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Huawei Nova 5T Review

Huawei has put out its take on flagship-killer smartphones, the Huawei Nova 5T.

With all the mishaps that the company is currently facing due to the US-China trade wars, Huawei is counting on this device to bring back — or retain — the consumer’s trust in them.

And judging by what we know so far, it looks like this device was made to impress. Huawei was able to cram a lot of features that we’re only used to see on expensive flagship releases, in a device that’s only under Php20,000.

But, how does it holds up in real-world scenarios? That’s what we’re about to find out in our Huawei Nova 5T full review.

Huawei Nova 5T Specs

  • Android 9 Pie, EMUI 9.1
  • Dual SIM
  • 6.26-inch FHD+ LCD display, 2340 x 1080 pixel resolution, ~412ppi
  • 2.6GHz Kirin 980 octa-core processor
  • 8GB RAM
  • Mali-G76 MP10, GPU Turbo 3.0
  • 128GB internal storage, non-expandable
  • 32-megapixel front camera, f/2.0
  • 48-megapixel (f/1.8, AIS) + 16-megapixel (ultra wide) + 2-megapixel (macro) + 2-megapixel (depth sensor) rear cameras
  • Side-mounted fingerprint scanner
  • WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • Dual-band GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, BDS, QZSS
  • NFC
  • USB Type-C
  • Dimensions: 154.25 x 73.97 x 7.87mm
  • Weight: 174g
  • Colors: Midsummer Purple, Crush Blue, Black
  • 3,750mAh non-removable battery, 22.5W Huawei SuperCharge

Design and Build Quality

The Huawei Nova 5T has a lot of surprises on the inside. But before you even uncover its hidden features, you’d already fall in love with its design.

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It sports a metal chassis with glass on the back that has a “multi-layered 3D” design, which attracts reflections that provides a cool effect.

The Nova 5T is available in three different colors. There’s the Black model for a subtle look and Crush Blue (the review unit that we have) for a little splash of color. But if you want to go all out, you can get the Midsummer Purple with the unique NOVA logo design printed on the back.

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Besides the color options, the company did some smart design choices for the Huawei Nova 5T.

One of which is the side-mounted fingerprint scanner. This still provides a cleaner look, despite the lack of an in-display sensor. It also doubles as the lock/power switch — so it’s a button that does everything.

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This next feature might be subjective, but I liked it. The Huawei Nova 5T has a punch-hole cutout on the screen for the 32-megapixel selfie camera to peek through.

It’s a more futuristic and cooler approach to achieve that bezel-less look than the traditional notches. Also, since it’s positioned way far in the top left corner, it’s less distracting and almost unnoticeable. This is opposite to what Samsung did with the Galaxy Note 10.

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I also liked how they were able to make all sides of the bezels as symmetrical as possible. They are not the thinnest but still looks sleek.

There’s also the earpiece and a small LED notification indicator hidden on the top bezel, just above its 6.26-inch FHD+ IPS screen. They are so inconspicuous that you’d seldom notice they are there unless you’re using them.

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Probably the disappointing move from Huawei is the removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack. Considering the Nova 5T’s ample thickness, they could have easily added a port for headphones. So to compensate, Huawei is including a USB Type-C to 3.5mm adapter in the box.

But other than that, there’s no denying that the Huawei Nova 5T is one of the best-dressed mid-range smartphones in the market today.

Display

The Huawei Nova 5T has a large 6.26-inch FHD+ IPS display, with a 2340 x 1080 pixel resolution, and ~412 pixel-per-inch.

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IPS panel still lags behind its AMOLED counterparts in terms of color and contrast. But still, it’s enough to provide decent vibrancy and acceptable blacks. This means that watching movies is great on the Huawei Nova 5T — if you can forgive its disappointing loudspeakers (more on that later).

Also, its size is in the sweet spot between being large enough to provide room for productivity purposes, while remaining compact to make it comfortable to hold and pocketable.

Sound Quality

As stated earlier, the Huawei Nova 5T has a disappointing loudspeaker. This one only has a single bottom-firing speaker, and it outputs audio with low volume. On the upside, the clarity is decent with audible bass and clean highs/treble.

