Huawei recently launched their newest contender in the budget smartphone market — the Huawei Nova 2 Lite. The company’s latest Nova hopes to recreate the craze that the Nova 2i did in the mid-range market last year. Only this time, it hopes to do it in the budget segment. Can it though? Let’s find out in our full review.
Table of Contents
Design and Construction
The Nova 2 Lite borrows some of the design cues of the Nova 2i. It has a unibody design, slim profile, and a seamless metallic chrome side. In fact, it doesn’t look like a budget device at first glance, thanks to its classy looks and premium feel. On paper, it’s a fairly large device due to the display, but the phone still manages to keep a relatively small and manageable footprint.
Up front, we’ll be greeted by the 5.99-inch display with an 18:9 aspect ratio. Just above it are the 8MP front camera, speakerphone, and sensors. The bottom has Huawei’s branding but is all-bezel as the device uses on-screen navigation keys.
Moving on to the sides. On the left, we have the triple card tray with dedicated slots for two SIM cards and a microSD card. While over to the right are the power/lock button and volume rockers.
The bottom of the device houses the micro USB port, 3.5mm audio port, primary microphone, and loudspeaker. The top side is left bare as all the ports are squeezed at the bottom.
Flipping the device over reveals the slightly protruding dual rear cameras, consisting of 13MP + 2MP shooters accompanied by an LED flash. The cameras are at the top left corner and are arranged horizontally instead of vertically like what we saw on the Nova 2i. Also found here are the secondary microphone, fingerprint scanner, and Huawei’s logo.
The Nova 2 Lite is light and easy to hold thanks to its form factor and rounded edges. The rear has a sand-blasted-like finish which adds flair to the device, however, it is not enough to keep fingerprints and smudges away. Nonetheless, the phone exudes an aura that’ll make you think it’s more expensive than its price.
Display and Multimedia
The phone is equipped with a 5.99-inch IPS display with HD+ resolution which equates to 269ppi. With the size of the screen, it would’ve been better if it had Full HD resolution. It’s not bad though, but if you’re accustomed to high-resolution screens, the Nova 2 Lite will feel like a downgrade.
On the bright side, the display itself has good color reproduction and viewing angles. Brightness, on the other hand, is quite lacking and direct sunlight will slightly affect the viewing experience.
As for sound quality, we get a pretty average speaker. The Mids and Highs are good and it can get pretty loud without losing much clarity. Although, like every other device at this price point, Lows are basically non-existent.
Moving on to the cameras. Unlike its cousin, the Nova 2i, the Nova 2 Lite is only equipped with a single dual camera setup. The rear is composed of a standard 13MP camera and a 2MP wide-angle bokeh lens with 7-level bokeh adjustment while the front is equipped with an 8MP shooter accompanied by a soft light LED flash.
In-camera features include HDR, Panorama, Document scan, Good food mode, Audio Control, smile to capture, Ultra snapshot, filters, watermark, Beauty mode with 10 beauty levels, and Wide-Aperture mode that can simulate f/1.0 to f/7.0 apertures. Sadly, there’s no Manual mode.
As for quality, the rear dual cameras can produce good images in brightly lit conditions. Shots have average to above average detail, color reproduction, and accuracy. Macro shots are beautiful as long as you have enough lighting, otherwise, shots will have noticeable grain and low sharpness. The wide-aperture bokeh is also a welcome addition and is a very fun tool to have. Although, shots at maximum level tend to come out as too artificial and not as good as its flagship cousins like the Mate 10 or Mate 10 Pro. Despite the shortcomings, the rear duo is still a good set of cameras considering the price range.
The 8MP front camera, on the other hand, is just your average selfie shooter. Images in abundant sunlight, while good in detail, are overblown and overexposed. You’ll have to move to an area with just the right amount of light for selfies to become stable and nice. Overall quality is decent and color reproduction, accuracy and, sharpness is just about right. It won’t impress but it is enough for daily use and social media uploads.
