Huawei nova 8i Review

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When we think about Huawei’s nova series, it is easy to assume that the series is all about improved overall performance, including battery life and charging speed. The new Huawei Nova series is finally upon us, and while the Huawei Nova 8 promises a slew of interesting features and performance upgrades, the new Huawei Nova 8i seems to shy away from our expectations.

In this review, I’ll focus my attention on the Huawei Nova 8i; and give my opinion on why I think this particular variant is somewhat a mixed bag. The majority of what you’re about to read is based on my unavoidable comparison to its predecessor, the Huawei nova 8i.

Huawei Nova 8i 11

Below are the specs of the new Huawei Nova 8i versus last year’s Nova 7i. You can see major differences and improvements on the Nova 8i, which is a good thing; but the weight of its chipset performance compared to the Nova 7i is another thing that consumers must also be concerned about. Of course, I cannot decide which one is the best for everyone so you have to make this decision on your own after reading this review.

Who is the nova 8i for, really?!

Two scenarios – if you’re after slightly better camera performance, battery life, and charging technology, the Huawei Nova 8i is a good purchase. If you’re primarily after hardware performance, this smartphone will fall short of your expectations.

Camera – a marginal increase in performance

Huawei Nova 8i 4 1

If you’re after the first group, the Huawei Nova 8i has slightly improved camera performance with its 64MP wide main camera with f/1.9 aperture. This is a step up from last year’s Nova 7i with a 48MP wide main camera. While the rest of the additional lenses are the same, their impact on image quality is minor so this does not give much bearing on its overall camera performance. Focusing is faster and the contrast level is on point. You can now shoot at JPG-L, which has better quality at the cost of a larger file size. This makes use of the phone’s 64MP camera. The ISO level has also been bumped up to 6,400 from last year’s 5,000. However, unlike the Nova 7i though, the saturation level on Nova 8i is less pronounced.

Huawei Nova 8i 5

The only downside is that the modes on the camera software of the Nova 8i seemed to have decreased compared to the one on Nova 7i. Features like Light painting, moving picture, Documents, and Slow-mo modes have disappeared on Nova 8i. I also noticed that the Pro Mode for video is nowhere to be found. Despite setbacks on software that I am hoping to be remedied via software patch, actual camera performance is evident better, especially on well-lit places.

Battery Performance and Charging Speed

Huawei Nova 8i 6

Another notable features of the Huawei Nova 8i are its battery performance and charging speed. Battery performance is longer by 1 hour from one full charge – that is from 16 hours and 12 minutes on the Huawei Nova 7i to 17 hours and 32 minutes on the Huawei Nova 8i. What is even more interesting is that the charging speed has greatly been improved from 40W to 66W! Huawei included this charger in the box, and you’ll be surprised how fast this is to fully charge the device. In my experience, it managed to fully charge the smartphone in 41 minutes.

Performance concerns

If you are on the other side of the spectrum – that is wanting to have a smartphone that’s faster in terms of performance – the Huawei Nova 8i might not pass your standard. Nova 8i is powered by an 11 nanometer slower Snapdragon 662 octa-core processor versus last year’s Nova 7i with 7nm Kirin 810 octa-core processor. I really do not understand the decision behind this but this seems to be an answer to the call of some consumers who prefer a smartphone with a Snapdragon processor at the expense of a slower configuration. In my opinion, they should have chosen Kirin 820 like the one on Nova 7 SE if their decision is anchored on cost reduction.

Huawei Nova 8i 2

This move by Huawei has ultimately sacrificed the performance of the phone, which mobile gamers might be disappointed about. Based on our benchmark, Huawei Nova 8i failed to surpass the performance of Nova 7i on all fronts, which is a little disappointing. This goes to show that if you’re planning to play games on this smartphone, it is best not to expect too much of its performance.

Nova 7iNova 8i
Antutu270,128197,802
3D Mark (Sling Shot Extreme)Open GL ES1,9761,154
Wild Life382374
PC MarkWork 2.07,8495,373
GeekbenchSingle Core589309
Multi-Core1,8881,275

Huawei nova 8i is a bit of mixed bag

There is something peculiar about Huawei Nova 8i. Don’t get me wrong – there’s nothing really wrong about it. It’s just strange that the Huawei Nova 8i broke certain expectations that have carried over the years. While it improved some major features like camera and battery performance and charging, it left out a portion that can significantly affect its overall value. It is good for people who love taking photos and videos, albeit having missing features; but it is disappointing for people who wish to make this their main driver especially for gaming and productivity.

Huawei Nova 8i 2 1

You also have to consider its price tag. At the time of the production of this video, the SRP of Huawei Nova 8i is 13,999, PhP6000 cheaper than the better performing nova 8. You can check out my review of the latter on this link.

I hope you found this review helpful before making your purchase decision. As usual, I did everything I could to show you both sides of the spectrum and point out what’s best and not on this smartphone.

Giancarlo Viterbo is a Filipino Technology Journalist, blogger and Editor of gadgetpilipinas.net, 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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