Huawei Nova 3i Review: Shining like the brightest star!


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Huawei Nova 2i is one of the best selling smartphones of Huawei in the Philippines to date. It is for this very reason that raised the interest of the company to launch its next iteration in the Philippines, the Nova 3i.

While the Nova 3 exists with its minor kin, Nova 3i is both interesting and powerful in its own right. Positioned for the hip and millennial, all the features we managed to test for more than 2 weeks are confirmed to not alienate its intended market. This phone isn’t just for the stylish and people oozing with fashionist vibe; it is also for those who wish to treasure and enjoy life.


Nova 3i is a product adorned with beauty and designed by people, filled with a desire to bedazzle. The Iris Purple variant we’ve got slightly borrows its looks from Huawei P20 Twilight. It looks definitely smexy, but it’s hard to spot its color especially when held in upright position.

Nova 3i Review 12With a design similar to the Huawei P20, physical buttons down to camera placements are quite on point. At last, there’s a smartphone that took a lot of design cues (and even features) from a pricier model that millennials can easily afford.

It feels solid, but it looks frail. Drop this baby, and you’ll find a smartphone with a shattered plate or screen. The retail box includes a silicon protector, so putting this on immediately is highly suggested. However, if you’re brave enough to carry it without any protection, then do it with so much indulgence and regality.

Nova 3i Review 38Display

The device features a notched 6.3-inches IPS display with FHD+ resolution. It boasts 409 pixel density, a pinch better compared to OPPO F7 and Samsung Galaxy A6. Color saturation and contrast levels are impressively presented on screen.

Nova 3i Review 17I get it now why Huawei maintains to believe that FHD+ to 2K displays are optimal displays for all smartphones, as consumers barely see the difference compared to 4K displays. And for a midrange smartphone, putting a 4K display is definitely going to bloat its price.


Nova 3i is fast! Kirin 710 seems to be the new king of the midrange SoC, and this version in Nova 3i is proven to be a very capable chipset. Armed with 4GB RAM and Octa-core processor (4x 2.2GHz A73 processor + 4x 1.7GHz A53 Processor), it is obvious that this phone can go head to head with Helio P60.

At first boot, the phone packs an available 2.61GB RAM, which gives room for additional performance load. Even at full load, I didn’t experience any lags, and operation was smooth overall.

While its major competitors like OPPO F7 and VIVO V9 focus on game acceleration, Nova 3i packs a feature that boosts the phone’s performance so users can play their favorite games smoothly at the expense of more energy consumption. There is an option too where notifications can be hidden except for calls, alarm and low battery alerts to ensure immersive and uninterrupted gaming experience.

I ran a few benchmark tests on this smartphone and yielded the following results:

3D Mark

  • Nova 3i scored 953 on 3D Mark Sling Shot Extreme. It is way faster than its predecessor, Nova 2i, which scored 321 in this category.
  • Scored 1,447 on 3D Mark Sling Shot

Antutu Benchmark: 137,686 vs Nova 2i’s 61,797

  • CPU: 65441
  • GPU: 22412
  • CPU: 37556
  • RAM: 12277

Geekbench 4

  • Singe-Core Result: 1601 vs Nova 2i’s 912
  • Multi-Core Score: 5543 vs Nova 2i’s 3260

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: 5,591 vs Nova 2i’s 4,823


Huawei Nova 3i’s camera performance is a huge leap from its predecessor. The washout output of the Nova 2i is gone on Nova 3i, and the overall quality was greatly improved. Contrast levels are on point, although we found the saturation level of some photos we took a bit lacking at low light conditions.

AI plays a big role in this version of Nova, and its inclusion in the software mix of the smartphone tremendously increases the quality of photos. Improvement can easily be spotted by tapping the AI button at post, and this shows how the phone’s AI compensated for whatever lacking in the original output. This isn’t something new, as we’ve seen the same implementation on Huawei P20 Lite, OPPO F7 and ASUS Zenfone 5Q.

Photo taken with Nova 3i 24

Perhaps the feature that made me spend a lot of time with is Qmoji or Huawei’s AR Emoji. It currently hosts 8 characters, with impressively lots of articulating parts. It’s fun to play with, and the sky is the limit as to how you’re going to use it. Check out some of the videos I posted on you Facebook profile.

Unlike the Zenfone 5z though, there is currently no way to use these emojis during live stream.


Nova 3i utilizes the latest build of EMUI (8.2.0). Pre-installed software features are somewhat similar to what’s on my Huawei P20 Pro.

Security features include quick face unlock and privatespace. The latter is a feature that allows users to have a separate secured partition, which can only be assessed with the right fingerprint.

There is also a way to show or hide the notch, which they pioneered on Huawei P20 and P20 Pro. And while the phone has enough RAM and storage space, Huawei also included a Storage Cleaner, which basically allow users to do surface or deep storage management.

HiBoard comes back on Nova 3i, and still makes itself available as an extension of the homescreen to quickly access favorite apps, health applications and SmartCare. The latter checks the status of your phone, and shows applications that run in the background that great affect the performance of the phone.


Huawei Nova 3i 9While we love the Huawei Nova 3i in many aspects, the sound through its single speaker is not its strongest suit. Bass is seemingly absent, and there’s so much emphasis on highs. When using wired over-ear headphones, while it has a balanced sound signature, it failed to produce the audio details we want to hear. Drum beats lack the oomph, and acoustic plucks are sometimes faint.

Huawei, in my opinion, should have made this as one of the central features of Nova 3i. As a product positioned for millennials, listening to music – streaming or owned – is one of their favorite activities. This is one of the core strengths of P20 and P20 Pro, and I would have appreciated more had Huawei included advanced audio settings for music listening purposes.


As my daily driver for more than 2 weeks – and as a heavy user myself – I noticed that Nova 3i can last 9 hours until its battery gets depleted. Note that as a legacy Smart Postpaid user, my 4G+ internet is turned on all the time and auto-Sync is enabled. I occasionally play PUBG Mobile and NBA 2K18, and use popular social media applications like Facebook and Instagram for about 90% of my mobile screen time. Yes, Nova 3i was that battered during my review period.


Nova 3i shines like the brightest star, and its return in the industry will definitely be welcomed by many. Nova 2i was last year’s midrange standard bearer, and I’m certain that its latest iteration is easily going to nab its predecessor’s position. At PhP15,990, its competition better get ready for some beating – *coughs* *Samsung* *Galaxy* *J4* *coughs* – as this smartphone has got really good things to brag about.

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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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