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What’ve we got for you today? Why, a dual review – we’re taking a look at the Huawei Nova 3 and 3i!

If you follow tech as closely as we do, you’ll know that in the global smartphone market, Huawei and its sub-brand Honor have come up in a very big way in recent months. So much so that, as the media has reported, Huawei sold more smartphones than Apple at one point earlier this year and is now second in terms of global phone sales, behind only Samsung. (The media also did say that Apple’s impending new iPhones would most probably push it back above Huawei when they started to sell, but anyway.)

Whether or not it outsells Apple, or anyone else for that matter, one thing is clear: Huawei has more than earned its place at the table, so to speak, thanks to its tireless work to create good handsets and sell them at reasonable prices. Today we’ve set aside time to take the measure of two of its latest phones, the Nova 3 and Nova 3i, and see exactly how good they are!

Let’s get to it, shall we?

Bodies beautiful

One key to Huawei’s success is that it caters to different kinds of smartphone buyers. While its range-topping P series, for instance, focuses on photography, the Nova series is targeted at the youth, which Huawei describes as both social and dynamic. Consequently, Huawei has equipped these phones with features that it thinks millennials and the youth will like.

So both these phones are certainly up to date looks- and style-wise. First up, they’ve got big, bright and beautiful edge-to-edge screens adorned with a notch on top where their front-facing cameras reside. The phones have practically identical displays. They’re both IPS LCD affairs measuring 6.3 inches on the diagonal, have a 19.5:9 screen ratio, and boast FHD+ (2340 x 1080) resolution.

Regarding their styling, Huawei seems to have made trickle-down styling a thing, because these two take some pretty major styling cues from the likes of Huawei’s own P20 and P20 Pro. Far be it for us to criticize the firm, though, because these phones, just like the P20, are both slim and stylish. They boast metal frames and sides as well as glass backs (pro tip, if you end up with one of these, use a case to ensure that they stay beautiful). Looks-wise, there’s not much to choose from between the two as they’re both head-turners.

The 3 and 3i come in some pretty nice colors – they can be had in Pearl White, Black and the eye-catching, color-shifting Iris Purple (our favorite of the three by far), the color that Huawei’s made famous in the P20 and other units and practically made its own.
The 3 and 3i are practically the same size (157mm x 73.7mm x 7.3 mm for the 3, and 157.6mm x 75.2mm x 7.6mm for the 3i) and weight (166g for the 3 and 169g for the 3i).

Decidedly different

It’s when you take a look at the cameras that the 3 and 3i begin to diverge and the higher-echelon placement of the 3 starts to become obvious. Although these phones boast the same powerful 24MP + 2MP front-facing cameras up front as well as features like A.I. Beauty selfie enhancement, the 3 has a 24MP + 16MP camera out back while the 3i makes do with a 16MP + 2MP camera set.

Additionally, the camera feature set is slightly different too, with some features like A.I. scene detection and EIS apparently reserved for the 3. But the A.I. capability in both allows users to tweak their surroundings and pick from eight scenes to serve as backdrop for selfies – blue sky, plant, night, flower, beach, room, snow, and stage performance. Other features like A.I. Master and HDR Pro further improve pictures taken. But our overall favorite QMoji allows users to create personalized QMoji GIFs or videos for fun messaging (akin, it has to be said, to Apple’s Animoji).

Both phones take pretty good selfies, which shouldn’t come as a surprise given the snapper firepower they wield up front. We liked the scenes but felt that some, such as blue sky and night, allowed for better selfies than others. And we felt that the QMoji feature was cute (but that it also might get old fast, a criticism we’ve leveled at Animoji as well). Pictures we took with both, using the rear snappers, were quite nice especially in good lighting, but of course couldn’t hold a candle to their big sibling the P20 Pro in low light.

The processor set is another point of differentiation between the 3 and 3i. The 3 boasts Huawei’s HiSilicon Kirin 970 octa-core set, whereas the 3i comes with a slightly less powerful 2.2GHz HiSilicon Kirin 710 octa-core set. The higher-spec 3 also has 6GB of RAM while the 3 comes with 4GB. As regards storage, though, both come with 128GB of internal storage that can be expanded via a microSD card all the way up to 256GB. Neither is sluggish nor disappointing, even if what you want to do is play games all day long – both phones will run with you, they’re good smooth operators with quite decent battery life.

Both the 3 and 3i run Android 8.1 Oreo overlaid with Huawei’s proprietary EMUI 8.2, which hasn’t always been the best interface but has steadily gotten more intuitive and smoother over time. It does come with some uninstallable apps but thankfully not too many.

Lastly, in terms of battery capacity, the 3 edges ahead slightly with its 3750mAh lithium-polymer battery – a little more capacitous than the 3i’s 3340mAh own lithium-polymer battery.

The verdict

Whether you pick the Huawei Nova 3 or 3i, you’ll be selecting a great phone that looks really nice, runs very well, and will help you get your stuff done and take nice photos easily and without too much fuss.

Given the quality of these phones, it’s no surprise at all that Huawei has been doing pretty well lately. We can’t wait to see what else they’ve got up their collective sleeves!



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