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Huawei Nova 4 Unboxing and First Impressions

Back in December of 2018, Huawei introduced the Nova 4 in China. Along with the Samsung Galaxy A8s, and Honor V20, it is one of the first phones in the world with a punch hole/pinhole screen technology.
Huawei Nova 4 Unboxing and First Impressions
Meet Nova 4

Punch hole/pinhole screens are the innovative next generation solution to implement full screen designs on modern smartphones even without a notch.

A month after its announcement, Huawei Philippines has sent us a review unit of this new mid-ranger for us to check.

Let's see this pretty exciting device!


Everything inside

Nova 4 comes with identical inclusions found on the Nova 3. There's the Huawei white box, 18W USB wall charger, USB-A to USB-C data/charging cables, earphones with mic, clear TPU flexible case, SIM ejector tool, and paper documents.

It is always great to see a free case inside the box. There is a pre-installed screen protector as well.

Build Quality/Design

3D glass back
3D glass back

In terms of materials used, Nova 4 sports the same build found on the Nova 3. It comes with 3D glass back design, metal frame in the middle, and 2.5D curved glass display.

Construction feels premium and durable, but there's no mention of water resistance and glass protection. It'll be best to put the case always. Do not remove the attached screen protector too.

Nova 4 is one of the most premium looking mid-rangers yet for me. At the back, the 3D glass design looks neat, curvy, and sexy all at the same time. You will find the Huawei P20 Pro-like vertically aligned triple-camera setup with flash, fingerprint reader in the middle, and the Huawei logo below as well.

Better than the notch and slider full screen design?

In front, the screen is very interesting. Like what we stated above, it is one the first with a with a pinhole screen. It has 6.4-inch with a 19:5:9 screen aspect ratio and a massive 91.8 screen-to-body ratio.

Huawei achieved high screen-to-body ratio on the Nova 4 by implementing the pinhole cutout for the selfie camera instead of putting a large notch. 

We are also amazed that Huawei was able to correctly hide the earpiece and proximity sensor at the hardly noticeable space on top of the screen. It even has a hidden tri-color LED indicator on that part.

Huawei also said that they used the blind-hole solution to place a 25MP selfie camera in a 4.5mm hole. Huawei's solution is smaller than the through-hole solution of the Samsung Galaxy A8s with 6.5mm wide diameter hole.

Related: Why Huawei Nova 4's punch screen tech is better than the Infinity-O of Samsung Galaxy A8s

The result, the handset has extra slim bezels on top and on the sides. The bezels below are as slim as the chin bezel of the Mate 20 Pro. The handset is just as big as traditional 5.5-inch phones. It measures at 157 x 75.1 x 7.77 mm. Incredible!

On top, it still has a 3.5mm headphone slot (yay), an IR blaster-like sensor, and a microphone. Below, you'll find another mic, USB-C port, and the speaker grills.

At left, you will see the dual nano SIM slots. The second slot there could also be a slot for Huawei's proprietary NM cards. At right, the usual power button and volume rocker is there.

Overall, the phone feels premium to hold. But it is slippery without a case and prone to fingerprint smudges.

Initial findings


1. Nova 4's screen is very impressive! Huawei was able to do this next-generation full screen solution without relying on AMOLED technology. The In-Cell LTPS IPS they used is very good with amazing colors and good viewing angles. Most of the apps we tried are even compatible with this new tech.

See also: What are the advantages of Huawei's "pinhole" display technology?

The pinhole design has few weaknesses though. First, you cannot put a 3D sensor anymore. Second, they weren't able to use the earpiece as the secondary speaker to provide a stereo audio experience.

Nonetheless, punch hole and pinhole screens are still better looking (for me) than the notch found on the iPhones.
Power of Kirin 970

2. The specs is as powerful (or maybe even better) than the Huawei P20. Why? It has the same Kirin 970 SoC solution with dedicated NPU for AI and the Mali-G72 MP12 GPU with GPU Turbo. But, it has bigger 8GB RAM versus the the 6GB RAM of P20 Pro for smoother multitasking.

The handset also has 128GB of expandable storage with NM card and 3,750mAh battery with 18W fast charging.

Like other Kirin 970 devices, it has super fast 4G LTE Cat 18 connectivity.

3. Nova 4 runs with Android 9.0 Pie OS with EMUI 9.0 skin. EMUI 9.0 skin is the newest and most Google integrated skin by Huawei yet. As expected, it is neat looking and feature-rich. It is highly customizable as well. You can even choose to have or not have an app drawer if you wish. There is a gesture-based mode ala iPhone X with no Android three-key navigation to try too.

4. The Nova 4 has 3 cameras at the back and 1 camera in front. Behind, you will find the 20MP f/1.8 + 16MP f/2.2 ultra wide-angle + 2MP f/2.4 w/ PDAF, CAF, EIS, and LED flash.

For selfies, there's a 25MP f/2.0 Sony IMX576 w/ EIS camera.

All four cameras are assisted by the power of AI for scene detection, face beauty, HDR, and more. It even has the AIS Super Night Mode feature of Huawei for stunning low light shots.

5. There's a fingerprint scanner at the back, face unlock tech, gyroscope sensor, GPS, and dual SIM slots.

Related: Huawei Nova 4: First Camera Samples

Huawei Nova 4 Specs 

Display: 6.4-inch 2.5D curved In-Cell LTPS IPS screen w/ FHD+ 2310 x 1080 resolution at 398 ppi
CPU: 2.4GHz 64-bit Kirin 970 octa-core processor w/ NPU
GPU: Mali-G72 MP12 w/ GPU Turbo
ROM: 128GB expandable via NM card slot up to 256GB
Back Camera: 20MP f/1.8 + 16MP f/2.2 ultra wide-angle + 2MP f/2.4 w/ PDAF, CAF, EIS, and LED flash
Selfie Camera: 25MP f/2.0 Sony IMX576 w/ EIS
Battery: 3,750mAh w/ 18W fast charging
OS: Android 9.0 Pie w/ EMUI 9.0
Connectivity: WiFi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac (2.4/5GHz), 4G LTE Cat 18, Bluetooth 4.2 LE, OTG, GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, dual SIM (hybrid)
Sensors: Accelerometer, light, orientation, proximity, gyroscope, sound, magnetic, pressure
Others: Fingerprint sensor, face unlock, IR blaster, USB Type-C, Colors: honey red, blue, black, white
Dimensions: 157 x 75.1 x 7.77 mm
Weight: 172 g
Price: TBC

As of the moment

Huawei's use of the pinhole design is a near no-compromise solution to have a near bezel-less smartphone screen design. The Nova 4 is its first with that tech and we find it very impressive.

On top of that, the specs are capable for its CNY 3,399 (around PHP 26K) price tag in China.

Sadly, Huawei Philippines won't sold this promising piece of tech in the country. Maybe, the Chinese tech giant only want to showcase this new innovation in smartphone design and they have the ability to do it.

Huawei have other things in mind. As a matter of fact, the company told us that they are planning to bring a better device to Filipinos soon.

What is it? Only time will tell. Nova 4 is a glimpse of the future.

What do you guys think?
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