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Highlights

Huawei Nova 2i Review




Huawei’s introduction of the Nova 2i (Maimang 6 in China and Honor 6i in India) is making the mid-range competition pretty interesting. The growing popularity of smartphones with large, near bezel-less displays has certainly excited a lot of consumers. With the likes of the LG Q6, the Vivo V7+ and the upcoming OPPO F5, Huawei’s Nova 2i is yet another solid competitor in the Php15k price range.

In our full review of the Huawei Nova 2i below, we looked at all aspects of the phone — from design to performance, battery life and most especially the quad-camera setup which is a first from Huawei.

Before anything else, watch our quick unboxing video below:

Design and Construction

The Nova 2i is a nice-looking device, somewhat akin to the Huawei P10 but simpler and more subtle. It comes with an all-metal unibody design and a slim profile despite the humongous 5.9-inch display.

The size of the phone is still manageable; comfortable actually, considering the size of the display, thanks to the 83% screen-to-body ratio.

The Nova 2i comes in various colors but the one we have here is in dark blue which is the best color we’ve seen for the device. It’s only 7.5mm thin and 164 grams in weight which is pretty good for the display size. The metal body feels solid on the hands and the matte finish gives it the classic look that’s similar to the P10 Plus.

In fact, the two almost have the same exact dimensions and net weight — except that the P10 Plus is just 5.5 inches and the Nova 2i is 5.9 inches.

The power button and volume controls are on the right side; the 3.5mm audio jack, loudspeakers, and micro-USB port are at the bottom along with the primary microphone. Up top is the noise-canceling mic and on the left side is the SIM slot.

At the back is the fingerprint sensor where it is normally found in Huawei devices, just below the rear cameras that are stacked on top of each other. A single LED flash sits on top of them while the antennas bands run across the top and bottom corners are visible yet subtly placed.

We liked the smooth matte finish, the rounded edges and the solid build of the Nova 2i. It’s pretty close to the design and build quality of the Huawei P10. As for the size, it’s really going to be subjective but we think it’s not meant for single-handed use.

Display and Multimedia

Speaking of the display, the Nova 2i comes with a huge 5.9-inch IPS LCD display. It nearly competes with the 5.8-inch display of the Galaxy S8 and the 5.99-inch display of the Vivo V7+.

It has an almost bezel-less display at the front with the glass slightly curving out around the edges. The 18:9 aspect ratio is becoming the norm this year and the Nova 2i follows that convention.

While a majority of the apps in the Play Store still do not conform to the new aspect ratio, the device can actually adjust or stretch them to fit the entire screen although you will be prompted to do this to every app individually. The display is bright and crisp, great for watching videos or streaming on YouTube.

Despite the large screen, the 2160 x 1080 pixel resolution looks really nice. The 409ppi gives it more than enough pixel density to produce accurate and sharp images. Viewing angles are wide and still retains the brightness and color accuracy even at around 15-30% angle of view. Colors are vibrant and contrast is good as you would expect an IPS panel although there are a lot of tweaks in the display settings that you can change to adjust this to your liking.

It’s also very refreshing that you get an almost immersive experience for a device this size. The side bezels are about 2mm thin so they aren’t really that narrow compared to many other phones like the P10 or the Mate 9. Where the Nova 2i shaved off much of the front panel is the top and bottom bezels; the top corner houses the speakerphone and the two front-facing cameras while the bottom corner only shows the Huawei logo.

The screen also has native features such as a blue-light filter and ability to adjust color temperature to either cold or warm. The option for View Mode allows the user to set the relative size of the content and fonts to either small, medium or large so that setting really depends if you still have 20/20 eyesight.

The Nova 2i has a single speaker at the bottom, just on the left side of the USB port. Sound quality is good and maximum volume is pretty loud. The earphones that came with it were decent and works just fine with the audio quality on the average side.

