Huawei Nova 3i review

Huawei is one of the world’s fastest-growing brand but has had much presence in the Indian market. Their main focus has been on their sub-brand Honor, which has seen a tremendous growth in the last few quarters.

Now with the latest Nova lineup being launched at very competitive price things are changing. One of the recently released product, the Huawei Nova 3i, is a toned-down version of the Nova 3, with a bunch of useful features.

We have been using the Nova 3i for close to 3 weeks now and here’s our review.

Huawei Nova 3i Specifications

  • Display: 6.3-inch IPS LCD display
  • Software: Android 8.1 Oreo, EMUi 8.2
  • Fingerprint Scanner: Yes
  • CPU: HiSilicon Kirin 710 Octa-core processor
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 128 GB internal, microSD support
  • Main Camera: 16 MP (f/2.2) + 2MP (f/2.2), dual-tone LED Flash
  • Selfie Camera: 24MP with f/2.0 aperture + 2MP
  • Connectivity: USB, 3.5 mm, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS + GLONASS
  • Cellular: 4G LTE, Dual SIM
  • Battery: 3,400 mAh, Li-ion Polymer, non-removable
  • Price: INR 20,990

Box Contents

The box design is similar to what we have seen in the past with other Huawei products. There is the Huawei Nova 3i 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 3i smartphone
  • Sim Ejector Tool
  • Charger
  • USB Cable
  • Silicon Case
  • Earphones
  • Warranty and User Guide

Design

The Nova 3i follows the footsteps of its older sibling and comes with a glass sandwich design. The outer frame is made out of high-quality metal with a glossy glass back. The smartphone comes in two colors, the traditional black and a more vibrant iris purple, with a gradient back.

The front of the phone is dominated by a 6.3-inch display with a notch which is very trendy these days. Huawei has kept the notch to the minimum possible size while adding dual selfie shooters and an earpiece. Apart from the notch, the overall footprint is low except for a bottom chin.

The button placement is similar to other Huawei smartphones, the volume and power buttons are on the right while the SIM tray is on the left. There is a dual rear camera set up placed vertically on the left side followed by LED Flash underneath. There is a fingerprint sensor also present in the centre.

The camera on the back protrudes a bit, enough to wobble the smartphone when kept on a flat surface. The bottom of the smartphone houses the 3.5mm audio jack, speaker and a micro USB port.

Display

The Huawei Nova 3i comes with a 6.3-inch FHD+ display. The technology used here is IPS LCD. We found out the colors to be well balanced in the normal mode with close to neutral whites and deeper blacks.

Huawei has also added an option to tweak the display according to your preferences. We tried the sRGB mode, which provides a wide color gamut. The display gets bright enough so outdoor visibility is on point.

Software and Performance

Like other Huawei and Honor products, the Nova 3i also comes with the heavily skinned EMUi 8.2 on top of Android 8.1 Oreo. In the past, Huawei has tried to add a bunch of features to EMUi and this continues with the latest iteration as well. One area we feel, Huawei has improved a lot is the overall stability. Despite having a ton of features, we didn’t notice any drop in the performance. Features like party mode can be of use for some. For extra security, Huawei is using a fingerprint scanner, which is assisted with Face Unlock, which is fast enough once you’re done with the tedious setup process.

For people looking for customizations, you get the option to choose the layout of the launcher, change themes, fonts and wallpapers. Apart from this, you get the option to use one button navigation instead of the usual onscreen Android controls which are a plus.

Coming to the performance aspect of this smartphone. The phone is powered by Huawei’s very own HiSilicon Kirin 710 which was introduced a few weeks back and is an upper mid-range chipset. In terms of performance, the Kirin 710 is comparable to the Snapdragon 660. The chipset is more than capable of handling day to day tasks with ease and we didn’t notice any issues in this regard.

The chipset performs well for gaming, we ran 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 on the Nova 3i. The changes in the performance after the update will only be noticeable on PUBG since it’s the only available title which has been optimized for GPU Turbo.

Camera and Battery

The Nova 3i is packed with quad sensors, two on the front and the other two on the back. The rear camera set up on the back features a 16-megapixel f/2.2 shooter which is assisted by a 2-megapixel f/2.2 sensor for capturing depth information. On the front, you get a 24-megapixel f/2.0 sensor along with 78° wide-angle 2-megapixel sensor.

The camera app is completely redesigned with AI elements spread across all areas. 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 Pro photo, Pro Video, Slow-mo, Night, Panorama, Light painting, HDR, Time-lapse, Filter, 3D panorama, Watermark, Document scan and Artist mode.

With the AI mode enabled the phone was quick in detecting the scene and tweaked the settings accordingly. The focus speeds are fast and images came out decent. The only issue is that AI mode at times tends to oversaturate colors to make the subjects pop, which leaves the image artificial looking. In good light, the camera performs very well, with Shots having good detail and color reproduction easily surpassing other budget smartphones.

We kept the AI mode on, for our complete testing period and we noticed that AI shots were overall slightly better than the normal shots. The 24-megapixel front camera takes good selfies in different light conditions. The Beautification mode kicks in to smoothen out imperfections when needed. Huawei has also implemented a 3D lighting mode just like the one on iPhone X, which lets you change the lighting.

Talking about the battery, the Nova 3i comes with a 3340 mAh battery which will easily last you a full day even with high usage. This is to be attributed to the optimizations that Huawei has done on this smartphone. Since there is no fast charging support, the phone takes close to 3 hrs for a complete top up using the bundled charger.

Pricing

Huawei Nova 3i – INR 20,990

Pros

  • Good Build quality
  • Decent Cameras
  • Good battery life

Cons

  • No Type C and Fast charging
  • No 4k recording support
  • Priced slightly higher

Verdict – Should you go for it?

Huawei Nova 3i is a balanced phone with a premium build and decent overall performance. The phone is a delight for people with high media consumption, due to the high-quality display and a great battery life. The upcoming GPU Turbo update will surely bump up the gaming performance as well. The use of micro USB instead of Type C and no fast charging are led down. So, if you’re in the market for a decent smartphone under 25k then, Nova 3i should definitely be on your radar.

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