Reviews

Huawei Nova 3i Review: A supernova among midrange phones

Best in its range but not perfect

Published

on

Huawei continues to dominate the midrange market with another Nova phone. If the Mate series is too business-like and the P20 series doesn’t fit the budget, the Nova series is the way to go.

The Nova 2i from last year was a hit among developing markets due to its value for money. Now we have the Nova 3i, the latest phone to come from Huawei’s factory and it’s ready for prime time.

The Nova 3i inherits the key features of its predecessor like having four onboard cameras, large near-borderless display, and a well-built body. Is the Nova 3i a worthy successor?

You guys know the drill, so let’s get to the physique of the phone:

Its 6.3-inch IPS display has a wide notch

Wider than those from other recent Huawei phones

This is because of two selfie cameras and an infrared sensor

The secondary camera helps in adding a bokeh effect

The top is pretty plain, nothing to see here really

The tiny hole is the noise-canceling microphone

The power and volume buttons are on the right…

The frame and buttons are metal but have a glossy finish — at least for the Iris Purple variant

While the on the left is the hybrid card slot

With the phone’s 128GB storage, do you even need a microSD card?

The bottom has a micro-USB and 3.5mm audio port

It also houses the loudspeaker and main microphone

Iris Purple combines purple and blue with a gradient effect

Another beautiful phone with dual rear cameras and a glass back

Undeniably a P20 look-a-like

Let’s get straight to it: The Nova 3i looks a lot like the P20 series. It’s not an Honor-branded phone, but the aesthetics of the Nova 3i kind of give the vibe of Huawei’s sub-brand. Maybe because I was thinking of the Honor 10 while looking at it?

To show you guys how the Nova 3i and P20 series are strikingly similar, I pulled out the P20 Lite from the GadgetMatch HQ. I chose the P20 Lite because it’s likely your second option (it got a price cut in some markets) if you’re planning to get the Nova 3i.

Huawei Nova 3i (left) beside Huawei P20 Lite (right)

Both phones’ displays have a notch, but the Nova 3i’s is wider because it has two front-facing cameras and an infrared sensor for more accurate facial recognition. Also, the chin of the Nova 3i is a bit slimmer than the P20 Lite’s, so the newer phone looks more borderless and iPhone X-like.

The back of the Huawei P20 Lite is virtually identical to the Huawei Nova 3i’s

When you flip both phones, unsuspecting people won’t be able to tell the difference. The dual-camera placement is the same, the position of the fingerprint readers is the same, and even the rounded corners of the phones are the same!

Both the P20 Lite and Nova 3i look very similar, so there’s no debate which phone looks better. You’ll just have to choose which fits your hand better since they differ in size; the Nova 3i is bigger than the P20 Lite.

Amazing performance from the new processor

After recycling the specs of the Nova 2i in the P20 Lite, Huawei finally moved on and introduced a new processor to power their latest midrange phone. The Kirin 710 debuts on the Nova 3i and it’s interesting to see how the new home-baked processor from Huawei stacks up against the competition and its predecessor. My Nova 3i unit also boasts 4GB of memory and a whopping 128GB of internal storage — that’s a lot to fill up.

Android 8.1 Oreo is already available out of the box but it’s skinned with EMUI 8.2. You’ll not escape EMUI if you’re buying a Huawei phone unless the Chinese tech giant decides to join the Android One program. ASUS already made a pure Android phone, the ZenFone Max Pro, but it’s not exactly Pixel-like which is what you can expect from Android One phones.

EMUI 8.2’s notification and quick settings panel

EMUI is not the worst skin around but it’s not the best either — at least for me. It brings new features on top of Android Oreo, and Huawei is fairly committed to keeping their phones up to date which is nice.

Now onto the processor. The new Kirin 710 is more efficient than the Kirin 659 found in the Nova 2i and P20 Lite since it now uses a 12nm architecture, close to the 10nm of the more powerful mobile chipsets found on flagship phones. Huawei also claims a 75 percent increase in single-core performance and about 68 percent in multi-core compared to the older chip.

How do the numbers translate to everyday performance? Well, I haven’t encountered any lag when using the phone’s interface and system apps. Although, there are slight hiccups when using Facebook Messenger’s chat heads. The processor is still new, so there are some kinks that need to be ironed out with third-party apps.

