New HUAWEI nova 3i – a mid-range smartphone for the selfie generation

Good news for those hunting for a wallet-friendly smartphone that delivers on performance. Huawei launched their latest Huawei nova 3i mid-range smartphone in Singapore today and we got to try out the phone two weeks earlier.

Some key selling points:

  • retails at an exceptional value of just S$398! 
  • Singapore is amongst the first in the world to launch Huawei nova 3i
  • world’s first smartphone to feature front-facing dual cameras with AI support

Other than the price, the latter is probably the strongest selling point for the youths of today who are into flawless selfies and photoshopping their images to look perfect. Just look at the extreme example of shamed influencer, Daryl Aiden Yow.

While the AI photography features can’t beat the Leica powered Huawei P20 Pro; at just a third of the price, the Huawei nova 3i is a steal for those who are more budget-conscious and yet wants quality photography powered by AI.

How good is the photography with the nova 3i?

Here are some unedited rear camera image samples taken using the nova 3i:

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The AI features come into play here and it was able to recognise various scenarios like food, action and portraits. These are the various AI modes available:

Low light and zoom images taken using the nova 3i:

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So far so good. The photos are crisp and clear and the AI was able to accurately identify the different scenarios and tune the images accordingly. Note that all the shots are taken without any filter applied or any manual adjustments done. Not bad for a smartphone which cost less than S$500.

Next, here are some unedited front camera image samples taken using the nova 3i:

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As you can see, the images are highly enhanced and saturated to portray flawless complexion, saving you the hassle of photoshopping or other forms of photo touch-up. There’s also quite a fair bit of whitening on darker skin tones. I can see how this will work for the selfie generation, saving them time and effort to edit their images. These are made possible with the world’s first front-facing dual cameras, powered by AI:

A spokesperson for Huawei shared that the nova 3i’s AI feature is able to detect specific skin tone preferences for different ethnic groups across different countries and tune the images accordingly. The results are as per the images shared.

Our verdict? The nova 3i’s photography features work for those who uses their phones to take casual and fun shots for sharing with friends. It delivers at the price point. For those into more serious photography, consider topping up for the Huawei P20 series phones.

The Huawei nova 3i was unveiled in Singapore earlier today at AVRY Club during a media launch. Here are some product shots of the Black model which we used for our review:

“We want to empower our customers with access to high-end technologies and create value for the budget-conscious,” shared Cheng Jiangfei, Managing Director, Huawei Singapore Consumer Business Group. “By integrating the finest of modern design and AI capabilities, the HUAWEI nova 3i boasts a range of new exciting features that pushes the boundaries of innovation. We believe that such fundamentals of smartphone technology should be made accessible for everyone to enjoy. With the HUAWEI nova 3i, our customers can enjoy exceptional quality and premium functionalities at a fraction of the price.”

The HUAWEI nova 3i will be available in both Iris Purple and Black at the recommended retail price of S$398 and will be making its public debut on 28 July 2018 at Waterway Point Shopping Mall, East Wing Atrium, Basement 2. From 11am to 9pm, customers will receive a Casio G-SHOCK Analog-Digital Watch (worth $199) with every purchase of the nova 3i, while stocks last. As part of the debut on 28 July, visitors will also be treated to a day of entertainment with celebrity appearances by local sweethearts Joanna Dong and Boon Hui Lu.

Thereafter, it will be available at all Huawei Concept Stores, local telecommunication operators, selected consumer electronic stores, authorised mobile retailers and selected online marketplaces.

Key features of the HUAWEI nova 3i include:

  • Gradient hue featuring a special textured film underneath the glass back that produces a dreamy unique appearance on the rear;
  • Four AI cameras to put a premium, intelligent photography experience into the hands of customers (Front: 24MP and 2MP, Rear: 16MP and 2MP);
  • Great display experience; the HUAWEI nova 3i is equipped with the newest generation of FullView display. Measuring at 6.3-inch and supporting FHD+ (2340×1080), the vibrant 19.5:9 display covers 85 percent of the color gamut;
  • Flagship-class performance; the HUAWEI nova 3i comes with the latest EMUI 8.2 software and features Huawei’s first quad-core Kirin 710 chip, specifically designed for the nova series.