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Also, the lack of a dedicated headphone jack can be a huge deal-breaker for some. But unless you don’t mind carrying around —or not lose the included Type-C adapter — you’re good to go.

Hardware and Performance

Now let’s head on to one of the main highlights of the Huawei Nova 5T — the processor. This one is rigged with a 2.6GHz Kirin 980 octa-core processor, the same chipset found on flagship devices like the P30 Pro and Mate 20 Pro.

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If that’s not impressive enough, it also comes with 8GB of RAM, and a Mali-G76 MP10 graphics with GPU Turbo 3.0. There’s also the generous 128GB of storage, but on the downside, it doesn’t have a microSD card slot for storage expansion.

With that, the Huawei Nova 5T delivers uncompromised performance. Daily and basic tasks are doable seamlessly. You can even switch between apps without breaking a sweat.

Huawei Nova 5T benchmark scores

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The gaming performance is also top-notch. Pretty much all the games that we tried, from popular titles like Mobile Legends, as well as power-intensive games like PUBG Mobile, Asphalt 9, and even the latest NBA 2k20, ran at the highest graphics settings with very smooth frame rates.

Besides its powerful processor, we also have the Mali-G76 MP10 graphics and GPU Turbo 3.0 to thank for that.

Software and User Interface

Just like the Y9 Prime 2019 and Huawei’s other latest releases, the Huawei Nova 5T runs on the latest Android 9 Pie with their very own EMUI 9.1 user interface.

Huawei-Nova-5T-Software-Update

Like its previous iterations, EMUI 9.1 is still one of the most heavily-skinned UI out there. The lock screen, desktop, notifications tab, and control center is far from the stock Android look.

However, they did try to retain some of the familiar looks that most Android phones have. Swiping to the far left of the home screen reveals a special tab for searches, latest news, most used apps, and more.

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The app drawer is disabled out of the box, which you can enable via the settings menu.

Digital Balance, which is basically the Digital Wellbeing feature of Android, is also here to give you the stats of your daily smartphone usage. You can also long-press select apps for in-app shortcuts (i.e quickly launch the selfie camera by long-pressing the camera app icon and tap “Selfie”).

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The Huawei Nova 5T also comes with preinstalled apps or bloatware. Apps like Booking and Camera360 are uninstallable, but their sizes are almost insignificant that they barely hurt the storage capacity.

Moreover, the camera app is still the same, with all the buttons and toggles that take full advantage of its photography prowess. Huawei also kept their special SwiftKey keyboard that’s intuitive and easy to get used to, even if you’re coming from a non-Huawei device.

Security

I really like what Huawei did with the fingerprint scanner on the Huawei Nova 5T. Not only that it makes the design more seamless, but doubling it as the home button means that the device is already unlocked the moment you press the button to wake it up.

The sensor works so fast that you don’t even have to press the button anymore.

Huawei-Nova-5T-security

Also, the Face Unlock provided a snappy performance. But I suggest you just disable it since the fingerprint scanner already worked incredibly well. Plus, some reports contest its reliability as it can be easily tricked.

Camera

The Huawei Nova 5T is meant to be an all-around performer. Besides its powerful processor and great display, this device also has a great set of cameras. Which isn’t that surprising for a Huawei device.

It has four cameras on the back, starting with the 48-megapixel Sony IMX 586 camera with a wide aperture of f/1.8.

Even without the AI scene detection on, the primary take great images with outstanding colors and contrast. It also handled the dynamic range fine.

We also have the 16-megapixel ultra-wide-angle shooter. The pixel-packed sensor lets you take well-detailed images with a wider field-of-view, unlike other smartphones who would only use 8-megapixel or 12-megapixel sensors in their ultra-wides.

Also, props to Huawei for allowing the Night Mode to work on this camera.

Speaking of which, the Night Mode feature on the Huawei Nova 5T works well. It lets you take bright images at night or indoors by doing a long-exposure shot.

The best part is, the feature works well even with the absence of an optical image stabilizer. Huawei is one of the pioneers of this feature, so no surprises here.

