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Huawei Nova 2 lite Review - GREAT Dual Camera Phone with BIG Screen for LESS?

Huawei
According to Huawei, the Nova 2 lite is the newest star smartphone for the young and fun loving indivuals. Based on our first impressions, it has the potential. Now, after more than 2 weeks of using the it, here's our full review!
Huawei Nova 2 lite Review - GREAT Dual Camera Phone with BIG Screen for LESS?
Huawei Nova 2 lite review

Huawei claimed that the Nova 2 lite is one of the best found in the PHP 10K range. After more than two weeks of using it, here's our full review!


Display Quality

Big tall screen!
Big tall screen!

One of the highlights of the Nova 2 lite is its BIG and beautiful looking 5.99-inch screen with HD+ 18:9 screen aspect ratio, tiny side bezels, and minimal top and bottom bezels.

Big screen, good colors!

However, if you are coming from high resolution screens, chances are you’ll notice the drop in sharpness.

But, even if it is in HD+ 1440 x 720 resolution or 269 ppi only, the screen of this handset has acceptable details with no visible pixels on naked eye for the price. Moreover, it has close to accurate colors for an affordable smartphone.

For us, colors considered punchy enough and has good contrast. Blacks are also decent for an IPS panel. Viewing angles are also nice overall. It can even go pretty bright to make legible enough for outdoor use.

However, under direct noon time sunlight rays, you'll have a hard time reading text messages and viewing your screen in general.

Huawei also ensured that it has an accurate light sensor for auto brightness, color temperature correction, and eye comfort mode found on the display settings.

Moreover, you may also adjust the home screen style (with or without app drawer), apps that will support the full screen 18:9 display, and text size.

It even has a smart resolution mode that automatically lowers the screen resolution to help save power.

Lastly, it has 10 points of touch for the best typing and swiping experience.

Audio Quality

The Nova 2 lite has a single speaker found below the phone. It isn't the loudest and bassiest speaker on a phone for the price, but for us it is still considered as good in quality.

Details are clean and crisp enough. It has respectable audio quality for watching videos and music listening. It still has distortion and grain on max loudness (like nearly all smartphones), but it won't be that noticeable unless you listen to it closely.

Our only gripe is it isn't that loud for outdoor use in a noisy environment.

Huawei failed to specify the exact DAC they used (if there's any) on this phone. Fortunately, the audio output through your portable small headphones or in-ear monitors is GREAT.

It was able to properly drive my favorite on-the-go IEM (in-ear monitors) with ease. My UiiSii Hi905 with dual drivers only needed at least 60 percent of loudness to make it shine.

As a result, we were treated with a balanced yet full sound with puncy and accurate bass, really good clarity and separation, well extended highs, and wide enough soundstage.

The other highlight of this phone are its dual microphones. It is simply great for calls. It can also record audio in stereo quality with less noise than the competition. It's my new regular Facebook live companion due to its good microphones.

Battery Life

Battery Life
Battery Life

The Nova 2 lite has 3,000mAh battery to light-up its big 5.99-inch display. For the screen size, the battery capacity is isn't enough on paper. In our test, battery life is decent, but it is far from stellar like the similarly priced Huawei Y7 Prime.

Respectable battery performance, but charging time is slower than expected.

It scored 8 hours and 30 minutes in our PC Mark work battery life test. We recorded a total screen on time of 4 hours and 20 minutes. In real life heavy usage, it was able to last a bit over 9 hours.

Our actual heavy usage include: using the 4G LTE all the time, WiFi hotspot mode at times, browsing social media apps, taking photos frequently, taking calls, and playing games occiassionally.

It also the the usual Huawei battery optimizations and power saving modes found on the settings.

Charging time is not the fastest around. We needed at least 2 hours and 30 minutes to fully charge the phone from 0 percent using our adaptive (separately sold) 2.4A USB charger.

Huawei should have added Qualcomm's Quick Charge 3.0 tech since its chipset has support for it.

Camera

The budget dual cam to beat?
The budget dual cam to beat?

It highlights a 13MP f/2.2 primary snapper paired with a 2MP f/2.0 depth sensor at the back. Huawei has also added PDAF for faster and more accurate focus and an LED flash for close lowlight shots.
Camera interface
Camera interface

Moving to the modes, it has Huawei's usual camera interface with 7-level bokeh (wide aperture mode), 10-level face beauty mode, HDR, panorama, different filters, and the downloadable food mode. Huawei still don't have a shortcut button for the HDR mode though.

Weirdly and unfortunately, the Nova 2 lite has no pro camera mode. In the past, even the likes of the of the lower-end GR3 2017 and Y6II has the pro camera mode. The pro camera mode is for those who want to use their own settings in taking shots and those who likes lowlight photography and light trails.

Hopefully, Huawei can seed an OTA update that will bring back their well-loved signature pro camera mode.

It has one of the best cameras for the price!

Checking its quality, the Nova 2 lite has one of the fastest autofocus at this price point. Taking close-up photos (around 3 inch near) in well-lit conditions is breeze as well. Shutter speed and photo saving time is FAST.

As expected, daylight shots are impressive. Most of the time, it has plenty of details. It has better tahn average color reproduction and accuracy too. It is considered as punchy without oversaturation.

