Huawei Nova 3e review - Selfie focused mid-range smartphone
The Huawei Nova 3e, also known as the Huawei P20 Lite in certain markets is a mid-range selfie focused smartphone that comes packed with features and performance for the price of RM1399. Although it doesn’t come with features found on higher-end flagship devices such as the AI assisted camera or battery management which is found on the Huawei P20 and P20 Pro, it's still a device worth considering if you are looking for something in the mid-range category. In this review, we'll be taking a look at the selfie focused Huawei Nova 3e to determine whether the features justify it's price.
Design - Solid, shiny smudge magnet
At a glance you can see that the display of the Huawei Nova 3e features a display notch that houses the earpiece, proximity sensor, as well as the 24MP selfie camera. Not only that, there is no physical home button on the device, instead Huawei’s very own logo takes the place of the home button at the bottom of the display.
On the rear you’ll be pleased to see that the back is glass as well, with that being said, the device is quite the fingerprint magnet, so it’s best to have the phone enclosed in a case to prevent smudges and minor scratches while handling it. The screen of the Nova 3e is bright, contrasty, and it also also features a FullView Display design which improves the user experience of the device through minimalising the bezels of the screen as well as giving the user a better grip while handling the phone.
The Nova 3e Top Notch
The Nova 3e Bottom chin - No physical home button
Right side - Volume and Power Button
Left side - Dual-SIM and MicroSD slot
Bottom - USB Type-C, Speaker, 3.5mm Audio Socket
On the rear of the device, you’ll find the dual 16MP + 2MP rear camera with an LED flash located slightly below it, and the fingerprint scanner on the other hand is located towards the middle of the phone. Around the metal sides of the device you get a dual SIM tray slot on the left where you can fit two SIM cards or a SIM card and a MicroSD card, on the right side you’ll find the power button as well as the volume rocker on the right side. At the bottom of the Nova 3e you also get the speaker grill, 3.5mm audio socket, and a USB Type-C connector.
The screen of the Nova 3e is definitely bright and full of contrast, along with bezels so thin you’d be surprised how they managed to fit a 5.84-inch display onto a device of this size. Last but not least, the device also comes in 2 different colours which are the Klein Blue and Midnight Black.
Dual rear camera and the Fingerprint Sensor
Fingerprints! Triggered yet?
Tech specs and features - 24MP Selfie camera with fun camera effects
- HiSilicon Kirin 659 Chipset
- 4GB of RAM
- 128GB of Internal Memory
- 16MP + 2MP Dual Rear Camera
- 24MP Selfie Camera
- 5.84-inch IPS Display
- 1080×2280 Screen resolution
- Android Oreo 8.0
- EMUI 8.0
- 3000mAh non-removable battery
- Measure at 148.6 × 71.2 × 7.4mm
- Weighs at 145g
- Dual-SIM/Single SIM + MicroSD Card slot
- Features a fingerprint scanner, face unlock, 9V/2A fast charging, AR Stickers, USB-Type C connector
- Bluetooth Connectivity up to 2 devices
The Huawei Nova 3e is heavily focused on the selfie aspect of the device, that being said the Nova 3e packs in a 24MP front facing selfie camera which is also used to unlock your phone using it's Face Unlock Feature. Interestingly, the Face Unlock struggles under lowlight conditions, in order to alleviate this, it is recommended to set your screen brightness high enough for the sensor to detect your face under lowlight conditions. It is also best to note that the face unlock feature isn’t exactly blazing fast, but it is definitely useable to say the least.
But users can definitely fall back on the more reliable fingerprint unlock, that way, you do not need to power on the display when you need to unlock your phone. The device also features a Dual-SIM card slot in which the second slot can be used as a MicroSD card slot to expand the internal storage by up to 256GB.
Left: Rear Camera modes. Right: Selfie Camera modes
Face Mask and AR Lens Background replacement
There are several features that come pre-installed in the Huawei Nova 3e including but not limited to the AR Lens, such as the Background Replacement, Panorama, Slow-Mo Video, Camera Filters and Face masks. The AR Lens is a fun little feature which allows you to replace the background with effects that are downloadable through the camera app itself.
Performance - Great for day to day use, intensive gaming however..
In terms of performance, the Huawei Nova 3e is definitely smooth for day to day usage. I have yet to experience any significant lag although your mileage may vary depending on your use case. Gaming performance, on the other hand, I could feel the device stuttering every now and then while playing PUBG Mobile which is on balanced setting with the frame rate setting set to medium.
However, it is best to note that the phone can get uncomfortably hot at times. Battery life on the other hand did not last as long while playing PUBG Mobile as the battery levels dipped down by 12% to 15% on average while playing on the "Balanced setting" for 25 minutes.
In terms of connectivity I did not experience any drop in connection or network degredation while playing PUBG mobile as well as downloading large files through a WiFi connection. In terms of call quality, it is pretty stable as well and the call receiver is able to hear me clear enough through the Nova 3e's inbuilt microphone. Playing Asphalt 8: Airborne, however, was rather smooth and I did not notice any slowdown during intense moments such as the start of the race, explosions and crashes between the cars themselves. The battery did not go down as much during Asphalt 8 as I was able to go through 4 races back to back and it only went down by as much as 4% on the Battery indicator
The device stutters a little while on PUBG mobile and it also gets uncomfortably warm during extended play
Closing in to the finish line! Colours pop with the high contrast screen and no noticeable lags during gameplay
The camera of the Huawei Nova 3e is able to take pictures up to 16MP for the dual rear camera and up to 24MP for the front facing selfie camera along with videos up to Full HD 1080P, unfortunately the video settings does not show any information such as what frame rate it is capturing at. Being a selfie focused device, it does not have an AI assisted camera like the Huawei P20 and P20 Pro, which helps improve the quality of the pictures taken.
If you have a steady hand and some selfie taking know how, this isn't an issue though. The speakers for the Nova 3e is loud and clear at the maximum settings with barely noticeable audio distortion. It is even audible from the next room depending on the thickness of the wall.
The rear camera is able to take decent pictures as well with it's 16MP + 2MP rear sensor although it lacks in lowlight as pictures taken during lowlight situations seem to have some noise and grain present in the image. Selfies taken during lowlight situations look great due to the high megapixel count of the selfie camera, which helps in reducing noise in the picture.
Landscape shot with various colours present in the image
Low light street photography
Rear camera on a well lit subject
Rear camera performance for well-lit vs lowlight Subject
Selfie camera performance for well-lit vs lowlight
Video resolution screen options - no FPS choices though
Conclusion - It's a great selfie cameraphone
The Huawei Nova 3e which is priced at RM1320(0% GST) is a great camera centric phone that offers high resolution selfie picture and colour popping images through its 24MP front facing selfie camera as well as the 16MP + 2MP rear camera. It comes with a whopping 128GB internal storage and 9v/2A fast charging which we rarely see on other phones of it's price range. I would say that Huawei definitely put a lot of focus into the camera sensors and image processors of this device, and it is on par with or even better compare to the two of the popular selfie focused phones of same price range which is the Oppo F7 and the Vivo V9.
On the flipside, the Huawei Nova 3e loses out in terms of raw performance as compared to the other devices mentioned. To conclude this review, if you are looking for a camera focused smartphone as your daily driver for taking selfies and occassional photographs, the Huawei Nova 3e would make a great choice for the price of RM1320.
Check out our first impressions video here