Huawei Nova 2i review: the new midrange standard bearer

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We came to China a month ago to learn more about the culture and values of Huawei. Of course, like the usual foreign trip we go to, we got to experience one product that Huawei Philippines is launching today.

[su_spoiler title=”Here’s our first impressions!” style=”fancy” icon=”plus-circle”][su_posts id=”35809″ posts_per_page=”1″ tax_operator=”0″ order=”desc” ignore_sticky_posts=”yes”][/su_spoiler]

Without further much ado, we’re formally introducing to you guys the Huawei Nova 2i.

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We saw tons of teasers from the brand for a few weeks, and for what we know – everything is just at the tip of what the Huawei Nova 2i can do.

First, here’s what you can find inside the box in a jiffy:

  • Sim Ejector tool;
  • There are 2 boxes inside: one that holds the charger, micro USB cable and a standard 3.5mm headphone; and,
  • the Nova 2i

We have a link to the full unboxing below, which you can watch at your most convenient time.

[su_spoiler title=”Check our unboxing and preview!” style=”fancy” icon=”plus-circle”][su_posts id=”35811″ posts_per_page=”1″ tax_operator=”0″ order=”desc” ignore_sticky_posts=”yes”][/su_spoiler]

Now that you got yourself acquainted with what’s inside the retail box of the Nova 2i, let me now  – inch by inch – talk about its design and construction.

Design and Screen Quality

The first thing you’ll notice about the Nova 2i is its gorgeous looking FullView 18:9 screen. If you’re into comparing things, the Nova 2i’s screen is significantly way better than its predecessor, the Huawei Nova Plus. That one didn’t come out in the Philippines but we saw it with our own eyes at Huawei’s HQ, and boy it looks really way better.

Like most smartphones with 18:9 screens out there, the Nova 2i’s 5.9-inch screen is housed in a 5.5-inch form factor. This makes the grip and multimedia experience a much better one. This is the reason why most smartphones and consumers nowadays are turning their heads to 18:9. In fact, even local players in the Philippines are embracing this new smartphone trend.

Nova 2i 22 1I have a Huawei P10 Plus here, which has a 5.5-inch display; and if we compare it to the Huawei Nova 2i, you will notice that both devices almost have the same size in terms of build, but differ on screen size. Nova 2i’s screen is longer but does not sacrifice the size of the device.

I’ve got mixed feelings about its screen quality though at default setup. I compared it with my other devices such as the VIVO V7+, OPPO F3 Red, Huawei P10 Plus, and I noticed that Nova 2i’s whites are more yellowish despite the Eye Comfort feature being turned off. This isn’t a deal breaker, in my opinion, as the only color affected are the ones in white color. Also, as pointed out by our readers during our first impressions, just like the other flagship Huawei devices, the Nova 2i has advanced Eye Comfort settings. This allows you to set the warmth color of your screen.

Its screen, without a doubt, is one of the best among the smartphones we’ve reviewed at similar price point and grade. It is cheaper than its nearest competitor, the VIVO V7+, and performs steadily better in a lot of aspects, particularly in the camera department. We’ll get onto that later.

The 18:9 screen occupies about 83% of the phone’s front panel. It displays more than the usual when compared to non-18:9 screen ratio smartphones. Whether playing games or watching videos, Nova 2i’s screen is impressive as I expected it to be.

Nova 2i 25Performance and Benchmarks

Nova 2i isn’t just all about its gorgeous screen. It also boasts a powerful 16nm 8-core processor, which was developed in-house by Huawei. Kirin 659 is capable of clocking at 2.36GHz, which is enough for your favorite games to work and perform without any hiccups. Its 4GB RAM and 64GB ROM are made to compensate for handling unforgiving apps like Google Chrome, Facebook and YouTube; and games like Mobile Legends, Marvel Future Fight and Lineage II. These apps and games work with none to minimal slowdowns.

Nova 2i 18At minimal process load, some of the CPUs usually run at 480MHz to 1402MHz. Once I fired up high processing requirement apps and games, it will only then that some of the CPUs reach to 2300MHz. At boot, and at minimal process load, the available RAM ranges from 46% to 50%, which may pose an issue if you wish to load several applications at the same time. Should you want to run a mobile, which requires more memory and processing power, tap the trash icon when accessing quick menus.

