiar brand name, Samsung has the Galaxy A31 for you at a modest premium over the P smart 2021's asking price. The Galaxy's display may not be HRR, but this one has a different advantage - it's AMOLED next to the P smart's LCD and it's also brighter on top of that. The Galaxy outlasts the P smart in an endurance race, but those are about the only things it does better, really. It's mostly a tie in performance and image quality, which shows that the brand name itself commands a premium.
Another brand with a famed past, Motorola doesn't charge all that much of a premium. In fact, the Moto G8 Power can be had for less than the P smart 2021. That will net you a proper tri-set of cameras, including a tele, and even if they're not amazing, they're still superior to the P smart's setup. The Moto also has even longer battery life and brighter and contrasty display, plus stereo speakers, though it too isn't a computing powerhouse.
Huawei's attempt at predicting the future with the P smart 2021 isn't entirely failed - it's not a bad phone, and with the right carrier subsidy, could make a fine daily driver for a less demanding user. It's got properly excellent battery life, a decent camera system, and a display that gets very accurate with a minor tweak.
But some issues prevent us from recommending the P smart 2021. First and foremost, that's obviously the lack of Google Play Services - the Huawei AppGallery selection is wide and ever-growing, but it's still no Play Store. The chipset might have been reasonably powerful in 2018, but there are better options today, sadly unavailable to Huawei for the same reason Google isn't on board. The SoC is probably responsible for the lack of 4K video and stabilization in 1080p, and that's one too many drawbacks.
Then comes the fact that there are several handsets at the P smart's price point that beat it in one key area or another, or even across the board. All things considered, unless your carrier makes a particularly exciting offer on the Huawei P smart 2021, our advice would be to look elsewhere.