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Huawei Nova 3 review: affordable flagship with amazing cameras

Huawei recently unveiled Nova 3 in India, an affordable flagship for the price of Rs. 34,999, adding a new contender to the likes of OnePlus 6, Asus ZenFone 5Z and Honor 10. Just like the other affordable flagships on the market today, the new Huawei Nova 3 packs the flagship specifications of the market at a relatively affordable price, which makes him a compelling competitor in the race to conquer the crown of the best affordable flagship. But the flagship hardware included in the device actually lives up to the hype of the company? Or just another top killer admirer who is looking to get a piece of the OnePlus market in the country? If you've asked these questions yourself, you've come to the right place, because here we'll take a thorough look at Huawei Nova 3 to find out if Huawei's claims have any substance or if only mumbo-jumbo marketing to deceive consumers.

Huawei Nova 3 Specifications

Being an affordable flagship, Huawei Nova 3 offers high-end hardware to offer the best performance, while reducing angles in some areas that are not essential for the average consumer. Let's take a look at the hardware specifications of Huawei Nova 3, before moving on to the review:

Display 6, 3 inch IPS 2340x1080p LCD
Processor Hisilicon Kirin 970
storage 128GB
Main camera 16MP f / 1.8 + 24MP f / 1.8 (monochrome)
Secondary camera 24 MP f / 2.0 + 2 MP
Battery 3, 750mAh
Operating system EMUI 8.2.0 based on Android 8.1 Oreo
Dimensions and weight 157 x 73, 7 x 7, 3 mm, 166 g
Price Rs. 34,999

What's in the box

For the purpose of this review, we received the Huawei Nova 3 Iris Purple variant, available in a minimal white box with the name of the device written in the foreground. Inside the package, Huawei has included the regular set of accessories, including:

  • Charging brick 9V / 2A
  • USB Type-A to USB Type-C cable
  • Clear case
  • SIM eject tool
  • Office work

Design and build quality

Like all other modern flagships, the Huawei Nova 3 has a glass sandwich design, with the metal frame sandwiched between the glass on both the front and back of the device. The front of the device looks like practically every other smartphone released in 2018, with a 19.5: 9 display without frame and the notch at the top, which houses the headset, the dual front cameras, an LED indicator hidden inside the headset and an IR emitter to improve face unlocking capabilities.

On the back, the glass has a shiny two-tone finish that changes colors depending on the angle at which you look at the device. Personally, the I found it a bit tacky as it is not as subtle as the ending found on the Huawei P20 Pro flagship, but a number of people around the office liked it because it made the device stand out. In the center of the back is the circular fingerprint sensor, with the dual configuration of the camera oriented vertically positioned in the upper right corner, along with an LED flash below.

Both the power button and the volume button are in a convenient position on the right side of the device, with the power button with a slight texture that will allow you to differentiate it from the volume rocker. The buttons are made of metal and have a great tactile feel which gives the device a truly premium feel .

At the top, the device only has a small hole for the secondary microphone, while the SIM card slot resides on the left side of the device. Nova 3 includes a hybrid dual-SIM tray which will allow users to install two SIM cards or one SIM card and one micro-USB card for expansion.

The bottom edge of the device houses a single speaker, the main microphone, a USB Type-C port for charging and data synchronization, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. Huawei Nova 3 has a very modern design and excellent build quality, which befits any flagship device launched in 2018 . The only drawback that is extremely slippery, but that can be easily solved by squeezing a case or a skin, which you would probably do as soon as you have the device.


The Huawei Nova 3 sports a 6, 3-inch IPS LCD display with a resolution of 2340 1080 pixels, which gives it an aspect ratio of 19, 5: 9 . At first, I was disappointed that the device didn't include an OLED display, but after using it for a couple of days, I realized that it wasn't that bad. The display can become quite bright, favoring the visibility of sunlight, and it looks lively enough out of the box. In case you don't like the default color profile, Huawei also offers you the possibility to customize it according to your personal preferences through the color mode and temperature settings in the display menu.

A minor flaw that I found with the display that the area around the notch slightly darker than the rest of the display, probably because the backlight cannot reach the edges correctly. However, I got used to that in no time and it wasn't a major obstacle in any way. While I was hoping that Huawei had included an OLED panel on the Nova 3, the included LCD screen is not that bad and if you have never used a smartphone with an OLED display, you will have no problem adapting it to the lower level of contrast ratio.

Speakers and audio

The single-bottomed speaker of Nova 3 is not so loud and can be easily muted while using the phone in landscape mode. Not bad, per se, but not good and I've definitely heard better smartphone speakers before . I wish Huawei had placed the speaker in a different location or included a better speaker unit, which would have greatly improved the overall audio output of the phone.

