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Premium Mid-Range Showdown: Nova 3 VS vivo X21 VS Samsung Galaxy A8 (2018)

Is it a champ in the under-Php 30k segment?

Huawei’s road to global domination is clear: offer compelling devices at every price range, from the entry-level to the high-end segment.

For the Php 20K to 30K segment, Huawei’s Nova 3 is destined to do battle with two main rivals: vivo’s X21 and Samsung’s Galaxy A8 (2018). These premium mid-range phones offer an interesting challenge to Huawei’s mid-range star, so today we’ll be taking a quick look at how each phone stacks up to one another.

Huawei Nova 3 Specs

  • 2.4GHz HiSilicon Kirin 970 octa-core processor
  • Mali-G72 MP12 GPU
  • 6GB of RAM
  • 6.3-inch Full HD+ IPS LCD display; 1080 x 2340 resolution, 19.5:9 aspect ratio
  • 128GB of expandable storage (up to 256GB via microSD)
  • 16-megapixel main rear camera (f/1.8) + 24-megapixel B/W camera (f/1.8), PDAF, EIS
  • 24-megapixel main front camera + 2-megapixel depth sensor
  • 4G, LTE (Dual SIM, Hybrid Tray)
  • WiFi, Bluetooth
  • GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS
  • Fingerprint scanner
  • Facial Recognition
  • Android Oreo 8.1 with EMUI 8.2
  • 3750mAh Battery with Fast Charging

 

vivo X21 Specs

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 AIE Octa-core Processor
  • 6GB of RAM
  • 6.28-inch Full HD+ Super AMOLED display; 2280 x 1080 resolution, 90% screen-to-body ratio
  • 128GB of expandable storage (up to 256GB via MicroSD card)
  • 4G, LTE
  • 12MP f/1.8 aperture + 5MP f/2.4 rear cameras
  • 12MP front camera f/2.0
  • WiFi, Bluetooth
  • In-Display Fingerprint Scanner
  • 3200mAh battery
  • Android 8.1 with Funtouch OS 4.0

 

Samsung Galaxy A8+ ReviewSamsung Galaxy A8 (2018) Specs

  • 2.2GHz Exynos 7885 octa-core processor
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 5.6-inch Full HD+ Super AMOLED Infinity display; 1080×2220 resolution
  • 32GB of expandable storage (Up to 256GB)
  • 16-megapixel f/1.7 rear camera with LED flash, PDAF, and Video Digital Image Stabilization and Hyperlapse
  • 16-megapixel f/1.9 and 8-megapixel f/1.9 front cameras with Live Focus
  • 3G, LTE
  • Dual SIM
  • WiFi, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC
  • GPS, A-GPS, NFC,
  • Fingerprint sensor, IP68 Certification, Samsung Pay
  • USB Type-C
  • 3000mAh battery with Fast Charging
  • Android Nougat

 

Externals

Since all three phones are positioned as premium devices, they have better externals than your typical mid-ranger. And while each phone uses similar materials in their build, the devil is in the details: the Galaxy A8 (2018) has a 3D curved glass back and comes with an IP68 rating, while the X21 uses a slender metal frame and 3D curved glass for a more elegant look.

Of the three though, the Nova 3 is the most visually appealing, thanks to its gradient-colored back. The color is so unique and eye-catching that Huawei’s competitors have already started taking, ehem, “inspiration” from their color treatment, but obviously nothing beats the original.

Internals

This part of the comparo is easy to answer: the Nova 3 is the clear winner when you start comparing hardware, thanks to its flagship Kirin 970 processor. We’re not talking about a flagship-level chipset here – the Kirin 970 is the same processor that resides in the company’s current flagship phone, the P20 Pro.

That hardware setup easily beats the X21’s Snapdragon 660 and the Galaxy A8 (2018)’s Exynos 7885, and while the two chipsets are respectable in their performance in both synthetic and real-world tests, they don’t hold a candle to the Kirin 970.

As for RAM and storage, both the X21 and Nova 3 have the upper hand since they both have 6GB of onboard RAM and 128GB of internal storage—higher than the 4GB RAM and 32GB storage on the Galaxy A8 (2018).

Galaxy A8
Nova 3
X21

As for gaming performance, all three are head-to-head in terms of overall stability. Using Asphalt 9, the X21 has the best experience, with a peak 30FPS average and a perfect 100% stability, with the Nova 3 in the middle of the pack.

Display

As far as sheer size is concerned, the Nova 3 and X21 have a bigger display at 6.3-inches. Once we factor in things like quality and type of the display panel used, then the X21 and Galaxy A8 (2018) come out on top thanks to the natural advantage of having AMOLED displays, though the Galaxy A8 (2018)’s panel is more vibrant overall. Since they use AMOLED panels, both the X21 and Galaxy A8 (2018) support Always On Display.

As for brightness, the Nova 3 has the brightest display out of the three, with the Galaxy A8 (2018) comes in second.

Cameras

On paper, the Nova 3 and X21 have the upper hand thanks to their dual rear camera setups: 12 -Megapixel f/1.8 and 5-megapixel f/2.4 on the X21, and 16-megapixel f/1.8 RGB and 24-megapixel f/1.8 monochrome on the Nova 3. While they seem to be superior over the lone 16-megapixel f/1.7 snapper on the Galaxy A8 (2018), they have their respective strengths. Check out some of our sample photos:

Vivo X21 photos

Galaxy A8 photos

Nova 3 photos

All three shot great photos in general. As for where they excel, the Galaxy A8 (2018) delivers the most color-accurate photos, while the X21 has the most vibrant colors. The Nova 3, on the other hand, excels in preserving details regardless of lighting condition.

Battery

On paper, the Nova 3 has the biggest battery at 3750mAh, trumping over the 3200mAh and 3000mAh batteries found on the X21 and Galaxy A8 (2018) respectively. In spite of different battery sizes, all three devices averaged between 9 to 10 hours of battery life based on PCMark’s battery test.

While all three come with their own version of quick charging, the Nova 3 and Galaxy A8 (208) have an edge for using a Type-C port instead of MicroUSB.

Verdict: The Nova 3 and X21 are at a close fight

The three phones are priced closely: the Nova 3 and Galaxy A8 (2018) sell for Php 25,990, the X21 just got a new discounted price of Php 24,990. Between the three phones, the Nova 3 and X21 are at a close fight with one another: while the Nova 3 arguably offers the best value for money, the X21’s in-display fingerprint scanner is groundbreaking tech that is offered in a few phones as of this writing.

Don’t forget to read our reviews on the three phones:

Samsung Galaxy A8 (2018) and A8+ (2018) Review: Kicking Things Off with Straight A’s?

Samsung Galaxy A8 (2018) and A8+ (2018) Review: Kicking Things Off with Straight A’s?

Samsung Galaxy A8 (2018) and A8+ (2018) Review: Kicking Things Off with Straight A’s?

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3 Comments

  1. It should be noted that the marketing for Samsung A8 and Huawei Nova 3 were caught using photos which were not taken using the phone camera itself. On the other hand Vivo admits already that photos on their ad prints are ‘simulated’.

    Sure they are overall good phones, but still: buyer beware if you’re getting these for the cameras.

  2. Everyone forgets that samsung is IP68. Sira yung mga vivo and huawei nyo pag nabasa. Samsung clearly wins the comparison.

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