Huawei Nova 3i review

Huawei's budget solution for a premium phone

Why you can trust TechRadar We spend hours testing every product or service we review, so you can be sure you’re buying the best. Find out more about how we test.

Battery life

  • 3,340mAh battery will easily clear a day
  • Several battery saving modes

The Huawei Nova 3i packs in a 3,340mAh battery, which will suffice for most users for basic day to day tasks like phone calls, streaming content, music and scrolling through long social media pages periodically.

Of course, if you are a smartphone gamer and have a weakness for demanding titles like PUBG Mobile, the one-day battery claim doesn't apply. The GPU Turbo technology does optimise the battery life, but that's not enough to stretch the battery life to a fully day with heavy gaming. 

The charging speed is a little disappointing on the Nova 3i. Huawei's 22.5W SuperCharge is not present her and, instead, it has 10W charging via micro USB. It takes around 2 hours to charge from 0-100%, which is slow considering what the competition has to offer. And with Qualcomm's Quick Charge, a lot of Android users are accustomed to fast charging. 

For your average user, this will be more than enough and is fairly decent for the price, but for the gamer that needs to quickly charge between sessions, it might prove a little limiting.


  • 16MP + 2MP camera enables bokeh-adjusting wide aperture mode
  • AR lens lets you apply facial effects

The Huawei Nova 3i has a 16MP f/2.2 primary sensor with phase detection auto-focus (PDAF) and is coupled with a secondary 2MP  monochrome sensor. The app is characteristically feature-laden, with distinctive and specialised modes that Huawei is known for, but it's easy enough to avoid these if you like the minimalist approach.

You can scroll through the modes by swiping left or right. There's a lot to discover in the app, and a lot to play with too. Huawei has also leveraged its AR capabilities, which is again inspired by a more expensive counterpart. Nonetheless, modes like Qmoji and 3D Objects are sometimes fun to play with, especially if you are into creatives and art.

Furthermore, there are features like portrait mode, pro mode, moving picture, panorama, light painting, 3D panorama, time-lapse, and the list goes on. But the highlight is its Pro mode for video, a rare feature on smartphones.

Huawei has used AI algorithms that are said to be "driven by learning over 100 million images", which helps it recognise 22 categories of 500+ scenes and provides optimised shooting result. You can turn this feature off if you feel the need.

In a nutshell, the camera interface does offer fun features to play with, but some modes do little to surpass the realm of novelty. For example, the half-baked 'Background' and 'Effect' modes sometimes chops-off your ears and at times it just doesn't register your hair. 

Camera UI

Camera UI

Let's take a look at the most crucial part- the camera performance and image quality. The camera setup looks very identical to the one on the Nova 3e, at least on paper. 

The Nova 3i manages to reproduce rich and vibrant colours and the right amount of sharpness in well-lit conditions. We tried taking distant shots and close-ups, the camera did really well in registering the finer details and the algorithms do play a huge role in fine-tuning the pictures. For the most part, the AI support did remove the extra amount of noise in dark conditions and also enhanced the sharpness and colours in the process. 

On the front, the phone packs a 24MP primary sensor with f/2.0 aperture and a 2MP secondary sensor for depth sensing. It's a decent selfie shooter if you like aesthetically pleasing pictures. Enabling the AI beauty mode makes you fair, fixes blemishes and does slight smoothening without hurting the details. So your selfie doesn't look like a plastic face, instead, it just touches up. 

In low-light, the front camera isn't ideal for clear selfies. If you're shooting in dark, always turn on the screen flash for a decent picture.

Overall, the Nova 3i has a really capable camera that rarely lags behind, largely thanks to its impressive dual set up and powerful AI polish.

Camera samples

Rear camera samples

Front camera samples

Sudhanshu Singh

Sudhanshu Singh have been working in tech journalism as a reporter, writer, editor, and reviewer for over 5 years. He has reviewed hundreds of products ranging across categories and have also written opinions, guides, feature articles, news, and analysis. Ditching the norm of armchair journalism in tech media, Sudhanshu dug deep into how emerging products and services affect actual users, and what marks they leave on our cultural landscape.
His areas of expertise along with writing and editing include content strategy, daily operations, product and team management.