Despite the minor shortcomings, Huawei Nova 3i proves its value for money in our real-life review. The phone comes with some extravagant options in an amazing price
The smartphone market has never been this much crowded. All the smartphone makers are trying to push out more affordable and feature-packed phones that give a good run for the money. The newly launched Huawei Nova 3i also fits into this category perfectly, packing some tricks that are the hallmark of a flagship phone.
We managed to get our hands on the new Huawei Nova 3i and honestly, we are still in the awe of the phone. The Nova 3i inherits the key features of its predecessor, Nova 2i, including extra perks like four onboard cameras, large near-borderless display, and a premium build.
What’s in the Box?
The phone comes with standard accessories in the box. It’s nice to see that Huawei has included a silicon case in the box to protect your device from scratches and smudges. Other than that a charging brick, a micro USB charging cable and a pair of earphones come with the phone in the box along with user manuals and warranty card.
Using the phone as the primary device, here is an accurate review of the handset from our personal experience by looking at things from a technical perspective.
With a glass body that sandwiches a metal frame and a gradient color turning from blue to purple, the Huawei Nova 3i is a style icon. If price not revealed, it’s very hard to guess from the design that this phone is a mid-range offering.
The phone looks strikingly similar to the earlier launched P20 Lite. The only giveaways are the large notch on the Nova. However, the all screen design adds to the beauty of the device and the notch doesn’t hinder the visibility.
Check out a 360-degree view of the phone:
The handset houses an all-glass back with a dual camera setup vertically aligned on the top left corner while the fingerprint is embedded in the spine of the phone. On the bottom left, the phone bears the company’s branding.
The power and volume keys are located on the usual right-hand side and are easy to reach and operate since the phone is sleek and ideal for one hand use.
On the left, you’ll find a Hybrid SIM card tray where either you can use two SIM cards or use a memory card along with single SIM. However, it was disappointing to witness the absence of USB Type-C in a 2018 phone.
The device has well-rounded corners and a solid metal frame that results in sitting perfectly in the palm of your hand.
Remember that design has always been a major focus area for all the phones from Huawei so this one is no different and presents a stylish and mouth watering design with an amazing finish.
Screen big Enough for Everyone
Upfront, it houses a 6.3-inch IPS LCD with a resolution of 1080 x 2340 pixels and a more trendy and taller aspect ratio of 19.5:9 that translates roughly into a pixel density of 409 PPI. The display comes with a notch which is rather larger than we are used to seeing on other Huawei devices.
At its full brightness, the screen is quite bright and is fairly visible even in direct sunlight. However, the screen is extremely reflective which makes watching videos difficult in sunlight.
A Much Improved EMUI
Huawei Nove 3i carriesAndroid 8.1 Oreo with EMUI 8.2 skin on top of it. Time and again have we professed how EMUI has gone from one of the most horrible skins to one of the most refined and facilitating operating systems.
Unlike the Vivo V9, where the notch cut down some part of the movie on the screen, Huawei Nove 3i doesn’t do so. It straightens out the notched part so you can easily watch media content without the agitation caused by the notch.
If you are not a fan of the notch, you can always make it disappear by going to Settings> Display> Notch and turn it off from there.
Latest EMUI also lets you customize your notifications easily. You can set your notification preferences for individual apps by popping into settings.
Besides easily managing small things like adding an app drawer, tweaking the resolution of display etc, the phone also hosts the company famous Party Mode like the Honor 10, that lets you connect with 7 other Huawei Nova 3i phones to sync and play the same music over all of them, creating a surround effect.
Performance: Decent Enough for Power Users
Huawei has finally launched the Kirin 710 chipset that debuts on the Nova 3i and is a decent performer. The processor is coupled with 4GB of RAM and a massive 128 GB of internal storage that’s a lot to fill up. The device produces decent scores in both Geekbench and AnTuTu benchmarking apps topping the scores from OPPO F7, Vivo 11 and even the P20 Lite.
The new processor is more efficient than its predecessor, the Kirin 659 found in the Nova 2i and P20 Lite since it is based on a 12nm architecture. As the company claims, it gives a 75% increase in single-core and about 68% in multi-core performance as compared to the older chip.
