Phones are tricky. Most smartphones today are so similar to each other that it’s really the tiniest differences that put one over another. Well, that and the price.
I’m a big fan of Huawei, with the P20 Pro being my work phone for the last few months. So I was very interested to get my grubby mitts on the Nova 3, one of the mid-range phones on the market from Huawei.
Usually I’d put my own in a drawer for a while during review periods, but as it turns out, my P20 Pro wouldn’t pair with the new Pokeball Plus accessory, and I really needed to try that out too. So I became that guy, walking around town with two phones and a Pokeball, catching two Pidgey with one ball.
… You think of a better segue, I dare you.
The Huawei Nova 3 is a gorgeous phone. That Iris Purple rainbow effect on the back is breathtaking, even if my greasy paws made a mess of it straight away. The fingerprint reader is on the back, which was a bit of a surprise after so long with the P20 Pro, but was fast and knew me straight away. Plus, it’s also quite sleek, a little indent letting me know where to poke. Weirdly, it’s slightly taller than my P20, but that wasn’t an issue.
The quad camera design is surprisingly unobtrusive, and instantly screams Huawei when you see it (no, not literally). The more rounded edges are also a sign of the modernisation of the range, although you’ll be popping it in a case straight away to protect that finish.
The camera is pretty good too. Front facing we have dual 24MP and 2MP cameras for selfie goodness, bringing up the rear are the 16MP and 24MP dual camera modules. Facial recognition found me quickly and easily, and not just because I’m devastatingly handsome (I have Beauty mode to thank for that); it was just really good, even with glasses on or off. It also found my pets beautiful, and modified the AI settings to detect whether I was photographing a cat or a dog, although it didn’t like my rats. The quality is pretty great for a higher-end-of-mid-range device, with both sets of dual cameras giving crisp, slightly oddly coloured photos of my beautiful pets and also of me.
Don’t judge me.
I love that it still has a 3.5mm headphone jack because, even though I use Bluetooth headphones all the time, I like having the familiar option of just sticking a cable in without having to use an adapter. Plus it still charges with USB-C, so it’s the best of both worlds.
This is a phone with some oomph. You’ve got Huawei’s very own EMUI 8.2 OS, which definitely looks great. As systems go, I prefer it to Oppo or Samsung, but not so much as Sony; old habits die hard, I guess.
I put this phone through the wringer with Pokemon Go; it was always on standby while commuting and in work, with the Pokeball Plus doing its job on its own so I could do mine. It never overheated, even when actually opening the screen to play, and I’d finish my day with about 30% to spare. I mean yeah, it’s a 3750mAh battery, so it’s pretty great, but the power saving on this thing was amazing, with a ton of options to optimise your usage.
It also never slowed down, even when Spotify, Mail, Twitter, and PoGo open at once and flitting through them. If a phone can keep up with my fragmented thought patterns, it’s a definite thumbs up.
There are downsides to every device, and the Nova 3 has some too. The Huawei OS is still a bit of an issue around things like centering clocks and changing wallpaper galleries, but these are small problems. The biggest one for me? Good God this thing is slippery. Like seriously, put it down at a slight angle and it’d be halfway to Sydney by the time you noticed. Huawei may want to expand into the transport space with this tech, because it moves like no device I’ve ever seen.
I kid. Honestly this actually made me like the phone more, because it kept me extremely entertained. Although I must admit, Huawei usually provide a clear case with their phones and this review unit didn’t have one. The clear case would no doubt take the slippery issue away.
The Huawei Nova 3 is a good phone. It’s the higher end of mid-range with a $699 price range but it gives good bang for your buck. If a premium handset is out of your price range then you could do a lot worse than the Huawei Nova 3, which packs in plenty of tech and runs like a champ and a less than premium price.