Huawei instantly went to the spotlight when they launched the Nova 2i. During its time, the Nova 2i was able to offer better value for the money than its competitors from OPPO and Vivo, which is the primary reason why it became a crowd favorite.
Now, the company has launched another smartphone in the budget-friendly market. This is the Huawei Nova 2 Lite — a cheaper alternative to the Nova 2i.
The Nova 2 Lite clearly has large shoes to fill in the lower price segment. Does it have what it takes to take on its competitors? Let’s all figure that out in our full review of the Huawei Nova 2 Lite.
Huawei Nova 2 Lite Specs
- Android 8.0 Oreo, EMUI 8.0
- Dual SIM, Dual Standby
- 5.99-inch HD+ IPS 18:9 Display, 1440 x 720 pixel resolution
- 1.4GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 processor
- Adreno 505 GPU
- 3GB RAM
- 32GB internal storage, expandable up to 256GB via micro SD
- Face unlock, Fingerprint scanner
- Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Wi-Fi hotspot
- HSPA+, 4G, LTE
- 13-megapixel rear camera with autofocus and LED flash
- 2-megapixel secondary rear camera
- 8-megapixel front camera with toning flash
- GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS
- Sensors: Proximity sensor, Accelerometer, Ambient light sensor
- Dimensions: 158.3×76.7×7.8mm
- Weight: 155g
- Colors: Matte Black, Blue, Gold
- 3,000mAh non-removable battery
Design and Build Quality
The Huawei Nova 2 Lite is one good-looking device. Right from the first look, we already fell in love with its 5.99-inch FullView screen. The display takes up almost all the entire space on the front, resulting in an impressive screen-to-body ratio.
Things get more exciting when you flip it to its back. This handset has a shiny metal, almost glass-like back surface. But judging by how it feels and weighs, I do suspect that it is only made it plastic.
However, the use of plastic is actually acceptable. First, we can only get so much in the build department for this price. Also, using plastic in lieu of metal or glass made the device lightweight and easy to hold in the hands. One thing I don’t like about it is the fingerprint and smudge magnet rear panel.
Thanks to its ultra-thin bezels, the Huawei Nova 2 Lite feels really compact despite its 5.99-inch screen. This is one of the perks of having an 18:9 aspect ratio display. Having smaller bezels means that the screen can maximize the space, resulting in a bigger display size without a noticeable increase in the overall footprint.
For a quick tour, we have the said 5.99-inch FHD IPS display right on the front. On top of that are the LED notification indicator, the 8-megapixel front camera, earpiece and the toning flash. At the bottom, there’s only the Huawei logo.
At the left side, there’s the dual SIM tray with a dedicated microSD card slot, while at the right is the volume controls and the lock/power switch. The buttons aren’t the most satisfying thing to press due to its plastic construction but they are still pretty tactile.
The top of the Huawei Nova 2 Lite is empty while the bottom houses the 3.5mm headphone jack, microUSB port, and speakers. The speaker drivers aren’t the best-sounding of all. But for the price, it is really good. The volume is still audible in a large room, there’s a good balance, and no noticeable distortion at max volumes.
At the back, there’s the dual-camera setup in a horizontal orientation. Sitting right next to it is the dual-tone flash. The trio is situated in one panel with a tiny camera bump covering it. The fingerprint scanner is located right in the middle just within reach of the index finger.
The focus on smartphone designs has shifted on the display. Since the emergence of 18:9 screens, the devices’ aesthetics is now being judged by how large the displays are, and how thin are the bezels.
With that, the Huawei Nova 2 Lite uses a 5.99-inch IPS 18:9 panel with an HD+ resolution of 1440 x 720 pixel resolution, and a relatively high 76.3% screen-to-body ratio.
The side bezels on this handset are really impressive. There are just enough of them on the sides to protect the screen from accidental drops, while the bottom has just enough space to house the brand logo. The top has the front camera and the other hardware.
The taller aspect ratio also provides a more immersive feeling when playing games. Plus, the extra space provides room for on-screen controls without blocking the actual field-of-view of the game.
Additionally, the screen gives a theater-like vibe when watching videos. However, since most videos are shot on 16:9, especially those on YouTube, it’s left with tiny black bars on the side.
