HUAWEI Nova 3 Review – Worthy Quad Cameras

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HUAWEI unveiled Nova lineup in India with their two devices, Nova 3 and Nova 3i both featuring quad cameras. The Nova 3 is more premium with flagship chip Kirin 970 competing the OnePlus 6 and the ASUS ZenFone 5Z. Not to mention it’s also focused on gaming with GPU Turbo and 4D Gaming features. Here’s our review of HUAWEI Nova 3.

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What’s in the Box

  • HUAWEI Nova 3 with built-in battery
  • USB Type-C Cable
  • Power Adapter (9V, 2A)
  • Earphones (3.5 mm)
  • Clear Silicon Case
  • SIM Tray Ejector
  • User Manuals and Warranty Card

Huawei Nova 3 Specifications

  • Display: 6.3-inch Full-HD+ (2340 x 1080 pixels) LCD IPS display with 19:9 aspect ratio
  • Software: EMUI 8.2 based on Android 8.1 Oreo
  • Fingerprint Scanner: Yes, at the back, Gesture-based
  • Face Unlock: Yes
  • CPU: Up to 2.4 GHz octa-core Cortex-A73 + Cortex A53 processor, Kirin 970 SoC, 10nm TSMC, AI backed
  • GPU: Mali-G72 MP12, GPU Turbo Technology, AI 4D Game
  • Memory: 6 GB RAM, LPDDR4X
  • Storage: 128 GB UFS 2.1, expands up to 256 GB via microSD card (on SIM2 slot)
  • Main Camera: Dual cameras 16 MP + 24 MP
    16 MP (RGB, f/1.8) + 24 MP (Monochrome, f/1.8) with PDAF, AI Portrait Mode, AI Beauty, AI Scene Detection and LED flash
  • Selfie Camera: Dual cameras 24 MP + 2 MP
    24 MP (f/2.0) + 2 MP with AI + HDR Pro, 3D Qmoji, Screen Flash
  • Connectivity: USB Type-C, 3.5 mm headphone jack, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS
  • Others: 3D Surround Sound 7.1 Audio, Ride Mode, Paytm Quick Payment, AI Shopping, AI Photo Gallery, aptX, aptX HD
  • Cellular: 4G LTE network, 2x nano SIM, microSD on the SIM2 slot, dual VoLTE-enabled
  • Battery: 3,750 mAh with HUAWEI QuickCharge fast charging
  • Price: Rs 34,999
  • Availability: Exclusively on Amazon India from 23rd August 2018
  • Offers: Rs 1,000 cashback on pre-booking, No-cost EMI, Extra Rs 2,000 off on exchange, Rs 1,200 cashback from Reliance Jio along with 100 GB additional data, Rs 3,300 partners voucher

Design, Build, & Ergonomics

Talking about the main highlights of the phone, the Nova 3 flaunts AI quad cameras, GPU Turbo, and a notched display with full glass design. One huge thing about its design is its build quality and appearance, the Nova 3 looks slim, elegant and flashy especially in its Iris Blue color variant.

The design is also based on the new 2018 notch trend, you will find a notch up top which holds dual cameras. The rest two cameras are at the back along with a fingerprint scanner.

There’s a USB Type-C port at the bottom and fortunately, a 3.5 mm headphones jack. It’s a dual SIM phone with dual VoLTE capabilities and supports microSD card on the SIM2 slot.

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Display

About its display, the Nova 3 equips a notch-style 6.3-inch display with Full HD+ resolution (2340 x 1080) with an odd aspect ratio of 19.5:9. The display is big and looks great due to its thin bezels. The display brightness is high enough, not as high as you see on Samsung flagships.

The Nova 3 offers display enhancements like color temperature, eye protection, Homescreen style, changing the resolution, font style, and full-screen settings.

Due to the new aspect ratio, chances are that not all apps support the newer 19.5:9 aspect ratio. You may encounter black bars on the top and the bottom, however, you have the option to stretch the app to use the full screen as well as hide the notch if the app content gets a notch cut-out.

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Software & User Interface

You will find the latest EMUI 8.2 interface powered by Android 8.1 Oreo with security patch of 1st June 2018. The new EMUI is now more enhanced than before especially the AI part.

Added features are in the cameras, GPU Turbo, and 4D gaming. Moreover, it includes the IR face unlock, 3D Surround Sound 7.1 Audio, AI Shopping, AI Photo Gallery, Paytm Quick Payment, and more.

There’s plenty amount of bloatware but it can be removed if not required. Other features like gesture navigation, dual apps (App Twin), and features that you have already seen in the past EMUI versions. For more details, visit our previous HUAWEI and Honor phones’ review.

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Hardware, Performance, & Gaming

The Nova 3 is the first smartphone from Nova lineup unveiled in India and it is a flagship in its series priced at Rs 34,999. Being a flagship, it packs a Kirin 970, the same chip found on the triple-camera phone P20 Pro. The performance is equivalent to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 powered phones. For the RAM and storage, the Nova 3 comes in one variant – 6 GB RAM and 128 GB storage.

As far as the benchmarks are concerned, it is similar to the HUAWEI P20 Pro and Honor 10 since they both are using the same chip. Compared to the Snapdragon chips, it faces the Snapdragon 835. The latest CPU Snapdragon 845 is better in terms of the overall performance including Adreno 630 GPU.

Our unit had an issue installing the AnTuTu and Geekbench benchmarks, but you can expect it to perform as good as the two above mentioned.

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Gaming on HUAWEI Nova 3

Gaming on the phone is excellent, the Mali-G72 MP12 is good enough to play games. There was no issue playing heavy games like PUBG MOBILE and Asphalt 9: Legends.

