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Huawei Nova 8i review: Quality cameras and ultra-fast charging

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Huawei recently launched two new mid-range phones for the Philippine market in the Nova 8 and the Nova 8i. The latter is the more affordable of the two and features a spacious 6.67-inch display, a 64MP main camera, and support for 66W fast charging.

Retailing for Php 13,999, the Nova 8i looks pretty good despite being the “smaller brother” to the Nova 8. But how does it fare in comparison? Is it worth the price of admission? Let’s find out.

Huawei nova 8i initial review

Design and Display

The Nova 8i features a sleek design with a glossy back panel and a round camera island that places emphasis on its cameras. The sides of the back gently curve towards the frame, providing a better fit in the hand, ergo a better grip.

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The mirror finish is gorgeous and modern, looking much like a shiny new car. Unfortunately, like all shiny surfaces, this one is a fingerprint magnet. The slightest touch leaves a mark, but good thing it comes with a clear case that not only protects it from scuffs and scratches but from dirt and prints as well.

Huawei Nova 8i review

Our Huawei Nova 8i review unit is in Interstellar Blue. Huawei used a refined NCVM technique to produce the color and shadow shifting effect you see when moving handset. It is beautiful and very pleasing to the eye.

In the hand, the handset feels substantial. It’s rigid and sturdy with a bit of weight to it that gives it that solid feeling.

Huawei Nova 8i review

At the front, you have a spacious 6.67-inch FHD+ Edgeless display with a 2376 x 1080 resolution and a pill-shaped cutout for the selfie camera. The display is surrounded by narrow bezels with a slight chin. It’s not an AMOLED, but Huawei’s IPS panels are good. It is bright and colorful with decent blacks.

Huawei nova 8i initial review

ALSO READ: Huawei MatePad T 8 Kids Edition hands-on review

I notice that the cutout for the selfie camera has one camera sensor inside it. It’s unusual but likely done as a cost-saving move.

Huawei nova 8i initial review

On the right side, you have the volume rockers and the power button/fingerprint scanner. The left side is bare. But at the bottom, you have the dual SIM tray, a microphone, a USB-C port, and the mono speaker; And on top, the headphone jack, the earpiece (tucked on the edge between the frame and the display), and a secondary mic.

Performance and Battery

The Nova 8i is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 662 processor with 8GB RAM and 128GB storage. It’s not the latest SoC available, but thanks to an optimized and mature OS, it gets the job done.

The handset runs on EMUI 11.0.1, which is based on Android 11. Basic navigation is fast and snappy. The UI is clean and intuitive. There are times where you’ll notice a slight stutter, but it’s few and far in between.

Huawei Nova 8i review

Swiping to the right from the home screen brings you to the Huawei Assitant: Today screen. It’s a page with widgets for the weather, a step counter, calendar events, news items, and more. You can customize it to suit your needs.

EMUI comes with the AppAdvisor app, which fills your screen with five “recommended app” folders. If you like, you can just tap any of the apps to install it on your phone. I generally just ignore it. You can uninstall apps you are not going to use in the Settings.

If you’re familiar with Huawei, then you already know that the phone comes with AppGallery, the world’s third largest app distribution platform, next to Apple and Google’s app stores.

ALSO READ: Looking for a laptop workhorse? Check out the Huawei MateBook 14 2021 AMD

There are no Google apps, but services like Gmail and YouTube are easily accessible on the browser. Just type in the URL and you’ll be taken to a mobile version of the page, which works just like the app. You can add it on your homepage as a web app by tapping the four dots on the upper right of the browser to open the menu, and choose “Add to the home screen.”

As for gaming, the handset is capable of playing most graphics-intensive games at modest graphics settings. Don’t expect too much from the Snapdragon 662, but it can game in a pinch.

Benchmark scores

  • AnTuTu – 173,911
    CPU – 50,839
    GPU – 38,820
    MEM – 41,368
    UX – 42,884
  • Geekbench – 250 (Single-core), 1077 (Multi-core)

Battery Life and Charging Time

Battery capacity is at 4,300mAh. It’s not the biggest, but it’s more than enough for a day of use. As for the 66W fast charging, Huawei says it can charge the phone up to 60% in 17 minutes and fully charge in 38 minutes. We found the claims to be accurate.

Charging to 100% took around 40 minutes. It’s going to be shorter if you don’t charge from zero. Meanwhile, a 30-minute charge can give you a quick top-up of up to 80%.

Cameras

The Nova 8i comes with four rear cameras which include a 64MP main, an 8MP ultra-wide, a 2MP macro, and a 2MP for depth information, and a single 16MP selfie camera in front. Despite the pill-shaped cutout, there’s only one sensor there.

Huawei nova 8i initial review

In good light, the photos came out great. It’s crisp with decent detail and color, and good dynamic range. You lose some sharpness and detail in indoor light, but it’s acceptable, especially for social media. Night shots, on the other hand, are average. It’s usable, but images are not as sharp and there’s some noise. Selfies, on the other hand, are a little soft, but again more than enough for social media.

Check out our camera samples below. 

Huawei nova 8i camera test
Huawei nova 8i camera test
Huawei nova 8i camera test
Huawei nova 8i camera test
Huawei nova 8i camera test
Huawei nova 8i camera test
Huawei nova 8i camera test
Huawei nova 8i camera test
Huawei nova 8i camera test
Huawei nova 8i camera test
Huawei nova 8i camera test
Huawei nova 8i camera test

Verdict

The Huawei Nova 8i is a great option if you’re looking for a phone with decent cameras and a hyper-fast charging speed. It definitely excels in those areas in spades in its range. Among the positives, the handset has a decent build and a modern design. Its 64MP camera is very capable of producing great photos, while the 66W fast charging is insanely useful.

The Nova 8i is not perfect by any means. But for Php 13,999, you’ll be getting a lot more than what you paid for.

Price and Availability

Huawei Nova 8i: Php 13,999

The Huawei Nova 8i is priced at Php 13,999 in the Philippines. It is available on the Huawei Online StoreShopee, and Lazada.

The Huawei Nova 8 with an OLED display, a Kirin 820E, and support for 66W fast charging is also available for Php 19,999.

Huawei Nova 8i specs

Display6.67-inches FHD+ Edgeless IPS Display, 2376 x 1080, 94.7% Screen-to-body Ratio
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 662, 11nm Octa-core
RAM8GB RAM
Storage128GB Storage
Rear Cameras64MP Main, f/1.9
8MP Ultra-wide, f/2.4
2MP Macro, f/2.4
2MP Depth, f/2.4
Front Camera16MP Selfie Camera
Network4G LTE
ConnectivityWi-Fi AC Dual Band, Bluetooth 5, GPS
OthersSide Fingerprint Scanner, Face Unlock, USB-C, Headphone Jack
OSEMUI 11, Android 11
Battery4300mAh Battery, 66W SuperCharge
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Author

Bryan is a tech enthusiast and self-admitted geek who enjoys blogging and watching NBA clips on YouTube. He has over 20 years of experience in corporate communications, marketing services, and customer relations from different industries such as telecommunications and banking.

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