OS, Apps and UI

The Nova 2i runs on Google Android 7.0 Nougat with EMUI 5.1 interface that’s customized by Huawei. It’s a flat UI with multiple home screens and folder-based grouping of apps but there’s an option in the settings to enable the app drawer for those who prefer it. Since this is a larger screen, there’s an option to set the grids of the Home Layout to either 4×6, 5×5 or 5×6 apps per screen.

We had a huge 2.5GB software update during the course of this review and that made a lot of improvements on the device.

The normal on-screen navigational buttons are present and can be customized and re-arranged to your liking. If you find the display too large with one-handed use, you can narrow the touchable display area to around 70% and flushed to either the left or right side of the screen. There are pulse notification lights or you can set the screen to turn on whenever you receive new messages. You can do this for each app so you have full control of the notification alerts.

App twin is a native feature that when activated, allows you to run two instances of the same app with each one logging to a different account. This feature is very useful if you’re using two SIM cards and each SIM is associated with different chat accounts.

With the 64GB internal storage, about 12.5GB is allocated for the firmware so you’re left with 51.5GB of usable space.

The fingerprint sensor at the back is placed below the camera which is the best and most ergonomic placement of the scanner in our opinion. It’s easy to access and unlock the phone. It’s fast and very accurate and supports up to 5 unique fingerprints.

Camera

The Nova 2i is the first smartphone from Huawei to sport a quad-camera setup — that’s two rear cameras and two front-facing cameras. The main 16-megapixel camera can shoot at full resolution in 16:9 aspect ratio or if you want the 18:9 aspect ratio, supported resolution is at 11MP.

The camera can also capture photos in RAW format but you have to switch to the Pro Mode in order to do that. The second rear camera is used to provide depth-of-field and simulate very good aperture which is as wide as f/0.95 to f/16.

There’s really no practical imaging use for it except for the fact that it’s a support camera which is perhaps the reason why it’s just a 2MP sensor.

In terms of camera quality, we can say it’s really good but not very impressive. Daylight shots are great but the camera suffers in low-light conditions. With an aperture of f2.2, it’s a bit hard to get a not-so-blurry shot when shooting in low light. Video recording tops at full HD 1080 at 30fps. There’s no 4K support but fancy features such as slow-motion (480p), time-lapse and light painting are present.

The front-facing camera also comes with LED soft light for better selfies. The main front camera has a 13MP sensor with f/2.0, a bit larger opening compared tot he rear camera. The secondary 2MP camera is basically a support camera for bokeh effects.

It is clear that Huawei’s approach for the pair of dual-cameras at the back and front is for shooting fancy portrait photos and selfie photos with bokeh effects. It relies a lot on software tweaks to produce appealing results. It need not be a great camera, it just needs to produce the best-looking version of the subject.

Performance and Benchmarks

The Nova 2i is powered by a HiSilicon Kirin 659 octa-core processor. It’s the first time we’ve tested a phone running this chipset but an earlier release of the Nova 2 and Nova 2 Plus already had this in its hardware. The Kirin 659 has a top clock speed of 2.36GHz for the set of 4 cores and another low-power Cortex A53 running at 1.4GHz. This is paired with a Mali T830 GPU which is the same as in the Huawei GR5 2017 and the Galaxy J7 Pro.

Synthetic benchmarks gave the Nova 2i a fairly good score with a high of 62,964 in Antutu benchmark (puts it around the Snapdragon 810 and Snapdragon 625 chipset). The score is within the vicinity of the Zenfone 3 (Snapdragon 625) at 62k and just a hair below the Galaxy S6 (Samsung Exynos 7420) at 67k.

Antutu Benchmark: 62,964
PCMark: 4,886 (Work 2.0), 6,029 (Work 1.0)
PCMark Storage: 7,492
3D Mark: 413 (Sling Shot Extreme)
Geekbench 4.1.3: 920 (Single-core), 3,636 (Multi-core)

Graphics-intensive games play just fine with the Nova 2i — from Asphalt 8, NBA2K16 and Gods of Rome, the game experience is short of excellent. We didn’t even notice the device getting any warmer than usual even at extended playing time.

