The budget or the mid-range market might be dominated by Xiaomi, with plenty of its offerings competing amongst themselves. However, new offerings from Huawei have certainly been able to give it a decent competition. The company recently unveiled the Huawei Nova 3i, which is the little brother of its flagship Nova 3. Priced at Rs. 20,990, the Huawei Nova 3i boasts to be the company’s first device to feature the Kirin 710 processor and comes with quad cameras backed by AI. But is the device really that good? Let’s find out, as we review the Huawei Nova 3i, Beebom style:
Huawei Nova 3i Specifications
The Huawei Nova 3i is the first phone from the company that is backed by their in-house Kirin 710 processor. But apart from that SoC, the Nova 3i has a lot going for it in the specs department, which makes it look like a really lucrative deal. Well then, let’s take a look at the hardware specifications of the Huawei Nova 3i before we get started:
|Huawei Nova 3i||Key Specifications|
|Display||6.3-inch 2340x1080p IPS LCD|
|Processor||Hisilicon Kirin 710|
|Primary Camera||16MP f/1.8 + 2MP f/1.8 (monochrome)|
|Secondary Camera||24MP f/2.0 + 2MP|
|Operating System||EMUI 8.2.0 based on Android 8.1 Oreo|
|Dimensions & Weight||157.6 x 75.2 x 7.6 mm; 169 g|
What’s In the Box
The packaging of the Huawei Nova 3i was pretty much minimal and came with everything you’d expect from a device at this price point. Yes, there are no earphones, and that omission is sort of understandable since that’s one of the most common points for cost-cutting. Anyway, here’s the full list of the in-box items of the Nova 3i:
- Huawei Nova 3i
- 9V/2A charging brick
- USB Type-A to USB Type-C cable
- Clear case
- SIM ejector tool
Design and Build Quality
Right off the bat, I was low-key disappointed that I didn’t get the signature Iris Purple color variant of the device for the review purposes like we did with the elder brother Nova 3. That being said, the Nova 3i is one of the most beautiful and premium looking smartphones in its price bracket. The design of the Nova 3i is pretty much the same as the Nova 3, and I don’t have any complaints with that.
The front of the device packs in a 19.5:9 bezel-less display along with a familiar notch up top, which interestingly, also houses the earpiece, the dual front-facing cameras, an LED indicator neatly tucked within the earpiece and an IR emitter for improved face unlocking capabilities.
On the back side, the Nova 3i packs in a glass back, housing the AI cameras to the left side, subtle branding on the lower-left side, and the biometric fingerprint scanner right in the middle, just the way it should be.
On the left side of the device, you’d find the hybrid Nano-SIM card tray while on the right side, you get the volume rockers followed by the power button.
The bottom edge of the device houses a single speaker, the primary microphone, a microUSB port for charging and data syncing (that I don’t like at all), and a 3.5mm headphone jack (which I adore).
All in all, the design on the Huawei Nova 3i is exquisitely good, feels premium, and easily stands apart from the crowd. While I do love the black variant, I would have personally gone for the Iris Purple option, which also changes colors depending on the angle at which you look at the device.
The Huawei Nova 3i sports a 6.3-inch IPS LCD display with a resolution of 2340×1080 pixels, giving it an aspect ratio of 19.5:9. In case you’re wondering, it is pretty much the same panel as found on its elder brother, the Nova 3. The display in itself can get fairly bright, aiding in sunlight visibility, and it looks quite vibrant out of the box. What’s more is that Huawei also gives you the option to customize it according to your personal preference through the color mode and temperature settings in the display menu, so you can fine tune the colors to match your preferences.
Interestingly, Huawei also gives its users an option to lower down the resolution to 1560x720p in order to conserve battery. While Samsung has sported this feature on their devices for quite some time, it is nice to see other companies also follow this path.
Speaking about that notch at the top, while I don’t find it obtrusive, there will be an issue for users who prefer to hide the notch. While the EMUI on the device does offer an option for that, the problem is that the display, being LCD, won’t be able to conceal it perfectly. Worse still, it’d still eat up your battery. My advice? It’s 2018, and whether you like it or not, it’s time to accept the notch on your device and move on.
Speakers and Audio
The Nova 3i features a single firing speaker on the bottom edge, and truth be told, it’s good enough. It doesn’t come with any mumbo-jumbo high-tech words, coz frankly, it’s not that powerful either. What’s more is that the placement does end up in the user muffling the sound while using the device, so there’s that. But apart from these slight issues, the speakers themselves are pretty good enough for your average media consumption.
