Huawei Nova 7i is a new mid-range competitor in the Android phone market. Offering its own distinctive set of hardware, design and unique software, we have been lucky enough to use the new Nova 7i as our daily phone for a couple of weeks now. In this detailed review, we will be sharing our complete thoughts, discussing what’s special about the phone and all the other key details that any potential customer might need to know before their decision.
The Nova series in itself is a long standing name for Huawei. The first iteration launched back in 2016. Since then, in addition to its significant evolution, it has grown in the number of variants being offered. For Nova 7 lineup, customers can choose between Nova 7 Pro, Nova 7, Nova 7 SE and Nova 7i, where “i” variant is relatively at the most entry-level stage. Marketed with Quad Cameras and exquisite design, let’s discuss our experience and review of Nova 7i.
Before we start, its important we list down all the technical details for Huawei Nova 7i so here they are:
- Network: (GSM / FDD / TDD / WCDMA)
- Display: 6.4’’ Display (2310 x 1080)
- Processor: HUAWEI Kirin 810
- OS: EMUI 10.0.1(Based on Android10.0)
- Camera Rear: 48 MP (Wide Angle Lens，f/1.8 aperture) + 8 MP (Ultra Wide Angle Lens) + 2 MP (Macro lens) + 2 MP(Bokeh lens)
- Camera Front: 16 mega-pixel , F/2.0 aperture
- Connectivity: USB Type-C, Bluetooth 5.0 and 3.5mm Headphone Jack
- Memory: 8GB RAM + 128GB Storage
- Dimension: 159.2 mm x 76.3mm x 8.7mm
- Battery: 4,200mAh
Huawei Nova 7i Review: Exterior and Design
Nova series has always been designed by Huawei to appeal to the younger audience. With its latest Nova 7i, the brand is offering three major color variations: Sakura Pink, Minight Black and Crush Green. Sakura Pink offers an amazing hue combination of Pink, Blue and a Gold Accent, Crush Green has a deep glossy green finish and Midnight Black is the traditional black variant but with a gold surround for the camera bump. As for our unit, it is painted in the Crush Green option.
Going around the phone, starting from the rear, Nova 7i makes use of a 2×2 camera matrix at the rear. Housed inside a square camera bump, this arrangement of the quad cameras is something we are seeing variety of brands adopt. The camera bump itself is painted the same color as the phone making for a pleasing and unified look. Rest of the rear is seamless, no fingerprint sensor as that has been placed underneath the right power button.
On the left, there is the indented power button which doubles up as a fingerprint scanner and right above it is the volume rocker. Due to the indentation of the power button, it is pretty easy to locate as well as differentiate from the volume keys. We appreciate Huawei going for this fingerprint location as it has two direct benefits. First, it makes the back of the device seamless and the other, you can use fingerprint to unlock your phone while it is on a flat surface such as a desk — big plus! In terms of accuracy of the sensor itself, it is lightning quick. Barely tapping it unlocks the device within milliseconds.
For the top side of Nova 7i’s chassis, it just houses a cut-out for the microphone whereas the left surround has the SIM tray. The phone does indeed support storage expansion but at the expense of the second SIM slot. Further, Nova 7i only accepts NM(NanoMemory) card so keep that in mind if you plan on expanding storage. To finish the phone’s outer surround, it has a speaker grill at the bottom along with the USB Type-C port and 3.5mm headphone jack.
On the front, Nova 7i comes with a large 6.4 inch Hole Punch FullView display. Being hole-punch, the selfie camera makes its way underneath the display on the front left corner. Compared to a notch-style implementation, this way, the camera disappears more easily when in use.
Huawei Nova 7i Review: Internal Hardware and Performance
Externally, Nova 7i has made its mark by offering unique color options along with a square 2×2 camera matrix to set itself apart. But, design isn’t all and users would definitely be looking for performance from the Nova name so let’s discuss internals.
The display measures at 6.4 inch and comes in a tall aspect ratio for easier ergonomics. The display technology is LCD with a resolution of 2310 x 1080. Color reproduction is good for an LCD screen and the crispness is there as well. At this price point, the display offers adequate resolution but we would have loved to see an LED panel or, if not that, then a high-refresh rate screen.
– Processor, Storage and RAM
Huawei has put its Kirin 810 processor inside the Nova 7i. This chipset has total 8 cores with 6 cores running at 1.88GHz and 2 at 2.27GHz. Further, it gets paired with 8GB RAM and 128GB storage. Overall, this combination has really proven itself. Nova 7i handled day to day tasks with great efficiency and for demanding processes, it worked well there too. 8GB RAM really helps with multitasking as the phone can maintain greater number of apps open simultaneously at any given time.
