Huawei Nova 3 review

Huawei has delivered some outstanding products this year and promising products this year. Lately there focused has shifted towards more aggressive price points, the Nova 3 and 3i are some of the examples. We recently reviewed the Nova 3i and now its time to explore its older sibling the Nova 3.

The Nova 3 carries the design and refinements done on the Nova 3i to a whole new level. Just like the Nova 3i, the Nova 3 also comes in color variants and that glass back design. It’s a step up from the Honor 10 that we saw a couple of months back.

We have been using the Nova 3 for a while now and here are our thoughts.

Huawei Nova 3 Specifications

  • Display: 6.3-inch IPS LCD display
  • Software: Android 8.1 Oreo, EMUi 8.2
  • Fingerprint Scanner: Yes
  • CPU: HiSilicon Kirin 970 Octa-core processor
  • RAM: 6GB
  • Storage: 128GB internal, microSD support
  • Main Camera: 16 MP (f/1.8) + 24 MP (f/1.8), dual-tone LED Flash
  • Selfie Camera: 24MP with f/2.0 aperture + 2MP
  • Connectivity: USB Type C, 3.5 mm, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS + GLONASS
  • Cellular: 4G LTE, Dual SIM
  • Battery: 3,750 mAh, Li-ion Polymer, non-removable
  • Price: INR 34,990

Box Contents

The box design is similar to what we have seen in the past with other Huawei products. There is the Huawei Nova 3 branding on top. As soon as you lift the top part, you are greeted by the smartphone. Underneath lie the documentation and the supplied accessories.

A complete list of items you get inside the box:

  • Huawei Nova 3 smartphone
  • Sim Ejector Tool
  • Charger
  • USB Cable
  • Silicon Case
  • Earphones
  • Warranty and User Guide

Design

This year has seen the rise of flagship smartphones opting for Glass back instead of Aluminum. The Nova 3 comes with a familiar design to the Honor 10 with the curved glass back. The fingerprint sensor is placed on the center back, with the vertical dual rear camera setup on the left side with the LED Flash underneath.

The front of the phone is dominated with the 6.3-inch display with bezels kept to the bare minimum and a notch up top. The notch houses the dual selfie shooters along with the earpiece and notification LED. The phone is available in two colors and the double color gradient one looks cool.

The bottom of the phone houses the speaker grill, 3.5mm audio jack, and the type-C port, while the power and volume buttons are placed on the right, leaving the SIM tray on the left side.

Display

Huawei Nova 3 sports a 6.3-inch FHD+ 19.5:9 display with a resolution of 2340 x 1080 pixels. The minimal bezels and the notch up top contribute to a screen-to-body ratio of 84.2%. When compared to other recent smartphones with a notch, the one found on the Nova 3 is slightly big. Now, this is due to the dual selfie cameras, and IR emitters added here.

The display has excellent color reproduction and thanks to the high resolution the images and text are sharp and crisp. To conserve battery, Huawei has added a mode to bring down the display resolution to HD+. Coming to the outdoor visibility, the display gets pretty bright so that it won’t be an issue.

Overall, we are quite impressed by the display quality, and it is a joy watching content on this smartphone.

Software and Performance

The Nova 3 comes with Huawei’s very own heavily customized Android skin EMUI 8.2 on top of Android Oreo. The interface is smooth, and we didn’t experience any lag. One area we feel, Huawei has improved a lot is the overall stability. Features like party mode can be of use for some. There are plenty of pre-installed apps, but thankfully they can all be uninstalled.

Like other Huawei and Honor devices launched recently, the Nova 3 also has plenty of AI features added. One such feature is the Amazon Assistant, using which you can search for products on Amazon just by pointing the camera towards them. More AI features are implemented in the camera app.

Coming to the performance aspect of this smartphone. The phone is powered by Huawei’s very own HiSilicon Kirin 970. Now we have seen this chipset in Huawei and Honor’s previous flagships. The Kirin 970 is an octa-core chip, with a dedicated Neural network chip for handling the AI elements. The chipset is more than capable of handling day to day tasks with ease, and we didn’t notice any issues in this regard.

We took the chipset for a spin, and despite being a year-old chipset, we didn’t notice any issue with the performance. When gaming, titles like Asphalt, FIFA, and PUBG which ran without any issues with medium to high graphics. The gaming performance will further enhance once the GPU Turbo update lands. The performance is further improved by plenty of RAM present here.

The phone only comes in a single RAM and storage variant. We get the 6GB RAM and 128GB storage variant in India. Sadly, Huawei has skimped on NFC on this model or any Hi-Res audio support.

Camera and Battery

Just like it’s younger sibling, the Nova 3 also features Quad sensors, two on the front and two on the rear side. The camera set up on the back features a 16-megapixel shooter which is assisted with a 24-megapixel shooter. On the front, you get a 24-megapixel f/2.0 sensor along with 78° wide-angle 2-megapixel sensor.

The camera app extensively uses AI and has been redesigned keeping that in mind. Features like Aperture, Portrait, AR Lens, Panorama, and Pro modes are readily available. There is then Huawei’s take on Animoji, called QMoji, which as expected. Others mode included are included Pro photo, Pro Video, Slow-mo, Night, Panorama, Light painting, HDR, Time-lapse, Filter, 3D panorama, Watermark, Document scan and Artist mode.

The features mentioned above are seen on the Nova 3i as well. Apart from you get 3D portrait here, just like the one found on the iPhone X. It’s a hit or miss and works some of the time. The camera focus speeds are fast. The camera app uses AI scene detection and changes the camera settings accordingly. Shots taken with the AI mode turned on are generally oversaturated with popping colors. The 24-megapixel front camera takes good selfies in different light conditions. The Beautification mode kicks in to smoothen out imperfections when needed.

We didn’t initially as the over-saturation did by the AI, but it kind of grew on us. AI scene detection was beneficial at times, like for instance when taking shots of documents, the camera detected the text and sharpened the image for better readability.

Talking about the battery, the Nova 3 comes with a 3750 mAh which will easily last you a full day even with high usage. The phone comes with support for fast charging out of the box, but it’s not that fast. In our tests, the phone took close to 2 hours to charge fully. Huawei has gone some battery optimizations and features like low power consumption and low-resolution mode, which can be activated manually or automatically.

Pricing

Huawei Nova 3 – INR 34,990

Pros

  • Good Build quality
  • Decent Cameras
  • Good battery life

Cons

  • No NFC
  • No wireless charging
  • Slightly outdated processor

Verdict – Should you go for it?

This year has seen tremendous competition in the budget flagship market with the likes of OnePlus, Asus, Poco and Huawei jumping in to make a mark for themselves. Its good to see that Huawei brought a mid-range lineup to India as well. The Huawei Nova 3 is an excellent smartphone that has a great design, vibrant display, and a large battery. The phone still runs on last year’s processor, but it even got the power to pull through. Another feature to mention is the set of quad cameras, handling the imaging.

The areas where the Nova 3 lags are providing features, the lack of NFC, video stabilization will be a breaking point for many since Asus Zenfone 5Z, and OnePlus 6 cover these two points as well while keeping the price relatively less (at least in the case of Zenfone 5Z)

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