Asphalt 9: Legends runs perfectly fine on the Nova 3i

When the Nova 2i was announced last year, it was a fan favorite. It offered a big 18:9 display with a Kirin 659 processor and a generous amount of memory and storage. The Kirin 659 processor was decent but it didn’t exactly live up to expectations when it came to gaming. Other chipsets in its range, like the Snapdragon 625, Snapdragon 450, and Helio P60, were able to run certain games more smoothly. So, with the new Kirin 710 chipset on the Nova 3i, I was curious about its gaming performance.

After playing different titles on the phone for a week, I’m glad to report that the updated Mali-G51 MP4 GPU greatly improves gaming on the new midrange Huawei phone. It could have been better if the Kirin 710 has the Mali-G71 to make it on par with the gaming capabilities of the late P10 phones.

Midrange Kirin processors don’t always get the best GPU around, but the improved graphics and overall performance of the Kirin 710 is enough to make the Nova 3i a convincing successor.

Camera’s AI oversaturation is a problem

As mentioned, the Nova 3i still has four cameras: two at the back, two in the front. The phone may have the same number of cameras as the P20 Pro, but the additional sensors are not that special — no monochrome or zoom cameras.

The main 16-megapixel rear shooter is accompanied by a 2-megapixel depth sensor for adding bokeh effects. The aggressive AI (artificial intelligence) camera feature we first saw on the Honor 10 is present on the Nova 3i.

Here are a few samples taken with AI turned on:

Just like with the Honor 10, the Nova 3i takes vibrant photos; way too vibrant with AI turned on, to be honest. In other phones, AI uses the best-possible settings based on what you’re shooting. Huawei’s use of AI is a bit much, but you can always toggle it off even after taking the shot, so just keep the AI on so it can suggest what it thinks is best.

From the meager 13-megapixel selfie shooter of the Nova 2i, we now have a high-resolution 24-megapixel front camera with a 2-megapixel depth sensor. The increase in resolution greatly improves the detail of selfies and overall picture quality. Of course, there’s beauty mode and a few lighting effects to play with.

Then there’s Qmoji which is, you guessed it, like Apple’s Animoji. Using the front cameras and sensors, the Nova 3i can capture and track facial expressions and use it to animate a cute character. It’s not as great as Animoji, but it’s fun to send a short Qmoji clip to friends.

Playing around with Qmoji

Without the Leica label, the Nova 3i can’t match the P20 phones. But it’s got great cameras for everyday shooting or when you feel like playing around with the extra features.

Long-lasting but why still use micro-USB?

Like most midrange phones nowadays, the Nova 3i is capable of lasting most than a day. It’s got a sizeable 3340mAh battery which is the same capacity as its predecessor’s. Unfortunately, it still has a micro-USB port; no USB-C for midrange Nova phones, yet.

The Nova 3i was able to get through my usual work day with enough juice left at night. I get an average of five hours of screen-on time from about 22 hours of usage. It would have been great if there were SuperCharge (Huawei’s quick-charging tech) available. Charging times are pretty decent, though. It takes 15 minutes to get it from zero to 15 percent and about 35 minutes to reach 30 percent. A full charge happens in around one hour and 45 minutes.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

If you’re coming from the Nova 2i, which is still less than a year old, I can’t find solid reasons to upgrade. Don’t get me wrong, the Nova 3i is better in every aspect but I find it more suitable for new Huawei users. It’s a great phone to introduce people to the Huawei sphere. Why? It’s got a good balance of price and performance plus aesthetics and functionality. It’s a convincing phone for those who are looking for a new one.

The Iris Purple color looks better under bright light

There’s still room for improvement, especially in charging and gaming performance. One can’t have it all because if you’re looking for the ideal phone, you’ll have to pay a premium to get a flagship phone. Then again, midrange phones have already proven that there’s no need to shell out your hard-earned money to be able to have a great smartphone.

SEE ALSO: Huawei Nova 2i Review: The midrange phone to beat?

Gaming

Marvel’s Avengers: Does it stick the superhero landing?

A title featuring Earth’s mightiest heroes carries great expectations

Published

on

Marvel's Avengers

The Avengers is the most popular superhero team today thanks in large part to the 23 films and counting that belong to the Marvel Cinematic Universe or MCU. This could lead one to believe that anything that has “Marvel’s Avengers” on it will be well-made and polished because of heightened expectations and the backing of perhaps the largest entertainment company today. Well, not quite.

