Chinese smartphone brand Huawei is making a comeback, specifically in the midrange segment, with the release of the new flagbearers of the nova series – the Huawei nova 8 and nova 8i.
The aesthetic direction for these two make them easily mistaken as members of Huawei’s premium P-series and their new capabilities are yet to be seen in similarly priced competition.
The thin chassis seen from its predecessor, the nova 7i, is made even slimmer for the nova 8i. The hard lines accentuate the volume rocker and the power button doubling as a fingerprint scanner on the right side of the device, while the left side isn’t utilized at all since the single SIM tray is located at the bottom.
An overarching theme of the nova 8i is its comfort when held. The rounded edges and corners make for good grip, the camera bump implementation is unobtrusive, and the branding and logos are placed with subtlety and class – unlike some devices with the company’s motto emblazoned in the back in bold and giant letters.
The Huawei nova 8i was launched in three color options locally – in Moonlight Silver, Interstellar Blue, and Starry Black. Our review unit in Interstellar Blue, is a fingerprint magnet without its silicone case provided inside the box. The highly reflective surface of the back panel makes the color pop, while the branding at the bottom and beside the camera sensors look more classy than subdued.
The visual experience of its display is a mixed bag. Although it has vivid colors and good resolution, the 180Hz touch sampling rate does not feel as fluid as it should be. Content streaming looks good in the Full HD+ IPS LCD panel, but it lacks punch when it comes to gaming and scrolling through the web.
The cameras look great, and work perfectly as expected for a midrange device. Low-light shots are improved by the large sensor, the high-resolution mode churns out poster-ready photos, and there are a lot of ways to do creative shots with the many features provided in the stock camera app.
In terms of gaming, the Huawei nova 8i performs well in low graphics mode but encounters several hiccups when running 720p games with resource-heavy tasks. The dual camera hole takes a big chunk of screen real estate when gaming, but games feel more immersive thanks to its extremely thin side bezels and forehead.
Fortunately, the battery life on the 8i is able to power through a day’s worth of light gaming, frequent Web browsing, and extended video streaming. This feature is complemented by its quick charging technology which is a tad faster than its current price competition, and informs the user on the charging level up to the hundredth decimal place.
The Huawei nova 8i doesn’t feel as strong as the comeback that it should be; it has no defining qualities that make it stand out and consumers are already no stranger to its supposed generational upgrade. It does get the job done when it matters, yet its overall performance is average at best. The lack of GMS undercuts the nova 8i’s convenience up to an end, but the cameras with excellent low light performance and rapid charging speed for a battery that lasts all day, shine as its main selling point.