Huawei Nova 3i review: All Sell, No Soul

Huawei Nova 3i
  • Huawei Nova 3i
  • Huawei Nova 3i
  • Expert Rating

    3.50 / 5


  • Premium feel
  • Ticks all the right boxes


  • Camera
  • Inconsistent software

Bottom Line

The Nova 3i has all the right specs but fails to bring them cohesively together to forge an identity of its own.

Would you buy this?

  • Best Deals (Selling at 1 store)

The Pitch

In the face of skyrocketing flagship prices, the value of mid-tier and budget options continues to grow - and the Huawei Nova 3i isn’t the exception. For the respectable price-tag of $599, there’s a lot here to like.

Still, there’s a distinct unevenness that sees the Nova 3i lag behind some of the alternatives - both from competitors and from Huawei themselves. For as many reasons that I can find to recommend this phone on its own, I struggle to find any specific case for why you should opt for it over the other options lurking just out of frame.

Sure, the camera is better and processor are better than what you'll get out of the similarly-named Nova 3e. But it doesn't always feel $200 better in the ways you'd hope and expect it to. It's a decent device left outgunned by the reality that 2018 has been a really strong years for budget and mid-tier smartphones.

Specs - Huawei Nova 3i Smartphone

Display size:   6.3-inch

Display type: IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen, FHD+

Processor:  HUAWEI Kirin 710 AI processor

Operating System: Android 8.1 with EMUI 8.0

Fingerprint Sensor: Yes


Storage: 128GB

MicroSD slot: Yes

Durability: N/A

Ports: 3.5mm headphone jack + MicroUSB

SIM:  Dual

Battery: 3430mAh

Connectivity: Wi-Fi (802.11ac), Bluetooth 4.2

Rear Camera:  16-megapixel (f2.2 aperture) + 2-megapixel (Bokeh lens)

Front-Facing Camera:  24-megapixel (f2.0 aperture) + 2-megapixel (Bokeh lens)

Colors: Black, Iris Purple

Dimensions: 75.2 mm x 157.6mm x 7.6 mm

Weight: 169g

Price:  $599

Availability: JB Hi-Fi, Harvey Norman, Mobileciti, Bing Lee and Officeworks.

Design - Look, Feel and Features

The Nova 3i is nothing is not if not beholden to what’s come before. As you might expect from a Huawei-brand device with a $599 price-tag, it feels slightly more premium than the Nova 3e but slightly less so than the P20 Pro. Moment to moment, it feels snazzy to hold. But I wouldn’t say it feels all that different from what’s come before.

Credit: Huawei

The Huawei Nova 3i is encased in glass on both sides and comes framed by a quartet of appealing svelte, curved edges. There’s a notch - which some might be unhappy to see. There’s also a headphone jack - which most will be happy to see. In the palm of your hand, it competently mimics the feel of other, more-expensive smartphones but doesn’t quite hold up under scrutiny.

The lack of any IP-ratings here feels like a key drawback. These days, even mid-tier devices are earning their stripes when it comes to water-resistance and the absence of any such durability cert here does leave the Nova 3i wanting. It also lacks in any sort of fast or wireless charging compared to flagship counterparts.

Next Page: Camera, Performance, The Bottom Line

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Read more on these topics: Huawei, Huawei Nova 3i
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