We didn’t notice any lag sufficient enough to call the phone an underperformer, however, the phone took a slight hiccup when using chat heads in facebook messenger. This might be because the processor is new and some creases need to be ironed out regarding third party apps.
The new chip performs optimally and gives tough competition to chipsets from other companies
In our real-life usage tests, we noticed that the RAM management is a lot better than the previous chip. We didn’t come across any hiccup or lag in moderate usage whatsoever. Multitasking was on point and the phone didn’t restart the app when switched within recent apps.
However, in heavy usage tests, we did find a bit of a frame-drop when playing most heavy games like the Asphalt 9. Although the phone got hot to the point where it was uncomfortable to hold in hand, still it didn’t affect the performance.
Playing music on the speaker, we noticed that the shrilling sound overcame the quality of the sound and enhanced the treble more than required which didn’t feel pleasing to the ears. The same problem can also be spotted with the company’s budget offering like the Y7 Prime 2018.
Huawei Nova 3i packs a 3340mAh battery that can easily last a day for most of the user. The device, however, does not support the Supercharge technology, instead, it uses a micro USB port to juice up.
In our tests, the phone took up 15% of battery in one hour which included using social media, calling, texting, snapping a picture or two, and other activities that don’t require much of the CPU power.
Battery consumption jumped to 20% in heavy usage of one hour which included heavy gaming, streaming videos, and music, multitasking with at least 20 apps in the background and even video calling while gaming. We pushed the limits of the phone and it didn’t disappoint us.
Huawei Nova 3i comes with an upgraded camera technology. It packs a dual camera setup on both the front and back. The rear camera is equipped with a 16MP + 2MP depth sensor while on the front a 24MP + 2MP dual camera setup is installed for better selfies.
The camera UI has been overhauled and changed completely, and honestly, we don’t like the new look in the interface. It’s just become over-crowded with all the modes, options, and settings on the single screen.
The company is dubbing the phone as “AI Selfie superstar” which means it can take on the newly launched OPPO F9 as it also claims to be the “Selfie Expert”. The Aggressive AI features that we saw in the Honor 10 previously, have also made their way to the Huawei Nove 3i.
Let’s take a look at few sample pictures.
In daylight, the camera on the Huawei Nova 3i can do wonders. It captures flawless pictures with plenty of detail. The color reproduction is just great and the HDR mode treats the picture rightly to bring our even more refined colors.
The scene recognition in AI mode adjusts to the best settings for a better picture quality, however, the AI mode aggressively enhances the colors sometimes that may look artificial but you can toggle the AI feature on and off in the camera viewfinder and even after taking the picture.
Huawei Nova 3i performs equally well in indoor light, capturing some captivating pictures to lay eyes upon. Here are some samples with indoor lighting conditions.
In low light the phone captures enough detail in auto mode, however, AI performs even better and snaps popping colors. There is also a night mode on the phone where the shutter is open for a longer period to capture more light but it requires the phone to be mounted on a tripod.
The wide aperture and portrait mode blur out the background of the subject carefully, separating the subject foreground from the blur that gives a DSLR-like effect in the picture.
The handset justifies the company’s claim of being an AI selfie superstar. The front dual camera snaps some amazing selfies with the right amount of detail. However, we noticed that the blur effect overlapped on the subject in a few places.
Huawei Nova 3i captures a sufficient amount of detail in the video even in a darker environment. Check out this amazing video of Junaid Khan, performing at the Launch event of Huawei Nova 3 series, captured by the Nova 3i.
Huawei is taking huge and consistent leaps in the midrange category. Huawei Nova 3i is such a step in the right way, posing tough competition for and sets from other companies like the OPPO F9, its gaming-centric cousin Honor Play, and the upcoming Vivo V11.
If you are using an old phone like the Mate 10 Lite, Nova 3i gives you a lot of reasons to upgrade including the AI enabled quad-camera setup, a decent battery, and an all-new chipset. For those who are using phones from other brands, Huawei Nova 3i is a great device to introduce them to the Huawei sphere.
All in all, we think Huawei Nova 3i is definitely worth a go as it packs all the essentials like a beautiful design, decent performance, and most importantly all this in an amazing price tag.