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Huawei Nova 2 Lite Review: A New Sub-10K Star?

A New Contender In a Highly Contested Price Point

There’s no doubt that when Huawei pulled the wraps off their mid-range contender in the last quarter of 2017, the Huawei Nova 2i, it captured the hearts and minds of folks looking for a phone for less than Php 15,000. Hoping to capture some of that magic in sub-10k segment, the company is releasing a new device in the Nova line in the next few days. Will it be a strong contender in the segment and worth the buy? Let’s find out in this full review.

Huawei Nova 2 Lite Specs

  • 1.4 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 octa-core processor
  • 3GB of RAM
  • 5.99-inch HD+ IPS display, 18:9 display aspect ratio, 1440 x 720 resolution
  • 32GB of storage, expandable via dedicated microSD
  • 13-megapixel camera with f/2.2 aperture lens, 2-megapixel secondary camera with f/2.0 aperture lens, PDAF, LED flash
  • 8-megapixel f/2.0 front cameras with selfie toning flash
  • Dual SIM
  • 3G, LTE
  • WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, A-GPS,
  • Fingerprint scanner, Face Unlock
  • 3,000mAh battery
  • Android Oreo with EMUI 8.0

A Tale of Two Finishes

There’s absolutely no doubt. The Huawei Nova 2 Lite is a stunner. It shares a few design cues with its beefier brother, the Huawei Nova 2i, but its not hard to tell them apart. While the Nova 2i has a unibody build and the Nova 2 Lite doesn’t though it really is put together well and is nearly seamless. There’s also a very noticeable weight difference between the two. On paper it’s only about 10 grams apart but you can really feel it.

We think the device is gorgeous in blue but the glossy finish of the device definitely makes it prone to smears and smudges. If you’re not a fan of the shiny back panel, not to worry, you can get the device in black that offers a matte finish. It’ll still pick up your fingerprints but not quite as much. Either way, we suggest putting a case on it so you don’t have to wipe it down so often and give it an added layer of protection as well.

Decent Display Despite Density Drop

The Nova 2 Lite retains a display with an 18:9 aspect ratio that also measuers in just under 6-inches but, sadly, gets a bump down in resolution from Full HD+ to HD+; that’s 269 pixels per inch down from 407. Unless you’re really looking hard, it’s pretty negligible when browsing through the phone or your social media feeds but if you’re a bit of a YouTube junkie, then you’ll definitely miss having a higher resolution. That doesn’t mean it’s a horrible display though.

You’ve got good color reproduction and great viewing angles though, after spending more time with the device, it’s a little lacking in brightness; especially when the sun is beating down like it is during our extremely hot summers. As far as audio is concerned, it’s pretty much what you’d expect of a phone in the sub-10k price point generating a suitable amount of volume with very little distortion when turned up all the way but the lack of bass is definitely undeniable.

The Case of the Missing Kirin SoC

We were surprised when we saw the spec sheet of the Huawei Nova 2 Lite. We’ve been accustomed to seeing their devices running on their homegrown chipsets but this phone has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 processor at its core that has been paired with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of expandable storage. You shouldn’t run into any trouble with your day-to-day tasks and is capable of multitasking. Here are a couple of synthetic benchmarks.

 

If you like gaming on your smartphone, the Nova 2 Lite won’t get you the best graphics settings or the highest frame rate but it can certainly play some of the most popular titles. We couldn’t seem to get GameBench working with the Huawei Nova 2 Lite but we were able to play the newly released PUBG Mobile on low settings with a few frame rate dips here and there but, thankfully, never during a fire fight.

If Battle Royale games aren’t for you then we see no trouble running any of the popular mobile MOBAs or even NBA 2K18 but, again, the more graphic intensive the games are, the lower your settings should be.

Oreo Out of the Box

The Huawei Nova 2 Lite comes with Android Oreo plus EMUI 8 out of the box and we were eager to see how it would run on the Qualcomm SoC. For the most part it ran without a hitch during our time with the device but certainly needs an update to make sure that it runs smoothly. For the uninitiated to the company’s UI overlay, expect a few quirks and a number of pre-installed apps as well.

Rear Cameras are Great for the Price

Huawei definitely had a hand in putting the dual camera setup on the map and it’s pedigree is evident in the Nova 2 Lite; all things considered, of course. It’s packing a 13-megapixel camera with a secondary 2-megapixel camera that acts as a depth sensor. Photos from the rear camera are certainly above par for phones in this price point; giving us great picture quality with a nice punch of color. The software assisted bokeh has a bit of trouble separating the subject from a busy background but it’s otherwise fantastic.

The 8-megapixel front camera is a bit of mixed bag and you’ll have to learn how to navigate through its strengths and weaknesses to get the best photos possible. Typical of cameras at this price point, you’ll have to avoid taking selfies in low light conditions though you do have a dedicated flash for selfies. It also has a tendency to blow out highlights, which is another thing to take note off.

Battery Life Meets Expectations

While we are left wanting a little more screen resolution, the combination of a Snapdragon 430 and the HD+ display makes complete when it comes to the phone’s lasting power. We were able to squeeze out a day’s worth of juice on the Huawei Nova 2 Lite with a good mix of being connected to the net via WiFi and being on mobile data. Synthetic benchmark tests have it clock in a time of 7 hours and 29 minutes, which is a little lower than expected but still with the median of smartphones with its battery capacity. It would be best to keep that power bank in your Everyday Carry to make sure you don’t run out of juice in the middle of the commute home.

Verdict: Worthy of the Nova Name

The Huawei Nova 2 Lite has all the makings of a great smartphone at its price point. You’ve got a decent processing package, great rear shooters, and a great looking device with the options to go with a flashier finish in Blue or a hint of sophistication with its matte finish in Black. Huawei’s advertising material touts its dual cameras and it’s hard not to see why… Aside from the fact that it’s the gorgeous Pia Wurtzbach telling you that “Double the Cameras, Double the Likes”. If you’re looking for a phone with great cameras for less than Php 10k, then the Huawei Nova 2 Lite should definitely be on your radar.

If you’re picking it up during the pre-order phase, then it really is a good deal with that pair of wireless JBL headphones.

Jamie Inocian

A self-confessed geek. Jamie started out helping out on the Unbox Podcast and became the Digital Sales Manager when he joined the team full time. He has since then transitioned into one of our Senior Editors and Head Video Producer.

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5 Comments

  1. Even the Redmi 5 with the Snap450 chipset is better. Much more the build quality and exynos chipset of the Meizu M6s.

  2. First, hybrid sim?

    At 10k price point, i doubt nova 2 lite will dominate this price segment. There are a few phones with quite same specs or with better SoC having same or a bit lower prices and already in the market. A good contender but wont dominate.

  3. minus points for the SoC, and for trying to stretch what is technically only HD resolution over 6 inches of screen, better if they went with a slightly smaller one.

    ung strong contender dito would be the oppo a83, better phone siya in every way, wala lang siya fingerprint scanner.

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