As usual, for our specs and stats hungry readers, You deserve quantifiable data. For the non-geeks, the Nova 2i is a highly capable mid-range device I’ve reviewed

Huawei Nova 2i Benchmark Results:

3D Mark Slingshot Extreme: 321

Antutu Benchmark: 61797

  • 3D: 9373
  • UX: 26281
  • CPU: 20864
  • RAM: 5279

Geekbench 4

  • Singe-Core Result: 912
  • Multi-Core Score: 3260

GFXBench GL Benchmark

I want to emphasize that while most of our readers are familiar with Antutu and Quadrant, I want to put special emphasis on GFXBench GL Benchmark as it shows results that may very well quantify the capabilities of this smartphone. Quite obviously, based on its specifications, the Huawei Nova 2i is a speedy device and perfect for many occasions: productivity, content and media creation, and gaming. Huawei is definitely at the top of their game when it comes to covering the mid-range market with this smartphone.

High-Level Tests: For this tier test, the benchmark app subjects it to on-screen and offscreen graphics tests. The renderer is presented with various surface width and weigh, and pushes it to its limit. Graphics presented often resemble game-like renders. FPS is presented per each grade of test. The higher the score, the better.

  • Score: 1,256 Frames (vs 1,627 frames of NVIDIA Shield Android TV)

Low-Level Tests: This tier test, the app subjects the phone to on-screen and offscreen graphics tests. Tesselation and texturing are the focuses of the test, and the result is presented in terms of frames.

  • Score: 1,457 Frames

NenaMark 2

  • Score: 60.1

PCMark for Android Benchmark

PCMark offers a detailed result of the phone’s overall capacity to cope up with the demands of the user. It provides the best and complete benchmark result among other apps, albeit lacking detailed results for graphics capability.

  • Work 2.0 Performance: 4,823
  • 3DMark for Android: 2886


If there’s one feature that makes the Nova 2i’s speed and performance really felt in the most tangible way, then it’s all about its software. It runs on the latest Android 7.0-based EMUI 5.1 software. Huawei claimed it to make users feel that they’re using a phone with a stock version of Android running at its core. It didn’t feel like it though, to be honest, because of the fun yet functional features they stacked on its EMUI. It performed like one though: it’s fast despite being loaded with features, and it often send update notices for bug fixing, security and performance patches,

Nova 2i 21

Huawei claimed it to make users feel that they’re using a phone with a stock version of Android running at its core. It didn’t feel like it though, to be honest, because of the fun yet functional features they stacked on its EMUI. It performed like one though: it’s fast despite being loaded with features, and it often sends update notices for bug fixing, security and performance patches. From the time I received it until today, I received a total of 4 incremental patches to improve and enhance my experience.


Apart from the performance and screen, another thing that makes the Nova 2i stand is camera performance. The cameras on this phone takes amazing photos. I’m really impressed, and even thought – at first – that this could have been an incremental upgrade to the 1st iteration of Huawei P9 sans the Leica co-engineered technology.

Over the years, Huawei’s dedication to improve its camera is unwavering. Its dual main or back cameras are capable of producing impressive photos. Whether you’re into taking portrait or non-portrait photos, Nova 2i can do the job pretty well. The second 2MP lens that sits beside the 16MP is in charge of producing bokeh effects. The 2MP lens on the front camera does the same thing.

Landscape photos I took look equally good as well. It sometimes struggles when subjects are in low light, but acceptable by my standards.

As earlier stated, the front-facing camera can also produce photos with bokeh effects. Photos appear to be bright as well, especially when Beauty 4.0 is enabled. It also has a front-facing flash, which is available to be used when needed.

As pointed out in my first impressions, you can even add a few quirks and effects like moving photos, costume or Make-up filters. You can take a photo or a 15-second video with this feature turned on. I tried this – FOR THE SAKE OF THIS REVIEW.

Nova 2i may also be used quite well to preserve moving moments even at low light.

Connectivity, Sensors and Battery

The Nova 2i has all the necessary components to make it useful primarily as a mobile phone. Taking calls, browsing the internet and answering to SMS (if most of you still use this) can be done with a breeze on this smartphone.

Nova 2i 14While it is powerful in its own right – performance-wise, there is one branch in gaming that it may not be able to cover perfectly – VR and augmented reality as this does not have a gyroscope. I don’t see this as a deal-breaking issue, but if you’re into VR and AR, the Nova 2i won’t be as usual as you might want it to be.

Battery life is pretty decent as well, which clocks at approximately 7 hours from full charge. This goes to show that power efficiency is at the core of it Kirin 659 and EMUI 5.1.


The Huawei Nova 2i is easily the best midrange smartphone we reviewed so far. Its amazing screen and impressive set of cameras put it at its pedestal as a worthy standard bearer of the midrange segment. The price hits the sweet spot of Filipinos, especially those on the hunt for a new smartphone.


Giancarlo Viterbo is a Filipino Technology Journalist, blogger and Editor of, He is also a Geek, Dad and a Husband. He knows a lot about washing the dishes, doing some errands and following instructions from his boss on his day job. Follow him on twitter: @gianviterbo and @gadgetpilipinas.

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