Huawei Nova 3i review

Huawei's budget solution for a premium phone

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Interface and reliability

  • EMUI 8.2.0 built on Android 8.1
  • Not pretty but fast and functional
  • Usual Huawei bloatware

The Huawei Nova 3i runs on Android 8.1 Oreo, which isn’t the very latest version of Google’s OS, but the exact version of Android doesn't matter too much when it comes with the EMUI 8.2.0 skin on top. 

In all honesty, the EMUI has improved a lot over the years. Although it's not the best custom skin, it still reasonable fluid and stutter-free on the Nova 3i. It is easy to operate, and despite a different icon pack and other tweaks, it still sticks to the principles laid down by Google. 

EMUI packs plenty of neat tricks that you wouldn't find elsewhere – some of our favourites include picking up the handset to reduce the ringing volume or wake your phone, raise to ear to make calls, smart screen resolution, private space and app cloning.

Some other neat additions include the ability drag down from the middle of the screen to open universal search to look for apps, contacts, messages and other files on the phones. 

Unfortunately, EMUI also comes with a bunch of Huawei bloatware, including more than 10 apps and games, some of which aren't abled to be uninstalled.

Ignoring aesthetics for a moment, the battery management and optimisation on the launcher does win it some points, and while the interface isn't quite as schmick as stock Android, it isn't the most intrusive out there either.

Movies, music and gaming

  • Headphone jack and one underwhelming speaker
  • GPU Turbo disappoints

Starting with multimedia, this phone can be a great pocket entertainment alternative. it has a huge 6.3-inch full HD display, which is perfect for watching content on the go. The videos can be viewed on 18:9 aspect ratio, and since it has a headphone jack, it makes a perfect companion to watch shows on the go. Nothing to complain about here.

The loudspeaker on the phone is quite underwhelming. Be it music or gaming, it just fails to provide rich output from the speaker. Keeping a pair of headphones is a wiser idea to have the best audio experience on this phone. 

Although many smartphone owners will either play lightweight mobile titles or ignore gaming altogether, the rise of titles such as Fortnite and PUBG on the platform has come with the demand for more powerful processing and graphical output from modern handsets.

In this case, Huawei's GPU Turbo mode for its Nova 3i isn't quite up to scratch with the likes of PUBG. The game often stuttered and the handset heated up considerably with a noticeably higher battery drain. This is still fairly decent for the price but just know that you may have to drop a bit more dosh on a true gaming phone.


  • First phone with Kirin 710
  • 4GB RAM and 128GB of storage

Our Nova 3i ran quite adequately during our time with it. The Kirin 710 does handle the routine tasks quite well. It's perfectly capable of running Huawei's somewhat bloated UI with Android 8.1. 

It has 4GB RAM, which makes for some smoother operation, such as a quick camera boot-up and rapid app-switching. As mentioned before, the first instance of performance limitation is in the gaming department, which could do with better optimisation.


The Nova 3i does many things right, but small elements like the missing fast charging, poor loudspeaker and a microUSB port set it back somewhat. We were quite excited to experience GPU Turbo mode but it wasn't as revolutionary as we were hoping.

Overall, the Huawei Nova 3i is an excellent handset for the price, particularly considering recent price drops, and unless you're deep into mobile gaming, it will likely cover all your everyday needs quite comfortably, and do so in style.

Harry Domanski
Harry is an Australian Journalist for TechRadar with an ear to the ground for future tech, and the other in front of a vintage amplifier. He likes stories told in charming ways, and content consumed through massive screens. He also likes to get his hands dirty with the ethics of the tech.