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Recognizing smiles is of much importance for detecting happy moods. Gabor features are conventionally widely applied to facial expression recognition, but the number of Gabor features is usually too large. We proposed to use pyramid histogram of oriented gradients (PHOG) as the features extracted for smile recognition in this paper. The comparisons between the PHOG and Gabor features using a publicly available dataset demonstrated that the PHOG with a significantly shorter vector length could achieve as high a recognition rate as the Gabor features did. Furthermore, the feature selection conducted by an AdaBoost algorithm was not needed when using the PHOG features. To further improve the recognition performance, we combined these two feature extraction methods and achieved the best smile recognition rate, indicating a good value of the PHOG features for smile recognitions.