Connectivity, Call Quality and Battery Life

The Nova 2i comes with a hybrid dual-SIM tray — the first one carries a nanoSIM and support 4G LTE while the second one can accommodate a microSD card up to 256GB or a nanoSIM but can only do 2G in terms of connectivity.

Other connectivity options include WiFi, Bluetooth, and an FM radio tuner. GPS connection is strong and accurate, thanks to GLONASS support. To those who are curious, no there’s no gyroscope in here.

Voice calls are loud and clear, thanks to the secondary noise-canceling microphone at the top corner. SMS are sent and received quite fast and LTE connection is strong and fast as well.

Battery life of the Nova 2i is relatively good, above average compared to most smartphones in this category. It can last more than a day on a single full charge with moderate use but even heavy users will find the capacity enough for an entire day.

In our PCMark Battery Test, the phone got a score of 8 hours and 46 minutes at 50% brightness and 0% volume (pretty close to the score of the Huawei P10 at 9 hours, 15 minutes). Using our standard video loop test, the device can also last between 12 to 12.5 hours playing a full HD movie at 50% brightness and in airplane mode. This performance is slightly above average in our charts.

The only disappointing factor with the Nova 2i is that Huawei still uses an older and slower micro-USB port, instead of the more modern USB Type-C port. As such, charging is quite slow — using the 2A power charger that came with it, the Nova 2i can go from 0% to 100% in 2.5 hours.

Conclusion

Huawei is wise to put the Nova 2i as its semi-experimental device. The FullView display and the quad-cameras are its main unique features, introduced way ahead of the flagship.

We could not find any major fault with the Nova 2i. If there is one, and we think it’s just a minor annoyance, it would be the use of a micro USB port and slow charging. The use of the pair of dual cameras can be a somewhat gimmicky to others but it does the job well if the user’s main concern is just to take really great portraits and selfies.

Otherwise, the Huawei Nova 2i is an excellent mid-range smartphone that packs the best feature-set for its price category.

The Huawei Nova 2i will be available in stores nationwide starting October 21 with a suggested retail price of Php14,990. Colors available will be in gold, black and blue.

Huawei Nova 2i specs:
5.9-inch 18:9 IPS LCD display @ 2160 x 1080 pixels
2.5D Curved Glass Display
HiSilicon Kirin 659 2.36GHz octa-core processor
4 x 2.36GHz ARM Cortex A53 + 4 x 1.4GHz ARM Cortex A53
4GB LPDDR3 RAM
64GB internal storage
expandable via microSD up to 256GB (uses SIM2)
16MP+2MP rear cameras, f/2.2 with LED Flash
13MP+2MP front cameras, f/2.0
4G VoLTE
Hybrid Dual-SIM (nano+nano/microSD)
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth 4.2
GPS with aGPS support, GLONASS
Fingerprint Scanner
Android 7 Nougat with Huawei EMUI 5.1
3,340mAh Li-Ion battery
Dimensions: 156.2 × 75.2 × 7.5mm
Weight: 164 grams

What we liked about it:
* Simple yet elegant design
* Large, brilliant display in a manageable form factor
* Decent to very good performance
* Four cameras
* Above average battery life
* Affordable price

What we did not like:
* Still uses micro-USB instead of USB Type-C
* Slow charging



Abe is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of YugaTech. You Can follow him on Twitter @abeolandres.

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113 Responses

  1. Pauldiapz says:

    sir abe.. ask lang po ako kung anung sensor ang nasa nova 2i? does it support otg? at upgradeable po ba sa oreo if in case? thanks sa sagot..

  2. Ed C. says:

    Sir Abe, in terms of quality ng shots, which do you think is better among these : gr5, lg q6 or nova 2i?

  3. anon says:

    no gyroscope … Thanks for the review

  4. Frokie says:

    Does it support the 700mhz band for fast LTE

  5. anonymous says:

    The display is bright and crisp, great for watching videos or streaming on YouTube.
    Ayun lang? you didn’t talk about color accuracy, saturation,viewing angles, brightness in nits and contrast ratio. AMATEURISH REVIEW

  6. Yan25 says:

    Ask kolang if compatible po ang nova 2i sa supercharger ng huawei na nabibili sa store nila?