Four AI-powered cameras with infinite possibilities

Powered by AI, the HUAWEI nova 3i can recognise over 200 scenarios across eight categories including Blue Sky, Plant and Beach. The AI function can optimise photos by scene to create a true-to-life effect.

First of its kind AI powered 24MP + 2MP front cameras

The HUAWEI nova 3i is the world’s first smartphone to feature a 24MP primary sensor and a 2MP sensor powered by AI photography. The 24MP primary sensor is designed to capture details with its f/2.0 wide aperture lens, while the 2MP secondary sensor captures depth data with dedicated depth detection hardware. Working in synergy, the dual cameras can produce stunning, authentic bokeh effects, minimising the time and effort required for editing the perfect photo.

Master AI Photography with 16MP + 2MP rear cameras

The rear-facing camera combines a 16MP primary sensor and a 2MP secondary sensor. The former captures vivid images and videos, while the latter records depth data to create a professional bokeh effect, resulting in more natural-looking images. When taking a photo, the handset also assists the user with intelligent composition, helping amateurs take gorgeous photos with ease.

Expression made different with 3D Qmoji

With AI machine learning, the HUAWEI nova 3i also supports 3D Qmoji, which is a social media-friendly feature that digitally transposes the face of a user onto a digital avatar.

An Extraordinary Viewing Experience

The HUAWEI nova 3i features a trendy design and meticulous craftsmanship that place the device at the forefront of fashion.

The HUAWEI nova 3i uses the newest generation 6.3-inch FHD+ (2340×1080) 19.5:9 FullView display. These specifications enable the display to push out bigger and sharper images while looking slimmer than its predecessor. Another upgrade is on colour reproduction: The new generation of the device covers 85 percent of the colour gamut, up 10 percent from the previous generation, offering an unparalleled display experience.

The front of the HUAWEI nova 3i features a symmetric design—the earpiece speaker is nestled between two sensors. Behind the notched front view is a beautiful glass back, secured to a sturdy aluminum-magnesium alloy mid-frame. The glass transitions seamlessly to the mid-frame, allowing this 6.3- inch-screen boasting device to retain a slim outer appearance and exceptional feel in the palm.

Designed to mesmerise

The Iris Purple gradient colour is perfectly realised on the textured film underneath the curved glass. Purple and blue blend harmoniously with the neon-like contrasts, melding together to create a futuristic hue. Besides the trendy Iris Purple variant, HUAWEI nova 3i is available in Black.

Flagship Performance with Support for AI Features

Huawei ensures a high-quality AI user experience with the power Kirin 710 SoC that delivers an outstanding and balanced performance. Huawei has also cultivated a complete ecosystem on the EMUI, one that encompasses a comprehensive suite of AI-related services that enables an AI-enhanced lifestyle for the convenience of users including AI shopping, AI gallery and more.

Smooth gaming experience

The HUAWEI nova 3i also supports an AI gaming mode that pushes the performance of the SoC to the maximum while blocking non-critical notifications and calls that could hamper the gaming experience.

In addition to the Kirin 710 SoC and 4GB RAM, the HUAWEI nova 3i also uses GPU Turbo to optimize its graphics processing capability. GPU Turbo is a graphics processing accelerator technology that re-architects how graphics are processed on a system level; it greatly improves software-hardware integration, pushing past the traditional bottlenecks that held the CPU and GPU back. GPU Turbo enables devices to run even the most graphically intensive games as it boosts both performance and efficiency, an achievement that defies conventional technology.

Comparison with other mid-range phones available in Singapore from major brands:

Priced at just S$398, the only other comparably priced model would be the lower end Samsung J7 Duo at S$348. The Huawei nova 3i clearly a front-running in this market segment.


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