Huawei Nova 7 SE 5G Review

More than just aesthetics and fast charging?

40-watt fast charging is becoming a staple for Huawei’s 2020 mid-range phones as the company unveiled yet another device, the Huawei Nova 7 SE. Does this device have all the bells and whistles of the PHP 19,990 SRP it’s asking for? Here’s our full review.

Huawei Nova 7 SE 5G specs:

  • 6.5-inch FHD+ LTPS LCD display, 2400 x 1080px
  • 2.36GHz octa-core Huawei Kirin 820
    Mali-G57 GPU
  • 8GB RAM
  • 128GB storage, with shared NM Card slot up to 256GB
  • Quad-rear cameras with LED Flash:
    64MP F1.8 (main)
    8MP F2.4 (ultra-wide)
    2MP F2.4 (macro)
    2MP F2.4 (depth)
  • 16MP F2.0 front camera
  • 5G, Dual-nano SIM
  • WiFi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 5.1, GPS
  • USB 2.0 Type-C, Side-mounted fingerprint scanner
  • EMUI 10.1 (Android 10)
  • 4,000mAh battery
    40W fast charging
  • Colors: Space Silver, Crush green

Unboxing the device from the get-go reveals the components you’ll probably get when you get yours on June 22 — a TPU jelly case, a card tray pin, a 40-watt charger, some documentation, a USB Type-C cable, and the phone itself. It’s surprising that they included a pair of Huawei standard-issue earphones in here, too.

A smartphone of beauty

Here’s the thing about Huawei’s releases so far: They alll deliver in the looks department. The Nova 7 SE, is surprisingly fascinating. This Space Silver color brings in a gradient of chrome and copper to represent celestial matter and it just works. It’s shiny, it’s quite a fingerprint magnet, but it can be easily wiped off.

There’s also a camera bump here, and it’s quite a protruding one. The device, when placed in a flat surface, is uneven because of it. The jelly case helps a bit, but is not enough to assist with the protruding area.

The sides all have different ports or buttons in place. The right side has the side fingerprint scanner and the volume buttons. The buttons feel linear when pressed.

The other side has the nano-SIM/NM card slot, which seems to be the standard for Huawei phone moving forward. Sadly, the NM card shares the slot with the second SIM, so it’s down to a choice of extra connectivity or more storage space.

The bottom part has the USB Type-C port, the microphone, the mono loudspeaker, and the 3.5mm audio jack. Another microphone is at the top part for active noise canceling. The sides are also chamfered for a better grip.

Overall, the phone is light enough to be held for prolonged periods, thanks to the ergonomics of the 3D glass-like design that curves a bit to the back.. The buttons are conveniently located at accessible locations on either hand. We have no hard time reaching phone display parts with two hands, but we kind of struggle with one.

A display that’s a hit and miss

Speaking of the display, we have the screen in front with a punch-hole display, a small gap on the edge for the call speaker grille, and a chin that’s rather thin for landscape gaming.

The Nova 7 SE features a 6.5-inch IPS display with a Full HD+ resolution, giving the device a crispy 405 pixels per inch. Sharpness is really great, colors are well-reproduced, contrast is decent, and viewing angles are good. Its brightness, though, sometimes receive too much glare when under the bright noon, but that may be caused by the pre-applied screen protector.

Huawei has a built-in Histen audio system for tuning listening with headphones, and it does make the experience better. The loudspeaker delivers sounds loud enough to fill up a medium-sized room, with its lows and vocals sounding prominent. Highs and synths, on the other hand, sound a bit muddy and seem lost underneath other frequencies.

Impressive cameras

This phone features a quad-rear camera led by a 64-megapixel shooter, an 8-megapixel ultrawide lens, and two 2MP modules for depth and macro. There’s also a 16MP camera in front dedicated to selfies. There are also unique modes here such as Dual Mode where it captures images or videos from both the front and back cameras at the same time. Other modes include AR Lens (including 3D Qmoji, Slow Motion, Pro, Night, Panorama, Portrait, High-Res, Stickers, and Painting.

As we’ve seen so far with other Huawei phones, the Nova 7 SE shares the same photo characteristics with realistic, full colors, and good dynamic range. Low light photos are quite decent, too. You can zoom the photos on the rear camera for up to 10 times, with minimal distortions.

The front camera excels in getting selfie shots. AI Beautification is also great, and the 3D Qmoji stickers are fun to use. Portrait depth, though, is not as blurred as we would’ve liked, though. Here’s a gallery of sample photos:

You can capture up to 4K resolution with the device. Videos produced also offer decent colors, sharpness, contrast, and dynamic range. stabilization is seen through a gyro-assisted EIS, which made the capturing less shaky. Here are some sample clips:

In dual-mode, you’d see that Gyro-EIS still helps in stabilizing despite two cameras recording at the same time.

OS and Performance

Huawei’s new device continues the string of releases this year of Google-less EMUI right out of the box, but that doesn’t mean you’re doomed, really. Huawei’s AppGallery is promising with a growing number of apps available each day, and sideloading apps is still possible.

Not much is preinstalled unless you oped to go with those that AppGallery suggested on the first run, and that gives you with around 114GB of free space. Expansion via the company’s own NM card is available, but as mentioned before you’re being asked to choose between an extra SIM card or storage with the shared slot.

Performance, overall, is smooth even for multitasking and heavy gaming such as Asphalt 8. You can play PUBG in High to Extreme settings, and considerable heat can be felt at the upper back part. Even when charging, the heat is present but not that much of a worry. Here are our benchmarks:

  • AnTuTu – 354,762
  • 3DMark – 4,070 (OpenGL), 3,878 (Vulkan)
  • PCMark – 8,003 (Work 2.0)

The fingerprint sensor works really well, as the phone responds to fingerprints really fast. Face unlock also works really great even at indoor settings.

A supercharged device

Connectivity-wise, it’s all good. WiFi, Bluetooth, and GPS all work great, and SIM connectivity is good. We’ve noticed 5G signals in areas where it’s available when we went out the other day, so we hope to see more coverage soon.

Like the Nova 7i, the 7 SE sports a 40-watt charger to complement its 4,000mAh battery life. We’re not surprised at all if this can last long and charge fast. Our PCMark Battery Test lasted 12 hours and 22 minutes, while we got 20 hours and 13 minutes with repeated video playback. Recharging takes only 42 minutes — from 0 to 100%.

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