  7. Yan25 says:

    Ask kolang po if compatible siya sa supercharger ng huawei charger na nabibili?

  8. Rtx says:

    This is definitely a win over the vivo one. Although I’m not sure about those forehead and chin bezels, almost twice as thick as the ones from LG V30. Could be better on the actual unit.

  9. JP says:

    Sir Abe, May NFC po ba? Thanks.

  10. Rab says:

    Is the screen scratch resistant?

  11. Pao says:

    Sir in terms of selfie camera, which is better? Nova2i or Zenfie4?

  12. Jonaski says:

    Ito bibilhin ko new phone.. Sulit kc sa specs… Masmaganda pa kaysa sa Oppo..

  13. David says:

    Bat sa iba sabi may gyroscope daw? Pwede po paconfirm, mainly pang vr usage? thanks

  14. Robert says:

    Hi, can you try navigating in Waze using that phone and give us feedback whether it runs smoothly or magkakaron ng time na mageerror or something like that. That concerns me a lot. Thanks!

  15. Robert says:

    Hi, can you try navigating Waze using that phone and give us feedback whether it runs smoothly or magkakaron ng time na mageerror or something like that. That concerns me a lot. Thanks!

  16. Nico says:

    Hi po sir. Tanong ko lang if you’ll gonna compare it with samsung j7 pro which would be better? Thanks in advance

  17. Marc says:

    This Nova 2i or Samsung J7+? Sulit ba ang price difference nila kung camera performance lang usapan? I’m torn among this and J7 Pro or J7+

  18. Nollie Calising says:

    Sir, which is better, Mi A1 or Nova 2i? And how much is this?

    Thanks po for the response.

  19. Ronald says:

    Which is better in terms of camera. LG G6 or Nova 2i? Thanks Sir Abe

  20. Scar says:

    Vivo v7+ o huawei ano mas better?

  21. Ronald says:

    I’m sorry I mean Q6 and Nova 2i

  22. Andrew says:

    Moto g5s plus or this Nova 2i?

  23. Jo says:

    Zenfone 3 or Nova2i?

  24. Nova2i says:

    Hi Sir Abe, I know Huawei Nova 2i is advertised to have a 5.9 inch screen even in its website. You also did a comparison with other smartphone. But can you verify, and compare again. I think its just 5.5 inch same with Huawei P9 plus.

  25. Malou says:

    May compass po ba itong Niva2i?

  26. Jimuelle says:

    Sir Abe ask ko lang po kung may compass app na available dyan sa 2i

  27. Rch says:

    Supports usb otg?

  28. tata says:

    how about sa call display sr.? ok po ba?? meron kasing iba pag may tumawag number lang ang naka lagay walang pangalan..

  29. tata says:

    about s call display Sr. Abe, ok po ba sya? hindi po ba to katulad nang iba na pag may tumawag number lang ang naka lagay at walang pangalan.?? Hindi ko alam kong tama ba yong na basa ko pero nakita ko kasi sa ibang review… paki correct nalang po.

  30. Vanessa says:

    Hello Mr. Abe,
    I own an LG v10 and I am curious if the Huawei nova 2i has a video stabilization mode as well. You know, so that the video does not bob up and down while walking. Thank you :)

  31. adel says:

    i have purchased this phone last OCT 25 and comes with free Huawei speaker but the time i tried to connect the phone and the speaker the phone can only paired with the speaker but cannot connect and play the music. can anyone advise me on this?
    -thanks
    adel

    • Muriel says:

      Yes ako din, di ako makapagpatugtog sa music. Connected pero di ko sya magamit. I tried using other devices, nagconnect sakanila but yung sa kin hindi.

  32. Joey dasalla says:

    Ask ko lang ilang hours initial charging time ni nova2i kakabili ko lang kasi knina…

  33. Kristian says:

    Sir ask olng if anti virus n din po ba ang Nv2i or kailangan pang mag download ng anti virus sir?