Quality-wise, this screen panel does deliver. Although for this size, a Full HD+ resolution would have been more fitting. But for the price, we can’t really complain.
Sharpness isn’t really the Huawei Nova 2 Lite’s strongest suit. However, the decent colors and contrast brought by the IPS panel were able to make up for it. The viewing angles are also acceptable and the screen brightness goes high enough to make it usable outdoors.
Performance and Hardware
The Huawei Nova 2 Lite is rigged with a 1.4GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 processor with 3GB of RAM, Adreno 505 GPU, and 32GB of internal storage that can go up to 256GB.
The performance does feel smooth at first, especially when you’re just browsing the interface. However, you can feel it struggling when you launch an app like Facebook, Instagram, or Google Chrome.
Flicking through the news feed feels a little slow and a little jittery. Some apps also launch at a slow rate.
On the other hand, games do run a little better on this phone. I tested the new PUBG Mobile and it ran acceptably well. Although it automatically set the graphics settings to low, it was still playable. Those who want a good gaming experience should definitely look somewhere as the Huawei Nova 2 Lite won’t cut it.
There were frame drops, and the elements in the environment take a few moments to render. But still, judging by the 3 kills I managed to accomplish, consumers can still have a good time playing on this thing.
Overall, the performance of the Huawei Nova 2 Lite is just average. But with the other things that this device offers, it’s processing prowess isn’t going to make or break the deal that much.
Benchmark tests results
The Huawei Nova 2 Lite, just like its older brother, comes with both facial recognition and a fingerprint scanner. Both can be activated together to provide a more secure way of unlocking the device.
The fingerprint scanner sits conveniently at the back, just right in the middle to be within reach of your index finger. You can store 5 different fingerprints in case you have someone you want to share the device with.
Since fingerprint authentication has been present in mobile devices for quite some time now, we expect it to work as it should by now. That’s the case with the Nova 2 Lite. It can unlock the device within a millisecond, and it can correctly recognize my prints approximately 90% of the time.
On the other hand, the Face unlocks feature of the Huawei Nova 2 Lite works really well. It can accurately detect my face even more than a foot away. This means that users won’t have to awkwardly put the device up against your face.
The feature also works surprisingly well in a pitch black room. The screen beams enough backlight in your face, so the front camera can see the face even from complete darkness. But unlike the fingerprint scanner, it can only store one face data at a time.
Sofware and User Interface
Just like their other smartphones, including the flagship Huawei Mate 10, the Huawei Nova 2 Lite runs on the dated Android 8.0 Oreo with a layer of Huawei’s own EMUI 8.0 interface.
EMUI is slightly far from the stock Android look but the company did try its best to maintain the streamlined feel.
The quick-actions drop-down menu has its own look, the settings menu also had a facelift. Huawei organized it really well, with a search bar on top for easy access, just like what Google intended to do.
Huawei also removed the App drawer, so all your applications are scattered around the home screen. Each native apps icons were also redesigned based on Huawei’s specifications.
The interface has learned a few neat tricks. For one, you can use two apps at once via the split screen mode. Although it only works on a few numbers of apps.
You can also take a screenshot on the Huawei Nova 2 Lite by swiping your three fingers on the screen. Scroll screenshot is also available for long web pages. There’s also flip the phone to mute incoming calls, double tap to wake, and mini screen view for one-handed usage.
Huawei was also able to hold themselves from installing bloatware on this device. The company only preloaded it with apps that are not available from Google. This means that there’s only one camera apps, gallery, and what not.
One of the Nova 2i’s highlight features is its cameras. Well, four cameras to be exact. And Huawei will be using that same strength on the Nova 2 lite – sans the extra sensor on the front.
The Huawei Nova 2 Lite comes with an 8-megapixel selfie camera. It can take decent selfies, but the images that we took look a little soft. The colors look a little washed out as well. But with a few minor edits, it is still worth sharing online.
The face beauty feature of the Huawei Nova 2 Lite also works well. It can intelligently remove blemishes and pimples. Although the overall picture may look even softer because of the adjustments made by the camera software.
