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A Singaporean's technology and lifestyle blog

Huawei nova 3i Review

If the new iPhones are too expensive, or even the premium flagship Huawei smartphones, you should know that there are plenty of good mid-range options out there. Huawei’s nova 3i, for example, is all-around quite impressive despite asking little from your wallet.

A common theme we’re seeing in just about all the premium flagship smartphones this year involves the display notch, more elongated aspect ratio of the display, and photo-taking capabilities centred around AI. The Huawei nova 3i has all of that, but instead of premium prices, brings you a very affordable smartphone that does not compromise on design and looks.

With dimensions measuring 157.6 x 75.2 x 7.6 mm, the Huawei nova 3i is quite thin and compact. The all-glass back is beautiful, though that glossy shine is surely going to attract fingerprints. I have the back colour version for this review, and while it looks good, it’s less striking that the other Iris Purple option which sports a beautiful purple gradient colour underneath the glass back.

The display on the Huawei nova 3i measures 6.3-inches across, with a resolution of 1080 x 2340 pixels, 19.5:9 aspect ratio. The IPS LCD panel is very bright and crisp with very vibrant colours.

The Huawei nova 3i supports dual nano-SIM cards. The SIM card tray is on the left of the device. You can put a microSD card in place of the 2nd SIM, if expandable storage is needed.

On the right side, you’ll find the usual volume rocker and power/wake button.

I’m a little disappointed to still see a Micro-USB port on the bottom of the Huawei nova 3i. We should all be using USB Type-C by now. The 3.5 mm audio jack is still present.

On the back, you’ll find the fingerprint scanner. You’ll also see the dual rear camera setup, using a 16 MP f/2.2 sensor with phase-detection auto-focus and a 2 MP depth sensor. The selfie camera on the front also features a dual camera setup, using a 24 MP f/2.0 sensor and a 2 MP depth sensor. That’s a total of four cameras on the Huawei nova 3i.

The AI-powered camera capabilities are quite comprehensive. The camera can recognise over 200 scenes across eight categories. There are numerous shooting modes for AR, portrait, time-lapse, as well as one for full-manual “pro” shooting.

I found the camera is be very capable. In fact, I thought Huawei nova 3i might perhaps be taking the image enhancements a wee bit too far.

Under the hood, the Huawei nova 3i is powered by the company’s own Kirin 710 octa-core processor. This is a 12nm processor comprising 4x Cortex A73 at 2.2 GHz and 4x Cortex A53 at 1.7 GHz. It is accompanied by 4 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage.

Battery capacity on the Huawei nova 3i is 3,340 mAh.

Geekbench 4 scores for the Huawei nova 3i is as follows:

  • Single-core: 1573
  • Multi-core: 5388
  • Compute: 3947
  • Battery: 2920

The Huawei nova 3i performs comparatively well against other mid-range smartphones. Battery performance, however, seems below par.

For connectivity, the Huawei nova 31 offers 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi (dual-band) with 2×2 MiMO, GPS with GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou, and Bluetooth 4.2. There is, unfortunately, no NFC.

You’ll get Huawei’s EMUI 8.2.0, built on Android 8.1.

Huawei has a snazzy new GPU Turbo feature which claims to deliver up to 60% improved GPU performance while reducing battery consumption by up to 30%. This update is supposed to be arriving any time now.

Included inside the Huawei nova 3i retail box, you’ll find a USB charger, Micro-USB cable, SIM eject tool, earbud-style headphones, a jelly case, and a screen protector already applied on the device display.

The Huawei nova 3i retails at S$398, available at all Huawei Concept Stores, local telcos and authorised retailers.

Conclusion

The Huawei nova 3i is an excellent smartphone in the mid-range device category.

Pros:

  • Very attractive design
  • Excellent display
  • Very capable camera

Cons:

  • Outdated Micro-USB port
  • Not waterproof

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