  34. Gilbert says:

    Ask ko lang po. Ano po kaya possible problem. Nagdownload po kasi ako ng plants vs zombies 2.. while playing the games ay may nag pop in na message sa messenger then biglang nagloko yung application na plants vs zombies.. nag hang bigla.. ano po kaya problem nun? Then may mga application din na not responding tapos bigla na lang nag eexit. Yung tipong nagkacrash po yung mga application. San po may problema yung ganun? System problem po ba yun? Could it be considered as factory defect?
    Thanks!

    • Nathalie :) says:

      try to use your warranty.. if your phone have defects then you should probably go to a huawei store fot it to get checked…

  35. Bernard says:

    Hello Sir Abe! Does the game Pokemon Go works on this phone?

  36. Janus says:

    sir abe, kung kayo po papipiliin, nova 2i or oppo f5?

    nag dadalawang isip po kasi ako sa dalawa kng anu bibilhin ko..

  37. luis says:

    Hi Sir,

    If you are to choose, which do you prefer? Nova2i or XA1 Plus?

    Thanks in advance

  38. Kevin says:

    May option po ba to record your screen? Parang bandicam. Thanks po in advance

  39. GADREEL says:

    Hmmm micro usb, and slow charging??
    Guess gonna go with the older ones,

    Sir Abe, what would be better Y7 prime or Gr5 2017?

  40. sio says:

    may flash ba yung front cam nia? thank you.

  41. sio says:

    other thing is, ung vivo7+ hindi xa umiinit, and Nova 2i kaya?

  42. Sheila says:

    Sir normal po ba sa Huawei Nova 2i pag Naka charge the color NG mga apps it turns pink sa screen sometimes?
    Pakisagot po before my seven days replacement ends.

  43. Jules says:

    Bakit ambilis malobat neto. Ganto rin ba nova 2i nyo?

  44. rj delrosario says:

    just bought nova 2i…..ive been using ios and samsung.. it is my first time trying huawei because i was convinced how brilliant the phone is and so far no problem encountered… normal battery consumptions by gaming data and wifi..no logs and amazing display very elegant looking. taking photos are above average. however if you will be using slim cases wartch out for your camera lenses.. it is prone from scratches. other than that. this phone is a must buy……… :)

  45. Toink says:

    “The Nova 2i comes with a hybrid dual-SIM tray — the first one carries a nanoSIM and support 4G LTE while the second one can accommodate a microSD card up to 256GB or a nanoSIM but can only do 2G in terms of connectivity.”

    I just wanted to correct the wrong statement about the 2nd SIM only able to do up to 2G. BOTH SIM slots can do 4G LTE. I know because I use my Globe and Smart postpaid SIMs on each SIM slot and 4G LTE works without a hitch.

  46. kerzha says:

    maganda bang pang games ito?

  47. Lhandz Cunanan says:

    sir, may screen mirroring feature po ba ang nova2i? thanks!

  48. Maika says:

    Hi, Sir Abe! Nice review! Which is a better phone, Huawei Nova 2i or Huawei P10?
    Thanks! ?

  49. johnneyP says:

    can i ask how to do this software update?

  50. Joel Co says:

    sir ask lang po. panu mo malalaman if full charge na sya? mawawala ba yung icon na kidlat o hindi?
    ….kapag 100% na sya full na charge na sya? kase tinignan ko sa battery settings full charge na sya pero hindi nawawala sa battery logo yung kidlat still charging pa rin ba yun o full charge na?

    salamat po..

  51. Ben says:

    Mejo madali po malowbat tong unit ko dati po ba un?

  52. Vanessa says:

    Thanks for the review. For the camera, does it have a manual mode like the Mate 9, LG v10, v20 etc. And also an image stabilization setting/ OIS in videos?

