Mid-range smartphones: THE SHOOTOUT

Huawei nova 2i is classy and feature-packed

PHOTO: HUAWEI

The Huawei nova 2i appears more premium than its price tag suggests. Take its ample 5.9-inch screen, which is surrounded by a skinny bezel similar to this year's flagship phones. This 2,160 x 1,080-pixel display even has a trendy 18:9 aspect ratio.

Its matte unibody metal chassis has smooth curved sides and rounded corners. It has a good heft and feels dense and sturdy. At the back is a fingerprint sensor that unlocks the phone almost as quickly as top models.

It even beats flagship phones by having four cameras - two in front and two at the back. The catch: The secondary cameras are both two-megapixel shooters that are used to enable depth-of-field effects, like blurring the background while keeping the foreground or subject in focus for a bokeh effect.

But the nova's mid-range origin is also apparent. The screen, for one, is too reflective. The camera software is overly aggressive at processing images, which softens facial features and makes things look smudgy.

It may not be obvious, but Huawei has cut some corners on this phone. For instance, the secondary nano-SIM slot supports only 2G networks that have been shut down here. Its Wi-Fi chipset (no 802.11ac support) works only with 2.4GHz channels that offer slower transfer speeds than 5GHz channels.

Performance, though, is more than satisfactory. Its eight-core Kirin chip runs Huawei's EMUI 5.1 interface smoothly on top of Android 7.0 Nougat. This interface adds some extras to stock Android, such as shortcuts that launch certain apps like flashlight from the lockscreen, and using your knuckle for gestures, like knocking the screen twice to take a screenshot.

  • RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

Vincent Chang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 15, 2017, with the headline 'Huawei nova 2i is classy and feature-packed'. Print Edition | Subscribe