The audio quality of the calls is pretty good, which is a given if you are investing in a smartphone at this price. I had absolutely no problems with the quality of the call and the receiver also heard me clearly . Due to the average speaker included in the device, the use of the speaker during calls was not an exceptional experience and could have been improved significantly if Huawei had included a better speaker.


Huawei Nova 3's cameras are probably the strongest suit, with both the rear and front dual camera configurations performing incredibly well in our tests.

Rear cameras

Nova 3 contains a 16MP f / 1.8 primary sensor with phase detection auto focus complemented by a 24MP f / 1.8 monochrome sensor to improve image quality and assist in mode photography vertical . The images captured with the smartphone in a large amount of light are rather large, with good details, high dynamic range and vibrant colors. The snappy camera and AI help function really works beautifully, allowing users to point and shoot images without worrying about any settings . Check out some of the images taken using Nova 3 in decent lighting conditions:

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Thanks to the monochrome sensor and the AI ??assist function, the Nova 3 performs very well even in low light conditions, capturing a surprisingly good amount of light. Images captured in low light conditions have one surprising amount of detail with a wide dynamic range and little or no noise . I was really impressed with the camera's low-light performance, as it even manages to capture decent images when almost black. Check out these camera samples and see for yourself:

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As expected, Nova 3 also has a vertical mode that offers extraordinary images and images. Portrayed images captured using the rear camera configuration have a great bokeh effect and decent edge detection, with the camera wobbling slightly in low light conditions. The portrayed images captured with the camera are definitely usable and may even be better than those captured by competitors. Check out these samples:

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Interestingly, the Nova 3's secondary monochrome sensor can be used alone to capture stunning black and white images. The photos captured by the monochrome sensor are probably better than those captured by the main sensor and they have a better dynamic range and a lot more detail. Here are some comparative examples acquired using monochrome and color sensors:

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Front cameras

In front, Huawei Nova 3 packs a 24 MP f / 2.0 primary sensor together with a 2 MP secondary sensor for depth perception . Not surprisingly, the images captured with the front cameras are perfect, with a good amount of detail and vibrant colors. The front camera setting also has a portrait mode option which can capture portraits of decent subjects with edge detection and a pleasant bokeh effectas long as you touch the subject before taking the picture. If you do not touch the subject before shooting, the image is blurred.

One feature / trick of the front camera that stood out in my day with the device was his ability to automatically change the camera interface to a very bright white in cases where there was not enough light falling on the subject, which is probably the best implementation of a flash screen as it allows the user to see the image that is clicked in real time. Overall, I was quite satisfied with the results and I'm sure you will be sure of it even after taking a look at the following samples:

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Overall, the four cameras of Huawei Nova 3 are really worth the advertising campaign and I would like to congratulate the company for having reached these standards in this price range. On the flip side, however, the company needs to take a hard look at the camera's UI as well consider reducing it slightly to make it easier to use for the average consumer. I would appreciate it very much even if Huawei assigned more important settings, such as monochrome and PRO mode, in the center of the scene rather than promoting its useless AR lens and the Qmoji features that are not that great.


As for performance, the Huawei Nova 3 is very strong compared to the best smartphones on the market today, thanks to the Kirin 970 processor, which can also be found on the P20 Pro, a smartphone almost double the price of Nova 3. For some reason, the review unit was shipped with an unlocked bootloader that prevented us from installing any major benchmarking software on the device. It seems that the company is worried about the device's performance and how its flagship chipset comes off against the Snapdragon 845 which powers the most famous flagship smartphones.

We reached Huawei for the same and were told that we would receive an OTA update that will fix the limitations from the device, but we have not yet received the update so far. Since we weren't able to install any benchmarking software, we had to rely on the benchmarking scores of the P20 Pro, which are found in the same Kirin 970 processor and 6 GB of RAM. As expected, the Kirin 970 chip loses most of the other flagships powered by the Snapdragon 845 as a very recent flagship SoC. The P20 Pro was able to total 208797 in AnTuTu and in Geekbench 4 was able to manage 1907 in single-core and 6817 in multi-core tests . The Kirin 970 score in contrast to OnePlus 6 and Asus ZenFone 5Z, which is probably why Huawei chose to prevent us from installing any benchmark on the device.

