Taking the Huawei Nova 2i and its quad cameras for a spin

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Keeping up with Huawei and their smartphones is becoming quite a challenge. Their smartphones are fast blurring the line between flagship and mid range. For now, though, it’s safe to assume that the Mate and P series of Huawei’s smartphones are aimed at business and photography enthusiasts in order. The Honor and Y series of smartphones are aimed at the younger generation.

The latest entrant by Huawei is the Nova series of smartphones. Headed by the Huawei Nova 2, the latest smartphone by Huawei is the Huawei Nova 2i. Priced at LKR 45,000/-, the Huawei Nova 2i is available at all Huawei authorized resellers and Huawei showrooms across Sri Lanka.

First Impressions

Well, the first impression we got is that Huawei is merging budget and flagship mobile phones, and doing so quite well. The Huawei Nova 2i feels like it costs a lot more than LKR 45,000/-. You’ll see why in a little bit. An interesting note we found out about this smartphone is known as the Huawei Nova 2i in Sri Lanka and Malaysia, the Huawei Maimang 6 in China and the Huawei Honor 9i in India. Why Huawei can’t stick to one name still eludes us.

Huawei Nova 2i

Moving on, in terms of packaging, Huawei sticks to their standard packaging, with the box of the Nova 2i being white and featuring very little text. It seems they want the phone to speak for itself. Once you open the box you will find the Huawei Nova 2i between two other compartments. The compartments contain the standard packaging such as charging dock, cable and earphones. There is also a clear acrylic back cover to keep your brand new Huawei Nova 2i away from bumps and scratches.

The moment you take the phone out of the box, you immediately feel that the phone is worth a lot more (like we said). The first thing you notice when you look at the phone is the large 5.9” display. Now on a normal smartphone, this would simply be just a large display. But on the Huawei Nova 2i, it’s a bit more.

A FullView Display

The 5.9” IPS display has an aspect ratio of 18:9 (essentially 2:1). As such, the resolution of the phone is 2160*1080. Huawei calls this a “FullVIew” display. The 18:9 aspect ratio enables you to get a much wider area to work with. Slimmer bezels also mean you get to view more which actually looks quite nice. TL: DR? The FullView display looks really good.

Huawei Nova 2i
The Huawei Nova 2i

Huawei tags the Nova 2i as being the first phone to have a quad camera setup. We immediately thought that Huawei had actually packed 4 cameras together. Well, they sort of did. In reality, what they’ve done is paired two cameras in the front and two cameras in the rear. So this essentially means two plus two equals four. Take a look at the back of the Huawei Nova 2i and you’ll see what we’re talking about.

 Because of the FullView display, Huawei also moved the fingerprint sensor to the back of the phone. The sensor is located right under the rear dual lens set up and is placed in such a way that you can use the sensor to unlock your device without smudging the camera lens.

Huawei Nova 2i

The volume rocker and power/sleep button is located on the right side of the device. The 3.5mm audio jack and microUSB port for charging and data transfer is located at the bottom of the Huawei Nova 2i. just above the display, you will find the dual front camera setup along with the ambient light sensor along with a front facing LED flashlight

The Hardware

Powering the Huawei Nova 2i is the company’s latest midrange processor, the Hsilicon Kirin 659. You get Octa-core performance backed up by 4GB of RAM. So you can multitask all day, every day with no issues. Huawei’s emphasis is on the FullView display and the quad-camera setup and that’s precisely what we’re going to look at.

Huawei Nova 2i
The Huawei Nova 2i is powered by HiSilicon Kirin 659 Octa-core processor

The display comprises of an IPS panel meaning colors are clear and sharp. Delving a bit more in to the FullView display, if you’ve noticed, this is the latest trend in smartphones. By minimizing the bezels and increasing the screen size, you are essentially able to view a lot more content in a small screen. This means you have a larger viewing area for watching videos, browsing the web and also for playing your favorite games. Hold the phone horizontally and you will see exactly how much more you can see in your movies and games.

In terms of storage, you have 64GB onboard with a MicroSD slot providing upto another 256GB via the SIM 2 slot. THis also means that you will have to choose between having two SIM cards or expanding the storage of the device.

The Software

The Huawei Nova 2i comes out of the box running Android 7.0 Nougat customized by Huawei, packaged as EMUI 5.1. The interface is pretty much the same across all Huawei devices and there’s nothing much that pops out. There are a number of pretty cool customization such as displaying the network speed, a number of gesture based customization.

Huawei Nova 2i

These include tapping the screen with your knuckles to go into split screen mode, silencing the phone when it is flipped and also a smart cover mode that shows you information such as the time when used with a cover. The device is also expected to be updated to Android 8.0 Oreo soon, but no date has yet been given.

The Camera

With regard to the quad-camera setup, we already explained that it’s a 2+2 setup. For the rear camera this means a 16MP + 2MP camera set up. The 2MP lens is actually a depth sensor for the background blur effects. So while the 16MP camera will snap a picture, the 2MP camera will add depth effects such as blurring out the background and add Bokeh effects as well.

Huawei Nova 2i
The rear dual camera setup of the Huawei Nova 2i

The front camera too makes use of the same methodology where it is a 13MP + 2MP camera setup. In addition, the Huawei Nova 2i also has a front facing LED flash to help it low light situations to make sure your selfies are not too dark.

