Is the Nova 5T the definitive mid-range phone for 2019?
As we were given the brief for the Nova 5T in Shenzen, China, I had this weird feeling of deja vu. It felt a lot like the brief we got in Paris when we first encountered the P30 Pro – flagship Kirin 980 processor, quad-camera setup and a killer color combo. The difference here is that the Nova 5T is more than half the price of a flagship phone and but performs a lot like Huawei’s top-tier superstar, the P30 Pro.
Huawei knows how to make beautiful phones, and that tradition continues with the Nova 5T. The phone uses glass and metal for its construction, with the new model sporting a 3D hologram-like effect that gives the back an illusion of depth depending on how you look at it.
The effect is more subdued on the black variant of the phone though it really comes to life with the blue version. It’s incredibly tantalizing to look at and makes us not want to put a case on the back of it as a result.
The quad-camera module is on the upper left side of the phone, arranged vertically. Instead of a gently curved back, the Nova 5T is a slab-sided phone, though the corners are curved for ergonomics.
The power button and volume rocker are on the right of the phone, along with a side-mounted fingerprint scanner. The addition of the physical fingerprint scanner on the right might annoy some (especially left-handers) but personally, I’m perfectly fine with it. The scanner is easy to set up and use and is extremely fast when it comes unlocking the phone.
Moving on to the rest of the phone – the USB Type-C port is on the bottom along with the speaker grille, though the 3.5mm jack is MIA. That’s not surprising in this day and age, but it’s still quite disappointing.
A hole punch that’s out of the way
The phone uses a 6.26-inch LCD display running at full HD+ resolution. There’s a small hole punch cutout for the front camera, located on the upper left side. Samsung, this is how you do hole punches – you make them small, and you tuck them out of the way so that it disappears in your peripheral vision.
Anyway, the display looks good with accurate color reproduction and good contrast levels, though it’s not going to approach AMOLED blacks because of the technology used.
Huawei isn’t shy about putting their flagship Kirin processors in mid-range phones, which is exactly what they’ve done with the Nova 5T. The phone runs the Kirin 980 processor, which is exactly the same chipset that powers their P30 Pro.
That’s not all – the Nova 5T also comes with 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage.
That’s plenty of power under the hood for a mid-range phone, and while Huawei has already unveiled the next generation Kirin chipset for their new Mate series the Kirin 980 is no pushover. It’s more than enough to keep the phone chugging smoothly even with the most demanding of games.
Like Huawei’s other phones the Nova 5T runs Android 9 Pie, powered by EMUI 9.1. You get the same enhancements that are on Huawei’s other phones including GPU Turbo as well.
Killer cameras, but is that macro shooter really necessary?
Like we said in the intro, the Nova 5T has four cameras at the rear – a main, 48-megapixel high-resolution sensor with an f/1.8 aperture, a wide-angle 16-megapixel sensor with a f/2.2 aperture lens, plus a 2-megapixel depth sensor and a 2-megapixel macro shooter with an f/2.4 aperture lens.
That’s quite a large number of cameras on a mid-range, but truth be told the macro lens just feels like Huawei adding the fourth camera just to pad out the spec sheet of the phone.
The macro camera is difficult to use since you have to be within a specific distance to utilize it properly, and even then the shots aren’t that impressive owing to the pitiful 2-megapixel sensor. Simply put, the macro camera looks and feels like a gimmick.
The horrendous macro camera aside, the rest of the Nova 5T’s cameras perform well. Images were taken with the phone show off excellent color reproduction, and low light performance is enhanced by the phone’s AI capabilities as well as OIS. You can shoot in 12-megapixels or try your hand in processing the raw 48-megapixel images shot from the 48-megapixel sensor.
Selfies look pretty good too, thanks to the 32-megapixel selfie camera embedded in that hole punch sensor.
Battery is good for more than a day
While we wouldn’t call the battery of the Nova 5T small – it does have 3750mAh inside its glass and metal body – it’s a little lower than what we’ve become accustomed to in most phones today. 4000mAh is fast becoming the defacto storage capacity for good phones nowadays.
But despite that, the Nova 5T posts great numbers in PCMark’s battery benchmark, scoring 13 hours and 39 minutes on a single charge. That’s pretty impressive, and even more impressive is the phone’s fast charge capability, which goes up to 22.5W via USB Type-C.
Verdict: Excellent value that’s hard to ignore
The Nova 5T delivers quite a lot of value that’s hard to ignore despite its faults. Sure, Huawei likely added the terribad macro camera to pad out the feature set so they can claim it’s a mid-range phone with a quad-camera, but there’s no denying the value that the Nova 5T brings to the table.
That beautiful body is to die for, and you’d be hard-pressed to find anything to complain about the phone’s performance in day-to-day tasks, thanks to its flagship innards. And at a price of Php 18,990, it’s hard not to recommend the Nova 5T, especially to people looking to get the most bang out of their buck.
Huawei Nova 5T specs:
- Kirin 980 processor
- 8GB of RAM
- 6.26-inch full HD+ display with punch-hole notch, 1080 x 2340 resolution display
- 48-megapixel rear camera with f/1.8 aperture lens, 16-megapixel wide-angle camera with f/2.2 aperture, 2-megapixel macro lens with f/2.4 aperture, 2-megapixel depth camera
- 128GB of storage
- Dual SIM
- 3G, LTE
- WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, A-GPS, side-mounted fingerprint scanner, USB Type-C
- 3750mAh battery, 22.5W fast charging capability
- Php 18,990