Huawei also added a front-facing flash, or as what they call it, a “selfie toning” flash. It does provide ample light to provide decent exposure even in the low-light environments, unlike the harsh lighting provided by the conventional flash.
Moving on, flipping the device around reveals the 13-megapixel primary camera and an extra 2-megapixel sensor for the Bokeh mode effect.
Thanks to the additional camera, the device can provide a pretty believable depth-of-field effect. It does give a cool look to your photos, or if you just want to blur out any distractions from the background.
But even without the 2-megapixel camera, the 13-megapixel sensor can take decent shots all by itself. It can capture incredible details, although both the colors and contrast might need a little tuning after the shot was taken.
It can also snap acceptable pictures in low-light scenarios, but they appear a little soft and grainy.
The Huawei Nova 2 Lite’s camera is not something to brag about. But for the smartphone division that it’s on, it’s pretty much on par with everybody else.
The Huawei Nova 2 Lite comes with all the necessary hardware for connectivity. Both the WiFi and Bluetooth antennas worked well during my testing. I was able to connect to our home and office network without any hiccups.
The Bluetooth connection was also able to play seamlessly with our wireless soundbar and my personal Bluetooth headset.
Moreover, the 4G LTE connection was pretty fast and reliable. Although do note that its speed would still vary depending on your location.
On the downside, the Nova 2 Lite still uses microUSB, instead of the Type-C implementation found on their flagship devices. We would have preferred it to be more future proof, but it’s still good news for users who have a lot of microUSB cables lying around.
The Huawei Nova 2 Lite is equipped with a 3,000mAh battery out of the box. That’s pretty much the standard capacity you can get from a device of this caliber.
Performance wise, the battery also delivered good longevity. This means that you’d also be charging this every night like what you’d do in most smartphones today.
After running PCMark’s battery test (WiFi Off, screen brightness and volume set to 50%) the Nova 2 Lite had a screen-on time of 7 hours and 9 minutes.
So, how does this translate into a real-world scenario? Well, if you use the device a lot – say you play games and stream videos through 4G LTE from time to time – then there’s a chance that you might need to plug in a charger before the day even ends.
But if you’re a really casual user who just browses the web occasionally, sending SMS and calls, then you can end a day with still around 10% to 15% left on the charge.
Thanks to the attention already brought in by the Nova 2i, the Huawei Nova 2 Lite already has a stage to stand on. Huawei has a pretty good reputation in the Philippines, so the Huawei Nova 2 Lite surely benefits from it.
However, there’s more to this device than its name. And just like its older sibling, the Nova 2 Lite really has something to offer on the table that will allow it to stand on its own feet.
For starters, the Nova 2 Lite’s flashy and eye-catching design is probably one of the most good-looking in its category. Huawei steered away from the usual muted metal look that its competitors have and went on a completely different route.
The Huawei Nova 2 Lite also has decent hardware to back up its gorgeous looks. Its 5.99-inch screen, despite only having an HD+ resolution, provides enough room for users to enjoy all the media and games, while also providing excellent aesthetics with the help of its ultra-thin bezels.
The processor, despite not being the most capable, can provide an acceptable user experience together with its fairly new operating system. Although we’re still expecting Huawei to deliver performance optimization updates for this device to make it run smoother.
Lastly, the front and back cameras are quite good. They provide Instagram-worthy pictures, which is probably all the consumers need in this day and age.
Overall, the Huawei Nova 2 Lite is one of the best devices you can get in the sub-Php10k price category. It has its own share of flaws but it was able to make up for it with its exceptional features.
Pricing and availability of Huawei Nova 2 Lite
The Huawei Nova 2 Lite has a retail price of Php9,990 and it’s available in Huawei stores and retailers in the Philippines. If you want to get this device, make sure to grab one quickly as Huawei will be throwing away a free Bluetooth speaker worth Php1,999 until April 30.
But if the Nova 2 Lite is not your cup of tea, you can check out other devices that are in the sub-Php10k category. There’s the Xiaomi Redmi 5 Plus, the Zenfone Max Plus from ASUS, Galaxy J7 Core from Samsung, and A83 from OPPO.
- Attractive design
- Good cameras
- Large display
- Underwhelming performance
- Average battery life
- Fingerprint magnet