Lastly, we have the 2-megapixel macro and 2-megapixel depth sensors. The macro lens can get you close by up to 4cm on your subject and outputs a clean image. This is great for enthusiasts who like taking pictures of insects, toys, and other small subjects.

Meanwhile, the depth sensor does an excellent job of separating the foreground from the background. Thus creating this professional DSLR-like effect that has a blurry background.

Lastly, we have a 32-megapixel selfie camera. We’ve seen other devices with a lower pixel resolution perform better than this. But it’s still good nonetheless.

Selfies will look sharp on this thing, although just like most front-facing cameras, colors will not be as vibrant.

It also comes with all the novelties that selfie cameras come with. There’s the AI scene detection, face beauty, portrait mode, and AR lens.

As what you just saw, the Huawei Nova 5T is also geared to impress aspiring or even professional photographers out there.

Connectivity

Huawei covered all the bases with the Nova 5T — including in the connectivity department.

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The Huawei Nova 5T has reliable 4G LTE mobile connectivity. Also, both of its dual-band WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth 5.0 worked seamlessly in our testing. It’s also surprising that Huawei put NFC on this thing — clearly, they want to show off with this device.

And for those who are still wondering, the call quality on the Huawei Nova 5T is great. The earpiece presents clean sound and the dual microphone setup captures your voice with less background noise.

Battery

The party doesn’t seem to end on the Huawei Nova 5T. We already know that it has great cameras and a very capable processor. As if those are not impressive enough for the price, Huawei also included a long-lasting 3,750mAh battery and 22.5W SuperCharge support on this thing.

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Having a 4,000mAh is already a standard in most smartphones today. The Nova 5T might only come with 3,750mAh, but it delivered longevity that exceeded our expectations.

PCMark’s battery test gave it a score of 14 hours and 38 minutes. That’s hours of running synthetic workloads in a loop, with the WiFi off and the screen brightness and volume set to 50%, until the battery reached 20%.

Verdict

As you just saw, the Huawei Nova 5T is easily one of the best smartphones that you can get for under Php20k. This device proves that you don’t have to spend twice as much on a smartphone to get flagship-level performance.

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The Kirin 980 processor provides identical performance to some of Huawei’s high-end devices like the P30 Pro. Also, its large display looks clean and futuristic thanks to the punch-hole cutout for the pixel-packed 32-megapixel camera.

One of the main highlights of the Huawei Nova 5T is its quad-camera setup on the back. Besides providing you with great flexibility for whatever you want to shoot, they also provide great image quality overall. You can enjoy all of its great features for long thanks to its great battery life.

Huawei-Nova-5T-Review-verdict

Also, let’s not forget about its sleek and stylish design. Besides the unique hole on the screen, the side-mounted fingerprint scanner offers a cleaner design as it also doubles as the lock/power switch. The 3D-layered design also provides a high-end feel, which complements its hardware.

However, the Nova 5T is not without its flaws. For starters, the lack of a headphone jack and a microSD card for storage expansion can be a huge dealbreaker for power users out there. The bottom-firing loudspeakers are not so great, either.

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But at the end of the day, the Huawei Nova 5T is undeniably a great bang-for-the-buck smartphone. It offers tons of features that we never thought we’d see on a device at this price.

Huawei Nova 5T pricing and availability in the Philippines.

The Huawei Nova 5T is now available for a price of Php18,990 at Huawei concept stores, kiosks, and multi-brand shops nationwide. You can also get it online through Huwaei’s official Lazada store.

Huawei is also offering everyone a chance to get the device with 0% interest installment plans on Visa, Mastercard, and Home Credit. You can also get it at Globe’s ThePlan 1499 with only a Php1,200 cashout fee, and Smart Signature 1599 plan for a one-time payment of Php4,010.

 

Pros

  • Chic, sleek design
  • Flagship performance
  • Clean side-mounted fingerprint scanner, Punch-hole display
  • Long battery life

Cons

  • No headphone jack
  • Disappointing loudspeakers
  • No microSD card slot

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