Despite lacking the brand recognition of a Samsung or Apple, Huawei has been manufacturing and selling mobile phones since 2004.
Many Huawei handsets have broken new ground with ultra-slim designs, high-speed modems and extra-large displays.
Huawei equips its smartphones with a custom user interface known as EMUI, an Android skin that emphasises personalisation and quick navigation.
What to consider when choosing a Huawei phone
Huawei tends to pack a lot of features into its smartphones. While this ensures you get plenty of bang for your buck, it can also make comparing different handsets a long and complex task. To simplify matters, we've narrowed down the myriad aspects of the phone-buying process to a handful of key factors that will help you determine which Huawei phone is best suited to your needs:
The latest Huawei handsets typically include either 64GB or 128GB of internal storage, which should be sufficient for the average user. For those looking to make the most of the high-quality cameras Huawei kits its phones out with, some handsets also include a microSD card slot for adding up to 256GB of extra storage. The flagship P20 and Mate 10 smartphones don't sport a microSD slot, though, so be sure to check the specs before settling on a specific handset.
Big screens have played a prominent role in Huawei's smartphones. Most of its modern handsets feature displays in the 6-inch range, making them great for watching videos or navigating websites but slightly cumbersome for those with small hands or tight pockets. If you fall into the latter category, you might want to consider an older Huawei handset since their screens tend to be a more manageable 5 inches in size.
Huawei has both ends of the smartphone market covered, offering high-end handsets at the $1,000 price point as well as a range of more budget-friendly phones with pared-down feature sets and performance. Its handsets are also available on contract through a number of Australian mobile providers, giving you the option to stretch out handset repayments over 24 months or more.
A traditional 3.5mm headphone jack can no longer be taken as a given in modern smartphones, and Huawei has unfortunately followed Apple down the path of nixing the jack on its latest handsets. To get your groove on with the P20 Pro or the Mate 10 Pro, you either need a pair of Bluetooth headphones or a USB-C to 3.5mm adaptor – thankfully, Huawei bundles the latter in when you buy a P20 Pro.
If it's 3.5mm or bust for you, you'll want to look at older Huawei handsets like the P10 or the budget-oriented Nova 3e and Nova 2i since these still feature the familiar audio port.
We trust our smartphones with an incredible amount of personal information, and it's vital that this information is kept adequately secure from those who would use it against us. Since they're powered by the Android operating system, Huawei's handsets come with quite a few security features baked in, plus the latest models include a fingerprint sensor and a facial-recognition system for preventing anyone other than you from unlocking them.
Huawei's investment in top-tier camera quality isn't limited to traditional photography. The front-facing cameras on Huawei's handsets are similarly impressive, with the recent P20 Pro, Nova 3e and Nova 2i sporting some of the most powerful "selfie" cameras currently available in a smartphone. Coupled with smart processing techniques that automatically adjust camera settings to account for factors like lighting and motion, Huawei's front-facing cameras are valuable tools for selfie aficionados.
When discussing mobile Internet speeds, conversation typically revolves around the network infrastructure and its reception in particular areas. These aren't the only factors that matter, though. The modem hardware inside a phone dictates how fast it can send and receive data, and if the modem isn't powerful enough, even the fastest network will bog down.
Keep this in mind when comparing Huawei's handsets, as the modems they use can vary from Category 4 in the Nova 2i to Category 18 in the Mate 10 Pro. If you'd like to know more about how modem hardware can impact network speeds, check out our Network Category speeds guide.
While Huawei has yet to jump aboard the wireless charging train, it has integrated quick charging into many of its recent smartphones. The Mate 10 and P20 Pro, for instance, come bundled with a Huawei SuperCharge charger that Huawei claims can provide enough charge for an entire day's use in just 20 minutes. If you spend a lot of time in transit and rarely have time to leave your phone charging for hours on end, this is a handy feature worth keeping an eye out for.
If you're tired of having to charge your phone one or more times a day, you're going to have a tough time finding a Huawei handset that won't leave you at least a little bit frustrated. Between the large displays and the snappy processors, most recent Huawei phones are limited to a single day of use at best before needing a recharge.
Water resistance has become an expectation among smartphones these days, especially higher-end handsets that represent hundreds of dollars of fragile technology that is fatally allergic to H2O. Unfortunately, Huawei's approach to waterproofing its smartphones has been rather hit-and-miss, with only select handsets benefitting from thorough protection against the elements. If the odd splash or spill is an inescapable part of your daily life, be sure to double-check the specs of any Huawei handset you might be considering.
You won't find Huawei's latest handsets topping any performance benchmarks, but for the most part they deliver a responsive experience in and out of apps. However, there are a few exceptions, such as the Nova 3e, which runs sluggishly even for a phone at its budget price point.
Because of this, we recommend taking a look at benchmark tests like the ones we provide in our phone reviews to get a clear sense of how Huawei's handsets hold up against the competition. Benchmarks aren't perfect representations of real-world performance, but they do help convey what a phone is capable of in the context of the mobile industry as a whole.
Which Huawei phone is best?
As tempting as it is to label a particular phone "the best", the fact is that individual needs and preferences differ so greatly that no single handset could hope to be ideal for everyone. So, rather than claiming a particular Huawei smartphone is unequivocally better than the rest, we've selected a few different handsets we believe are worth your consideration.
While our choices are informed by the years we've spent testing and reviewing smartphones in Australia, that doesn't mean they're right for everyone. Always take into account your own expectations and circumstances when considering the following handsets.
Huawei P30 Pro
A battery behemoth with a top-notch camera
Huawei combines its industry-leading camera tech with a slick design and plenty of grunt in the excellent P30 Pro.
With its stunning camera, stalwart battery life and powerhouse performance, the Huawei P30 Pro stands out as one of the most impressive smartphones in the premium space. Combine that with a price tag hundreds of dollars cheaper than competing handsets from companies like Samsung and Google, and you've got yourself one of the most compelling all-round packages money can currently buy.
While accepting a few compromises is par for the course when shopping for a budget smartphone, Huawei managed to avoid any significant sacrifices with the Nova 3i. Its Kirin 710 processor performs commendably for a phone in its price range, and its inclusion of four cameras gives you plenty of versatility when taking photos. Sure, its battery life isn't spectacular and there's no NFC built-in, but these are minor quibbles when stacked up against the impressive 18:9 display and capable four-camera array.
Smartphones are expensive, and buying one outright is often out of the question. Bundling a new handset in with a phone plan is typically far more affordable, and quite a few Australian mobile providers offer plans that come with Huawei handsets. You can compare these plans in the table below to help you find one that fits your budget:
Matt Sayer is a writer for Finder, covering all things technology and telecommunications. Along with reporting on events like CES and Mobile World Congress, he has produced comprehensive guides for popular products like smart speakers and graphics cards. He has a Bachelor of Computer Science from RMIT University and is passionate about helping Aussies leverage technology to better their lives.
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