The Nova 3 offers 4D gaming features, the Nova 3 comes with AI 4D Game which offers 10 different vibrations for 30 different scenarios. HUAWEI has unveiled a new technology called GPU Turbo technology that improves the graphics performance efficiency of the Nova 3 by 60% reducing the power consumption by 30%.

For those who are heavy gamers and want to play games on full graphics settings, we would suggest you pick Adreno 630 GPU enabled phones, it’s definitely a better performer when it comes to gaming, but not with the features mentioned above. On full settings, PUBG MOBILE runs well on Adreno 630 (found on OnePlus 6) as compared to the that on Mali-G72 MP12.

Games Played on HUAWEI Nova 3

  • PUBG MOBILE
  • Asphalt 9: Legends
  • Spider-Man: Ultimate Power
  • Asphalt Nitro

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Storage & Memory

On the storage front, the Nova 3 packs plenty of it. You will find a 128 GB internal storage with options to expand it with a microSD card up to 256 GB. Unlike the Honor 6 and the OnePlus 6, the support for the microSD card gains a plus one for the Nova 3.

The EMUI 8.2 has plenty of features and it’s resource hungry, the RAM usage on the phone is almost half. You get around 3 GB of RAM free for use, however, you may clean the background apps to get around 3.5 GB out of it. We don’t think there will be a shortage of RAM, 6 GB RAM is fair enough.

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Cameras

Moving to the cameras, you will find dual cameras on the front with a 24 MP + 2 MP setup that supports AI + HDR Pro to enhance the selfies. On the back, there’s another dual camera setup with 16 MP + 24 MP setup with the 24 MP monochrome sensor.

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HUAWEI Nova 3 Camera Specifications

  • Camera: Dual cameras 16 MP RGB + 24 MP (Monochrome), f/1.8 + f/1.8, PDAF
  • Optical Image Stabilization (OIS): N/A
  • Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS): Yes
  • Rear Flash: Single LED flash
  • Features: Monochrome, Multi-Scene Recognition, AI Portrait Mode, 3D Portrait Lighting, Cinema Portraits, 3D Qmoji, Depth-of-field, Live Photos, AR Photos, 3D Panorama, Artist Mode, Geo-tagging, Tap to focus, HDR, Pro Photo, Pro video, Beauty Photo, Beauty video, Good food, Panorama, Night shot, Light painting, Time-lapse, Slo-mo (480 fps), Filter, Burst Shot, Watermark, Audio note, Document Scan
  • Video Recording: Up to 4K video @30fps, 1080p video @60fps, 720p video @480fps, 720p video @120fps, HDR support, Pro video
  • Front Camera: 24 MP f/2.0 + 2 MP
  • Video Recording: 1080p video @30fps
  • Front Flash: Screen flash

The camera quality is relatively good with details, and the edge detection is very good in the daylight shots as you can see in the camera shows we shared below. The camera quality might be similar to the Honor 10, but, a few areas are improved plus the new camera modes are easily craving attention.

There are a whole lot of camera features in it, the best yet we find is the Cinema Portrait, then comes the 3D Qmoji, 3D Portrait Lightings and a bunch of AI features and AR Lens. The Cinema mode is superb, you get amazing shows out of it, this is a great addition to the cameras.

Cinema Portraits Shot on HUAWEI Nova 3

HUAWEI Nova 3 Camera Samples

Battery Runtime & Charging

HUAWEI Nova 3 is powered by a high-performance Kirin 970 CPU which may impact the battery life when on load. Those who are playing games and make use of the camera can drain the battery faster. Having said that, HUAWEI Nova 3 packs a large 3,750 mAh battery that can last more than a day which sounds far for a flagship phone.

As compared to OnePlus 6, the Nova 3 emerges with a better battery life overall, thanks to the EMUI optimizations. The battery life is similar to the Honor 10, the Nova 3 can also survive up to 2 days.

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We charged the phone and it turns out that the Nova 3 takes about 2 hours (~120 minutes) to charge it to the full. This is not the fastest charging phone, OnePlus 6 is clearly ahead in terms of battery charging. The Nova 3 ships with a 9V 2A charger.

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Verdict

Design-wise, the HUAWEI Nova 3 is highly premium. There is a good reason to choose the Nova 3 over the Honor 10 due to its refined design, additional camera features, and more storage with microSD support.

The Nova 3 is also better than OnePlus 6 in few areas, cameras being the first. Features like Cinema Portraits, 3D Qmoji, AR Lens, 3D Portrait Lighting lacks in OnePlus 6. In addition, the GPU Turbo and 4D gaming features will lure the gamers. A few things would be a great addition such as the water resistance, 4K at 60fps video recording and optical image stabilization in the camera.

To summarize it, the Nova 3 has all that it takes, the performance is snappy, the battery life is impressive, and the EMUI perks that will let you do a lot on the phone. For its camera, most features come from the HUAWEI P20 Pro. And if you love photography, the Nova 3 is definitely a great pick among the top contenders in the segment. We don’t see there’s any reason not to recommend the Nova 3.

Rivals

Strength

  • Glass Design | Slim Form Factor | Solid Build Quality
  • Remarkable Dual Camera Performance | Plenty of features (AI-powered, 3D Portrait Lighting, Cinema Portrait, AR lens, Monochrome, Depth…)
  • Stunning Selfies
  • High-performance Kirin 970 CPU | GPU Turbo & 4D Gaming
  • Fingerprint Gestures
  • Dual 4G VoLTE Support

Weakness

  • Lacks water-resistance
  • No OIS in camera

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