Despite the limited infrastructure, smartphone manufacturers are starting to push 5G in their devices. That means we can expect the new connectivity standard trickle down to more affordable devices, like the mid-range category. This is where the Huawei Nova 7SE comes in, a sub PHP20K 5G capable smartphone. Is this your stepping stone to 5G without breaking the bank? Find out here:
Table of Contents
Design and Construction
Compared to other Huawei midrange devices, the Nova 7SE is a premium device with a curved glass back topped with Corning Gorilla Glass 5. It has a thick metal frame that adds to its durability as well. Our unit came in a glossy Space Silver colorway, which blends to a pinkish hue towards the bottom of the device. While it does steal the attention of whoever sees it, it’s also a fingerprint magnet, so you better keep it in the included case.
The camera module is arranged vertically towards the upper left corner of the device. It is a rather tall module, which gives you even more reasons to use the included clear case.
Turning the device over reveals the large 6.5-inch IPS display, with slim bezels all around. A big bonus for us is the phone’s use of a punch-hole module for the selfie camera, located in the upper left corner of the device.
Located on the left is the dual nano-SIM tray, which supports Huawei’s NanoMemory cards up to 256GB.
Meanwhile, on the right are the volume rockers and power button, which doubles as the fingerprint scanner. The buttons are located in a comfortable spot, with the fingerprint scanner sitting exactly where my thumb naturally rests when gripping the device. The volume rocker, however, is short – which does take some time to get used to.
The speaker grille, USB Type-C Port, microphone, and 3.5mm audio jack are located underneath.
The top is bare save for the secondary microphone.
The Huawei Nova 7 SE is a very comfortable phone. It’s not as thick as other midrange Huawei devices, and the curved back helps the device feel even sleeker. It has an amazing aesthetic, with premium features such as Corning Gorilla Glass 5 protection as well.
Display and Multimedia
The first thing you’ll notice when opening the device is its massive 6.5-inch LTPS IPS display. With a resolution of 2400 x 1080 and HDR 10 support, images appear sharp, with enough details and excellent viewing angles. The panel itself is of high-quality, with high color accuracy, and deep blacks for an IPS device.
There is no noticeable backlight bleeding, even around the punch-hole camera. It can also get bright enough to use under direct sunlight.
As for audio, it can outmatch most midrange devices, with its punchy bass and detailed sound. Its loudness, however, is typical for smartphones.
The Huawei Nova 7 SE comes with four rear cameras, consisting of a 64MP primary, 8MP ultra-wide, 2MP depth, and 2MP macro shooter. Meanwhile, a 16MP shooter sits in a punch-hole camera module on the top left corner of the display.
The rear photos produced by the Nova 7SE is incredibly detailed thanks to its large 64MP primary shooter. This translates well even when taking photos in unnatural light. Color reproduction was great, with a decent dynamic range as well.
Check out the rear sample photos below:
The color profile of the 8MP ultra-wide camera was similar to the primary shooter, although dark areas do lose some detail.
Digitally zooming in by the maximum 10X also managed to produce decently detailed shots, although you do need excellent lighting.
Selfies taken with the 16MP front camera came out nice, even with less than ideal lighting. It does, however, introduce a lot of post-processing.
Check out the sample selfie shots below:
As for videos, the Huawei Nova 7 SE is capable of shooting up to 4K and at 30FPS. Check out the sample video below:
Stabilization was decent at 4K, with good exposure despite shooting under broad daylight. The camera was also able to focus well; however, turning quickly does lose clarity due to the limiting FPS.
OS, UI, and Apps
The Nova 7 SE runs on Huawei’s EMUI 10.1 out of the box, which is based on Android 10. Navigation is easy, and you get all the standard options, including choosing between gesture navigation and soft buttons.
Lacking Google’s Mobile Services, it comes pre-installed with a lot of Huawei’s own apps, such as the Optimizer, Health app, Tips, and other useful features such as Huawei Share. If you own a Huawei MateBook, this device will work well with Huawei OneHop.
While the Huawei App Gallery does not support all the apps on the Google Play Store yet, Huawei’s App Gallery has most of the apps that I use on a daily basis, and sideloading apps is an easy task. If, however, you want the best out of the box experience with minimal hassle, you may want to look elsewhere.
Performance and Benchmarks
The Huawei Nova 7 SE runs on a Kirin 820 octa-core CPU and Mali-G57 GPU. It also comes with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage.
The phone offered amazing performance, as the Kirin 820 was able to score just 20,000 points less than Huawei’s previous P30-series in AnTuTu. Check out the benchmark results below:
- AntuTu V8.3.7 – 355,324
- Geekbench 5 – 600 (Single-core), 2,250 (Multi-core)
- PCMark – 7,853 (Work 2.0)
- 3DMark – 4,091 (OpenGL), 2,481 (Vulkan)
The phone was able to handle even the most demanding tasks such as gaming, without any frame dips and noticeable stuttering. Multitasking was also a breeze, thanks to its generous 8GB of RAM.
Connectivity and Battery Life
As mentioned, the Huawei Nova 7 SE comes with the 5G capable Kirin 820 chipset. However, do note that only the primary SIM can connect via 5G, while the secondary SIM is limited to 4G. Aside from that, other connectivity features include dual-band WiFi 802.11 ac, Bluetooth 5.1, and GPS. Again, 5G connectivity is limited as of writing, but on the bright side, you won’t worry about connecting to it once it becomes widely available.
Moving over to the battery, it comes with a 4,000mAh capacity, with Huawei’s 40W SuperCharge support. In our standard video loop test, where we repeat a 1080p video with 50% brightness, 0% volume, with airplane mode on, the device managed to get 16 hours and 1 minute, which is great. Charging the device from 0 to full takes less than an hour and a half.
The Huawei Nova 7 SE is a well-rounded device that performs well in all aspects. It has an amazing IPS display, a solid mid-range chipset, capable cameras, respectable battery life, and of course, 5G connectivity. All of its upsides are magnified by its affordable price of just PHP 19,990.
The biggest thing that may turn people away is its lack of Google Mobile Support. While most Google applications (such as YouTube and Gmail) can be accessed via the browser, Huawei’s App Gallery doesn’t have all the apps that are available on the Google Play Store. For example, in order to use Facebook and Reddit, you’re going to need to download its APK elsewhere. You still need the help of third-party app stores. That being said, most important apps I use, such as the BPI Mobile app, GCash, and Viber, are already on the App Gallery, and the catalog is still growing.
If you’re already a fan of Huawei’s EMUI and don’t mind the extra hassle of sideloading a few apps, then the Huawei Nova 7 SE is an easy phone to recommend to people who are looking to get a 5G capable device today.
Huawei Nova 7SE 5G specs:
6.5-inch FHD+ (2400 x 1080) LTPS IPS display, HDR 10
Huawei Kirin 820 5G 2.36GHz octa-core CPU
Huawei NM card support
• 64MP main
• 8MP ultra-wide
• 2MP depth
• 2MP macro
16MP front camera
5G, 4G LTE
3.5mm audio jack
Fingerprint scanner (side-mounted)
EMUI 10.1 (Android 10)
4,000mAh battery w/ 40W SuperCharge
162.31 x 75 x 8.58 mm
Space Silver, Crush Green