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Huawei nova 8i Unboxing, Quick Review Philippines: Mini-mate

by John Nieves  August 12, 2021

Initial Impressions: The Huawei nova 8i is an affordable, stylish smartphone made for the mid-range market in the Philippines, but does it have what it takes to make a dent in an increasingly competitive market?

Pros

  • Great-looking design
  • Large display
  • Large sensor for the price range

Cons

  • Lots of contenders in the price range
  • No 5G capability

Huawei Nova 8i Specs:

  • Snapdragon 662 processor
  • 8GB RAM
  • 128GB storage
  • 6.67-inch Full HD+ LCD display
  • 64-megapixel f/1.9 main camera with PDAF, 8-megapixel f/2.4 ultra-wide-angle camera, 2-megapixel f/2.4 depth sensor, 2-megapixel f/2.4 macro camera
  • 16-megapixel f/2.0 selfie camera
  • 4G,
  • WiFi, Bluetooth 5.1, NFC
  • Side-mounted fingerprint scanner
  • 4300mAh battery
  • 66w charging
  • Android 11, EMUI 11

Aside from the nova 8, Huawei is also putting the nova 8i up for pre-order in the Philippines, starting today. The nova 8i is the brand’s newest budget mid-range smartphone, but as pretty as it looks it faces very stiff competition from the likes of Xiaomi and realme in the space.

Packaging and contents

If you’ve seen one Huawei phone box you’ve seen them all, with the nova 8i shipping in the same white box that the brand’s other phones have always shipped in.

The contents of the box are standard Huawei fare: you have the phone, silicone case, USB Type-C cable, and fast charger, as well as documentation and a QR code telling you where to find apps for the phone since it doesn’t have access to Google Play.

Design

The nova 8i looks a lot like Huawei’s Mate 40 thanks to that large, circular camera module that houses all four of the phone’s cameras. It’s quite different from the styling of the nova 8 for sure, and the design may become a polarizing factor for people who are interested in the device.

As pretty as Huawei’s Moonlight Silver colorway was on the nova 8i, the phone, unfortunately, uses a plastic back to keep costs down. That’s to be expected for a phone at its price point, though we recommend that you use the silicone case that Huawei included in the package to keep the back of the device pristine as it is prone to scratches.

The phone has a side-mounted fingerprint scanner embedded in the power button, the current design meta for manufacturers nowadays, joined by a volume rocker. There’s a speaker grille on the top of the phone placed alongside the 3.5mm jack. The USB Type-C port is flanked by a second speaker grille and the SIM tray. Unfortunately, the SIM tray only holds two SIM cards – there’s no microSD expansion slot to be found here.

Display

Unlike the nova 8, the nova 8i uses a fairly standard, non-curved 6.67-inch IPS LCD display on the front with a selfie camera placed under a pill-shaped cutout at the upper left side.

The display has a full HD+ resolution (2376 x 1080), wide DCI-P3 color gamut as well as a screen-to-body ratio of 94.7%, though it’s mostly stuck with a 60Hz refresh rate.

The lack of a fast refresh rate will hurt the nova 8i in its price bracket, especially since many of its rivals have either better AMOLED displays or faster refresh rates for roughly the same money.

The nova 8i’s saving grace here is that the display looks pretty good for an LCD panel, as color reproduction is fairly good.

Cameras

The Huawei nova 8i comes with four cameras at the rear, along with a 16-megapixel f/2.0 aperture selfie camera placed on the upper left side of the display.

The main camera is a 64-megapixel deal with a large 1/1.7-inch CMOS sensor and f/1.9 aperture lens. Aside from that, you’re also getting an 8-megapixel f/2.4 aperture ultra-wide camera, 2-megapixel f/2.4 macro camera and a 2-megapixel f/2.4 depth camera.

We haven’t had time to really stretch the legs of the cameras on the nova 8i because of the current restrictions on movement placed in the country as of press time. We’ll be updating this section as soon as we get sample photos in.

Performance, software, and battery

One of the biggest weaknesses of the phone is the processor that Huawei chose to run it. The nova 8i uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 662 chipset. While the SD 662 is a fairly decent processor on its own, we have a few issues with it: it’s a little old, as it was introduced at the beginning of 2020. It’s also quite outmatched by the processors offered by the phone’s competitors in the same price range, which usually have either MediaTek Helio chipsets or more powerful Snapdragon 860 chips.

That doesn’t mean the processor isn’t capable though – the phone felt fluid enough during our short time with it, but it’s a little outgunned as far as overall computing power goes considering the competition.

The phone will come in a single variant that has 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage.

Unlike the nova 8, the nova 8i doesn’t come with HarmonyOS. Instead, the phone is equipped with EMUI 11 layered on top of Android 10, though functionally it functions the same as its more expensive brother as far as access to apps. You’ll still have to go through either Huawei’s own app repository AppGallery to find Android apps. Failing that, you will have to lean on Petal Search to get the app that you want.

As far as the battery goes the phone comes with a 4300mAh battery, along with a 66W fast charge capability. Huawei advertises that the phone is able to quickly top up the battery from 0 to 60% in 17 minutes, and the phone only requires 38 minutes to fully charge its battery.

Wrap-up and early verdict

The Huawei nova 8i looks compelling enough for the Philippine market if it didn’t have a lot of competition, unfortunately, the mid-range segment is super competitive right now. At its price point, it’ll be doing battle with really heavy hitters, and we’ll have to see if the phone’s camera performance, battery endurance and overall performance will elicit a recommendation from our end.

Huawei nova 8i Price Philippines:

The Huawei nova 8i will carry a price of Php 13,990 in the Philippines. It’s available for pre-order now and will come with a free Huawei Band 4, as well as a free Huawei Wireless Charging Table Lamp as well as a Huawei Member Center benefit worth Php 2,038 when it goes on sale. It will be available on Shopee, Lazada, and Huawei’s own site.

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    Big question, why would I buy this instead of something from its domestic rivals Oppo, Vivo, Xiaomi and Realme? Am sure they have a device that has this chipset. Their devices have Google, the only ones buying Huawei now are the ones who are okay doing workaround with the apk apps, which is time consuming and headache inducing. In the end, you are buying a device for convenience, not something to give you a headache.

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