Huawei Nova 3i Review; The New Mid-Range Star! - TeknoGadyet
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Sunday, July 22, 2018

Huawei Nova 3i Review; The New Mid-Range Star!

INTRODUCTION:

Huawei recently announced its new Nova Star, the Nova 3i, in the Philippines. Luckily, our team got a chance to play around with the brand’s latest mid-range king before it officially arrives in the local shores on June 28.

Huawei Nova 3i Review; The New Mid-Range Star!
Huawei Nova 3i Review; The New Mid-Range Star!


With more than a week now tapped as our daily driver, the phone was able to unleash its capabilities in handling our daily mobile tasks. Hence, dump the idea that it’s just a plain “millennial” smartphone as it can surely offer premium-like features.

Dive deeper into our full review to know more about the Nova 3i.

PHYSICAL:


Obviously, the appearance of the Nova 3i serves as one of its key upgrades from its predecessor – the Nova 2i. The company's new Nova Star is housed in a more premium-looking body as it now sports a 2D glass on its front and back. In addition, it is dressed with a glossy metallic framing, which gives an additional charm to the phone. By simply looking on it, one who doesn’t know its actual value might think that it’s more expensive than its asking price.

Gradient Variant
Iris Purple Gradient Variant

Although the Nova 3i is big at 157.6mm x 75.2mm x 7.6mm and weighs 169 grams, it could still comfortably sit on our hands, thanks to its round edges and thoughtfully placed buttons.

We're confident that one-hand usage is perfectly fine, but solid grip is still needed for it has a slippery, glass-like construction. It has a fingerprint-magnet body, too, which means you need to remove its smudges every now and then to maintain its beauty. If not, you’d turn this masterpiece into a messy handset. So, a protective case is really recommended.

Classic Black Variant
Classic Black

The phone is available in three striking color variants: Gradient, Classic Black, and White. Our team was able to mingle with its Classic Black and Gradient models. Ideally, the former matches users who prefer a professional-looking device. It won’t go out of style, too.

Glass-like Body
Glass-like Body

However, if you feel like going extra, the Gradient variant, also known as Iris Purple, would level up your style. A total head turner, indeed!

The Nova 3i sports a notch, which you can hide on its display settings.
The Nova 3i sports a notch, which you can hide on its display settings.

Its front is dominated by its 6.3-inch panel that flaunts a notch design. Its notch houses its 24-megapixel + 2-megapixel front cameras, sensor, and earpiece with LED notifications.

On-screen Navigation Keys
On-screen Navigation Keys

As usual, the Nova 3i is equipped with on-screen navigation keys. It also helps to achieve a full view display, as it eliminates the space usually occupied by physical navigation buttons seen on other handsets.

Volume Rocker and Power/Lock Button
Volume Rocker and Power/Lock Button

Its volume rocker and power/lock buttons are sited on the right side of the unit, while its left cheek accommodates its hybrid nano-SIM tray.

3.5mm audio jack, MicroUSB 2.0, and Speaker Grilles
3.5mm audio jack, MicroUSB 2.0, and Speaker Grilles

Its secondary microphone is alone on the top, while its 3.5mm audio port, main microphone, speaker grilles, and microUSB port are located at the bottom.

Back
Back

Flip the device on its back to see how it naturally doubles itself as a mirror. You’d see its protruding dual-rear cameras, LED flash, and fingerprint scanner, too. Its back comes with similar branding and labeling as the P20 line. Speaking of, one thing we appreciate about the Nova 3i is its fingerprint sensor. As a point of comparison, on P20 family members, it is awkwardly placed below the screen. But on the Nova 3i, Huawei puts it on the back where we can easily tap it.

DISPLAY:


6.3-inch TFT LCD FullView Display
6.3-inch FullView Display 2.0

Moving on to its display, the handset flashes a 6.3-inch FullView Display 2.0 with FHD+ 2340 x 1080 panel. Having a notch on top of its display, the screen boasts a 19.5:9 aspect ratio and 81% screen-to-body ratio.

Color Mode and Temperature, and Eye Comfort
Color Mode and Temperature, and Eye Comfort

To help consumers save some power, you can actually lower its resolution down to just HD+ 1560 x 720 display. The phone also offers a Smart Resolution feature, wherein it will automatically lower its screen resolution. Moreover, you can change its color mode from normal to vivid, and its color temperature to its default, warm, or cold.

Smart enough, you can find its Eye Comfort settings, and enable it to filter out blue lights and get rid of visual fatigue. With this, your screen will have a warmer tint. 

Display Settings
Display Settings

Just like the P20 series, the Nova 3i sports a notch. Before raising your brows, Huawei made sure that you can still ditch it if you think that it's really distracting. If you prefer to hide its notch, you can simply go to your display settings and disable it.

For us, we prefer to use its notch to fully enjoy its offerings. It didn't harm our visual experience, too, as we're already used to it.

Multi-touch Test Result
Multi-touch Test Result

The phone gave us a good viewing experience. In fact, we enjoyed playing games and watching videos without any issues. It has good brightness, as well, in both indoors and outdoors. The phone can even handle games with heavy graphics, including Tekken and its pre-installed games. It scored 10 on multi-touch test.

