“Nova” the word that actually means a Star that shines brightly. Well, I can’t tell you about the stars in the Milky Way, what I can tell is the journey of my life with the star, the new Huawei Nova 3. Just like its literal meaning, the Nova 3, really is one among millions in a very unique and subtle way. Let’s take a look at how the Nova 3 holds up among the millions of stars out there.
Build and Design
Starting off with the build and design, this is the part where the Nova 3 really shines, by shine, I truly mean it shines. The FHD+ IPS LCD display with the resolution of 2340 x 1080 pixel when spread across a 6.3-inch 19.5:9 aspect ratio display that provides it with that premium 2018 look, is as sharp and crisp as it gets at the pixel density of 409ppi. And the 3D curved glass at the back makes it feel premium in hand. There’s an aluminum frame holding both the pieces of glass together in place.
With the awesome color options from Huawei, the back is what makes this device stand out easily among the crowd. For those of you, want their phones to look unique but in a good way, the Irish Purple color variant of the phone is what you might be looking for and for those of you who prefer a stealthier look, don’t worry the Black color variant of the device looks equally as good and classy as it can possibly be.
If you have been using a Nova 2i, talking of which the chances of you being a Nova user yourself are pretty high, going by the sales figures it was able to raise on the Nepali market. Stats and history apart, the Nova 2i was known for the quad camera setup and you’ll be glad to know that that very setup has made its way up to the Nova 3. With dual front cameras and dual real cameras that don’t look too obnoxious, this baby is truly a beauty.
And if you are a music lover, just like me, there’s another really rare feature in this phone which a lot of phones tend to omit these days, the 3.5mm Headphone jack. Thanks for keeping it alive Huawei. Talking about 2018, everything about this phone is pretty much of the today’s standard and with USB type-C being the future, you can say this device is future proof.
Astonished by the hardware? Let’s talk software now. The Huawei Nova 3 runs on EMUI 8.2.0 which is Huawei’s custom skin built on top of android 8.1.0 Oreo. Within our review period, the UI felt quite responsive, handling every single task like a champ. Everything, from opening up apps, to the nifty little gestures and features that EMUI packs, makes this phone fast and snappy. At the initial setup, you don’t find an app drawer, but you don’t have to run into downloading another launcher as Huawei has built this feature into the UI where you can choose between the clustered home screen and the neat looking app menu. If you don’t like the look of the EMUI, you can also choose a theme of your own liking from the built-in theme store which will even change the way certain icons look.
Now, with all that out of the way, let’s move to the cameras. Initially, the Nova 2i was all about the quad camera setup and all thanks to that, the new Nova 3 packs a similar quad camera setup that never fails to impress. Unlike the Nova 2i, which was marketed as a camera-centric smartphone, the Nova 3 silently steals the show with new and improved optics and improved AI capabilities, this set of cameras never fails to impress.
For the pixel junkies in you, the new Huawei Nova 3 boasts dual cameras at the back, with the primary being a 16MP RGB sensor and the secondary being a 24MP monochrome sensor that also calculates depth information alongside the dual front-facing cameras with the primary sensor being a 24MP shooter and a dedicated secondary 2MP depth sensor. Mixing the specs with the spices of Huawei’s AI capabilities, this baby can pull out some amazing shots. Plus, there’s Qmoji, Huawei’s version of Animoji. This doesn’t make that much of a difference, but hey, it’s there in case you want something to play around with.
Talking about images, let’s talk portrait shots, the edge detection is topnotch, the pictures pack in a lot of detail with support for portrait lighting. The dedicated 24MP monochrome sensor ensures some great looking monochrome images with a lot of details. There’s an aperture mode which lets you adjust the amount of blur you want in your photos, which goes all the way up to f/0.95. For the selfie-enthusiasts in us, there’s also support for portrait selfies. Under every scenario, the camera never fails to deliver except in some lowlight shots, AI helps to some extent but the lack of OIS makes it a bit harder.
Sadly though, despite the great images the Nova 3 loses its crown on the video front. The device can shoot UHD or 4K videos at 30fps with a lot of detail and a great dynamic range but the lack of any sort of stabilization even at 1080p is a pain and it makes the footages jittery and shaky. The device can shoot 1080p slow-mo at 120fps and 720p super slow-mo at 480fps, however, that’s impressive. The front camera maxes out at just 720p, that’s something unexpected.
