Huawei ups the budget ante with the affordable Nova 3i

The new midrange phone from Huawei gets 4 AI-powered cameras and a beautiful gradient finish.

Aloysius Low Senior Editor
Aloysius Low is a Senior Editor at CNET covering mobile and Asia. Based in Singapore, he loves playing Dota 2 when he can spare the time and is also the owner-minion of two adorable cats.
Aloysius Low
2 min read

Chinese phone maker Huawei may have trouble getting its phones into the US, but that hasn't stopped it from trying to dominate the rest of the world.

Case in point, the phone maker's new Nova 3i, a follow-up from last year's Nova 2i. Like the Huawei P20 , the Nova 2i takes on a similar glass back with a beautiful gradient hue, and also sports a familiar iPhone X-ish notch.

The Nova 3i debuts with Huawei's new Kirin 710 octa-core chip, which Huawei says has a feature called GPU Turbo that optimizes gaming performance.


The rear dual 16-megapixel and 2-megapixel cameras can take pretty good shots, with the 2-megapixel shooter used for depth sensing.

Aloysius Low/CNET

However, the standout feature is the dual 24-megapixel and 2-megapixel front cameras, which come AI powered to recognise scenes and are designed to give you selfie shots with a blurred background effect and HDR.

On the other side, the rear dual 16-megapixel and 2-megapixel shooter work in tandem, with the 16-megapixel camera doing most of the work for shots and videos, while the 2-megapixel camera serves as a depth sensor for the bokeh effect you often see in DSLR cameras.

Other cool features include 3D Qmoji, their version of augmented reality emoji and "AI" tweaks for the gallery app, as well as a gaming mode that silences notifications (which, honestly, is already available on some phones without the need for AI).


There's notch on this phone. Hooray -- not.

Aloysius Low/CNET

The phone feels premium, though its iPhone X-ish looks are par for the course when it comes to Chinese manufacturers. The Android-based EMUI is fast and snappy and the camera seems quite capable in the brief time I had with the phone.

The Huawei Nova 3i launched both in China and Singapore, with a prices starting from 1,999 Chinese yuan for the 4GB and 64GB onboard storage. That converts to around $295, £225 and AU$400 respectively, while in Singapore, the model 4GB RAM and 128GB of onboard storage will retail slightly cheaper at S$398 (about $290).

Quick specs

  • Processor: Huawei Kirin 710 octa-core processor
  • Display: 6.3-inch full-HD+ (2,340 x 1,080 pixels) resolution
  • Memory: 4GB RAM, 128GB onboard storage
  • Battery: 3,340mAh
  • Operating system: Android 8.1 Orea (EMUI 8.2)