However, there are times where it'll produce underexposed shots even in daylight. Fortunately details are still sharp. It can easily be corrected via Snapseed.

The bokeh (wide-aperture) mode shoots photos at 8MP with narrower field of view. But, it is better than what we saw with the older affordable Huawei phones in the past. If you know how to use the camera properly, it can create decent looking bokeh shots with clean edges. It is simply a fun mode to have.

Indoor shots are respectable with decent dynamic range. Dim lighting snaps and outdoor night shots has noticable grain and visible loss of details and even colors. But, it is still considered as decent for a sub PHP 10K device.

Rear Camera Samples

Underexposed daylight shot
Underexposed daylight shot
Close-up daylight without bokeh mode
f/4.0 bokeh mode well-lit
f/4.0 bokeh mode well-lit
f/4.0 bokeh mode indoor
f/4.0 bokeh mode indoor
Cropped indoor shot
Cropped indoor shot
6PM shot
6PM shot
7MP shot
7MP shot
Another lowlight shot
Another lowlight shot
Strong good flash performance
Strong good flash performance

For selfies, it has an
8MP f/2.0 bright snapper with "Smart Selfie Toning Flash" which allows the phone to automatically adjust the brightness of the flash for natural looking selfies in lowlight. It still has the 10-level beauty mode and the usual filters.
Single selfie cam with flash
Single selfie cam with flash

It has speedy face detection, but has no autofocus. Shutter speed is fast enough though to avoid blurry selfies.
Selfie UI and modes
Selfie UI and modes

In terms of picture quality, selfies has good details and has respectable color reproduction. It is also one of the better selfie cameras at this price point.

But there are times where it'll overexpose your selfies in very bright lighting conditions. The face beauty mode can also over beautify you at level 4 and above. Lowlight selfies are respectable for the price. The flash is as good as advertised.

Selfie Camera Samples

Daylight selfie
Daylight selfie
Well-lit indoor selfie
Well-lit indoor selfie
Yellowish lighting indoor selfie
Yellowish lighting indoor selfie
Lowlight selfie
Lowlight selfie
Selfie flash sample
Selfie flash sample

For videos, the Nova 2 lite can shoot with up to 1080p and 30 fps. Color reproduction is nearly as good as stills. Autofocus is speedy and quite accurate for the price. It doesn't have any stabilization, but overall video shooting quality is still considered as good for the price.

For selfies, it can shoot up to 1080p 30 fps with respectable performance. You may also take beautifed videos with 720p in quality. Focus won't be just as great as the primary camera.

Video Samples


Performance

AnTuTu and Geekbench scores
AnTuTu and Geekbench scores

Interestingly, Huawei used the ageing Snapdragon 430 octa-core processor with Adreno 505 GPU for the Nova 2 lite.

While it is still decent in overall performance for the price, it would have been better if they used the newer gen Snapdragon 435 with more signal bands found on the older Huawei Y7 Prime.

Respectable overall performance!

Fortunately, Huawei coupled it with ample 3GB RAM for multitasking and 32GB of expandable storage via dedicated microSD card slot.


Gaming performance is also respectable. It can run most of the popular titles nicely at medium settings like Mobile Legends. NBA 2K18 will lag at high settings, but it is playable at all medium settings.

The other highlight of the Nova 2 lite is it is one of the very few (yet) to boot with Android 8.0 Oreo out of the box at this price point. As expected, Huawei coupled it with their own underrated EMUI 8.0 skin with tons of customizations and features.

It has no app drawer by default, but you can choose the app drawer mode in the settings. It also has minimal bloats and most of them are uninstallable. Icons are also clean looking and it has several themes to choose from.

The useful phone manager is still there for optimizations, but the health mode is nowhere to be found. It also has an FM Radio function if you will plug your headphones or earphones on the 3.5 mm female port.

It even has a "Karaoke mode" that could be useful for those who loves to sing.

One of the best feature of this phone is it has both the fingerprint scanner at the back and a face unlock option. Both the fingerprint scanner and face unlock are speedy and reliable.

The rest of the telephony experience is great. As expected, the Nova 2 lite has strong and stable WiFi and LTE signal reception. Bluetooth works, GPS is useful, and it has OTG support.

However, it has no gyroscope sensor for VR use. Hopefully, Huawei will add that important sensor on their future affordable devices.


Pros - Good looking design (especially for the glossy blue variant), respectable performance, good dual cameras with improved bokeh mode, selfie camera has softlight flash, dual microphone, fingerprint scanner + face unlock
Cons - Charging time could have been faster, no gyroscope sensor, no pro camera mode

Verdict

The Huawei Nova 2 lite is the phone to get for those are in need of a beautiful looking smartphone great back and front cameras under PHP 10K.

This device even has big near bezel-less screen, nice microphone quality, Android 8.0 Oreo OS out of the box, and respectable performance in general.

It will face strong competition from the other brands as they are stepping up their game in this price point, but it will hold its own against them due to its great design and cameras.

Build / Design - 4
Display - 4
Audio - 4
Battery - 3.75
Camera - 4.25
Performance - 4
Average - 4 / 5
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