Perhaps we should have seen this coming following the rather lukewarm reception to the A-Day trailer that was released in E3 2019. But that was just a trailer. Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics — the companies responsible for the game’s development — still had time to address things.

While there may have been improvements here or there, the overall experience just falls a bit short of the grandiose, spectacle, and fun factor that we’ve come to associate with the Avengers.

Heroes divided

So what’s wrong with it, exactly? There’s not one big glaring thing. But the sum of its parts just doesn’t feel like it makes up a cohesive whole.

Just like how the team was split up after the disaster that was A-Day, the game feels like it’s split between two disjointed parts.

The first is the Reassemble Campaign which takes you through a 10-12 hour single-player Action-RPG type of campaign. You get a chance to play as all of the Avengers but the story is mostly told through the perspective of Kamala Khan AKA Ms. Marvel.

Ms. Marvel hard-carrying this game

The second is the Avengers Initiative which is the multiplayer live service part of the game. It’s the part that the developers hoped would keep players coming back.

While the two game modes share the same combat, skills, items, and mission design, the overall experience varies heavily depending on what type of game you’re into.

Ms. Marvel coming of age story

At the core of the Reassemble Campaign is Kamala Khan/ Ms. Marvel. She goes from this bright-eyed fangirl in A-day to a hero in her own right, fighting alongside the heroes she admired.

As someone who generally prefers single-player games, this was the part of the game I enjoyed the most. It’s got enough heart, humor, and character that made the MCU such a mainstream hit, while also sprinkling a little bit of Saturday-morning-cartoon campiness.

The best thing about the story is the dynamic between the characters: Kamala and Bruce Banner’s mentor-mentee relationship, the anger between Tony Stark and Bruce after the latter’s testimonies in court after A-Day, and this bromance between Tony and Steve Rogers.

There’s a lot of great character moments here that should be familiar to Marvel fans whether you came in from the comic books, TV series, or the MCU.

It isn’t without any problems though. Thor had very little to do with the plot except for just being there. He played the deus ex machina role when he first rejoined the team. I guess that’s fitting for a literal god.

The boss battles are also very mediocre. After squaring off against Taskmaster and the Abomination, the next boss battles will all be against AIM Robots. For a superhero hero team with such a rich rogues gallery, this was rather disappointing.

Modok was the only other non AIM robot villain

While it sort of makes sense given the flow of the story, I think they could have thrown in even at least one more Marvel villain there or at least have another tussle against Taskmaster and the Abomination.

Other than that, the story is pretty solid. I wish I could say the same for gameplay.

Grinding for gear

The core of the gameplay is the combat, skills, and gears. This is what connects the single-player campaign to the multiplayer missions. It’s a mixed bag to say the least.

The skill tree for each character is deep but you’ll have to grind through the missions to really get to all of them. More on this later. Meanwhile, the gears are… okay.

There are plenty of skills to unlock

While most other reviewers griped about the lack of cosmetic effect from the gear you pickup, I thought this was mostly okay. It’s almost the same with Marvel’s Spider-Man where I can pick whatever suit I want but change my abilities depending on what the mission requires.

The thing is, in the Spider-Man game by Insomniac, the suit came at no cost. In Marvel’s Avengers, while you can grind your way into some awesome cosmetic changes, a bulk of the better looking ones are stuck behind a paywall. That’s what really grinds most people’s gears, I think.

What grinds your gears?

I also recognize that more thought could have been put into the gears seeing as the whole point of the game is getting loot and items while you’re out on missions. For instance, they could have opted to have a set of cosmetic options for gear that negate certain status effects like frosting.

Feel like a superhero

Despite sharing mostly the same controls — light and heavy attacks, dodging, and jumping on the main buttons plus special abilities on the shoulder buttons —  the game does a good job of making each character feel distinct.

Your experience playing as Iron Man will be very different from the one playing as Thor despite both sharing the ability to fly. Same is true for Captain America and Black Widow even though they’re both mostly grounded melee fighters.

Marvel’s Avengers

The stretchy Ms. Marvel also offers perhaps one of the most unique play styles as she also has the ability to heal. It’s perfect for when you’re embarking on multiplayer missions.

Mission unbearable

The missions are where I think the game fumbles a lot. They have a relatively good combat core to build around, but the level designs and challenges leave so much room for improvement.

