After the huge success of the Nova 2i, Huawei is back with another pair of Nova smartphones. The Nova 3i, as the name suggests, is the true successor to last year’s high-selling Nova 2i with quad-camera set up which the series is known for. The phone comes with impressive internals and a pretty eye-catching design. So, let’s take a look at the Huawei Nova 3i and see how it fared in our initial impression.
The Huawei Nova 3i comes in some pretty good packaging with a white lid and some shiny graphics representing the product. Popping off the lid, you are immediately greeted by the phone itself in all of its glory. Moving the phone aside and lifting the plastic divider, you get another smaller box. Sitting on top of that box is a neat looking sim-ejector tool! Pulling the contents of the box, we get a transparent TPU case and some paper works. Putting them aside, the last three items in the box are a wall adapter, a micro-USB cable, and a basic earphone.
The Huawei Nova 3i is more affordable than the Nova 3, but given that, Huawei has not compromised on the design. Both Nova 3 and the Nova 3i looks similar with a glass back and a notch-display. You get a glass on glass design sandwiched by a metal frame. The metal chassis adds an excellent grip to the smartphone. The notch and the vertical camera alignments, however, feel inspired from a rather expensive offering.
When I held the Nova 3i for the first time, the first thing that came to my mind was the sheer premium-ness of the handset. The Nova 3i feels as premium as the flagships like the Galaxy Note 8 and the P20 Pro. The first striking and noticeable aspect about Huawei Nova 3i is its design reflected on the rear glass panel. We got the ‘Iris Purple’ variant for the review, which by the way is a fantastic color option. It is really beautiful and will surely turn some heads! Although it does make the phone a bit slippery, the in-hand feeling is a positive trade-off. Also, the glass back is prone to fingerprints and smudges. So if you want your phone to look new for long, you better get a protective case.
Despite having a glass body the phone is pretty light in the hands. The 6.3-inch IPS LCD panel has a Full HD+ resolution. Though being an IPS display, it is pretty vibrant with a variable scale of brightness. The images are sharp, colors are good, and viewing angles are excellent. Watching Youtube videos and firing up a quick game was a pleasant experience on this device. The 19.5:9 aspect ratio, that the phone packs, translates to a tall display with narrow bezels.
Despite having a huge display, the Nova 3i doesn’t feel unwieldy. The phone is quite easy to hold. The display comes with a notch cut-out on top housing two selfie cameras, an earpiece, and an array of sensors. For some, a notch might be annoying! But you can easily disable it from the device settings, in a manner that’s similar to the Nova 3e.
The usual power button and volume rockers are on the right side of the phone. While the hybrid-SIM tray is on the left side of the device. The bottom houses the 3.5mm audio jack, a microphone, a micro USB 2.0 port, and speaker grilles. The top portion of the phone, on the other hand, only has a secondary noise cancellation mic.
Performance-wise, the phone feels snappy despite having a lot of pre-installed bloatware. You can, however, uninstall the bloatware which is a good thing. This is largely thanks to the 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage space that the phone comes with. The device also supports storage expansion via a micro-sd which further aids to its performance.
Powering the Huawei Nova 3i is the newest Kirin 710 chipset clocked at 2.2GHz. The latest processor is twice as powerful as the previous generation i.e, the Kirin 659 processor. However, when compared to the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 710 chipset, the Kirin 710 seems to lag a bit behind. This, however, doesn’t translate to any problems in the day-to-day performance.
Playing some high-end games like PUBG and Asphalt 9 was not an issue for the device. The graphics were amazing, all thanks to Mali-G51 MP4 GPU backed by the all-new ‘GPU Turbo’ feature. However, we did notice a bit of heating, behind the notch, after about 15 minutes of gameplay. This is nothing to be alarmed of as a bit of heating is expected while playing heavy games.
Moving on, the camera UI on the Nova 3i was identical to the one you might have seen on older Huawei devices. However, the handset does come with a few more AI features than its predecessor. As for the camera, the Nova 3i features a 16MP primary sensor at the rear mated to a 2MP secondary sensor for depth sensing. The front camera happens to be a 24MP unit mated again to a 2MP depth sensor for amazing portraits.
The camera also comes loaded with a host of interesting features. Apart from this, you get different modes like Pro, Slow-mo, Night, Panorama, Light painting, HDR, Time-lapse, Filter, watermark, artist mode among others. Trying out the Huawei’s answer to Apple’s Animoji was fun! They call it Qmoji and it allows users to record maximum 10-seconds of video with animated characters mirroring their expressions. This is all done with the help of the camera’s facial recognition system.
The cameras performed really well in our testing! The images are sharp and preserved good details but were a bit over-exposed. The portraits, on the other hand, were social-media ready with good cut-outs. For anyone looking for a great camera phone with DSLR like capabilities, the Nova 3i is a great choice. Although it is still too early to comment on the camera performance, the initial test reveals a positive outcome. I will come up with a more in-depth result of the cameras in our full review of the phone.
And finally, fueling up the Huawei Nova 3i is a 3340mAh non-user removable battery. With moderate usage, the phone had 20% of juice left at the end of the day. On our testing, the device could attain more than 5 hours of screen-on-time with intensive gameplay, camera testing, and social-media browsing. This is quite impressive for a mid-tier smartphone! The phone, however, is missing a USB Type-C port. Huawei this time too has gone with a USB Type-2.0 port which is a bit odd and unsettling.
Early Verdict: Huawei Nova 3i Initial Impressions & Hands on Review
The Huawei Nova 3i is a great premium mid-tier smartphone that has a lot to offer. The quad-cameras, coupled with the AI features, are amazing and to be honest, I am absolutely in love with them. Overall, I completely adore the Nova 3i and what it has to offer! It’s a very crowded market but the Nova 3i’s P20-like looks, the cute Qmoji feature, quad cameras, and the latest Kirin 710 processor, gives it a fighting chance. And maybe a winning formula! When factoring the specs and the flagship look and feel of the phone, it’s easy to recommend the Nova 3i for anyone looking for a new midrange smartphone.
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