Huawei Nova 2i Review – $300 for Quad Cameras

Huawei Nova 2i Review – $300 for Quad Cameras

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AI thingamajigs aside, P15k is probably what most’s spending limits are for a phone on one dropping. While phones do start to get ridiculous over time whenever something new is up – and for the case of the Nova 2i, it’s having four cameras.

Four completely working cameras.

What’s up, Manila? This is Caesar of Manila Shaker for our long-awaited review of Huawei’s Nova 2i. Missed our comparison of the Nova 2i and Mi A1? Check it out here.

SPECS Huawei Nova 2i
Display [2160×1080]
5.9″ IPS LCD, ~409ppi
Size 156.2 x 75 x 7.5 mm, 164g
Design Metal frame
Colors Black, Blue, Gold
Chipset HiSilicon Kirin 659
Processor Octa-core (4×2.36 GHz Cortex-A53 & 4×1.7 GHz Cortex-A53)
Graphics Mali T830MP2
Rear Camera Dual 16 MP + 2 MP, phase detection autofocus, LED flash, 1080p@30
Front Camera Dual 13 MP, f/2.0 + 2 MP, 1080p@30
Memory 4GB RAM, 64GB internal, <256GB microSD
Connectivity GSM/HSPA/LTE
WiFi ac, Bt 4.2, A2DP, LE, A-GPS, GLONASS, NFC
OS Android 7.1
Software EMUI 5.1
Battery Non-removable 3340mAh Li-Ion battery
Official Price PhP 14,990
Availability date October 21, 2017
Where to buy Huawei Experience Stores and authorized retailers

Design

As far as 18:9 displays go, side bezels are still noticeable and can be quite the pet peeve. The Huawei branding on the chin adds a certain character that does well to complement the rest of the phone’s externals. The side-by-side front cameras are complemented by an unnoticeable flash on the other side.

Sides, buttons, and ports are part of the whole metal unibody that I will get to later. For the hybrid tray, you have a choice of either having a second SIM or storage expansion.

With the trend of a unibody build, not to mention metal ones, the Nova 2i’s is surprisingly great. The only thing that may put you down are the elevated cameras.

Features on the rear are vertically oriented. From the top, we have the LED flash, the dual cameras, and the circular fingerprint scanner.

Display

The 5.9″ 18:9 display is not new nor extravagant. IPS LCD as it may be, the color contrast got my attention along with the noticeable sharpening.

Still, it lacks the more outstanding details that AMOLEDs have, including brightness. Brightness adjustment is on the slow end, but it’s more than enough for outside usage.

Colors do pop out, and details stand out nicely in well-made videos.

User Experience

EMUI 5.1 has its own share of possible ups and downs. Being Nougat-based, split-screen is here. App drawers still aren’t in any Chinese ROMs. The 18:9 real estate is nothing new, and apps can be set to whether or not to run fully on it.

Besides that, there is still Huawei ID and the plethora of features it provides.

The navigation bar is still configurable with up to four options, with the last for the drop-down notifications.

The camera UI is somewhat surprising about how intuitive things are. Options and toggles are one to two taps away.

Camera

Moving to the cameras, the Nova 2i does shine a fair bit with its quad-camera setup. Do note that the secondaries are used for bokeh, and the cameras do it well. Without a specific focus other than camera quantity, I’m surprised that Huawei pulled this off without relying on Leica certification.

Daylight shots are nothing short of nice, and HDR mode will tickle enthusiasts in all the right places.

Even in low light, the rear cameras are still reliable, with an added Night Mode, a long exposure mode tuned for night shots.

Some images do end up being blurry at times due to the absence of OIS.

Videos could’ve been better, but the absence of any stabilization makes it worse.

And moving to the front cameras, selfies are impressive, even with bokeh. No weird artifact nor complete inaccuracy was found.

To top things off, the front soft flash that I’ve mentioned earlier does well to illuminate a selfie in the dark.

Performance

With the freshly-released Kirin 659, the Nova 2i doesn’t necessarily come with all the bells and whistles in the hardware department. We still get a microUSB 2.0 and a T830 MP2. In benchmarks, the Kirin 659 is an underperformer against the likes of its SD625 and 630-toting rivals.

With the Kirin 659 though, thermals are easily managed and overheating is absent. Even when using the phone while charging, it warms up to a still-comfortable level without having to downclock or downvolt the CPU and GPU.

Battery

The battery is surprisingly small considering its screen size and overall form factor. In our test though, it lasted longer than other P15k phones. The major downside is that even with Fast Charging, it can take some time to top off the 3340mAh battery.

Battery Huawei Nova 2i
Battery 3340mAh
ManilaShaker Battery Rating 44h 48m
Charging Time (0-100%) 2h 54m

Audio

Lastly, the audio. The Nova 2i doesn’t have anything fancy in it, and its speakers aren’t even the loudest. Like its display though, it has this certain clarity that pops out with specific instruments.

And once you do plug-in a headphone or in-ear, readily-available configurations can be accessed through Histen. Along with a quite wide tuner, the soundstage can be dramatically changed too.

Verdict

Considering its price, it’s one of the best contenders out there with its well-rounded aspects. While 18:9 displays maybe not everyone’s preference, Huawei releases theirs at a somewhat balanced state. As for photography, I’d recommend the Nova 2i if it had OIS or EIS. I wouldn’t say that it’s a waste of quad cameras, but it could’ve been done better.

As always, this has been Caesar of ManilaShaker and thank you for reading! ‘Til then!