As far as the audio quality of calls is concerned, it’s pretty good. I’ve hardly noticed any device in recent times to offer bad call quality, and thankfully, the Nova 3i is no different. I won’t deny the fact that prior to testing it, I was a bit skeptical about the quality, considering the size of the earpiece, but it turned out just alright in the end.
The Huawei Nova 3i comes with a 16MP f/1.8 primary sensor with phase detection auto-focus which is complemented by a 24MP f/1.8 monochrome sensor to enhance the image quality and assist in portrait mode photography. The stock camera app comes loaded with a plethora of features such as portrait mode, moving picture, panorama, time-lapse, and much more. What’s more is that it comes with a proper “pro-more” for both still images and videos. Yes, that’s right, you get a pro mode for videos too.
Now let’s talk about the image quality. The lenses on the Nova 3i are pretty much the same as the Nova 3, and the image quality confirms that statement in high regards. The camera manages to produce images with rich colors and pixel-perfect sharpness. There is no loss in quality even while zooming at high levels, and the overall color reproduction is great.
The camera also offers a portrait mode that exhibits a great bokeh effect and decent edge detection, with the camera slightly faltering in low-light conditions. Sure, they are no match for the Pixels or the iPhone X, but it’s pretty damn good, and quite better than its competitors, especially at this price point.
On the front side, the Huawei Nova 3i packs in a 24MP f/2.0 primary sensor along with a 2MP secondary sensor for depth perception, similar to the Nova 3. What I find great about these cameras is that while generally, devices around this price point advertise themselves to be great selfie shooters, they often aren’t. However, the Nova 3i is pretty much a great selfie shooter as well. The front camera setup also has a portrait mode option which is capable of capturing decent portrait shots with good edge detection and a pleasant bokeh effect, and images are mostly social-media sharing ready.
Sure, the camera is great, but how does it fare against its competitors? Well, I compared the Nova 3i with the Honor Play and the Mi A2, and the results are quite satisfactory. While the Nova 3i manages to capture images better than the Honor Play, exhibiting better structure and colors, it does fall behind the Mi A2, which does boast of the best camera setup in the price bracket. Nonetheless, here’s a camera comparison between the three devices, so you can see for yourself:
All things considered, the quad camera setup on the Nova 3i works quite well, and I honestly can’t think of a smartphone that has managed to offer such good camera quality in its price segment. Yes, the UI of the camera is slightly cluttered, but then again, it’s because it comes with just so many options to choose from.
The Huawei Nova 3i packs in the company’s latest processor, the Kirin 710, which is expected to offer a great balance between performance and battery life. While testing the device right out of the box, the device had an issue which restricted us from installing any benchmark app on it. However, Huawei recently rolled out a new update for it that fixed the issue, and I was able to stress test the device without me taking a lot of stress.
As you can see, the scores suggest that the device is obviously not a match for the flagship offerings out there, but isn’t bad either. The Nova 3i was able to score 137855 in AnTuTu and in Geekbench 4 it was able to manage 1592 in single-core and 5575 in multi-core tests. Apart from that, in the 3DMark test results, the Nova 3i was able to score 954 in the OpenGL ES 3.1 Test, which is good enough.
In comparison, the Honor Play had achieved a score of 206206 in Antutu Benchmark, while the Mi A2 managed to score 141257. Clearly, the Nova 3i lags behind the Honor Play and falls just a little short up against the Mi A2.
But apart from the benchmarks, the device performs really well in day-to-day activities as well. While I’m not a fan of the EMUI, which I’ll be discussing in the next segment, I did not face any noticeable lag in the usage of the device. The 4GB RAM is enough for multitasking, and apps took minimal time for loading.
I even tried gaming on the Nova 3i and honestly speaking, I wasn’t disappointed. On Asphalt 9 Legends, the device had no issues running everything on the max settings. As for PUBG Mobile, the device ran the game at medium settings with high frame rate, which is pretty damn good, especially for a device at its price point. I mean, it’s no Honor Play, but it’s pretty good since it offers a balance amongst all the features you’d expect from a smartphone of its price.
If you haven’t been following me on the App Videos on the Beebom App, let me tell you a little something about myself. I am someone who prefers Stock Android, and custom ROMs based on AOSP only. As such, I don’t really fancy the look of EMUI, but then again, I won’t hold much against it. My personal preferences aside, EMUI has improved a lot over the years and actually offers its users with some pretty good features and customizations.