See Also: Huawei P20 Pro Review; A Revolutionary Three-lens Camera Phone!

SOFTWARE:


EMUI 8.2 (Android 8.1 Oreo)
EMUI 8.2 (Android 8.1 Oreo)

The Nova 3i is loaded with EMUI 8.2.0 based on Android 8.1 Oreo operating system. Just like other Huawei smartphones, it still comes with simple and clean interface minus the iOS-like feeling. Now more unique, users also have the option to customize it.

Software
Software

The device sports multiple home screens to house your apps, and users can easily organize it by simply creating an app drawer. Navigating the phone isn't tricky, too. Swiping down from the top will reveal your notifications and some of its shortcuts, while swiping to the left will bring you to HiBoard.

It comes with numbers of pre-installed apps, including Huawei native apps, Google apps, Facebook, Messenger, Netflix, Lazada, Booking.com, camera apps, and various games.

PERFORMANCE:

The Nova 3i carries the company’s new chipset – the Kirin 710. With this, the handset is powered by an A.I.-ready octa-core processor clocked at 2.2GHz, and is paired with Mali-G51 graphics. Beast enough for its price, it is coupled with 4GB of RAM to handle your mobile tasks, and 128GB of internal storage to give users enough space for their files and applications. The latter is also expandable via microSD up to 256GB. Unfortunately, it has no dedicated slot for microSD card, so, users must give up its SIM2 slot if they wish to expand their storage.

Fingerprint Sensor
Fingerprint Sensor

Looks good on paper, we ran it on various benchmark apps to give us more concrete views about its performance. Here are the results:

Benchmark Results
Benchmark Results


  • AnTuTu - 138,091
  • Geekbench - 1,592 (Single Core)
  • Geekbench - 5,538 (Multi Core)
  • PCMark Work 2.0 Performance - 6,993
  • 3DMark - 20,543 (Ice Storm Unlimited)
  • 3DMark - Max (Ice Storm Extreme)
  • 3DMark - 1,444 (Sling Shot)
  • 3DMark - 954 (Sling Shot Extreme - OpenGL ES 3.1)
  • 3DMark - 1,131 (Sling Shot Extreme - Vulkan)


The Nova 3i didn’t disappoint us. Packed with a capable mid-range chipset and 4GB of RAM, it could deliver great performance, and it could really accompany us even on our heavy usage. Switching from one app to another is also smooth, as we didn’t experience noticeable lags and freezing. It could handle multitasking, as well.

We enjoyed playing games such as Tekken and other pre-installed games in the device. In addition, it didn’t heat up when it’s approaching its low battery level unlike on other smartphones that we’ve tried.

Meanwhile, its fingerprint sensor and face unlock technology work fine. Both are responsive, too. Compared with other phone’s fingerprint scanner, we never had to wipe our index finger every now and then, as the Nova 3i can easily recognize our finger. This is the same scenario we encountered on its Face Unlock. The device can easily recognize our registered face even on places with dim lighting.

CAMERA:


Quad A.I. Cameras
Quad A.I. Cameras

The Nova 3i is equipped with quad A.I. cameras, meaning it comes with two selfie snappers and another two main shooters. With that being said, it boasts 16-megapixel + 2-megapixel lens at the back, and 24-megapixel + 2-megapixel front snappers. Both partnered with a secondary 2-megapixel sensor, its front and main cameras can produce images with good bokeh effects.

AR Lens Feature
AR Lens Feature

As a camera-centric smartphone, the phone offers numbers of features, including Night, HDR, 3D Panorama, Artist mode, Slow-mo, Light painting, Document scan, Pro, Timelapse, and various filters to elevate your mobile photography. Moreover, it can detect up to 22 objects and scenes to enhance your photos. It has six portrait backgrounds, as well, to apply different optimization algorithms for the best self-photo results. On that note, it can give users professional-looking images.

Just like the P20 line, it allows users to save their photos in a RAW format if they’re on a PRO mode.

One of its coolest features is its AR lens: 3D Qmoji, which allows users to turn themselves into an animation; Effects, offering stickers for cute selfies; Backgrounds, putting an animation and sound effects to your photos; and 3D objects, wherein a character will pop up on the screen to merge with your actual snaps.

Sample Photos:

Outdoor
Outdoor

Indoor
Indoor

Indoor
Indoor

Indoor - Lowlight
Indoor - Lowlight

Food
Food

 Indoor - Normal
 Indoor - Normal

Portrait - Lowlight
Portrait - Lowlight

 Night Shot
 Night Shot

Indoor - Portrait
Indoor - Portrait

W/ 3D Lighting
W/ 3D Lighting

A.I. Sticker
A.I. Sticker

Both of its main and front cameras performed well during our tests. It can produce clear images with accurate colors, considering that you took it in well-lit settings. Its cameras, however, had a hard time in low-lit conditions. During our tests, noises became too visible most especially during night shots.

