OnePlus’ formula of offering flagship features at half the price has been replicated across the price range this year. Multiple flagship killers have cropped up in that price segment and the usual suspects are mostly from Honor and Huawei. The Chinese company has been quickly gaining momentum in India after having sold 153 million units worldwide in 2017. In India, Huawei had been missing in action until last year. Its subsidiary Honor had more visibility, but ever since the Huawei P20 Pro came out, the company has been quite active in the world’s second largest smartphone market. The Huawei Nova 3 is the latest device to launch in India from Huawei’s stables. The phone wishes to take on the OnePlus 6 with a price tag of Rs 34,999 and a quad-camera setup. I used the Nova 3 for a while and here are my first impressions:
Design and Display
The Huawei Nova 3 certainly looks the part of a flagship phone. The company has managed to perfect the dual-tone design and the Nova 3 comes in a beautiful Iris Purple and a standard black colour variant. The gradient changes from a deep shade of purple at the bottom to blue on top with multiple shades in between. I spent most of the time admiring just how good it looks. With rounded corners and a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, the Huawei Nova 3 is quite ergonomic as well. The 6.3-inch IPS LCD screen takes up most of the space up front with very minimal bezels on all sides. There’s a display notch that houses the dual front camera and an IR blaster that can scan and authenticate your face even in the dark. There is no waterproofing though and use of glass automatically makes the phone a dainty darling.
Turn on the display and Huawei’s EMUI 8.2 takes precedence. It’s a little cluttered but quite functional in terms of the plethora of features it offers. There’s a ride-mode, quick access to Paytm payments, ability to hide the notch and much more. You won’t get these customizations in stock Android.
The camera is the primary focus of the Nova 3. There’s a total of four cameras on the phone. Two on the back, two on the front. The dual cameras at the back is a 16+24MP setup with f/1.8 aperture. The secondary 24MP sensor is a monochrome sensor, an approach which has been implemented in quite a few Huawei and Honor devices. Up front is a 24+2MP dual camera setup with the secondary camera used as a depth sensor for a shallow depth of field. The camera hardware is augmented by Huawei’s AI capabilities. The rear camera can detect 22 different scenes and tweak the parameters accordingly. The front camera can recognise eight different scenes and optimise the selfies to look good in most conditions. The company hyped the camera up a lot, so it remains to be seen just how good they are. On paper, they certainly seem impressive.
The AI capabilities of the phone are thanks to the Kirin 970 SoC. It’s a flagship chipset developed in-house by Huawei that has a co-processor inside dedicated to AI workloads. Coupled with that is 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. It supports Dual SIM VoLTE and has expandable storage as well. Yet another new technology that will surely impress PubG Mobile players (including me) is the GPU Turbo technology. Huawei claims to have optimised the GPU both in the hardware and software level to boost graphics performance by 60 percent and decrease power intake by 30 percent. More than that, the GPU Turbo feature can improve the gaming experience by providing unique haptic feedback for every in-game action. You can feel the intensity of shooting bullets or racing a car in this one. I did try out the feature and was quite impressed.
The Nova 3 has a 3,750mAh battery with fast-charging support. You do get a fast charger out of the box. The phone uses AI to smartly allocate resources and Huawei claims a battery life of more than a day on this phone. We will certainly put that claim to test.
On paper, the Huawei Nova 3 is certainly impressive. It’s not just a good-looking phone, but a powerful one at that. The spec-sheet pitches against the OnePlus 6 and one thing is for sure — It certainly looks better than the OnePlus 6. However, at Rs 34,999, the OnePlus 6 isn’t the only phone the Nova 3 is aiming to take on. It’s also cannibalising on the Honor 10 that is a little more affordable than the Nova 3, but equally good looking with a similar set of hardware under the hood. Then there is also the cheaper, and equally spec’d out Asus Zenfone 5z At the end of the day, you, the buyer will be the winner with more and more choice in the high-end segment that seems to be giving established flagship phones a run for their money.