These are great times for phone-savvy folks out there as it is raining new models. With only a few months apart, we witnessed the launch of some brilliant phones, ranging from OnePlus 6 to Asus Zenfone 5Z and more recently Huawei Nova 3.
Huawei introduced Nova 3 in India last month and the smartphone will go on sale in India from 23 August onwards for Rs 34,999. This price range quickly brings everyone's attention to OnePlus 6, which has been selling like hot cupcakes ever since it launched in June. But if you are considering a worthy alternative and Huawei Nova 3 has caught your attention, here's how Huawei's latest smartphone performs in the real world.
After using Huawei Nova 3 for three weeks, I've been able to draw several conclusions about the smartphone that should help you decide whether or not this is worth investing. So let's get right to it.
I usually start off with the design, but you must have gotten a fair idea of what Huawei Nova 3 looks and feels like from my first impressions article last month. Another reason I would like to shift pattern here is that Huawei Nova 3 is out to win it with the cameras.
Prior to Nova 3, I was using Huawei's P20 Pro as my primary for photographs and I was sceptical about relying on the newly-launched smartphone as compared to the flagship. To my surprise, the cameras did a fairly decent job and resulted in superior photographs if we draw a comparison against phones priced under Rs 35,000.
Huawei Nova 3 has 24MP+16MP dual cameras at the back with PDAF, f/1.8 aperture and AI integration. My favourite modes were Photo and Aperture, which helped get different results depending on what I was shooting. I kept AI enabled on most of my shots, especially the night shots as it brightened the images without making them appear too artificial.
The details were restored in most of my shots, and daylight photos were simply great. Balanced contrast, saturation and colours were maintained without AI, but using AI did make the photos visually appealing.
Check out some of the shots straight from Huawei Nova 3's camera roll below.
The rear camera setup did not make me feel like I was using a budget premium phone, but the switching to the front did not yield similar results. The front camera setup combines 24MP+2MP sensors, and my expectations were too high seeing how great the rear cameras worked. In broad daylight, Huawei Nova 3 shoots those perfect selfies with great details and the Beauty mode is icing on the cake.
But I struggled under low lights. I'm not usually inclined towards using LED flash on cameras, but it did help me overcome the struggle in low light areas. If you want to draw comparisons, Huawei Nova 3 is not at all disappointing in its price range. Those of you who are wondering, the portraits shot on the Nova 3 are impressive.
A few shots to prove that are included below.
Let's get back to the design. Huawei phones always offer the best designs and the Nova 3 is not at all different. The gradient colour on a glass back looks classy and the notched display makes the phone look a lot like the iPhone X. With so many phones with notched displays in the market, Nova 3 doesn't look like a mock-up of iPhone X anymore.
The display touch feels great and it is responsive. The Full HD+ resolution on a 6.3-inch display works perfectly for gaming, watching movies and day-to-day operations without any problem. I did not feel the need for more clarity on the display, be it whether watching a high-res movie on Netflix or while playing PUBG.
If there's anything that takes away the limelight from Nova 3's cameras, it has to be the phone's overall design and comfort.
Huawei Nova 3 uses Kirin 970 processor paired with 6GB RAM. I'm partial towards OnePlus 6 on the performance front, but those who want great cameras and are willing to settle on performance by a notch lower than OnePlus 6, Huawei Nova 3 is the way to go.
My day-to-day operations, from streaming online to social networking and calls to extensive chatting on internet-based apps (WhatsApp, Gmail, Gtalk, Slack, etc) were carried out seamlessly. I like to play games on the phone from time to time and my new favourite being PUBG Mobile, it was the right way to test Nova 3's performance.
Huawei talks about that GPU Turbo mode to deliver that seamless gaming experience and I agree with it to an extent. I had no problems playing PUBG Mobile on Nova 3 for hours and there was no loss of frames or graphics at any point. In fact, it matched the levels of OnePlus 6 until I experienced heating issues after extended gaming sessions.
At one or two instances, I even experienced a complete freeze while playing PUBG Mobile (which was only minutes before getting that Winner Winner Chicken Dinner). The only way I got the game back to work normally was force-closing the app and re-entering the match again (and I won't even get into how that turned out to be).
So I preferred Huawei Nova 3 for social networking, communications, binge watching shows on Netlfix, and gaming to the point it does not freeze. In comparison, Google Pixel 2 XL and OnePlus 6 did a far better job at handling a GPU-intensive game such as PUBG.
But it's not only the performance of the phone while gaming and streaming that matters. Huawei Nova 3 has efficient fingerprint and facial recognition technology, which identifies the registered owner in a blink of an eye. Not once did I have failed attempts with fingerprint recognition, and facial recognition picked up even in challenging lighting conditions.
The audio on the Huawei Nova 3 is not as great as other features. I was pretty disappointed with the audio performance, but the 3.5mm headphone jack came in handy to plug right in when really needed to play games or watch something.
Another thing I noticed during my usage was browsing speed on the Huawei Nova 3, which is at par with OnePlus 6 - and I absolutely loved how OnePlus' flagship did it.
Now to the final chapter of this review, the battery - life of a smartphone. Without a reliable battery, even the best smartphone experience can turn sour and one of the reasons I enjoyed reviewing the Nova 3 was because of its battery life.
Despite some setbacks, I indulged in extended gaming sessions on the Nova 3 and I binge-watched some TV shows over the weekends. I must say, the battery optimisation on the Nova 3 is pretty neat. On a busy work day without gaming and streaming, the Nova 3 lasted me a full day with at least 30 percent juice left after 24 hours of use. And I also noticed that the phone lost no charge when not in use.
The best thing happened to me when I started off my day with 100 percent charge and it lasted me 12+ hours. My usage included having 4G data on at all times, playing few sessions of PUBG Mobile, clicking a lot of photos and videos, and all this besides the usual calls and social networking use (WhatsApp, emails, Slack, browsing, etc). With such extensive use, the Nova 3 easily lasted me about 12 hours and I still had enough juice left to go a few more hours before plugging the phone to charge.
My only problem was with the charging speed. After using OnePlus 6, my expectations are pretty high when it comes to charging speed, and the Nova 3 is disappointing in that area. It took me almost 2 hours to fully charge the smartphone. But plugging the smartphone in from time to time before it ran out of charge was the only way I was able to overlook the slow charging.
Huawei Nova 3's pros clearly outweigh the cons. The slow charging speed was just one main highlight, but the UI (EMUI) could use some tweaks, and by tweaks I mean serious cut down on the bloatware.
Huawei Nova 3's strongest suits are the design, camera, battery and overall performance. It is as close as any smartphone can get to OnePlus 6 on many levels, and the camera performance exceeds even the self-claimed "flagship killer." Huawei Nova 3 also offers external storage support - something the OnePlus 6 lacks.
In our OnePlus 6 review, we had strongly recommended OnePlus 6 as the best sub-Rs 40,000 smartphone, but after using the Nova 3, mobile photography enthusiasts can certainly consider Huawei's offering.