Premium midrange phones are quite an interesting category. They offer the fancy and sleek designs of a real flagship, but with the specs of a reliable midrange device and a price close to one. These are the things that we’re expecting to see on the device we’re reviewing today, the Huawei Nova 10.
On paper, the Nova 10 looks like a really capable device. It has a feature-packed screen, ultra-sharp cameras, fast charging, and a slim design that’s only 6.9mm.
The question is, altogether, is the device a good smartphone? We find out in our Huawei Nova 10 review.
Huawei Nova 10 Specs
- EMUI 12
- Dual SIM, Dual standby
- 6.67-inch FHD+ OLED display, 2400 x 1080 pixel resolution, 395ppi
- 120Hz refresh rate, HDR10
- 2.4GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G 4G octa-core processor
- 8GB RAM
- Adreno 642L GPU
- 128GB/256GB internal storage, non-expandable
- 60-megapixel front camera
- 50-megapixel (f/1.9, PDAF) + 8-megapixel (ultra-wide, f/2.2) + 2-megapixel (depth sensor) rear cameras, LED flash
- Under-display fingerprint scanner, Face unlock
- No headphone jack
- Stereo speakers
- HSPA+, 4G LTE
- WiFI 6, dual-band
- Bluetooth 5.2
- Tri-band GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, QZSS, NavIC, BDS
- USB Type-C
- Dimensions: 162.2 x 73.9 x 6.9mm
- Weight: 168g
- Colors: Violet, Green, Silver, Black
- 4,000mAh non-removable battery, 66W fast charging
Design and Build Quality
The Huawei Nova 10 immediately impresses the moment you hold it in your hands. The combination of glass, curved corners, metal chassis, and its thickness of only 6.9mm makes it really sleek and premium to feel when you hold it. To give you a perspective, most phones averages around 8mm.
What’s more, the chassis feels really robust. We tried flexing it and it just felt firm and solid.
Since it’s wrapped in glass, you might want to slap in the free clear case to keep it safe. Don’t worry, the case is also thin and barely adds anything to the dimension of the device. It also protects the screen well enough in case you drop it facedown.
Thanks to its OLED panel and curves, the Nova 10 boasts a good screen-to-body ratio with its ultra-thin bezels. But at 6.67-inches, it’s still really large to be operated one-handed.
On the back, we still have the Nova series’ classic Star Orbit Ring design, making the top left of the back look really busy. It holds the triple cameras with a slight bump, with some of the camera specs listed on the shimmering bezels. It looks really nice up close.
The bottom part has the stylized NOVA logo at the bottom, on top of Huawei’s branding.
The color we have here is purple which Huawei calls Provence. It is also available in Starry Silver with Gold accents and Black, also with a gold-tone.
Taking a tour, you can spot the volume controls and lock/power switch on the left side of the device. The buttons feel thin and small but do provide a really tactile and clicky feel and sound when pressed. The left side is spotless.
No physical fingerprint scanner as it sits beneath the screen.
On top, we have a secondary microphone for noise isolation and second speaker grills for a stereo setup. Below, there are the primary speakers, USB Type-C port, and the small SIM tray that can accommodate two cards back to back.
Sadly, no room for a microSD card slot for storage expansion and a headphone port. These are some of the drawbacks of having ultra-thin phones.
Bottom line is if you want a sleek, premium, and thin smartphone for a price of sub-Php25,000, the Huawei Nova 10 is probably one of the best, if not the best, options in the market today.
Display and Sound Quality
The Huawei Nova 10 has a 6.67-inch curved OLED display with an FHD+ resolution of 2,400 x 1,080 pixels with a smooth 120Hz refresh rate.
It goes without saying that the Nova 10’s screen offers vibrant and contrasty colors with deep blacks. Movies, TV shows, and games look superb on this one.
Plus, it is to give enough viewing space that makes content more immersive. Also, a screen real-estate for comfortable multitasking.
Huawei also rigged it with speakers on each side. The volume and bass could be better, but the sound is pretty clear and the stereo separation is audible.
Hardware and Performance
Powering is Huawei Nova 10 is a 2.4GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G octa-core processor. Being from Huawei, the chipset has been stripped of 5G connectivity. It comes with Adreno 642L GPU with the unit we have here sporting 8GB of RAM and 256GB of expandable storage.
