Huawei Nova 3e


APART FROM THE rear-mounted fin­ger­print scan­ner, the Nova 3e is a dead­ringer for the com­pany’s flag­ship P20 and, the more you com­pare the two, the more sense it makes that the Nova is known as the P20 Lite in the global mar­ket. The hand­set is rock­ing that 2018 aes­thetic, with a flat glass-es­que, plas­tic back (it re­ally is con­vinc­ing) and a slight­ly­rounded alu­minium edge trim. There’s a prom­i­nent notch — love it or hate it — and a slight brand-tout­ing chin, but the dis­play is oth­er­wise mostly bezel-free. The di­men­sions are near-iden­ti­cal to the P20, which is a com­fort­able one-handed size thanks to its nar­rower 19:9 dis­play ra­tio, and there’s only 20g in weight sep­a­rat­ing it from its heav­ier older brother. As with its de­sign el­e­ments, many of the Nova’s specs and fea­tures are bor­rowed from the P20 as well — no­tably its 4GB of RAM and 1,080 x 2,280, 5.84-inch dis­play.

The rea­son we’re spend­ing so much time com­par­ing this hand­set to its sib­ling is that the Huawei P20 costs $999, a full $500 more than the Nova 3e, and we’re im­pressed with how much of its pre­mium sheen gets shared around. The con­struc­tion qual­ity seems equally as solid, the fin­ger­print reader’s snappy, and Huawei-favourite fea­tures such as face un­lock and beau­ti­fi­ca­tion set­tings in the cam­era app are all ac­counted for. A sig­na­ture fea­ture of the com­pany’s flag­ships is their pow­er­ful cam­era ca­pa­bil­i­ties, and while the Nova 3e gets a dual snap­per, it isn’t de­vel­oped in part­ner­ship with Le­ica like its big­ger sib­lings. With that said, many of the depth-of-field por­trait tricks are present in the Nova and it takes in­cred­i­ble day­time snaps con­sid­er­ing the hand­set’s price. If you are af­ter su­per clear night-time shots, though, you’ll likely need to jump all the way up to the P20 Pro (which ex­cels in this field) as mid-range phone cam­eras un­equiv­o­cally fall short at this hur­dle.

One great trick is the ul­tra quick shot, where the cam­era can be ac­ti­vated by dou­ble press­ing the down vol­ume but­ton when the screen is off. You will need to hold the cam­era still so the lens can fo­cus, though. Also present is slow-mo­tion, and of­fers ex­cel­lent edit­ing con­trols on play­back.

If we take a look at the $399 price point in Aus­tralia, the most po­tent and di­rect com­pe­ti­tion that the Nova 3e faces is the Mo­torola Moto G6, which per­formed very sim­i­larly in our bench­mark tests across the board. The G6 of­fers a slightly longer av­er­age bat­tery life and comes with an ac­tual glass chas­sis, but the 3e edges it out in most CPU and GPU in­ten­sive tasks and has an ar­guably more pre­mium and con­tem­po­rary aes­thetic (de­spite its plas­tic back).

None of this is to say that ei­ther hand­set’s per­for­mance is lack­ing — both of­fer am­ple power for fluid every­day use, han­dle mod­er­ate me­dia and gam­ing tasks ad­mirably, and both man­age to com­fort­ably get a solid day of ac­tiv­ity out of their bat­tery. As such, the question essen­tially boils down to one of aes­thet­ics, as we’d gladly rec­om­mend ei­ther hand­set if you’re look­ing to spend any­where be­tween $300–$600.


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