Huawei is doing some real work this 2018 with a lot of launches across both mid-range and high-end variants. Keeping up the spirit, the company has launched Nova 3 in the Indian market after making it official in China a few weeks back. Having said that, Huawei has launched the Nova 3 in direct competition to the OnePlus 6. We got hold of the device for more than a week and here is our take on it.
Huawei Nova 3 sports a 6.3-inch (2340 x 1080 pixels) Full HD+ 19:5:9 3D curved glass display. It has a screen-to-body ratio of 84.2% and a pixel density of 409 ppi. Just like other recent smartphones, the Nova 3 also poses a notch on top, but a bigger one compared to Huawei/Honor phones since it houses a dual camera setup. Having said that, there is an option inside ‘Display’ settings to turn it off.
The display is good with vibrant colors, offers good viewing angles, and sunlight legibility is good a well. This device offers various color modes option including Normal, Vivid, and Color temperatures — Default, Warm and Cold.
There is an Eye comfort option when enabled the display will be covered with yellow tint filtering out the Blue light to reduce eye straining. Moreover, users can also adjust the screen resolution on this device as per your convenience — HD+ (1440×720) and FHD+ (2160×1080). Users can also opt for ‘Smart resolution’, where it automatically lowers the resolution depends on the battery to save power.
Design and hardware
The Huawei Nova 3 looks more like P20 Pro in both form factor and design language except for the placement of fingerprint scanner and third camera module. It features an all-glass panel with oleophobic coatings on both rear and front along with an aluminum frame running on the side. The Nova 3 measures 157.0×73.7×7.3mm and weighs around 166 grams. Unlike P20 Pro, Huawei Nova 3 doesn’t come with IP67 certification and it is not even splash resistant, which seems to be a drawback here.
Ever since the debut of the notch, each and every smartphone from the front looks the same, so does the Nova 3. Overall, the Huawei Nova 3 is a good-looking smartphone with quality fit and finish that feels solid in hand.
Moving on to the placement, the front side of the device is dominated by the 6.3-inch display with a notch. The notch houses a 24MP camera, earpiece, notification LED, sensors and a secondary 2MP camera. The sensors include Infrared face recognition, accelerometer, gyro, proximity, and compass.
There is a rim running around the sides of the phone in a matching color housing the device’s interactive elements. The right side of the device has Volume rocker and a power button with a different texture. Both the buttons are made of and offer a good feedback as well.
To the left, we have a Dual SIM slot (Nano+Nano) and at the bottom, we get a 3.5mm audio jack, USB Type-C port, primary microphone and speaker grille. It has a secondary noise-canceling microphone.
Flipping the phone back we have a dual camera setup placed in vertical position and a flash underneath it. We also have a fingerprint sensor on the back. Since it attracts a lot of fingerprints and smudges, we recommend you to put the case and use.
The Huawei Nova 3 comes equipped with a 16MP rear camera with an aperture value of f/1.8 aperture, a secondary 24MP rear camera with f/1.8 aperture and dual LED flash. Coming to the camera UI, the top panel consists of a toggle for the scan, flash, moving picture mode, AI, and settings.
Just above the shutter button, there is a strip, which when swiped selects various camera mode and it includes Pro, Video, Photo, Portrait, Night, Aperture and there is an option ‘More’. Under that, we also get additional features including Monochrome, Time Lapse, HDR, 3D Panorama, Slow-Mo and much more.
Coming to the real world usage, the daylight pictures come out good, crisp and have details, so does the Macro shots. If you prefer vibrant colors in your picture, you can tap on Artificial Intelligence (AI) toggle. On the downside, it looks way saturated which is in stark contrast with the natural tone. Thankfully, the company has also added an option in the gallery that lets you turn off AI enhancement if you don’t like it.
The camera with the help of AI instantly recognizes things like text, food, human faces and changes the settings accordingly to click the perfect picture on any environment. The Monochrome output looks best and it is on par with P20 Pro. The low light output is above average, thanks to Night Mode. However, there is noise visible across the image.
Check out some camera samples below (Click the images to view full-resolution samples)
The Huawei Nova 3 is shipped with Android 8.1.0 (Oreo) with EMUI 8.1.0 on top and it has Android security patch for 1 June 2018. By default, This UI gives users an option to choose the home screen style — Standard (shows all apps on the home screen) and Drawer (shows all app on drawer screen).
There is a Full-screen display option, which displays non full-screen apps in full screen. In order to do that, users need to turn on the toggle for the selected app. Moreover, you also get voice control for quick calling using voice commands, and there are voice broadcasts for incoming calls when connected to the headset. Like other smartphones, it also has a one-handed mode. There is also a scheduled power on and off option so you can turn off the phone during the night and turn it on in the morning to save battery.
