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The Huawei Nova 3i, a beast with its feature set that breaks the mid-range competition, seems to sell pretty well just like its predecessor. The latest among the mid-range segment offers a heck ton of internal storage, a lot of cameras, for a mid-range friendly asking price. Here’s why we think that the Nova 3i is the new mid-range superstar.

SEE ALSO: Huawei Nova 3 hands-on and initial impressions – a complicated flagship?


Design Impressions

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The Nova 3i is very similar to its higher-spec’d sibling Nova 3 in terms of design, such as the placement of cameras, fingerprint reader, display size, and even color offerings. It might be confusing for most to identify it when paired up with a Nova 3, due to the similarities in its design principle, which also seems to be shared with the P20 series (especially the Lite variant).

Huawei Nova 3i (Photo: Eljay Reyes/AMG)

The difference between the Nova 3 and the Nova 3i lies inside, as well as on the part where it says ‘Dual lens’ for the Nova 3i instead of the ‘AI Camera’ on the Nova 3.

The screen is good looking, and considering that it’s an IPS LCD panel, there’s nothing to worry about viewing angles. It wasn’t that much bright, but may be good enough for multimedia consumption for most. The Nova 3i has a 19.5:9 display ratio, which is exactly the same as the LG G7. The taller aspect ratio makes more estate for content, although the notch and a slightly lower resolution (1080 x 2340 px, Full HD+) simply destroys the experience.

Thankfully, Huawei devices do share the not-so-brilliant option of hiding the notch, making design OCs unaware of the said annoying design failure.



There’s a switch to hide the notch on settings

The phone itself was feeling huge-in-hand, considering its 6.3-inch display and size. It isn’t the ideal phone for ones with smaller hands, as it may slip out easily due to its glass back, which are also very prone to fingerprint smudges. It is also hard to use with only one hand (a one handed mode might be present, we aren’t sure of it, yet).

The Nova 3i still uses a microUSB 2.0 connector compared to Nova 3’s USB Type-C port. On the left is the hybrid dual SIM tray (a bit no-no for us), which enables the phone to support dual SIM, but only one SIM if you wish to expand that already plenty 64/128GB internal storage. There’s also the 3.5mm headphone jack on the bottom (which was removed on the similar P20 Lite), as well as mono speaker grille and on the right is just your typical volume up and down button as well as the power button.


Performance & Software

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The Nova 3i comes with Huawei’s updated flavor of Android Oreo 8.1 – EMUI 8.2. The software, which is now one of the most hated skins in the Android community due to its aggressive background app management and restrictions, is really something we’re not accustomed into. It’ll take some time for someone not familiar with EMUI to learn and appreciate the phone’s software, that’s for sure.

It also seems that Huawei has taken some time to redesign the EMUI, and it is seemingly noticeable with their recent release so far.


Camera

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While it seems to us that the devices there are pre-engineering samples (due to the details we’ve seen from the photos we’ve got there), we have a glimpse on how the upgraded dual rear and similar dual front cameras perform.

The camera app, like any other Huawei recent releases, sports an intuitive interface, which many mobile photographers would love to use.

Here are the modes that you can choose on the camera app, of course, with the aid of AI.

The dual rear camera on the Nova 3i boasts an exciting configuration, one lens is used as the main sensor, while the other is used as a depth-sensor, which would enable us to give a better bokeh effect.

Here are some sample shots from the dual rear camera: (raw, auto, uncompressed)

Huawei Nova 3i rear camera photo sample
Huawei Nova 3i rear camera photo sample
Huawei Nova 3i rear camera photo sample
Huawei Nova 3i rear camera photo sample
Huawei Nova 3i rear camera photo sample
Huawei Nova 3i rear camera photo sample

Above is a photo of the Galaxy J8 (which we’re currently working on with a full review), showing how the rear cameras of the Nova 3i would reproduce color and detail. We’ll reserve our final words for it on our full review since it seems to us that the phones there are engineering samples and are not the retail units themselves.

And here are some selfies from the dual front camera: (raw, auto, uncompressed)

Huawei Nova 3i front camera sample
Huawei Nova 3i front camera sample
Huawei Nova 3i front camera sample
Huawei Nova 3i front camera sample

The front selfies, on the other hand, does seem to look reddish and saturated with magenta, too, just like with the Nova 3 photo samples similarly taken from that location. This could shows how the camera would reproduce colors, but again, this seems to come from an engineering sample so we’ll reserve the final word on our full review of a retail unit.

Aside from that, we also tried Huawei’s 3D Qmoji, their take on Apple’s Animoji. What’s cool here is that the emoji character would respond well to your movements, although it doesn’t have like Apple’s 3D sensing technology equipped on the iPhone X. It uses AR technology to sense your movements.


Specifications and Features

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ModelHuawei Nova 3i
Display6.3-inch (1080 x 2340 px) IPS LCD FullView 2.0, 409ppi, 19.5:9 aspect ratio
CPU/SoCHiSilicon Kirin 710 Octa-core
GPUARM Mali-G51 w/ GPU Turbo Tech
RAM4GB
ROM/Storage128GB, expandable via microSD card slot up to 256GB (hybrid, uses SIM 2 slot)
Rear Camera16MP f/2.2 PDAF + 2MP AI w/ LED Flash, 480fps Super Slow-mo
Front Camera24MP + 2MP AI front cameras
Battery3,340mAh battery with SuperCharge
ConnectivityWiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct, hotspot
Bluetooth 4.2, A2DP, LE, EDR, aptX HD
microUSB 2.0, USB On-The-Go
Network Bands4G/LTE, 3G (HSDPA), 2G (GSM)
SIM SlotDual SIM (nano, hybrid)
SensorsFingerprint scanner (rear)
GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS
OS/SoftwareAndroid 8.1 Oreo
EMUI 8.2
Dimensions & WeightSize: 157.6 x 75.2 x 7.6 mm (6.20 x 2.96 x 0.30 in)
Weight: 169 g (5.96 oz)
ColorsBlack, Pearl White, Iris Purple
Protection / IP RatingN/A
Other FeaturesN/A

Conclusion

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The Nova 3i is Huawei’s newest mid-range superstar.

Besting out almost anything in the midrange segment (storage, cameras, price, color offerings), the Huawei Nova 3i is probably one of the best mid-range smartphones in the country right now. The benchmarks and gaming performance are only the thing that remains mystery to us right now, and will be known on our full review.

Huawei’s successor to the Nova 2i is probably much more successful than the aforementioned handset. With that said, we’ll reserve our final words for our full review once we receive the review units for further evaluation.


Pricing and Availability

The Huawei Nova 3i is now available nationwide through Huawei concept stores, authorized resellers, Home Credit as well as Smart and Globe postpaid plans for PhP15,990 in the Philippines. From July 28-August 31, Huawei will bundle a K3 Bluetooth Speaker for those who will buy the Nova 3i.