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The Huawei Nova 3i is Huawei’s latest midrange phone in the Nova series. It is known for its dual rear and front cameras. The phone was shown in various teasers and advertisements causing quite a hype all around.

We recently made the unboxing video of the Huawei Nova 3i but we only tested its camera capabilities and storage. Today, we’ll review the smartphone including its overall performance and specifications. Is the Huawei Nova 3i really the best midrange smartphone out there? Let’s find out here.

SPECSHuawei Nova 3i
Display6.3″ Huawei FullView FHD+ display,  2340 x 1080 resolution, 19.5:9, 409 PPI
ChipsetHiSilicon Kirin 710
GPUMali-G51
Memory4GB RAM, 128GB internal storage (expandable via microSD card)
Rear CameraDual: 16 MP (f/2.2) + 2 MP, AI dual cameras, Autofocus, Single LED flash
Front CameraDual: 24 MP (f/2.0) + 2 MP, AI cameras
ConnectivityWi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou, A-GPS, microUSB 2.0
BatteryNon-removable Li-Po 3340 mAh battery
OSAndroid 8.1 (Oreo), EMUI 8.2
PricePHP 15,990

Design

The Nova 3i sports a glass front and back along with a metal frame. It measures 157.6 x 75.2 x 7.6 mm and weighs 169g. Similar to other recently released flagships, the smartphone has thin bezels as well as the infamous notch. No physical or capacitive buttons can be seen at the front since Huawei made use of on-screen buttons.

Moving on to the rear part of the device, the dual rear cameras are positioned at the top-left with its LED flash underneath. The circle-shaped fingerprint sensor can be at the center. As for its logo, it can be found on the bottom-left.

The usual power button and volume rockers can be found on the right side of the smartphone. The SIM tray is at the left side of the phone. The bottom houses the 3.5mm audio jack, mic, microUSB 2.0 port, and speaker grilles whereas the top has a sensor.

Overall, the design of the Huawei Nova 3i looks really slick and modern. It looks a bit similar to the Huawei P20 series’ design. Unfortunately, a downside for us was the smartphone’s glass rear back since it can easily be smudged with fingerprints.

Display

The Huawei Nova 3i features a 6.3″ IPS FullView notched display with a resolution of 2340 x 1080 pixels and an aspect ratio of 19.5:9. Its screen was bright enough and it managed to produce a good color representation when we tried watching some movie trailers. The color also doesn’t change when viewed from different angles. We also tried taking some shots outside and we didn’t have any issues with looking at the screen.

Some users may not like the notch in the device since it might serve as a distraction while movie-watching. Fortunately, Huawei included an option to hide the notch.

Camera

The latest Huawei smartphone features a dual 16 MP (f/2.2) + 2 MP rear cameras with contrast focus, phase detection autofocus, and an LED flash. It also sports a dual 24 MP (f/2.0) + 2MP front camera.
The smartphone’s camera is supported by an AI which will aid in delivering vibrant and detailed photos. For those who prefer having control over their photos, don’t worry, the AI can be toggled on and off.
Here are some sample shots of the Huawei Nova 3i:

The first sample shots were taken on our veranda. As you can see from this photo, the colors are vibrant which can be seen on the buildings’ roofs and the greenery. The sky had a yellowish tint to it as well. Furthermore, the details are also clear and sharp.

When we tried turning off the AI mode in the same photo, we noticed that the shot lost its vibrancy. The sky also looked darker as compared to the previous shot. On the other hand, the details remained clear and sharp.

In these shots, you can clearly see that the picture taken with AI is more vibrant and brighter than the one taken normally. The greenery stood out more since the AI was able to detect them.

The difference between these two shots can clearly be seen here. The one with AI looks brighter and the details were emphasized more due to the added contrast. Nevertheless, the one without AI still gave out clear details and it looked accurate to real life.

Unlike the previous photos, there wasn’t much of a difference in these shots. Looking closer, the AI mode managed to make the shots brighter but color-wise, it remained the same. The details can clearly be seen in all shots.

The same goes for these sample shots. There wasn’t much of a difference between the two shots which might mean that the phone’s camera still does well even without the AI mode. Upon closer inspection, all the AI mode in these photos did was add a bit of contrast to emphasize some details.

