Reviews

Huawei Nova 3 review: A perfect fit?

Call it either an affordable flagship or high-end midranger

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Huawei is on a roll with its smartphone releases this year, and I admit that I’m a fan of the company’s progress. Never have they had this many great devices on their roster and the numbers prove that.

But how does throwing so many recommendable phones affect Huawei’s image? Are we already confused with this ever-growing lineup of overlapping flagships?

Before we begin this review, it’s important to note where the Nova 3 stands.

It’s equipped with a Kirin 970 processor and a high dosage of memory and storage, which makes it as powerful as the P20 and P20 Pro above it, the Honor 10 at more or less the same price point, and the much cheaper Honor Play (from Huawei’s successful sub-brand).

This places the Nova 3 in an unusual position. While the Nova 3i with its Kirin 710 chipset has a clear distinction as a reliable midrange phone, the higher-end sibling has its own identity to carve out.

We already touched on this subject in our unboxing and hands-on video…

… but how much has changed since then?

We first called the Nova 3 a possible P20 killer with its top-end specs, formidable set of cameras, and attractive gradients. Unfortunately, the competition has become even stiffer since then, and there are now more factors to consider.

Let’s first take a deeper look at how it stacks up against its closest competitor to date, the Huawei P20.

Comparisons must be made

Performance-wise, it’s still a stalemate. They have near-identical hardware and software, making them practically equal when it comes to speed, processing, and ease of use. And yet, the Nova 3 is more affordable and has a few advantages.

The most obvious one — although it’s debatable if this is indeed better to have — is the larger screen. The Nova 3’s 6.3-inch 1080p LCD is significantly bigger than the P20’s 5.8-inch display, as well as the P20 Pro’s 6.1-inch panel. If you appreciate size in terms of multimedia consumption, the Nova 3 is the definite choice.

Having played a couple of my favorite mobile games on the Nova 3, I can also say with certainty that they’re more fun on the wider display. I just wish this phone had stereo loudspeakers; it looks like the thicker notch could accommodate a speaker to complement the single down-firing unit.

Its larger body also provides a more generous battery capacity of 3750mAh. Having used all three aforementioned phones, however, I honestly can’t put one over the other. The Nova 3 has great endurance as is, providing me with around five hours of screen-on time during my review period. The plain P20 delivers pretty much the same number, though both are slightly beat by the P20 Pro.

On the back, you’ll find the Nova 3’s fingerprint scanner. Huawei has a thing for moving the placement around and doesn’t have a particular preference; I’m more of a front-facing type, although this phone does make its sensor comfortable to reach for long fingers like mine.

In addition, it has a 3.5mm audio port on the bottom if you haven’t let go of your wired headphones just yet and a microSD slot for storage expansion — both of which are unavailable on the P20.

Other than those points, they share lots of similarities, from the glass body reinforced by an aluminum frame, to the support for Huawei’s proprietary fast charging and two SIM cards at once.

The Leica debate

With all those differences cleared up, we have to address the elephant in the room: Do the Leica cameras of the P20 offer a marked improvement over the Nova 3’s non-Leica shooters?

That’s a tough question to answer and ultimately comes down to personal preference. While there does seem to be advantages with the Leica-infused cameras, not every situation favors the more expensive offering.

To get this point across, here’s a blind camera shootout. One set comes from the Nova 3, while the other is produced by the P20 — all of which were taken on auto settings with AI turned off.

 

All photos on the left are from the P20, whereas those on the right were taken by the Nova 3. The immediate differences show in the way they handle saturation and exposure.

You can immediately tell that the Nova 3 tends to oversaturate photos, and the P20 is marginally better at maintaining edge-to-edge sharpness. Are these the result of Leica truly doing its magic, or simply better software optimization from Huawei’s flagship product?

It’s also important to note that the Nova 3 has an additional camera in front, which seems to automically apply a natural background blur, even when Portrait mode isn’t selected. This is good if you like highlighting your face, but bad if you prefer seeing the sights behind you during touristy selfies.

Still, the Nova 3 holds its own and proves that Leica branding doesn’t instantly result in superior photography. In some cases, you can even say the cheaper of the two has a better take on certain compositions, but that’s left to the eye of the beholder.

Here are a few more samples from the Nova 3:

Which is your GadgetMatch?

When the Honor 10 first came out, it felt like a P20 flagship killer; then we said the same thing about the Nova 3, and again with the Honor Play. Huawei and its sub-brand are great at filling gaps to a fault, and while that’s great for consumers wanting options, it makes my job of recommending a GadgetMatch a little tougher.

The simplest way of choosing between all these is by looking at prices. Can’t go above the US$ 600 mark? You already toss the P20 and its Pro variant aside. Want something more premium and with better cameras than what’s normally found below US$ 400? You won’t have to consider the Honor Play in that case.

This leaves you with the Nova 3 and Honor 10, which are closer in price compared to the rest of Huawei’s lineup. Again, we can simplify this further.

Go for the former if you value a larger screen (6.3 inches versus 5.84 inches) and microSD card expansion. The latter is more affordable though, and has its fingerprint scanner in front if you prefer that (like I do).

All this analysis makes it seem like the Nova 3 is a balanced smartphone with killer specs, and while that’s certainly true, we again have to address Huawei’s knack for releasing more competing devices just weeks apart.

