Huawei Nova launches are always the exciting ones as these devices are known to pack excellent specs at a very competitive price tag, just like the Nova 5T from last year. For 2020, we have a new one called the Nova 7i. Can it replicate the success of its predecessors? Find out in our review below.
Table of Contents
Design and Construction
At first glance, the Nova 7i looks similar to the Nova 5T. It has a large screen with a hole-punch for the selfie camera on the upper left and the earpiece by the top bezel.
Found on the right are the volume rocker and the power/lock button, which also functions as the fingerprint scanner.
On the left is the SIM card slot with support for Huawei’s NM cards in a hybrid setup.
Up top, we have the secondary microphone.
Down at the bottom are the 3.5mm audio jack, USB Type-C port, and the loudspeaker.
Flip it on its back, and you will see the quad-rear cameras in a protruding module and encircled by a thin metal frame.
The unit we have for review is the Crush Green color with a glare effect. It looks like glass but feels like plastic in the hands. The frame is metallic, though, and feels solid. At 76.3mm, it feels wide, almost the same size as the iPhone 11 Pro Max, but can still be held comfortably. Although navigating the UI would require two hands.
The overall quality is good. Huawei didn’t mention any special glass protection, but a plastic screen protector is already pre-installed. There’s also a clear jelly case included in the package, which is nice.
Display and Multimedia
The Nova 7i sports a 6.4-inch LTPS display with Full HD+ resolution, which is equal to 398ppi. The bezels are noticeable and not as thin as those found in flagship devices nowadays. It’s also thicker at the chin, but not at all distracting.
The display is sharp, has wide viewing angles, vibrant colors, and legible outdoors in strong sunlight. There’s also the Smart Resolution feature that automatically lowers screen resolution to HD+ to save power.
When it comes to audio, the single down-firing speaker is crisp and loud enough to fill a small room. Bass is lacking, but the quality is good enough for some casual listening to your favorite tunes or videos.
The Nova 7i sports a quad-rear camera setup consisting of a 48MP F1.8 main, 8MP ultra-wide, 2MP macro, and 2MP for portrait shots. It features AR lens, Night Mode, Portrait, Pro Mode, SLow-Mo, Panorama, HDR, Moving Picture, up to 6X digital zoom, and Super Macro. It also an AI camera that automatically adjusts camera settings based on the subject.
Quality is good, especially in bright conditions. Images come out with plenty of details and punchy colors. In dim conditions, the camera can easily brighten up the image and retain color accuracy, but the details tend to be softer. The Night Mode can shoot 8-second exposures, but not effective in really dark environments. When shooting portraits, the Nova 7i does a good job separating the background from the subject, but the quality looks artificial.
When it comes to selfies, it is handled by a 16MP F2.0 camera. It also has a Portrait Mode, Night Mode, and Beauty effects. Quality is also good with sharp images and accurate colors. Although we prefer the quality of pictures with Beauty effects on. Check out more samples below:
As for video recording, Nova 7i can shoot up to 1080p videos at up to 30fps. Quality is similar to still images with sharp details and a high dynamic range. You can also switch between the standard lens and ultra-wide while shooting. Check out the sample below.
OS and Apps
The Nova 7i runs on EMUI 10.0.1 based on Android 10. It’s a clean interface that is pleasing to the eyes and easy to navigate. Apps are housed in multiple home screens and have features like Dark Mode, Optimizer, Ride Mode, Digital Balance, Smart Care, and its Theme Store.
There are a few pre-installed apps Microsoft News, the unified Microsoft Office app, and Agoda. As expected, this device doesn’t have Google Mobile Services (GMS), so you won’t see core Google apps pre-installed. There’s Huawei Mobile Services (HMS), including its AppGallery, but you won’t find popular apps here like Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, or Spotify.
The best alternative is to download third-party app stores. In this case, we used APK Pure. However, there’s no guarantee that apps would work right away after installation. We were able to download the apps that we needed, including some from Google, but Google apps that require Google Play services, like YouTube and Gmail, will not run. Some Huawei users, though, were able to side-load the Google services and make all the apps work.
This can be an issue to some who are heavily-dependent on Google services and don’t want to go through the hassle of side-loading. On the other hand, you can maintain functionality by going for Huawei’s built-in apps or alternative apps in the app store for your emails and calendars.
Performance and Benchmarks
The Nova 7i is powered by the HiSilicon Kirin 810 chipset with Mali-G52 GPU with GPU Turbo, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage with 111.36GB as usable. It’s a powerful mid-range configuration that can handle most tasks you throw at it, including gaming. Apps launch fast, switching between apps is quick, the fingerprint unlock is instantaneous, and it was able to produce high benchmark scores in High-Performance mode as you can see below:
• AnTuTu v8- 326,744
• Geekbench – 603 (Single-Core), 1,960 (Multi-Core), 2,472 (OpenCL)
• 3D Mark SSE – 2,871 (OpenGL ES 3.1), 2.629 (Vulkan)
• PC Mark – 9,243 (Work 2.0)
• AndroBench – 838.65 MB/s (Seq. Read), 578.92 MB/s (Seq. Write)
Huawei equipped the Nova 7i with a large battery at 4,200mAh, which can last a heavy user a whole day with some left for the night. PC Mark’s battery bench rated its battery life at 16 hours and 42 minutes, while our video loop test yielded 17 hours and 45 minutes, which is good. Charging is really fast thanks to the 40W Huawei SuperCharger and can replenish the Nova 7i’s battery to 70% in just 30 minutes. A full charge is done in just an hour.
Huawei has brought its mid-range Nova to the next level with the Nova 7i. It has a beautiful display, excellent performance, good cameras, and a large battery with impressive charging tech. The best part is that it’s priced at just PHP 13,990, making it one of the best-performing Android smartphones under PHP 15K for 2020.
The only disadvantages we see here is the NM card slot, which can be a problem for some who have already have microSD cards, and the lack of Google services. For the latter reason, it can be remedied by using AppGallery or third-party app stores, or by side-loading Google services through a particular method. If you think you can find your way around these cons, then the Nova 7i will serve you well.
Huawei Nova 7i specs:
6.4-inch FHD+ (2310 x 1080) LTPS display, 398ppi
HiSilicon Kirin 810 2.27GHz octa-core CPU
Up to 256GB NM card (hybrid slot)
Quad-rear cameras: 48MP F1.8 (main) + 8MP (ultra-wide) + 2MP (macro) + 2MP (portrait)
16MP F2.0 front camera
WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, QZSS, Galileo
USB 2.0 Type-C
3.5mm audio jack
Fingerprint scanner (side-mounted)
EMUI 10.0.1 (Android 10)
4,200mAh battery w/ 40W Huawei SuperCharge
159.2 x 76.3 x 8.7 mm
Sakura Pink, Crush Green, Midnight Black
What we liked:
• Nice design
• Solid build
• Great performance
• Good cameras
• Long battery life with fast charging
• Competitive price
What we didn’t:
• No support for ordinary microSD cards
• No Google services built-in (but can be side-loaded)