Moving on to video, footage maxes out at 1080p, 30fps in MP4 format. Autofocus is amazing and quality is just about right for Full HD shots. Color reproduction and accuracy are good and audio is acceptable. Overall, you get a pretty decent video shooter. Check out our video sample below:
OS, UI, and Apps
Running the software department is Huawei’s very own EMUI 8 on top of Android 8.0 Oreo. It’s nice to see phones finally having Android Oreo right out of the box, especially at this price point.
The UI is your standard home screen affair where you access all of your apps by swiping left or right. It has its own set of icons and wallpapers. If you’re not a fan of the look, you can easily remedy that by downloading your favorite launcher.
When it comes to apps, we have the usual Google package, along with Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, and Booking.com which you can uninstall. The rest is Huawei’s own native apps.
Storage-wise, you’re getting the standard 32GB with 24.79GB left for the user, which is not bad. You can expand it using a microSD card up to 256GB.
Performance and Benchmarks
Oddly enough, the Nova 2 Lite isn’t powered by any of Huawei’s own Kirin chipsets but is instead equipped with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 430 paired with Adreno’s 505 GPU and 3GB of RAM. We’ve seen the SD430 in action quite a few times and it has proven itself to be a performer for its class.
Basic tasks and multitasking are not an issue even fingerprint scanning and face unlocking are fast. It’s powerful enough to run games like Tekken, Rules of Survival, and Mobile Legends. Drop in frames in busy scenarios and some warming at the back are noticeable, but they’re not too much to seriously hamper your gameplay. Check out the benchmark scores below.
- AnTuTu – 59,694
- GeekBench – 675 (Single-Core), 2,762 (Multi-Core), 2,026 (RenderScript)
- 3DMark – 312 (Sling Shot Extreme – OpenGL ES 3.1), 304 (Sling Shot Extreme – Vulkan)
- PCMark – 3,981 (Work 2.0)
- AndroBench – 273.54 MB/s (Read), 106.73 MB/s (Write)
- Vellamo – 1,740 (Multicore), 1,125 (Metal), 2,085 (Chrome)
Connectivity, Call Quality, and Battery Life
Connectivity-wise, the Nova 2 Lite comes with the basics, like Dual-SIM, LTE, WiFi, Bluetooth 4.2, and GPS. However, it doesn’t have a Gyroscope like the Nova 2i. Voice calls are loud and the clear, while mobile data is fast as long as you’re in an area where the signal is good and the service provider is not acting up. GPS works well and didn’t have problems working with apps like Google Maps, Waze, Grab, or Uber.
Providing power to the Nova 2 Lite is a 3,000mAh battery which is smaller than the one on the Nova 2i but is a pretty standard capacity for a phone of this caliber. It can get us up to 8 hours of heavy social media browsing on WiFi with light gaming and photography.
Using our standard video loop test which involves playing a 1080p video on loop in Airplane mode at 50% brightness and volume with headset plugged in, we got 10 hours and 20 minutes of playback. Charging from empty to 100% takes 2 hours and 30 minutes.
Note: PC Mark battery benchmark crashes during testing.
The Huawei Nova 2 Lite is shaping up to be a strong contender for its class at Php9,990. It has a large display, dual-rear cameras, Face Unlock, and Android 8.0 Oreo out of the box. It’s going to face strong competition though as there are other good smartphones out there in the same price range. Still, the Nova 2 Lite can capture the attention of consumers thanks to its respectable performance, good design, and promising set of cameras.
Huawei Nova 2 Lite specs:
5.99-inch HD+ (1440 x 720) IPS 18:9 display, 269ppi
2.5D curved glass
Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 1.4GHz octa-core processor
Adreno 505 GPU
microSD up to 256GB (dedicated slot)
13MP + 2MP rear cameras w/ LED flash
8MP f/2.0 aperture, 77-degree field of view front camera w/ soft light LED flash
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS
Android 8.0 Oreo w/ EMUI 8
158.3 x 76.7 x 7.8 mm
Blue, Black, Gold
What we liked:
* Nice build and design
* Decent rear cameras and performance
* Above average battery life
* Android 8.0 Oreo out of the box
* Affordable price
What we didn’t:
* No gyroscope
* Below-average screen resolution
Review by Zen Estacio, Louie Diangson