With Huawei Nova 3, you get three different options to navigate — off-screen navigation button (uses the fingerprint scanner below the display), Virtual navigation bar (uses on-screen navigation button and you also get to select the combination of buttons) and Onscreen navigation key (Uses a single navigation key to navigate through your system). There is also ‘Simple Mode’ which offers you a minimalistic home screen with a simple layout and large icon.
You can secure the phone in three ways — Fingerprint ID, Face unlock and Screen locks & passwords. When it comes to Face unlock, users need to register their face on the device. The face unlock can be done in — Direct Unlock (Once the screen turns on, the device will automatically unlock when your face is recognized) and Slide to unlock (After the face is recognized, slide the screen to unlock the device). There is an option ‘Smart lock screen notifications’, which when enabled the content of the notification will only be shown when the users face is recognized. It worked flawlessly when we tried.
Also, there is a ‘File Safe’ feature, which protects your information including photos, videos, and other files by encrypting it. In addition to it, there is a feature called ‘Private Space’, where you can create two smartphones for better privacy. This features can be configured using the fingerprint scanner, PIN, and lock pattern.
Talking about storage, the Huawei Nova 3 comes with 128GB of inbuilt storage besides 6GB RAM. Out of 128GB onboard storage, users get around 116GB storage free and out of 6GB RAM, users generally get 2.69GB free when the default apps are running in the background. In addition to the inbuilt storage, users can expand memory up to 256GB with microSD.
The Huawei Nova 3 comes equipped with a fingerprint scanner on the back and position is indeed comfortable to unlock the phones. In this phone, you can add up to 5 fingerprints and not more than that. And then there is a Fingerprint recognition option, which helps users to find out which fingerprint belongs which ID.
The Huawei Nova 3 is powered by Octa-Core Huawei Kirin 970 (4 x 2.4 GHz A73+ 4 x 1.8 GHz A53) 10nm processor with Mali-G72 MP12 GPU, i7 co-processor, NPU, GPU Turbo under the hood. This has the same tried and tested processor as Huawei View 10, Mate 10, 10 Pro and 20 Pro. On our day to day usage, the device never misses a beat, and we haven’t seen stutter, hang or lag yet. It processes everything regardless of what you throw at it, thanks to 6GB RAM.
We also had a frequent gaming session with this device and didn’t witness a single frame drop as such. It is worth mentioning that, the heat management in this device is on point. Check out some synthetic benchmark scores below.
The Huawei Nova 3 comes with a standalone music player with support for Dolby Atmos. The audio quality through company-given headphones is decent but not great. I felt difficulties in listening to songs in a noisy environment even with full volume. Wearing the headphones for a long time also gives you pain in your ears as well. But, the loudspeaker in this pretty impressive, when compared with the Honor 10 and the LG V30+. The phone doesn’t have FM Radio.
The Huawei Nova 3 supports connectivity options including 4G VoLTE, WiFi 802.11 ac (2.4GHz/5GHz), Bluetooth 4.2 LE, GPS, USB Type-C and NFC on board. It has VoLTE support for Reliance Jio, Airtel, and Vodafone. It has Dual 4G and Dual VoLTE option that lets you enable 4G and VoLTE on both the SIMs and switch between them easily. It also has USB OTG support that lets you connect USB drives. Moving on, the call quality is good, and we did not face any call drops and earpiece volume was loud as well.
The Huawei Nova 3 is powered by 3750mAh with support for fast charging technology. During our real-time usage, the phone battery is impressive and took us through one and half day of usage in a single charge. Our casual usage includes streaming videos on YouTube, and songs on music streaming app, WhatsApp, Facebook and calling at times.
In our battery test, the Huawei Nova 3 achieved a One Charge Rating of 16hours and 1 minute, which is good mainly due to brilliant talk time. Since it comes with support for fast charging, it can charge from 0 to 50% in 54 minutes and from 0 to 100% in 2 hours and 8 minutes with the bundled fast charger.
As a stand-alone device, Huawei Nova 3 is an impressive, affordable, flagship smartphone available right now. The Nova 3 comes with a premium build, excellent battery life, and camera performance. Having said that, it misses out on few things like AI option in camera, which is not convincing and EMUI (it’s purely subjective though). When stacked up against OnePlus 6, the Nova 3 lacks the refinement, water resistance and AMOLED panel.
The Huawei Nova 3 is priced at Rs. 34,999 and is available exclusively from Amazon.in. The company is running No-cost EMI and exchange offers for the smartphone currently. To summarize, here are the pros and cons of the smartphone.
- Build quality
- Battery life
- Camera performance
- AI not convincing enough
- Audio quality
- Not water-resistant