The missions revolve around retrieving an item, defeating hordes of AIM robots and soldiers, and most frustratingly, defending a small circular area while being swarmed by even more AIM robots and soldiers.

Combat can get chaotic

It’s just a whole bunch of small fries coming at you from left and right. There’s very little variation and it can get old real quick. What’s even more frustrating is to really level up the characters, these are the missions you have to grind through. You don’t get to the really good parts of the combat unless you go through these missions.

Remember the final act of both The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron where the team is battling against armies of Chitari and Ultron’s robots? That’s what the missions feel like except it happens over, and over, and over, and over again.

Good for team players

To balance the opinion, I spoke with our good friend Francis Romero who is both a long-time gamer and huge Marvel fan. Unlike yours truly, Francis actually finds enjoyment in the missions.

What struck me the most with his observation is how team play is crucial in the missions. You can customize your characters’ loadouts to fit the needs of the team. Each one can play a certain role so you can accomplish missions with relative ease.

Flying to a mission

For instance, he said he wasn’t a fan of Ms. Marvel being part of his main team but being a healer, she would be an essential part of the team.

In this regard, the play-with-friends appeal is real. It’s honestly not my cup of tea, but there’s certainly something here that can be enjoyed by people with actual friends or those who play well in a team-setting.

A better future

The other appeal of Marvel’s Avengers being a live service game is the promise of a better future. The developers have already promised that any future DLC content will be free-of-charge.

Hawk-eye — both Will Barton and Kate Bishop — have already been teased and there are more characters coming in the future. Each character, I supposed, will come with their own unique story that will build on the campaign. Their abilities will also be something to consider when building a team for the Avengers Initiative missions.

While the present may be slightly disappointing, a promising future awaits.

Does it stick the superhero landing?

The promise of a better future shouldn’t be the leg that a game stands on. The game can be a little fun at best and a messy, buggy experience at worst.

The loading time from one segment of the game to another is ridiculously long. It almost feels like you can watch an entire MCU film and the game would still be loading when you come back to it.

This loading screen can go on FOREVER

Marvel’s Avengers is weighed down by the expectations surrounding it. When you have a title so mainstream and the backing of an entertainment giant that has dominated the mainstream consciousness for a better part of the decade, it’s fair to expect a polished game. One that feels like the triumphant third act of most MCU films.

Instead, it feels more like the first time Tony Stark took the Iron Man Mark II out for a spin in the first Iron Man movie. It was a fun but clunky ride, and when he soared to go higher he ran into an icing problem.

Marvel’s Avengers

In many ways, that’s what this Marvel’s Avengers game feels like. It’s clunky but fun and while it’s not perfect, there’s certainly something here that Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics can build on.

It doesn’t quite stick the superhero landing, but it sure as hell didn’t crash and burn.

Continue Reading

Reviews

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 Review: Ahead of Its Time!

Experience the future for $1999

Published

on

The first Galaxy Fold may have encountered several issues, but this year’s Fold is all about polishing and revamping things.

With a more durable hinge mechanism, maximized screen, improved materials, better cameras, and the fastest internals around, the Galaxy Z Fold2 is an impressive engineering feat.

$1999 isn’t cheap, but this device is meant for those who want to experience the future in their hands today.

Head over to our in-depth Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 review here.

Continue Reading

Reviews

Huawei Watch Fit review: Great for getting you moving

A fantastic wearable that comfortably sits between smart bands and full on smartwatches

Published

on

Our friends over at Huawei must’ve noticed that I have slowly been gaining weight over the duration of the community quarantine. That’s why they sent over the Huawei Watch Fit for me to try.

To be honest, I was very reluctant at first knowing how my habits tend to generally lean more towards getting fat vs getting fit. But our Huawei friend *coughs* Dezza *coughs* convinced me, so here I am giving it a go.

The timing was rather unfortunate as it was going to be a rather busy week. For me, that means being glued to my chair as I type away articles for various launches and coordinate for a handful of projects. There wasn’t really time for me to get in a headspace to want to workout. Especially since the only workout I actually enjoy — basketball — is still prohibited due to the pandemic.

These may or may not have contributed to my stress levels as measured by the smartwatch.

I realize these all sound like excuses, and perhaps they are. But this is my reality as I slapped on the Huawei Watch Fit and went on with my days.

Before I go on any further, let’s first take a look at the watch.