The Mate 20 series is launching soon, and we’ve already gotten a long look at the Mate 20 Lite. If these teasers and leaks are anything to go by, Huawei may be filling in even more gaps soon.

Is the Nova 3 a killer of more expensive flagships and a great smartphone on its own? Yes, but expect more of these coming out within the year at possibly better price points.

Reviews

Apple Watch Series 6 Review

Is it worth every penny?

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The Apple Watch Series 6 offers more than just being a “luxurious timepiece”. Over the years, they’ve pioneered in what a true smartwatch can offer. From the ability to track your runs, cycles, and swims, as far as reading heart rate and even ECG. This year, the Watch Series 6 has a new SpO2 sensor that can read blood oxygen levels within the reach of your wrists.

But does all of that make up for a fancy price tag? Why is the Apple Watch a worthy investment for your health?

You can head on to our Apple Watch Series 6 review by clicking the link here.

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Reviews

Huawei Mate 40 Pro Unboxing and Review: Last of its Kind

Hopefully not

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Every year, Huawei’s Mate series dominate the smartphone world with hosts of new features.

This October, the Huawei Mate 40 Pro finally made its way out of the limousine. As usual, it’s packed with the latest and greatest internals minus the full Android experience. Albeit, you still get support for AppGallery and other existing Huawei services.

With all that mind, is it still worthy to invest your money just to buy this smartphone?

You can watch our Huawei Mate 40 Pro review by clicking this link.

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Reviews

Infinix Note 7: Best underrated budget phone?

Does size matter?

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The underrated brand, Infinix, is coming in with a perfect phone for when you’re strapped for cash. Infinix has consistently released great phones that deliver every bang for your buck and their recent release is no exception. What’s the latest addition to their great line-up? The Infinix Note 7

Show us what its got

The Infinix Note 7 is a dual-sim budget smartphone with a 6.95-inch HD+ and Corning Gorilla Glass display. It’s decked out in three different colors: Forest Green, Aether Black, and Bolivia Blue. Despite being encased in plastic, the Infinix Note 7 looks and feels premium. Just be more forgiving when the phone looks heavily smeared with your fingerprints — most phones tend to do so.

The phone features and specifications aren’t necessarily what people would view as technologically new or revolutionary. But, with phones on the same price range, this one delivers on all fronts of functionality, affordability, and durability. The phone has loud dual speakers, a great battery life, and reliable performance that makes it a stand-out in with its price tag.

Bang for your buck

The Infinix Note 7 is powered by a Helio G70 Processor paired with 6GB RAM and 128GB storage. If you’re worried about storage, the phone has a dedicated microSD card slot. But, note that the phone has more than enough space to run apps on the Google Play Store without much of a hitch.

The Infinix Note 7 doesn’t falter on features when tested. The phone didn’t stutter or struggle when putting it through the stress test of scrolling, unlocking, and opening and closing multiple apps. On top of that, the Infinix Note7 has a 5000mAh battery that makes your daily grind of work and play look easy.

For gaming, the phone didn’t seem at all bothered with Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, Genshin Impact, and Among Us. And, with the amount of storage the phone had, I’d downloaded all the games I wanted with reckless abandon. The phone held up to its dependable battery life too, despite a full day of work and play.

Does size really matter?

The Infinix Note 7 is big for a phone. Facts. If anything, it’s a love child of a phone and a tablet. With its 6.95-inch HD+ display and dual speakers, the phone makes watching Netflix or playing games an overall immersive experience. Despite Infinix sticking to HD+ on a bigger display, it doesn’t really impose on all the great features the phone has.

Remember: the Infinix Note 7 has a good price tag of PhP 7,990. If you’re asking it to feature 2k or 4k resolution, that good price tag isn’t even remotely ideal on top of the other features the phone comes with.

Is the cake a lie?

No, just misunderstood. Hear me out here: The Infinix Note 7 features a quad-camera set-up with a 48MP primary shooter, a 2MP macro lens, 2MP depth lens, and a 2MP dedicated video camera. On the front, the phone has a 16MP selfie camera. These specs can sometimes come misunderstood since Infinix does say the phone features a quad rear camera set-up. The phone technically features three with the fourth as its dedicated video recording camera.

Sunset view

Boop the snoot

The Inifinix Note 7 performed really well even with little lighting. I tried to photograph a dim sunset and most phones would often scrap some details in photos to compensate with the lack of lighting. That wasn’t the case for this phone. With a phone at its price point, it greatly outperforms phones in the same category quite easily. The phone delivers on detailed selfies with it 16MP in-display front camera and doesn’t struggle to focus using either rear or front cameras.

Strawberry and granola on yoghurt

it me

The phone doesn’t seem at all bothered with taking detailed photos. Sometimes the contrast can be a bit much but again, seeing a budget phone like the Infinix Note 7 perform well under tough circumstances that can just be from being nit-picky.

Is this your BudgetMatch?

If you need a phone to get you good shots and get you through a long day of non-stop work and play while delivering good photos overall, this is the phone for you. There’s nothing to complain about with this phone besides Infinix being utterly underrated for the quality of phones they put out. The Infinix Note 7 is a great phone for your daily grind if you’re looking for a phone that delivers on functionality, efficiency, and durability. It even delivers on good quality shots!

The Infinix Note 7 costs PhP 7,990 (US$ 165).

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