One of the objects that the Nova 3i’s AI mode can detect is plants. It emphasizes plants in shots by making it look more vibrant while adding some contrast at the same time in order to make its details stand out.

Both shots look good but the AI mode managed to make the image brighter and it even removed some of the shadows in the picture. Color-wise, the photo on the left looked more vibrant. On the other hand, the details on both shots are spot-on.

Once again, the AI mode in this shot made the object look more vibrant. The gold color was able to shine more. Detail-wise, both images were clear and sharp.

One of the features included in the device’s camera is portrait mode. The user may either choose to add a bokeh effect to this mode or not. In these shots, we activated the bokeh mode. Unfortunately, it wasn’t noticeable here. This might be due to the close distance between the subject and the background.

Compared to the previous shots, the bokeh effect is more obvious here. The effect looks a bit unnatural but it’s pleasing to the eyes. It was also able to capture the subject fully.

Let’s move on to selfies. The portrait mode can also be used in the front camera. As you can see from the pictures, the bokeh effect was able to capture the subject. It blurred out the background which made the subject stand out more.

We also tried the camera’s beauty mode. As compared to the one taken normally, the subject’s skin looked smoother and the bags under her eyes disappeared. The photo itself also looked brighter which was apparent in the subject’s clothes. The beauty mode managed to make the subject look fresher while making sure that it still looked natural.

In conclusion, the Nova 3i’s camera was able to perform well especially with its AI mode. Don’t worry, the camera was still able to take good photos even without the AI but if you’re a beginner in taking photographs, the AI mode is perfect for you. In regards to the bokeh effect, we noticed that it worked easier using the front camera whereas we had to consider the distance when we used it with the rear camera.

Features and User Experience

The Huawei Nova 3i is the first Huawei device powered by the HiSilicon Kirin 710 with a Mali-G51 GPU. This is the company’s latest midrange processor. Along with 4GB of RAM and a massive 128GB internal storage, the Nova 3i is definitely an upgrade from previous midrange smartphones. In addition, the smartphone runs on Android 8.1 Oreo with EMUI 8.2.

In regards to its features, Huawei made sure to include a hide notch option to the device in order to cater to those who aren’t a fan of the infamous trend. All the user has to do is go to “Settings”, then move to “Display” and then choose the “Notch” option.

In regards to the smartphone’s display, you may also choose which applications you want the full-screen display to be in.

In regards to security, the smartphone sports a fingerprint scanner and a face-unlock feature. The two security features were easy to set up and both work fast enough. It’s good to note that the feature doesn’t work if the user’s eyes are closed so you don’t have to worry about your phone getting unlocked when you’re asleep.

The Huawei Nova 3i performs smoothly between opening multiple applications. There weren’t any lags and performance was fast.

We also made sure to test the phone’s gaming performance. The games we played were Asphalt 9 and Arena of Valor (AOV). Launching the games were quick and there weren’t any problems during gameplay as well. No lags occurred and the graphics were really clear and detailed. The only downside was how it heated up the more we played heavy games with it.

Additional features that are included in the Huawei Nova 3i is Motion Control which allows the user to use short-cuts such as swiping down on the screen with three fingers to take a screenshot. Another feature that the Nova 3i has is a Party mode for its audio.

Benchmarks

We tested the Huawei Nova 3i using the following benchmarking tools and here are the results:

BenchmarksHuawei Nova 3i
Antutu138356
Geekbench (single-core)1595
Geekbench (multi-core)5595
PCMark Work6987

Battery

The handset is fueled by a 3,340mAh battery. The Huawei smartphone lasted approximately 24 hours with continuous light usage and it took around 2 hours to charge the device fully from 20%.

BatteryHuawei Nova 3i
Battery3340mAh
Battery Life24 hours and more
Charging Time (20-100%)approx. 2 hours

Audio

When we tried playing some music, we noticed that it produced a clear sound even in maximum volume. Unfortunately, on medium volume, the sound was too quiet for our liking.

Verdict 

The Huawei Nova 3i is available through pre-orders until July 27, 2018, on their official website. The handset can officially be purchased on July 28. It has a price tag of PHP 15,990. The device is a good quality mid-range smartphone with a powerful chipset. Moreover, its camera contains an AI that lets users take easy and natural-looking shots.

Do you think this smartphone is an upgrade from the company’s previous mid-range smartphones? Let me know in the comments!

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