EMUI also packs in features like “Huawei share” to share files with other Huawei devices, an eye comfort mode which reduces blue light emissions to prevent eye strains, and it even packs in an option hide the display notch. Huawei has also included a unique feature called HiTouch, which allows users to quickly look up products online with the help of Amazon Assistant. All you need to do is open the HiTouch feature within the camera app and tap the display with two fingers and you’ll be automatically taken to the product’s listing on Amazon.
Also, similar to the a lot of devices in the market that come with full-screen bezel-less displays, Huawei has also packed in full-screen gesture navigation on the device which makes use of a pill, like the one found on Android P. However, I genuinely found myself moving back to the 3 button navbar, since Huawei’s implementation is pretty much average, and quite sluggish too.
All in all, while I didn’t really like the looks of it, I’m pretty much satisfied with the EMUI on the Huawei Nova 3i. Some may like it, and some won’t, so it pretty much comes down to your personal taste.
Connectivity is one aspect where I really had issues with the Huawei Nova 3i. Yes, it does come with a 3.5mm audio jack (thank god for that), and also supports two nano-SIM cards at the same time. What’s more is that it does it while having a hybrid slot, so you can always swap out the second SIM for a microSD card slot.
However, I just fail to understand why smartphone manufacturers continue to include a microUSB cable on their devices. It’s outdated, it’s slow, and what’s worse, is that it charges the device quite slow as well. Speaking about charging, let’s talk about charging and battery life.
The Huawei Nova 3i packs in a 3,340 mAh, which should be enough for most users, provided the optimizations offered by the Nova 3i. In my usage of the device which included watching some Anime, playing the usual games, lots of calls, and a ton of surfing on Twitter; the device managed to easily last throughout the day, while still retaining some juice.
Personally, I think along with the huge battery capacity, the OS also deserves its fair share of praise. EMUI is extremely good at battery management, and the different battery saving modes coupled with a change in resolution could easily allow one to push their device to higher battery life numbers.
However, the charging speed on this device is a huge letdown. Yes, I use a OnePlus 5T and I’m accustomed to Dash Charging’s superfast speeds, but no, the Nova 3i literally charges quite slowly. It took me well over 2 hours to completely charge the battery, and trust me, that’s not the end of my complaints. Just like the Nova 3, the Nova 3i charges rather uniformly, unlike other fast charging solutions which charge up the device pretty quickly up to 50 percent and then slow down a bit before reaching 100 percent. As such, you’d have to leave the device to charge for at least 40-45 minutes before taking it out for the day. That too, if you know your day is going to be less smartphone dependant.
Considering the fact that both the Mi A2 and the Honor Play pack in fast charging solutions, the lack of it from the Nova 3i is quite questionable, more so when it costs slightly more than the other two.
Huawei Nova 3i: Worth it?
Well, at this point, you’re probably wondering whether I’d recommend this device to you or not. Honestly, I would, but that is if you set your priorities right. You see, the budget market in India is populated with a plethora of smartphone options, with each offering features of its own apart from the industry standard. So what you have to take note of, is what kind of a device is it that you’re really looking for.
For instance, if you want a device that offers a great balance between everything on your device, along with a major focus on the cameras, the Nova 3i is one of your best bets. However, if you’re a performance enthusiast, nothing gets better than the Honor Play. Lastly, if you like to have a balance but also care about the OS and updates, the Mi A2 should do the trick.
- Premium design and build quality
- Great camera performance
- Decent performance
- Good Value for Money
- MicroUSB Port is a disappointment
- Slow charging speed
- Camera UI is a mess
Huawei Nova 3i Review: All About That Kirin 710 and AI Cameras
There is no denying the fact that Xiaomi pretty much owns the mid-range market. However, with great offerings from Huawei and its subsidiary Honor, there is once again some good competition in the market. The Huawei Nova 3i is a great budget device, offering good performance, a good display, a premium design and build quality along with some quad cameras backed by AI. All in all, the Nova 3i is an easy recommend for anyone out there.
Buy from Amazon: (Rs. 20,990)
Design and Build Quality
Speakers and Audio
Value for Money
The Huawei Nova 3i is an excellent device, offering great cameras and decent performance, all packed inside a premium glass body. It's not for everyone, but certainly for those who like to flaunt their device and also use it for photography purposes. The Kirin 710 is a great SoC from Huawei, who've nailed it in balancing both performance and battery life.