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Performance

Processor HiSilicon Kirin 659
4 x Cortex-A53 2.36 GHz and 4 x Cortex-A53 1.7 GHz
GPU Mali-T830 MP2
RAM 4GB
64GB eMMC flash (50 GB free)
microSD to 256GB
OTG

The Kirin 659 processor has been around for a while. It must have had an update as the Huawei Nova 3e supports Wi-Fi AC (the old processor did not).

Performance-wise it rates closest to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 625. The best description is modest performance but more than enough for this phone’s needs.

The processor is in the Huawei Nova series, Honour and P20 lite. There is no stigma with using HiSilicon either – Huawei’s manufacture quality is as good as Qualcomm.

4GB RAM is more than enough to futureproof this at least for Android 9.

64GB eMMC flash is maximum for app installs. The microSD cannot be formatted internal storage/apps. This is an important limitation.

Games-wise it is about 20% slower in graphics. It should play most current mobile games up to 30fps.

We noted it became a warmish 36° in the hand when under load. This is more than acceptable.

To put the processor in perspective, performance is very close to the Nokia 6 2018 but about 50% of its GPU power.

Comms

Comms Wi-Fi AC dual band, Wi-Di, Hotspot
Multi-point (2) Bluetooth 4.2 with aptX
Micro-USB 2.0 OTG

Wi-Fi AC gets 580/390Mbps at 3/6 metres from our reference D-Link AC5300 router. The best you could expect is 867Mbps from a flagship processor.

Bluetooth 4.2 supports aptX for better Bluetooth audio to compatible devices. It also supports multi-point (2 devices) connection do you can use it in the car as well.

Sound

Sound 3.5mm audio jack
Earpiece
Down-firing speaker
Dual mic with ANC
Software EQ for headphone

The earpiece speaker is for the phone only, e.g. it’s not part of a stereo 2.0 setup.

The bottom firing speaker is for hands-free and sounds. It produces a pure mid-signature (no bass, mids emphasised, treble recessed) best for clear voice. It reached 85dB in ringing and around 65-70 for music and voice.

Output to an amp was 30Hz to 15kHz but lacked signal strength (volume). The supplied buds are OK but also suffer low volume.

We tried the device with a pair of Sony WH-100XM2 headphones that support aptX. The signal lacked the volume to drive the headphones.

Other

Other Fingerprint sensor rear
Facial unlock, extensive facial recognition algorithms that allow the device to detect 1,024 feature points of a human face. Claimed <800ms delay
GPS and e-compass (all varieties)

The fingerprint sensor is accurate and fast every time.