It has a 1.64-inch colored display

At first I thought this would be too small. However, the screen size sits nicely between smart bands and those round 42mm smartwatches. After using it for a while, the display starts to look larger than it actually is.

A silicone strap that feels nice on your wrist

We got the mint green version (which comes with a silver body). The other variants are Black body with Graphite Black silicone strap, and Rose Gold with Cantaloupe Orange Silicone strap.

If you’re not happy with those options, the Huawei Watch Fit is supposed to work with standard straps so you can mix it up depending on the occasion. I’ll ask Huawei if they will launch more strap options in the future and will update this accordingly.

Magnetic charging

Flip it over and you’ll find the magnetic charging things. You’ll want to keep the charger that comes with the box as there isn’t really any other way to fast-charge this wearable. Getting all you juiced up from zero should take about an hour.

While we’re at it, Huawei claims it’ll last for 10 days. This isn’t the case if you use the Always-On screen option. But the raise to wake function is so good, you can just completely disregard always-on. I’m currently on my 4th day from charging it up to 100% and I’m sitting at 56% at the moment.

A sh*t ton of watch faces to choose from

It comes with a HUGE selection of watch faces. You can go for sleek and subtle, loud and colorful, or just flat out cute.

For good vibes, I stuck with the cute option (the Shiba Inu one).

Full screen touch and side button 

Navigation is easy. You simply swipe through the screen for a quick look at the different stats like heart rate, stress level, weather, and steps.

The side button gives you deeper access to the smart watch’s other functions like Settings and all the different workouts.

Plenty of workouts, can really get you moving

The Huawei Watch Fit has 96 workout modes. These vary from indoor and outdoor runs, swimming, yoga, dance, martial arts, and various other sports (scanned real quick for basketball and it wasn’t there. Sad).

Point is, there’s most definitely something here that would fit your workout routine. I haven’t found mine. Instead, I’ve been using the quick re-energize activities.

The Huawei Watch Fit makes it easy to follow the workouts as it has visual cues on how to execute them. I found these extremely helpful. The watch will buzz to signal you to start and will buzz again to wrap up your first set of a particular movement.

The re-energize routine takes about two minutes and 30 to 40 seconds to complete. I try to do it every time the watch prompts me to “get active.” It’s helped me be more mindful about taking breaks in-between tasks. And the quick routine really did a lot in re-energizing me for a few more rounds of sitting on my ass while typing away on the laptop.

A friend has invited me to try a dance class and while I have two left feet, I am considering taking that challenge on for the workout. I will update this article should that push through.

Overall tracking seems accurate

I didn’t have another device to compare with it in real time, but based on my previous experiences with other smart bands and smartwatches, the tracking on the Huawei Watch Fit has been fairly accurate.

My heart rate hasn’t really changed much from when I was using other smartwatches so that was an easy benchmark to check.

My sleep habits, unfortunately, have also pretty much remained the same. Which isn’t exactly a good thing as I rated low on deep sleep and late on time of hitting the sack. But I figure this is true for most people ever since we’ve been in community quarantine.

I walked around our compound over the weekend and really observed the step counter, and while it may record one step too many at certain times, it rarely happened to cause any real concern.

It also has a blood oxygen sensor — a key feature that health experts have pointed to in determining whether you should seek medical attention or not. I tried it and I may be due for a consultation. 😬

Other helpful features

The Huawei Watch Fit is also home of other staple smart watch features. These include: Find my phone, Remote camera shutter, music player control, and many more.

There’s also a Cycle Calendar that should prove useful. Too bad I’m not female so I couldn’t try it out. It’s also only available in certain markets, which is a little puzzling because I’m pretty women everywhere go through a menstrual cycle.

Is Huawei Watch Fit your GadgetMatch?

At PhP 4,999/ EUR 129 (US$ 153), the pricing seems on point. The Huawei Watch Fit’s health and fitness features are robust, there’s a decent selection of variants at launch, and it will seamlessly blend in your workout and casual fits.

The materials used also feel premium and the smart watch doesn’t look half bad at all. It’s certainly something I wouldn’t mind flaunting to other people.

When you’re ready to step up from a smart band but aren’t quite ready to splurge on a full on smart watch, the Huawei Watch Fit sits comfortably in that middle ground, ready to be your health and fitness companion.

BUY HERE

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Gadget Reviews

Trending