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Huawei Nova 3 review: Premium design and impressive camera

Huawei Nova 3 is strikingly beautiful. But is that all there to this smartphone? Find out in our review.

Huawei Nova 3 takes on OnePlus 6 with premium design and smart AI cameras
Huawei Nova 3 takes on OnePlus 6 with premium design and smart AI cameras (HT Photo)

Product: Huawei Nova 3
Key specifications: 6.3-inch Full HD+ display, Kirin 970 octa-core processor, 6GB of RAM, 128GB storage, 3,750mAh battery, 16MP+24MP rear camera, 24MP+2MP front camera
Price: 34,999
Rating: 3.5/5


Huawei is aiming to increase its presence in the mid-range and premium segments of the Indian smartphone market with its Nova series. The new portfolio currently has two devices, Nova 3 and Nova 3i which are priced at 34,999 and 20,990 respectively.

Huawei Nova 3 is packed with flagship-level specifications as expected from a premium smartphone. But what helps the Nova 3 stand in the crowd is its unique design which includes a reflective glass back in an iris purple colour. The colour combination is a mix of the two shades including purple and blue. The back panel colour changes depending upon the angle you look from.

Nova 3 joins a growing list of Huawei phones that are heavily focused on the design. The company has launched phones like Huawei P20 Pro and its sub-brand's Honor 10 which have received wide praise for unique and premium design. Huawei's continuous focus on design comes at a time when Xiaomi (Poco) and OnePlus are trying to woo the consumers with top-end specifications. The strategy, however, may work very well in favour of Huawei as its phones such as Nova 3 don't lag behind the competition in terms of specifications.

That said, Huawei Nova 3 also comes in black colour but not with the same effect as the iris purple variant. Delving further into its design, Nova 3 is pretty light for a glass-bodied smartphone. The 6.3-inch Full HD+ display is impressive for video streaming and playing games as well. The display is slightly large though and one-handed usage of the phone wasn't possible without any struggle.

A closer look at Huawei's iris purle colour variant
A closer look at Huawei's iris purle colour variant (HT Photo)

Another big feature of Huawei Nova 3 is the camera. The smartphone sports a quad-camera setup with two each at the front and rear. The 16-megapixel RGB and 24-megapixel monochrome sensors work really well in delivering DSLR-like depth of field effect on photos. The smartphone's camera does a pretty good job in blurring the background with major focus on the subject.

Nova 3 cameras are also enabled with Artificial Intelligence (AI) for scene detection. The idea behind scene detection is that the smartphone automatically adjusts the camera settings based on the background. Nova 3 is pretty quick in recognising different scenes which aren't vague but specific. Colours however do get slightly saturated on photos.

Huawei Nova 3 comes with smart AI cameras
Huawei Nova 3 comes with smart AI cameras (Marcia Sekhose)

For selfies, there's a combination of 24-megapixel and 2-megapixel sensors up front. The selfie cameras come with portrait mode, aperture adjustment and AR lens. You can fiddle around with 3D Qmoji, effects, backgrounds, and 3D objects.

Nova 3 relies on in-house Kirin 970 processor paired with 6GB RAM and 128GB storage for performance. While you can't expect fast and snappy performance on Nova 3 like the OnePlus 6 or Samsung Galaxy S9, it still does a fairly good job. You can carry out multi-tasking and shuffle across different apps on the Nova 3 with ease. The phone doesn't heat up either on prolonged usage like playing games or watching videos.

Coming to battery life, the smartphone is fuelled by a 3,750mAh battery. Nova 3 lasts an entire day on normal usage, but excessive usage would require a second round of charge. The smartphone however charges pretty fast thanks to its USB Type-C port and fast charger.

One drawback of the smartphone was its poor speaker quality. Nova 3 houses a speaker grille at the bottom of the smartphone. The audio output isn't very strong which could lead to an unsatisfied experience for multimedia.

Huawei Nova 3 checks almost all the boxes for a decent affordable premium smartphone. If you're looking for a really good looking smartphone with good performance, then nothing comes close to the Nova 3. At its price point however, you may consider the OnePlus 6 too, which a tested performer with a better display and performance.


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