Huawei Nova 2i
The dual front camera setup of the Huawei Nova 2i

Huawei have baked quite a number of features into the camera, both in terms of hardware and software. Opening the camera app allows you to just point and shoot photos while swiping to the right will give you a plethora of camera modes such panorama, slow-mo, HDR, and Beauty.

Huawei Nova 2i FI
The various modes on the camera of the Huawei Nova 2i

You also get access to full manual controls of the camera where you can adjust parameters such as ISO, shutter speed, and exposure value. Akin to the Huawei P10, the Huawei Nova 2i also has a live ISO meter that adjusts according to lighting conditions and shows you the current ISO value.

Huawei Nova 2i FI
When you want to go manual

Snapping Pics with the Huawei Nova 2i

Swiping left gives you access to the Settings of the camera such as image size and resolution, GPS tagging, face and smile detection and also the ability to save captured imaged in RAW format.  You can also enable voice activated photos where by saying a phrase, the camera will snap an image. This is useful if you have your hands full or you’re trying to pose for a photo.

Both the rear camera and front camera have a wide aperture mode that makes use of the secondary lens. Enabling this feature essentially gives you the ability to fit more into your pictures and also allows you to blur certain parts of your pictures to add a Bokeh effect. If you’re not sure on what areas to apply an effect to, you can click first and blur later as well.

Huawei Nova 2i
Yadushika and Farhan taking the Huawei Nova 2i for a spin

In addition, you also have the ability to capture a moving picture. This is akin to a hybrid between a GIF and a boomerang created on Instagram. Enable the feature, capture an image and a few extra frames will be captured as well. The software then merges them together to create a small animation. A bit gimmicky to pull off, but is a fun thing to do.

What sorcery is this?

We played around with the Camera and were immediately convinced that there was some black magic sorcery going on. Even seemingly random photos that we captured just as thought they were captured from a DSLR camera. Close ups of objects coupled with the Wide Aperture mode made the subject stand out whilst blurring out the rest.

Huawei Nova 2i
The bokeh effect adds an interesting touch to pictures.

Even portraits with friends looked really good. In addition, through the camera software, images that were captured were automatically tweaked by increasing their saturation making colors more vibrant. The same held true for the front camera as well. Our selfies actually looked quite good, for once. For a phone at this price range, we were quite impressed.

The camera is not all hunky dory though. While it takes some amazing shots in daylight, it immediately takes a hit for low light and evening shots. The noise is noticeably visible on screen and the clarity that we’re used to during the day time just vanishes. If you’re thinking of doing a photoshoot with the Huawei Nova 2i, it’s best if you do so during the day with plenty of ambient light available.

Huawei Nova 2i
Low light shots are decent but with a visible amount of noise present

Scoring some points

How does the Huawei Nova 2i line up against its competitors in benchmarks? Well, we decided to find out. We used Antutu 6 and GeekBench 4 for our testing as these are two benchmarks that would push a smartphone to its limits.

Racking up a score of 63,000 puts the Huawei Nova 2i pretty much at the bottom of the list. This doesn’t mean that the device is underpowered but rather that the devices used for comparison are more powerful. Then again, you’re going to be using the phone as a phone and not as a benchmark calculator so don’t let the numbers bother you too much.

Huawei Nova 2i
The scores for Antutu

For GeekBench 4, the Huawei Nova 2i racks up a score of 908 and 3328 for single core and multi-core respectively. While it’s pretty much at the bottom of the list for single core performance, the Huawei Nova 2i manages to outperform some older devices such as the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and Huawei’s own Nexus 6P and the OnePlus Two.

Huawei Nova 2i
A bit of GeekBench thrown in for good measure

As we said earlier, benchmarks are just about how one device matches up against another device. If all you’re going to be using the phone is to use social media and takes pictures, then this phone will suit you to a T.

Battery Usage

The Huawei Nova 2i comes with a non-removable 3340 mAh battery. In our findings, we saw that the Huawei Nova 2i can comfortable last the entire day without any issues, even with the higher resolution display. One thing we did note was that the device lacks fast charging. But then again, given the price you’re paying, that’s not really anything to complain about.

With Facebook, constant Instagram Stories, Twitter updates and me playing Pokémon Go throughout the day, I still managed to have around 11% battery remaining from almost 15 hours of work. Quite impressive indeed.

Is the Huawei Nova 2i worth it?

I was skeptical when I first got the device to my hands. After using the phone for a while and after getting the views of two of our own photographers, I came to realize that for the price and the features, this actually is a really good buy. You get a higher resolution FullView display (something that almost no other phone has in this price range).

You also get a quad camera set up. As gimmicky as that sounds, if you’re into mobile photography and you don’t want to leave a hole in your wallet, you can give the Huawei Nova 2i a go. As mentioned before, if you’re doing photography where there is a lot of light, or you’re taking pictures in the morning, then the Huawei Nova 2i will suit you to a T.

It has a lot of features in terms of the camera for that price and can take some pretty amazing photos. However, if you’re going out in the night a lot or you’re in low light conditions, you might want to consider other options as well.

1 COMMENT

  1. can you pls find out the SAR ( radiation ) values of this phone. It’s not available anywhere. why is Huawei so reluctant to release these figures. Samsung phones have really low SAR values despite being less feature packed than chinese brands like Xi and Huawei.

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