  53. apz says:

    gamit ko nova2i now ok nman xa mganda gamitin kaso my issue aq sa camera pag mgpipic n lalo kung my flash maitim ang kuha tas ung mata ng kinuhanan may ilaw/flash

  54. Almc Canuel says:

    i have a nova 2i and based on my experience, nova 2i has a poor data connection. i compared my iphone 5 and 6s vs nova 2i. same sim card same location. So far, other than the data connection issue. nova 2i has a great UI and Camera.

    • Tonytheexplorer says:

      ganyan din ang akin sa old huawei ko, mahina ang data connection niya compare sa samsung ko. same area and network. yun lang naman ang prob. the rest is good.

  55. MJ says:

    What are the active supported LTE Frequency Bands?

    As good as any mid-tier might be, without sufficient LTE bands supported it may be just an “okay” gsm/3g device. And there are conflicting specs listed on various web sites.

  56. jojiee says:

    hindi po ba talaga nababago yung font nya like sa samsung?

  57. Kryptos Baleno says:

    walang gyro? so panu un di ka makakapag switch to portrait or landscape pag gaming at vid watching?

  58. mark says:

    i’m torn between nova 2i and j7 plus. which of the two is better?

  59. mico says:

    samsung padin ako A7 user hir.

  60. Maynard says:

    Hi good pm i have question how will i know if the phone is already fully charged Am I still gonna see the lightning icon when the phone is fully charged? My phone is huawei nova 2i

  61. Pkrbe says:

    Sir sana gawa kayo review for 5’9 phones na mid range ngayon kung ano pinaka ok example oppo f5/f5 youth, nova 2i, honor 7x etc and if possible gamitin nyo din ROS as gaming reference kung malag or what kasi mataas din req nun sa gpu and clockspeed thanks

  62. mary says:

    just got mine yesterday, mejo umiinit xa habang ginagamit ko ngayon.. is this a known issue? wonder if may iba pang ganto din ang issue..

  63. Deck says:

    Is the screen color accurate in Nova2i? I’m more on using editing softwares like Lightroom Mobile. Screen color accuracy is really important in post processing photos.

    Thank you :)

  64. Ariel Virtucio says:

    Thanks for the review, nakita ko kasi sa specs ng iba ang connectivity is both upto LTE, base sa review nyo the 2nd sim card is only capable of connecting to 2G tama po ba?

  65. Maridel Nilo says:

    Wala po ba talaga siyang message validity? Nag o auto delete talaga siya?

  66. Emerson says:

    Normal ba na kahit 100 percent ung battery kaso nag ddrain ung battery nya kahit nka shut down nmn….felling dissapointed?

  67. nova 2i says:

    nghihinaya ako sa nova 2i..sayang mas maganda talaga ang oppo f5.. shitttttt

  68. Cantdyan says:

    Bakit ganun ang hina naman ng lcd nya 2 months pa lang yung nova 2i ko may lcd burn na agad

  69. Jed says:

    Your reviews are crazy accurate. Thanks bro.

  70. dexter says:

    WATER PROOF PO BA?

  71. bulbolito says:

    Gimmicky quad cameras lol

  72. Lisa L. says:

    Hi. I think this is an important question. Besides the camera. It’s the same as the Honor 7x, right?
    So which is the better buy?

  73. Paul says:

    Hi. Supported ba niya ang otg?

  74. Fantasie says:

    Is this good for gaming? No lags?

  75. thomas says:

    I bought this smartphone nova 2i july 2018 bnew for just 12,990… received ota update 2x already after 3 weeks now it is in android oreo EMUI 8.. it improves battery life & greatly improves antutu benchmark 86,416… this indeed the best smartphone for its price range… no one can beat that…

  76. jane says:

    Sir which is better? Nova 2 lite, nova 2i, zenfone max plus m1 or zenfone max pro m1? thanks for the response.

  77. cris says:

    wag kayo bumili ng huawei at puru china yan halos peke mga piesa nyan madaling. kalokohan yan lahat

  78. Daryll says:

    How can I recover previous guest account? Instead of clicking “continue”. ang na click ko po kc is “Start Again”. Madami po kc akong pictures and other files dun s gest account na un. Please help me to recover, Thanks.

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