Thursday , 2 April 2020

It’s On! The Huawei Nova 3i Takes On the OPPO F9!

Who Takes The Crown?

Huawei unveiled a very strong contender in the mid-range seen a few weeks ago but with more phones popping up left and right, we were curious to see how this mid-range smartphone would stack up against some of its newest competition particularly against the newly launched OPPO F9. How do they stack up against each other?

Let’s find out in this head-to-head battle.

It’s Four Against Three

Let’s start with camera performance since this is probably one of the biggest considerations when purchasing a smartphone besides actual performance.

The Huawei Nova 3i is known for having a quad-camera setup with each of its main cameras have a secondary 2-megapixel camera to help with that synthetic depth-of-field. One of the biggest improvements on the latest OPPO’s latest F series device is the addition of a dual rear camera system as well. How do the rear cameras stack up? Have a look at the sample images.

Colors are definitely more vibrant on the Huawei Nova 3i but the level of detail are definitely on par.

You’re getting better dynamic range on the F9’s HDR mode but some may prefer the contrast of the Nova 3i.

This indoor shot of the mugs on the 3i look a tad bit sharper but the F9 is definitely no slouch either.

The addition of the secondary camera on the F9 definitely creates a really great bokeh effect but you have more control over it on the Nova 3i and the results are pretty dead even as well.

There are several points of contention for the rear cameras, but most of the team gravitates toward the punchier colors of the Nova 3i. Based on the blind camera comparisons we’ve done in the past, we also know that most of the Philippine market gravitates towards that as well. It’s very subjective so let us know what you guys think in the comment section down below.

On to the front cameras!

OPPO has carved out a reputation for being a selfie-centric smartphone and it really shows in this comparison. Our self-portraits turn out great with minimal effort and you don’t even need to turn on AI Beauty to get really good snaps of yourself.

You can achieve the same results on the Nova 3i but you’ll have to tweak exposure settings a little bit to make sure that highlights aren’t blown out. Once again, colors on the Huawei Nova 3i are a little more vibrant and the depth of field mode is better with the help of that depth sensor. You’re also getting a few more fun features on the Nova 3i via their AR Lens mode such as 3D Qmojis, Backgrounds, and AR elements.

A Power Struggle

The OPPO F7 saw the introduction of Mediatek’s Helio P60, which really surprised us and upped the game for the brand’s F series. On the other side of the fence, Huawei finally updated its mid-range processor from the Kirin 659 to the Kirin 710. Benchmark scores yielded had both devices neck and neck, which translates into the day-to-day performance as well.

Each phone has its own optimization for gaming as well but we have yet to see the update for GPU Boost on our Nova 3i. We might have to revisit this part of the battle once it becomes available.

We’ll give an edge to OPPO in this department for having more RAM to be used for multitasking but it’s definitely a tough fight.

More Room for More of Everything

One clear victory for the Nova 3i in this head-to-head battle is in the storage department as it doubles the base storage available on the OPPO F9 at 128GB vs the more traditional 64GB. This means you have more room to store more of your memories on your devices or haul all your favorite apps and media files to help save your data caps by keeping them on the phone itself.

Two Great Looking Devices

The Twilight Purple variant of the Nova 3i is an absolute stunner of a smartphone and uses NVCM to give it that uniquely rich and opulent gradient that really grabs the eye. We’ll have a separate article on the tech used to make this sheen on the Nova 3i in a different article.

The OPPO F9, on the other hand, employs a more subtle gradation and uses more traditional print-ink methods in all of its color variants but the added facets give it a ton of character too. They’ve taken things a step up in the looks department since the previous iteration.

The design may be subjective but the Huawei Nova 3i gets the nod when it comes to build quality. OPPO F9 primarily uses polycarbonate plastic on the F9 that might be more susceptible to wear and tear. Huawei definitely gets the nod here for using a glass back and a metal frame to give their mid-range device a flagship look and feel.

A Smaller Notch or a Notch You Can Hide?

The displays on both devices are a matter of user preference and we’ll have to call it a tie.

You are getting a higher StB (Screen-to-Body) ratio on the F9 since you have that Waterdrop Display with pretty much a nib for a notch. The Nova 3i is pretty much what we’ve expected from a display in 2018 but the ability of EMUI to have the option to disguise it behind black bars will definitely appeal to those who have an aversion to the display trend.

Huawei Wins the Price Battle

It’s no secret that Huawei takes the cake in the pricing department since the Nova 3i costs Php 2,000 less than the OPPO F9; that’s Php 15,990 and Php 17,990 respectively. Like we said in our previous four-way battle with the Nova 3i, each phone definitely has its merits and both deserve to be on your radar.


  1. Avatar

    I was hoping that these review would be a three way and that the author might have overlooked the mi a2 as a viable contender for these 2 phones. Not only the a2 comes with a type c usb, better gpu than the two and a stock android, it has the lowest price for a 6gb ram- 128gb storage combo for 15k, even if it does not come with an expandable storage and a smaller 3000 mah battery, its worth mentioning.

  2. Avatar
    Manley Evangelista

    *ahem* Pocophone F1
    *ahem* Only 17,990
    *ahem* Snapdragon 845, 4,000mAh battery, 64GB UFS 2.1 storage.

  3. Avatar

    i think OP is trying to compare the two beautiful devices. yes the POCO beat these two on specs but not on build quality. no count on miA2.

  4. Avatar

    F9’s Gpu is better than 3i’s but build camera and price wise 3i is not bad option, also huawei will surely release android Pie update in the following months not sure with Oppo’s tho, still waiting for what Mate 20 lite can offer. Hope to see maybe 3 way comparison in the future

  5. Avatar

    huawei nova 3i wins this round, but along with the nova 3, honor play, got undercut by xiaomi’s poco f1. Also the Mi A2 is better than the 3i or the f9.

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