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I would say there is still a significant difference, although not as much as there used to be. Screen resolution will probably be the first thing you notice compared on a second tier brand compared to a top shelf device. I’ve never played around with a Huawei, but I do know someone with a Kyocera, and it immediately felt like a low end device to me. Aside from the rather washed-out, comparatively low-res display, it just felt cheaply made. The plastic felt like that in an old economy car, if that makes any sense. Aside from looking worse than higher end phones, I also found the screen to be less responsive to touch. It was still perfectly usable, but if you were comparing it to a Galaxy or HTC One, you would immediately notice the difference. Now that he has had it for a few months, I’ve also heard him complain of it acting up lately, but I don’t know the specifics.
There is quite a bit of difference in reliability according to some sources, although my quick search did not turn up a comprehensive list that included all of the brands you mentioned. It’s not always what you expect, though. Samsung devices are prone to microphone issues, for example. For her first phone, I would worry about it too much; unless she is an unusual kid, I would be surprised if she wasn’t the greatest factor in how long the device lasts.