Huawei has packed in a lot of modes and features here, including panorama, light-painting, night mode, slow-mo, monochrome, time-lapse, 3D panorama, etc. With plenty of options to choose from, the camera app makes it easier to get the type of shots you actually want, without having to go through settings and tweaking them manually. My only complaint though is that HDR is a mode in the camera app menu, which needs to be toggled separately. It would have been awesome if it was just a toggle on the camera window itself. Talking about modes, there’s a full-fledged Pro mode built into the camera app, so if you’re someone who wants to have control over everything on your camera or you want to go a little bit creative with the way your photos look, you won’t be disappointed.
Natively, this baby can shoot RAW images, now that’s what I call PRO. But if you are someone who casually clicks some pictures, just leave everything to the hands of AI, which detects the scene and adjusts the settings for you automatically and you’ll be satisfied with the results more often than not. But to be honest, AI is something I personally find half-baked as of now and I keep it off, in some situations, especially when you’re shooting plants and stuff with a lot of greens in it, the AI tends to over-sharpen and over saturate the images, but in scenarios it works really well and the results are great. You can know more about the AI here.
The single bottom firing speaker on the bottom of the device, firstly I thought, was a bit of a letdown, but to my surprise, it sounds better than most of the other smartphones with bottom firing speakers. The huge screen to body ratio and the large display makes this device great for media consumption.
However, if you don’t want any interruptions during your media consumption and gaming sessions, Huawei has retained the headphone jack. Just grab a pair, and you’re good to go.
2018 has all been about the Face-unlock feature, and Huawei is no slouch either. Huawei has packed in a face unlock system with Infrared Assist for better face mapping and low-light assistance. Within my period of testing, I found the face-unlock on this device to be fast and accurate even under low light.
If you’re a bit skeptical about the face unlock, you can always use the fast and secure Fingerprint scanner that’s placed on the back of the device. You can even use your fingerprint to lock and unlock the apps and your data on this device.
With the top-end Hisilicon Kirin 970 SOC which is an octa-core chipset clocked at 2.36GHz with a dedicated NPU to handle AI duties, performance is never an issue. No matter what you throw at it, this device handles everything like a true champ. This device packs in 6GB of RAM, which makes this device a beast that doesn’t even break a sweat. From opening up apps, jumping back and forth between apps, running multiple apps in the background, this beast of a device never lags down.
Huawei and Gaming, come on, just forget it. That was my impression earlier. But the Nova 3 changes this story once and for all. With the GPU turbo technology at the helm, no matter what games you throw at it, that should run totally fine. Games like PUBG and Asphalt 9 ran pretty well, with a few frame drops initially but GPU turbo will smoothen things up once you’re into the gameplay meaning, gaming on this device is a breeze. Almost every single device out there tends to heat up with gaming and the Nova 3 is no exception. After 25 minutes of gameplay, you’ll start feeling the warmth on the back of the phone. Even after extended sessions of gaming, this device manages to not heat so much that it burns you out, making it a gamer-friendly device. That’s a step in the right direction.
The 3750mAh battery powers this baby up. At first glance, the battery capacity might seem mediocre, but as they say, “don’t let the looks fool you.” The device easily lasted an entire day of beating even under heavy usage. Plus the Kirin 970 is built on the 10nm FinFET process that makes this SOC powerful and power-efficient at the same time. At times when you need to juice up your device, this device supports Huawei’s SuperCharge technology that is supposed to be fast but the included charger in the box will charge up your device from 0 to 100 in 2 hours 20 minutes. I don’t know whether if it’s a fault in our review unit.
What else can we say about the Nova 3, rather than appreciating the fact that a smartphone priced at NRs.59,900 in Nepal which makes it a premium offering, brings along the top end specs with fantastic cameras, a great display, has a notch (like most smartphone these days do), and even manages to look this great. Taking the price into consideration, where it is not rivaled by any offering from any brand, as of now, in Nepal, makes the new Huawei Nova 3, a near perfect smartphone to buy that doesn’t burn a hole in your pocket. This bad boy truly can be exemplified as “the flagship, many of us can afford.” Passing every single test that we put it through, we can say it’s worth every penny.