Huawei Nova 7 5G Review

The SuperNova has landed

Huawei’s latest smartphone to arrive in the country is the Nova 7, a 5G- equipped device with powerful internals to boot. Is it capable enough to stand out against the crowd? Here’s our full review.

Huawei Nova 7 5G specs:

  • 6.53-inch FHD+ (2400 x 1080) OLED display
  • Huawei Kirin 985
    Mali-G77 GPU
  • 8GB RAM
  • 256GB internal storage
  • Quad-rear cameras:
    64MP f/1.8 main
    8MP f/2.4 ultra-wide
    8MP f/2.4 telephoto
    2MP f/2.4 macro
  • 32MP f/2.0 front camera
  • 5G, 4G LTE, Dual-SIM
  • WiFi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 5.1, GPS-QZSS, NFC
  • USB Type-C, 3.5mm audio jack
  • Fingerprint scanner (in-display)
  • EMUI 10.1 (Android 10)
  • 4,000mAh battery
    w/ 40W SuperCharge
  • Colors: Space Silver, Midsummer Purple

Inside its box is the usual stuff you’d get from Huawei, including a pair of earphones, a USB Type-C to 3.5mm port converter, a SIM tray ejector tool. a USB Type-C cable, a charging brick, and some documentation.

Great design, (really) small caveat

Seeing that there is an audio port converter, we immediately checked the device. The device is devoid of any dedicated audio ports, but it doesn’t mean it’s that bad since Huawei was gracious enough to put in an audio converter from the Type-C cable. You can also hook up your device to wireless audio gear like the Huawei FreeBuds 3i which we’ve used and we thought is a great TWS audio device.

Other than the Type-C port at the bottom, we have the loudspeaker grille and the SIM card tray. Sorry folks, no additional storage here. There are also black bands to aid in signal reception.

Our unit, a Midsummer Purple variant, changes colors when light hits the device. One is a deeper purple, with the refracted shade a lighter shade showing the nova pattern all over. The nova insignia is at the bottom-middle, while the quad-rear camera setup with the LED Flash is protruding at the upper-left corner.

The whole back is quite glossy so expect fingerprint smudges from time to time. Thankfully, there’s a jelly case to prevent those kinds of incidents and to protect the phone, too.

The right side offers the power/lock and the volume buttons. They protrude from the curved sides and feel linear when pressed. They’re also well placed as they can be reached with both hands.

The device may be tall given its screen size, but it’s not a chore holding it for long periods of time as it’s fairly weighed. It’s also omfortable to grip and carry around.

This AMOLED display is the real deal

While the front basically has the punch-hole camera at the upper left corner and the call speaker up top, this 6.53-inch OLED display, hands down, is one of the best we’ve seen in this price range.

It offers an FHD+ 2400 x 1080 pixel resolution, and it can be clearly seen as images are sharp. The colors are vibrant and didn’t change when we look at different angles. Its contrast is great, as we’ve seen deep blacks in the content we’ve tested. The display is also well-lit with its highest brightness more than enough to be seen outside, and the lowest setting adequate for nighttime viewing.

When it comes to audio, expect decent levels of sound with this device with great clarity and booming bass. Holding the phone in landscape mode with the loudspeaker booming sound may be awakard at times, as we find ourselves accidentally covering that part once in awhile. No 3.5mm audio jack here, but the Type-C audio converter does it job well in delivering good sound to your wired gear.

An all-around camera performance

The Nova 7 5G’s rear camera setup offers four lenses — a 64MP f/1.8 main, an 8MP f/2.4 ultrawide, an 8MP f/2.4 telephoto, and a 2MP f/2.4 for depth. There’s also a 32-megapixel lens punched at the front display for selfies. With our use, we’ll summarize our observations for better understanding:

  • What can you expect in its default camera software? There are available modes such as Stickers, AR Lens, Light Painting, Panorama, Pro (Manual mode), Moving Picture, Timelapse, and Slow-mo. The front camera has AI beautification, with options for manual adjustments.
  • Is it ok for daily use? Absolutely. The camera offers up to 20 x digital zoom. Colors are well-saturated, with decent contrast and dynamic range. Images are sharp and well-defined, and using all lenses offer prowess for daily shots. Night Mode is available if you are taking images in low-light environments. See sample photos here:
  • Is the Nova 7 5G good for vlogging? Yes and no. We think you’d like Huawei’s Dual Video mode where it captures everything that’s happening at the front and back at the same. Both front and rear cameras offer 4K recording but expect that the edges get cropped due to aggressive stabilization. Max time for capturing videos is also set at 10 minutes, too. See a sample video here:

A Google-less world isn’t that bad

Here’s a phone running at EMUI 10 with open-source Android 10 right out the box, which will make you get used to gesture-based navigation by default. I like that a lot! The phone doesn’t depend on Google’s core service APIs, but rather contains it in Huawei’s own HMS Mobile Core. That means you’ll use the AppGallery a lot more, or even Petal Search for installing apps. I’ve been lots of Google-less devices lately and this I can tell: It’s not really that bad! Most essential apps are there and they’re adding weekly — heck, even Mobile Legends is now available there!

By default, the device does not have any bloatware aside from Huawei’s own suite of apps for multimedia and productivity. Several folders are in the home screen, but are merely suggestions for you to download through the AppGallery. You have 228GB of the 256GB for all your personal content, but too bad you can’t expand this as there’s no NM/MicroSD card slot.

Using the phone for the past few weeks has been a breeze. It didn’t suffer from any hiccups, performance-wise, as we’re able to multitask with ease. Gaming isn’t a problem as well, as we’ve tried graphic-intensive ones such as Asphalt 9 to casual games like Zombie Tsunami and MOBA games like Mobile Legends with ease. Warmth can be felt at the upper back part after some time but is not that much of a problem. Here are our benchmarks taken with the device:

  • AnTutu – 378,204
  • 3DMark SSE – 4,327 (OpenGL), 2,870 (Vulkan)
  • GeekBench – 672 (Single-core), 2,651 (Multi-core)

The in-display fingerprint scanner works wonders. It can easily read my fingerprint despite the display being all-smudgy with previous swipes and interactions with the device. Other conenctions such as WiFi, Bluetooth, and GPS work well, too.

Its 5G connection is also a gem here. We were able to test it with Smart’s connection at the Araneta Center, to which we got impressive speeds similar to the nova 7SE. The new network can address latency issues when playing mobile games or conferencing with other people using a mobile network, and we’re glad telcos are slowly rolling it out nationwide.

A battery life worth praising

We praise the device’s battery life despite featuring a 4,000mAh battery which is smaller compared to other brands’ new releases. The OS is well-optimized to run only important apps and freeze unnecessary ones in the background, so your battery life can stay longer than usual. Without battery optimization, the Nova 7 can last 14 hours and 48 minutes with our PCMark benchmark battery test. A video play loop is at 18 hours and 36 minutes.

Recharging the device isn’t also an issue. The 40W Huawei Supercharge can fill up the device from 0% to 60% in half an hour, while getting to 100% in an hour and 19 minutes.

Carl writes for WalasTech when he's not working full-time. Give him tips and/or leads at [email protected].