Phones

Huawei Nova 2 Lite: Pocket-friendly with trendy looks

Huawei's Nova 2 Lite offers a modest set of features in line with its price tag.
Huawei's Nova 2 Lite offers a modest set of features in line with its price tag.

The Huawei Nova 2 Lite, the company's first smartphone to launch in Singapore this year, is targeted at budget-conscious consumers. It is modelled after last year's Nova 2i. Both phones have a similar 18:9 screen surrounded by pleasantly narrow bezels.

But the Lite offers a more modest set of features in line with its lower price tag. For instance, its 5.99-inch display has a 1,440 x 720-pixel screen resolution that is not as sharp as the Nova 2i's 2,160 x 1,080-pixel screen.

While offering decent viewing angles, the screen looks dimmer when seen from the sides, perhaps due to its glass coating. It also picks up fingerprint smudges easily.

Despite its screen size, the slim Lite feels handy. My review set has an attractive blue rear cover that is reflective enough to serve as a mirror.

The fingerprint sensor at the back promptly unlocks the phone when tapped, even when the screen is turned off.

This is not the case for the face unlock feature that uses the front camera. Not only do I have to press the power button to trigger this feature, but the facial recognition is also slower than using the fingerprint sensor. And it does not recognise me on a couple of occasions.

However, the front 8-megapixel camera is good at making me look good. Its beauty mode instantly removes the wrinkles on my face.

  • TECH SPECS

    PRICE: $298, available at IT Show tomorrow

    PROCESSOR: Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 (1.4GHz octa-core)

    DISPLAY: 5.99-inch, 1,440 x 720 pixels, 268 ppi pixel density

    OPERATING SYSTEM: Android 8.0

    MEMORY: 32GB (microSD expandable up to 256GB), 3GB RAM

    CAMERA: 13-megapixel, 2-megapixel (rear); 8-megapixel, f/2.0 (front)

    BATTERY: Non-removable 3,000mAh

  • RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 3/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 3/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

At the rear is a dual-camera system comprising a 13-megapixel main camera and a secondary 2-megapixel camera to enable bokeh, or the blurred background effect. But this effect is mediocre, with the background looking especially grainy.

There is hardly any shutter lag when taking photos. The images look passable, but are less than impressive on closer examination, showing plenty of noise.

As expected of a phone in this price bracket, the Lite has 32GB of internal storage and 3GB RAM. This is down from the 64GB storage and 4GB RAM on the Nova 2i. Users can supplement the internal storage with a microSD card. The phone also has two Nano SIM card slots (the secondary SIM supports only 3G networks).

Like most Android phonemakers, Huawei has enhanced the Nova's Android 8.0 Oreo operating system with its own interface and apps.

Its default style is akin to Apple's iOS and lacks the standard Android app drawer, but users can easily restore the app drawer in the settings. Similarly, Huawei's proprietary apps can be replaced by third-party alternatives.

But I would recommend trying some of these apps first to gauge their usefulness.

For instance, Game Suite can ensure an uninterrupted gaming experience by blocking most on-screen notifications except alarms, calls and low battery alerts when a game is running.

In the Geekbench 4 benchmark, its Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 chip performs up to expectations. It scored 676 points for the single-core test, which is similar to the Asus ZenFone 4 Max Pro. However, this figure is lower than the $448 Huawei Nova 2i (905 points) and the $349 Xiaomi Mi A1 (863 points). But to be fair, both these phones cost more.

In terms of actual use, the Nova feels mostly smooth and responsive when swiping between multiple screens and switching apps. It does take a while longer to load apps compared with higher-end phones.

Its battery life, however, is middling. While you can expect it to last a normal day of use, the Nova manages just 61/2 hours in the videoloop playback test. This is about two hours shorter than other mid-range phones I have tested.

• Verdict: A trendy-looking and attractive smartphone for the budget-conscious user. Battery life could be better.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 14, 2018, with the headline 'Pocket-friendly with trendy looks'. Print Edition | Subscribe