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Nova 3 and 3i: Huawei’s quad-camera selfie smartphones gets AI-powered photography

While Huawei has their P and Mate series taking centre stage, their Nova series is gaining more traction with its selfie-focused smartphones. When the Nova 2i was announced last year, it was an affordable FullView smartphone that comes with a total of four cameras.

To take the Nova series up to the next level, Huawei has finally introduced the Nova 3 and Nova 3i. These are Huawei’s first AI-powered 24MP selfie smartphones that comes with a total of four cameras.

Huawei Nova 3

Among the two, the Nova 3 is a flagship contender with top-notch specs that are on par with the Huawei P20 Pro. It has a larger 6.3″ Full HD+ display which comes in a taller 19.5:9 aspect ratio. The display which comes with a wider notch pushes a resolution of 2340×1080. Under the hood, it gets a top of the line Kirin 970 processor that’s mated to 6GB of RAM. Onboard, it has 128GB of storage which is expandable via microSD using a hybrid SIM slot.

For the first time in the Nova series, it gets AI assisted cameras with a 16MP f/1.8 RGB main shooter and a 24MP f/1.8 monochrome unit. Like the Huawei P20 series, it features Master AI. It’s an intelligent photography mode that can automatically apply necessary tweaks to your images to make it pop.

Over at the front, it gets a huge upgrade as well with a 24MP main selfie camera with a 2MP secondary shooter that offers true depth of field effects. To take your selfies up a notch, it has AI Selfie recognition that optimises your portrait background depending on the scene. The Nova 3 offers AI assisted beautification and it also offers 3D facial recognition to unlock your phone. The device also comes with hardware HDR which gives highly detailed photos and you can preview it in real-time.

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For better low light selfies, it also gets Light Fusion which is also found on the current Nova 3e. It combines four pixels into a larger pixel to increase brightness while reducing noise. Also included is 3D Portrait lighting and there’s also 3D Qmoji which is similar to Apple’s Animoji.

For a better gaming experience, the Nova 3 series has GPU turbo which optimises graphics processing by 60% while cutting power consumption by 30%. To minimise interruptions while gaming, it also gets AI Game Suite. This helps to block unwanted notifications while prioritising the phone’s GPU for gaming.

Powering the Nova 3 is a large 3,750mAh battery which is charged via USB-C. For audiophiles, you’ll be happy to know that it retains a 3.5mm headphone jack. In China, the Nova 3 is priced at 2,999CNY which is about RM1,808 if converted directly.

Huawei Nova 3i

Hitting the mid-range segment is the Nova 3i. It shares a lot of similarities with the Nova 3 and it also has a four-camera setup. It retains a 6.3″ Full HD+ display but it is powered by a new mid-range 12nm Kirin 710 processor.

Compared to the previous Kirin 659, the new chipset provides 2X higher CPU performance and 2.26X improvement for GPU. According to Huawei, the Kirin 710 is on par with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 660 processor. Although the Kirin 710 doesn’t come with a dedicated NPU, the Nova 3i is still packed with AI-powered photography features.

The Nova 3i gets 4GB of RAM and it still gets a generous 128GB of onboard storage that’s expandable via microSD. On the selfie front, it retains a 24MP f/2.0 front camera with a 2MP secondary shooter like the Nova 3. Meanwhile, the rear comes with a 16MP + 2MP camera combo. Although it doesn’t say AI at the back of the device, the Nova 3i still gets Master AI which can detect scenes in real-time from 22 categories.

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Although the specs of the main cameras appear to be the same as the outgoing Nova 2i, Huawei claims that they have improved its photography capabilities with an enhanced ISP and independent DSP. As a result, you get faster focus, better motion capture and low-light performance.

Powering the Nova 3i is a smaller 3,340mAh battery and strangely it still uses microUSB. Similar to the Nova 3, it runs on Android 8.1 with EMUI 8.1 skin on top. The Nova 3i is already listed in the Philippines at 15,990PHP which is about RM1,211 in our local currency. That’s about the same price as the current Nova 2i at the time of launch.

In terms of design, the Nova 3 and Nova 3i look identical and they both come with a “Twilight” option that offers a stunning blue to purple gradient. To stand out, it gets an added “Aurora glass” effect which is similar to the honor 10. While the Nova 3i looks more like a larger Nova 3e, the flagship Nova 3 gets a 3D glass back design which gives it a more upmarket appearance. In terms of connectivity, both models will support dual 4G with dual VoLTE. This allows both SIMs to connect with 4G simultaneously.

Huawei Malaysia will be launching the Nova 3 and Nova 3i in Malaysia tomorrow and they will reveal more details of our local price and availability. We will be there at the event, so stay tuned to us for the latest updates.

Alexander Wong