Huawei Nova 2i – big phone for a small price (review)
3.9Overall Score

Price (RRP): $399
Manufacturer: Huawei

The Huawei Nova 2i has been around since late last year. It hit the market at $499, but a recent price drop to $399 makes it a worthy competitor in the mass-market segment.

While the Huawei Nova 2i has some impressive specifications in screen size (5.9-inch) and four cameras (dual front and rear) it is made to meet a price. That means some compromises. For the most part, these are totally acceptable in a $399 handset.

Specifications: Huawei Nova 2i Model RNE-L22

Screen 5.9-inch, 2160 x 1080, 407ppi, 18:9, IPS, 76.5% S-T-B-R
Processor : HiSilicon Kirin 16nm 659, eight-core Cortex-A53, 4x 2.36GHz and 4x 1.7
GPU GPU: Mali T830 (MP2)
RAM RAM/Storage: 4GB LPDDR3/64 (48GB usable)/microSD to 256GB (second sim slot 2G only), OTG
Rear Camera 1 16MP f/2.0, focal length 27mm , HDR, Digital Zoom, Sony IMX298 4608 x 3456 4:3, LED flash, 1080p
Rear Camera 2 2MP, 120° wide-angle f/2.0, PDAF, HDR,
Front Camera 1 13MP, digital zoom, [email protected]
Front Camera 2 2MP for bokeh refocus
Comms Wi-Fi N, Bluetooth 4.2 with aptX support, Wi-Di
Sound Mono speaker, dual mic with ANC, Standard earbuds/mic
Other Fingerprint sensor on the rear
Battery 3,340mAh, micro-USB 2.0, 5V/2A, charge time 2.5+ hours
LTE Cat 6 300/50Mb/s, Bands 1, 3, 5 7, 8, 28, 38, 40, 41. Supports VoLTE
Dimensions  156.2 x 75.2 x 7.5 mm x 164g
OS Android 8.x with EMUI 8 (review unit shipped with Android 7.0 and EMUI 5.1)
Colours Graphite Black or Prestige Gold. Clear bumper case included
Missing NFC, IP rating, Gorilla Glass
Price $399 from major retailers
Website Click here

Out of the box – Huawei Nova 2i

  • 64GB Smartphone
  • 5V/2A Charger
  • Micro-USB to USB-A cable
  • Standard Earbuds/mic
  • Clear protective buffer case

The first impression is a slim 18:9, large screen, glossy slab with a matte black metallic back. Very similar to all the other 18:9 glossy slabs.

Screen – big for the price

Nova 2i

Very small size bezels – excellent value.

Huawei calls it a Full-Vision display. It uses an RGB matrix which tops out at a respectable 450 nits. Contrast is good at over 1800:1.

Except that it never looked that bright and daylight readability was poor. You can play with colour temperature, but it never reaches a pure white.

I found the auto-brightness adjustment too aggressive favouring battery life over usability. Turn it off and manually set brightness to suit.

There is no mention of a screen protector. It is not Gorilla Glass, yet the fingerprint magnet capacity indicates there is some screen protection. I suspect it is a GFF (the upper level of the screen is a tempered glass).

But remember a mass market device it is not going to be like Huawei’s P20 Pro or Samsung Galaxy S9.

On that basis, the screen is good as good as you get.

Performance – adequate but no powerhouse

Huawei is chuffed with the success of its HiSilicon chip design and Kirin SoC. It knows that to compete with Samsung et al. it must have design level access to the silicon and better supply chain control.

In practice apps loaded fast, multitasking was OK, and all worked well. Unfortunately, when it comes to the usual benchmarks, the Nova 2i’s Kirin chipset scored the bottom of the pile.

To put this in perspective, the Kirin 659 is about half the benchmark speed of a Qualcomm Snapdragon 660.

As a mass-market device, it is as good as you get.