Huawei Nova 2i smartphone launches tomorrow

I confess, I’m bit of a sucker for large screen phones. I want them as big as possible … subject to still being able to get them in my pocket. Huawei’s Mate series (the latest, the Mate 10, has been announced, and the Mate 9 is reviewed here) have been amongst the biggest, but they’re premium models. Now Huawei is launching the Nova 2i, a mid-priced model with a mighty 5.9 inch screen, and four cameras.

Priced at $499, and available from Wednesday 25 October from JB Hifi and Harvey Norman amongst others, the phone has an 18:9 aspect ratio – which seems to the be hot thing for today’s premium phones (18:9 is of course 2:1, but sounds way more impressive) and an 83 percent screen to body ratio. That is, mostly screen, very little body.

Often screen savings are made by using lower resolution. Not with this one. It’s an IPS display with a Full HD+ resolution: 1080 by 2160 pixels. Even with the giant screen that gives it a 407ppi density (which is very slightly more than that of an iPhone 8 Plus, and a lot more than that of an iPhone 8).

The phone runs one of Huawei’s own Kirin processors, the 659 which is the latest in a line introduced by the company early last year. A 64 bit octacore model, it runs four cores at 2.36GHz and four at 1.9GHz, along with Mali-T830 MP2 GPU running at 900MHz. It comes fitted with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage*. It’s unclear whether this can be expanded via microSD.

The Huawei Nova 2i is a dual SIM model (except the Vodafone version, to be released next month, which is single SIM only). The press release doesn’t mention much about data communications, but the Kirin 659 supports LTE up to Cat 6, which is 300Mbps downloads. WiFi is apparently only 802.11b/g/n, which suggests that it uses only the single 2.4GHz band. There is a reason a mid-priced phone isn’t a premium phone. The type of USB connection isn’t indicated.

The phone runs Android 7.0 Nougat with Huawei’s EMUI5.1 interface. There’s a fingerprint sensor which, says Huawei, “utilises ​machine ​learning ​to ​become ​more ​accurate ​and ​secure ​with ​every ​use.”

Now, what was that about the cameras? Huawei has been leading the charge with dual cameras, often referred to as dual lenses. But seeing as they have not just two lenses but two sensors, I reckon “dual cameras” is more appropriate. With its Mate 9, Mate 10 and P10 models it has used Leica co-designed 12 megapixel colour/20 megapixel black and white modules. This phone is rather different.

The rear photos are taken with a 16 megapixel camera and a 2 megapixel camera (yes, 2, not 20). The selfie camera system combines 13 megapixel and 2 megapixel cameras. I’m not sure how they work together, but both “​cameras ​feature hardware-level ​bokeh ​for ​crisper, ​cleaner ​and ​more ​artistic ​photos ​and ​improved ​performance ​in ​low-light situations.” Lower resolution cameras can be more sensitive, so it’s possible that Huawei has engineered each camera duo to create a composite from a lower noise, lower resolution image and a higher resolution image.

The front camera scores its own flash – the “Selfie Toning Flash” – for improved quality of selfies.

Huawei says that the phone “​features ​the ​company’s ​proprietary ​Huawei ​Histen ​audio ​system ​to ​deliver extraordinary ​sound ​experiences ​for ​immersive ​video ​and ​gaming ​experiences.”

The phone is fitted with a 3340mAh battery, and comes with case and screen protector and, of course, charger.

* Huawei calls the storage “ROM” for some reason and it isn’t the only one. But ROM means Read Only Memory. That is, it’s storage that’s loaded up in the factory and can never be overridden (or only with difficulty with components such as EPROM). The 64GB is in fact fully writable and is some form of flash memory.