Huawei Nova 3 hands-on: Vibrant colors and great value extravaganza
Huawei had a pretty strong presence at IFA - although no new flagship or high-end champ got announced, the Chinese giant showed us a smart speaker, a slew of new color versions for its vibrant P20 series, a new budget upper mid-ranger in the face of the Huawei Mate 20 Lite, a gaming-oriented Honor Play, and yet another mid-ranger, the Huawei Nova 3.
The previous members of the Nova lineup were very cost-conscious devices that didn't skimp it in either the design or hardware areas. Can the Nova 3 live up to the great bang-for-buck standards set up by its predecessors?
Design & hardware
The Nova 3 has grown in size in comparison with its predecessors and now features a large, 6.3-inch notched display. Admittedly, even in my relatively large hands, the Nova 3 feels a bit too big for its own good and is somewhat unwieldy due to its dimensions of 157mm x 73.7mm x 7.3mm, but thankfully, it's lightweight enough at just 166gr.
One thing we definitely love about he Nova 3 is the variety of colors it will be available in - Black, Iris Purple, Airy Blue, Primrose Gold, and our favorite - the fiery Red one. Admittedly, the color options look much better in person than they do in press renders, and are easily a signature feature of the Nova 3.
But let's get back to the 6.3-inch LCD display. With a resolution of 1080 by 2340 pixels, it's sharp enough but the default color accuracy could use some tweaking as it's obviously too cold and blueish for its own good. Fortunately, Huawei's EMUI Android skin has offered a rudimentary screen calibrator for years, and the Nova 3 isn't devoid of it.
Powering the whole shebang is Huawei's in-house octa-core Kirin 970 chipset, which delivers admirable performance and should breeze through most of the tasks you could through at it. Available in two storage variations -- one with 4GB RAM/128GB storage and another one with 6GB RAM/128GB storage -- the Nova 3 also features a microSD card for data hoarding purposes. The battery is a 3,750mAh one and features 18W fast-charging, which is great news. I guess that so is the 3.5mm audio jack and the USB Type-C port, which is sadly merely adhering to the USB 2.0 standard.
There's an AI-powered dual-camera at the back, consisting of a monochrome 24MP unit and a color 16MP one with a very bright aperture of F/1.8. It has all the bells and whistles you might expect to find in a feature-rich Huawei device, ranging from a monochrome mode and portrait mode, to Live Focus and AI-assisted scene recognition, which can identify over 22 different shooting scenarios. The overall package should tick most of the boxes shutterbugs might have in mind; let's only hope that the image quality matches the feature-rich interface.
At the front of the device we find another dual-camera setup, consisting of a 24MP color camera and a 2MP depth-collecting unit that is used to not only gather data for the selfie portrait mode, but also takes part in Huawei's take on those oh-so-fancy AR emoji. Dubbed Qmoji, these looked surprisingly smooth and exhibited little jitter. Even though I am sporting prescription glasses, the Qmoji faced no issues with correctly representing my facial expressions, which proves to be a very big issue for Samsung's AR Emojis, for example. AI is also making a heavy appearance here, being able to detect between 8 different selfie-related scenarios. Oh, and in case you wondered, the Nova 3 also uses it secondary selfie shooter for fast face-unlocking.
On the software side, we get Android 8.1 out of the box, running the overwhelming EMUI on top. It still looks a bit ugly and overwhelming with features that you are unlikely to care about, and the worst offensive it that EMUI still goes after that dated iOS 6 look. No gesture navigation has been employed on the Nova 3, but Huawei shared its plans to bring the trendy navigation trend to EMUI in the near future.
The Huawei Nova 3 won't make it to the US market, but would probably be a sweet deal for consumers in Europe and Southeast Asia, where select markets will offer the upper mid-ranger. The projected price in most Western-European markets is EUR385, which sounds like a fair price for what you'll be getting your hands at. I am happy to attest that the value-for-money spirit of the Nova series is alive and kicking, which should be more than great news for fans of Huawei's wares. Of course, we'd have loved for a slightly more original design to have made an appearance, but that's just how the cookie crumbles these days.