Huawei P20 Pro benchmark scores for reference

Benchmark aside, Huawei Nova 3 has worked well enough in use in the real world, with the user interface optimized well enough to offer performance without delay at all times. The phone felt pretty snappy, with apps that took less time to load and stay in memory even when a number of demanding games were opened immediately after. The fingerprint sensor was really snappy and the IR assisted face unlock function worked quite well, though not as fast as the face unlock feature of the OnePlus devices, which only uses the front camera.

Gaming on the Huawei Nova 3 was also great and I tried a lot of demanding games like PUBG Mobile, Shadowgun Legends, Asphalt 9: Legends and Tekken, and the phone hasn't left me behind even once. As expected, the games automatically selected the highest possible graphics settings each time, and running the games on the almost frameless display was an immersive experience. Despite the fact that the Kirin 970 chip didn't perform as well as the Snapdragon 845 in the synthetic benchmarks, however a capable chip and you will certainly not be disappointed from its performance.


From a software point of view, the Huawei Nova 3 works with the company's EMUI 8.2.0 based on Android 8.1 Oreo. I must admit that I am slightly biased against any version of Android's skin and I prefer a serial or near stock Android experience over anything else, but I had absolutely no problems with the Huawei custom skin my times with the device. Much like other Android versions, EMUI chock full of customization options that offer users a host of features they wouldn't have found in Android, so if you like the Nova 3 UI much more than I did.

EMUI also includes features like "Huawei share" to share files with other Huawei devices, an eye comfort mode that reduces blue light emissions to prevent eye strain, and also allows you to hide the display cutout . Huawei has also included a unique feature called HiTouch, which allows users to quickly search for products online with the help of Amazon Assistant. All you have to do is open the HiTouch function in the camera app and touch the display with two fingers to automatically access the product list on Amazon.

Huawei has also made the full screen navigation on the device that uses a pill, such as the one found on Android P. The gestures are rather fluid, but they are not as intuitive as those implemented by Xiaomi or Vivo, so I suggest sticking to the usual navigation buttons for now. In case you don't like the user interface with the skin, you can always install your favorite Android launcher, Nova (lol) my favorite choice and completely customize it according to your personal preferences. Since the software experience is quite subjective and differs from user to user, I will not keep the custom UI design against Huawei because I have not encountered any problems in my time with the devicedespite the fact that I didn't really like the looks of it.


Huawei Nova 3 equipped with a respectable 3, 750 mAh battery that can easily power the device in a day with medium-heavy use. The standby times of the device are quite large and in my tests the device lasted just over two days when I used it sparinglyby clicking on some photos, playing some games and browsing the Internet at short intervals.

Even with intensive use, the battery big enough to last a whole day, with enough charge to keep going for a couple of hours. When I used the device extensively, it lasted just over 18 hours with a screen in time of over five and a half hours, which wasn't too shabby . In the event that you are running out of battery and you want to aggressively store all that is left until you reach a power point, Huawei has included two energy saving modes that significantly increase the battery life of the device, drastically limiting performance in the process.

The smartphone comes with a 9V / 2A charging brick which can recharge the device fairly quickly. In my tests, the device charged from 10 to 60 percent in an hour and forty-five minutes, reaching the 100 percent in a total of two hours and twenty five minutes . As you can already understand, load Nova 3 a little slow and not even close to the charging speeds provided by OnePlus Dash Charge technology . Another thing that is worth noting that the smartphone charges quite evenly, unlike other fast charging solutions that charge the device fairly quickly up to 50% and then slow down a bit before reaching 100%. This means that the Nova 3 charging solution not exactly ideal for quick refills and you'll need to charge the device for at least an hour if you want to get a charge close to 50 percent on your device.


  • Excellent design and build quality
  • Excellent camera performance
  • Good battery life
  • Decent performance


  • Medium speakers
  • Cluttered camera UI
  • Slow charging speed

Huawei Nova 3 review: I would definitely recommend it!

In conclusion, Huawei Nova 3 a very affordable flagship that offers an extraordinary camera, a good battery backup and decent performance at the table. Despite its medium benchmarks, the Nova 3 may be the best affordable flagship on the market today and strengthens quite well against other affordable flagships such as the OnePlus 6 and Asus ZenFone 5Z. The smartphone it really shines in the camera and in the battery life department, however, slightly behind in the performance and audio sector. OnePlus 6, with its OLED display and the her Android user interface, it also offers better user experience .

If you are interested in taking a detailed look at how the device overlaps OnePlus 6 and Asus ZenFone 5Z, keep an eye on our comparison between the three devices. So what do you think about Huawei Nova 3? Do you think it has the potential to bring down the OnePlus 6 as the next cheaper flagship? Let us know in the comments section below.

Buy from Amazon: (Rs. 34,999)