Huawei Nova 10 Benchmark scores
Paired with its smooth display, the hardware gives a fast and speedy performance. Opening apps are quick, switching between them is speedy, and social media platforms and other light software ran smooth like butter.
Mobile games ran well, too. Call of Duty Mobile was playable at very high graphics quality and max frame rate. It does get warm after a while, but nothing too alarming.
Overall, the Nova 10 was able to provide a really great performance. So much so that we believe there’s really no need to spend more on a flagship device if performance is all you’re after.
Software and User Interface
Instead of HarmonyOS, the Huawei Nova 10 ships with EMUI 12 sans Android. It goes without saying that it also lacks Google Mobile Services (GMS) and Google Play Store.
Surprisingly, we were still able to download the apps we wanted. You can use the Huawei AppGallery and some of the apps are available there natively. If not, the app store will display download recommendations from third-party websites using Huawei Petal Search.
The Nova 10 also enjoys the Huawei Super Device feature, great if you’re deep within the Huawei ecosystem. It allows other Huawei devices like this one, laptops, tablets, and other products to work seamlessly with each other. You can screencast with each other, transfer files, and more.
Other than that, the Huawei Nova 10’s software feels like a complete one and we almost forgot that it lacks Google Mobile Services. Still, we hope that Android makes its way back to Huawei devices.
We proceed to the main event, the cameras. The Huawei Nova 10 boasts a sharp 50-megapixel main camera with an f/1.9 aperture, joined by an 8-megapixel ultra-wide and a 2-megapixel depth sensor.
The primary shooter, as expected, takes really great images. The sharpness is top-notch, colors look realistic, and the dynamic range is really clean.
It is the same goes with the ultra-wide. While it’s not as sharp, we’re impressed by how the software handled the image, especially the dynamic range.
What’s really interesting is the ultra-sharp 60-megapixel front camera. Other than being pixel-packed, it also uses an ultra-wide lens. In standard 1x shooting mode, it takes a cropped photo that still looks sharp, with an acceptable skin tone.
You can switch to wide mode if you want to take group shots or if you want more subjects in the frame. It still has that same quality, without any noticeable bending or distortion on the corners that you usually get on ultra-wides.
As what you’ve seen, the Huawei Nova 10 has a reliable set of cameras, which isn’t surprising since it’s from Huawei after all.
The Huawei Nova 10 has a lot of modern connectivity features, other than the most important one: 5G, which is easily one of the biggest drawbacks of owning this device.
Other than that, the Nova 10 does come with dual-band WiFi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, tri-band GPS, NFC, and things like Huawei Share for file sharing with other Huawei devices, Easy Projection for a more straightforward big-screen mirroring, and wireless printing.
To achieve its ultra-thin profile, Huawei had to compromise the battery. This is why the Nova 10 only has a 4,000mAh battery, compared to most devices that have a 5,000mAh capacity.
Still, it was able to provide decent numbers on our tests. PCMark’s battery life test gave it a score of 12 hours and 24 minutes of screen-on time after it ran synthetic tasks and workload until the battery reached 20%.
During my time with it, I already had to reach for the charger around the afternoon. That’s after using the device for taking pictures, web browsing, and video calls from around 8 AM.
The best part is, charging this device is really convenient, especially since it comes with a 66W SuperCharge adapter in the box. It can easily fill up the device back to 100% in under an hour.
The HUAWEI Nova 10 really is one of a kind. It boasts a sleek and attractive design that feels really nice in the hands, a vibrant and buttery-smooth display, fast and reliable performance, long battery life, and of course, great cameras.
Still for the price, we would have to see 5G connectivity. Also, while Huawei’s own apps suffice, we still miss the reliability of Google Mobile Services.
While there are tons of better alternatives out there that boast 5G and GMS, the Nova 10 is still worth considering as it makes up for everything by having a reliable set of specs packed in an ultra-sleek and elegant body.
HUAWEI Nova 10 price and availability in the Philippines
The HUAWEI Nova 10 has an SRP of Php26,999 in the Philippines and will be up for pre-order until October 27 with a free HUAWEI FreeBuds 4. It’s available alongside the Nova 10 Pro, which retails for Php32,999.
- Thin, sleek, and attractive design
- Colorful and smooth display
- Reliable performance
- Fast charging
- Great cameras
- No Google Mobile Services
- No 5G
- Speakers could be better