Compared to Snapdragon 730, Huawei is claiming that Kirin 810 provides 11% better single core performance and 13% higher multi-core performance. Moreover, in terms of the Graphics Unit within Kirin 810, it is a customized Mali G52 GPU and supports Kirin Gaming+ technology for better app performance.
Gaming enthusiasts would know how demanding PUBG Mobile really is so we ran that as one of our benchmarks to gauge how Nova 7i fairs under load. In our tests, we were easily able to run PUBG on the High Settings preset with HD resolution. The phone handled the game tremendously well. Prolonged usage did warm up the phone but we did not experience any dropped frames or stutters. Ahead are some of the gameplay screenshots:
A popular performance measuring metric is AnTuTu benchmark so we ran that as well on the Huawei Nova 7i. In terms of ranking, it places just above Xiaomi’s Redmi Note 8 Pro (Complete Review) and just beneath Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9 (Complete Review).
Huawei has outfitted Nova 7i with a large 4,200mAh battery module. This, combined with Kirin 810’s use of power-saving technologies and EMUI’s optimization, makes Nova 7i easily a one day phone. If you don’t use demanding apps, it can easily last up to two days as well! We got close 10 hours of on-screen time in continued usage.
The large battery, optimized hardware as well as software aren’t all with Nova 7i. Huawei has also integrated 40W SuperCharge. Through a SuperCharge compliant charger and cable, Nova 7i can be powered back to 70% in just 30 minutes from zero — we found this claim to be true in our real life tests. This amp-ed up Fast Charging definitely adds to the value of the phone and makes it a great option for users prioritizing endurance.
Huawei Nova 7i Review: Camera
Camera performance has become absolutely crucial on mobile phones over the past couple of years, it plays a significant role in each customer’s buying decision. Since our phones are our main source to record memories or even generate content for platforms, hardly any device can survive with sub-par cameras. To ensure highest-grade photo output on Huawei Nova 7i, the brand has outfitted the phone with a Quad camera setup. Out of the 4 cameras, the main sensor can take pictures at a whopping maximum resolution of 48MP. Before we run over our thoughts, let’s first list the main camera hardware. Starting off, Nova 7i comes with 48 MP Wide Angle Lens at f/1.8 aperture then there is a 8 MP Ultra Wide Angle Lens and lastly, two sets of 2 MP sensors, one for Macro and one for Bokeh.
In addition to hardware, Nova 7i makes use of EMUI’s image processing. It includes various modes such as AI scene detection, Night mode (available on both rear and front cameras), Pro mode, HDR mode, Portrait mode and more. Thanks to dedicated sensors, Nova 7i can take 120 degree ultra-wide photos, Macro shots at a distance of 40mm (4CM) and accurate portrait shots with the help of the bokeh sensor. In our tests, the phone performed well. The photos, especially when AI detection is on, came out vividly sharp but a little to saturated for our taste. Nonetheless, these settings can easily be manipulated to get your desired output and its better to have these modes than not. Take a look at some of our sample shots taken in various lighting conditions and utilizing different modes:
For the front sensor, Nova 7i is equipped with a 16MP module at f/2.0 aperture. The photos from this come out good. It works well for video calls, supports Night Mode in camera app and has tap to focus.
Huawei Nova 7i Review: Software
With Huawei unable ship Google apps and services on new phones, many potential Nova 7i customers would want to what the device’s software is actually like. Now, to overcome the hurdle, Huawei has included its own alternates for Google apps. First and foremost, rather than Play Store, there is Huawei AppGallery. With it, Nova 7i can be installed with various Android apps and moreover, can be used to keep them up to date as well.
Before we take a look at the app situation in detail, let’s first discuss the overall UI and OS. Nova 7i comes with EMUI10 that is based on Android 10. Huawei partnered up with an Italian Painter, Giorgio Morandi, to introduce Morandi colors into the whole system. These colors are subtle yet provide an elegant look. Further, with EMUI10, users also get access to Huawei proprietary features. Huawei ID, for one, is a single account that will sync all your data and photos. Next, there is Huawei Share that lets you share files to computers on the same network as well as use wireless printers. Another highlight is GPU Turbo that boosts performance while playing games to ensure an optimal gaming experience. Take a look at some of the system screenshots to get an idea for the look and feel of EMUI10 on Nova 7i.
Back to the app situation, Huawei has tried its best to offer alternatives to Google apps and services with AppGallery, Huawei ID and more. However, these solutions have their caveats. First, the app selection is limited on AppGallery (at the time this article was published). Instagram isn’t available, you can’t play Call of Duty Mobile or Fortnite, various other miscellaneous apps are missing. And for some apps that are listed, AppGallery redirects you to the original developer’s website from where you can download the APK — a slight annoyance. For us, the apps we most missed the most were YouTube, Maps and Google Search. Yes, the web browser can be used for these services but the experience just isn’t the same. This hurdles Nova 7i greatly and if we were to pick one drawback, it would definitely be this.