Dual 16MP + 2MP A.I. Rear Cameras
Dual 16MP + 2MP A.I. Rear Cameras

Nevertheless, it still able to deliver decent images. For millennials who look for a phone that can step up their social media feeds, the Nova 3i is actually a good choice. It offers new tricks to upgrade your photos. Its AI capabilities can help you take a studio-like self-photos similar to the P20 line. However, sometimes, it became too unrealistic.

We'll post more camera samples soon, so, stay tuned!

Related: Huawei Nova 3i versus Samsung Galaxy J8 (2018)

CONNECTIVITY:

The Nova 3i is a dual SIM device that supports LTE connectivity. However, if you wish to expand your storage, you have to give up its SIM 2 slot to give way for the microSD card.


Hybrid Dual SIM
Hybrid Dual SIM

The phone boasts basic connectivity features including WiFi, Bluetooth, and GPS. All of these worked well during our test. Sending SMS and receiving calls were never an issue as we enjoyed a good signal reception.

Might be a thumbs down for some, it sports a microUSB 2.0 rather than a USB Type-C. On a brighter side, it didn't ditch its 3.5mm audio port. Isn't it a must, right?

BATTERY:


Just like the Nova 2i, the new Nova Star is geared with 3340mAh battery. Although it packs the same amount of stamina, we observed that the Nova 3i lasts longer than the juice of its predecessor.

As a quick recap, the Nova 2i scored 7 hours and 30 minutes on PCMark Battery Life Test. On our actual usage, however, it was able to accompany us for almost a day. Also, it took 2 hours and 45 minutes to charge its battery.


PCMark Battery Life Test
PCMark Battery Life Test

Jumping off to the Nova 3i, we used the phone as our daily driver. Our actual usage suggests that it could last for almost 11 hours before it reached its low battery status. Our daily mobile tasks include sending SMS and receiving calls, browsing of our social media accounts, and casual gaming.

However, on our heavy usage, its battery only lasted for almost 8 hours and 40 minutes. Heavy activities include continuous usage for basic communications, data/WiFi connection on, casual gaming, and browsing of our social media accounts.

On the other hand, it scored 9 hours and 37 minutes on PCMark Battery Life Test.

While Huawei promised that its 5V2A charger can full its stamina for almost 2 hours and 10 minutes, our team could say that we need extra minutes to do so, as it took 2 hours and 33 minutes to reach its 100 percent.

Also Read: Huawei Nova 3 Launched; Kirin 970, 6GB RAM, 128GB ROM, and A.I. Cameras

CONCLUSION:


Huawei Nova 3i
Huawei Nova 3i

If you’re a Nova 2i user and actually looking for a new smartphone, the Nova 3i is definitely the best upgrade. But still, our team believes that the Nova 2i is still a capable phone, mentioning that it is one of the best mid-range handsets in 2017.

The Nova 3i – a toned-down version of the upcoming Nova 3 – offers great specs for its asking price. Loaded with trendy features, choosing it as your new phone is like tapping a premium device disguises as a more affordable one. Hence, it would be a wise choice.

The handset is dressed with a classy construction, which might be a real game-changer on its segment, as it flaunts a unique design usually found on more expensive units.  Moreover, inside, it carries the brand’s latest A.I-ready chipset – the Kirin 710, which is designed to dominate the mid-range segment. Powerful enough, it comes with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage.

Priced at Php15,990, Huawei has delivered a beastly phone trapped inside an affordable price tag. If you want a P20 or Mate 10 smartphone but your budget won’t allow you to buy one, then, go for the Nova 3i. Swear, you won’t feel like settling for less. True enough, it works more than just an ordinary camera-centric device.

Although it still has flaws and some weakness points, the Nova 3i is still set to battle out its opponent. With that, other brands must catch up or else Huawei will dominate this segment.

A new mid-range king? A new star, we claimed.

Huawei Nova 3i Specs:


  • Hybrid Dual SIM, dual stand-by, supports LTE connectivity
  • 6.3-inch FHD+ (2340 x 1080) capacitive touchscreen, 19.5:9 aspect ratio, 409ppi
  • Dimensions: 157.6mm x 75.2mm x 7.6mm
  • Weight: 169 grams
  • Android 8.1 Oreo w/ EMUI 8.2
  • Octa core (4x2.2GHz Cortex-A73 + 4x1.7GHz Cortex-A53) CPU, HiSilicon Kirin 710 chipset, Mali-G51 MP4 GPU
  • 4GB RAM
  • 128GB internal storage, expandable via microSD up to 256GB
  • 16MP + 2MP main cameras w/ LED flash, 1080p video recording at 30fps
  • 24MP + 2MP front cameras
  • Multimedia Player
  • FM Radio
  • 3.5mm audio jack
  • MicroUSB 2.0, w/ OTG function
  • Bluetooth 4.2
  • WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
  • GPS, with A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS
  • Face Unlock
  • Sensors: fingerprint, accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass
  • Battery: 3340mAh Li-Ion, non-removable
  • Colors: Black, Pearl White, Iris Purple
  • Price: Php15,990
  • Freebies: Bluetooth speaker worth Php2,990

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