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  • Fitri Aiyub

Huawei Nova 10 Pro Review : Bigger But Not Exactly Better

So the Nova Series have been quite a favourite of ours ever since we first experienced the Nova 8. Especially if you’re considering “what's the most value for money?” While it had some faults, the Nova 9 that came after showed very promising improvements, chipping away some megapixels in it’s main camera from a 64MP to a 50MP camera It had great results, performing better in low-light conditions and reduced some of that shutter lag.

But, aside from it’s cameras, it was still missing a little of that Huawei magic seen in their flagships. So it got us thinking, could a Pro variant resolve all of its issues? Well the guessing games are over. We have a Nova 10 Pro with us here. And to start with a few, moving away from Kirin chipsets to Snapdragon’s 778G, dual Autofocus front facing cameras (one of them being a 60MP ultra-wide and an 8MP portrait) – to the 50MP main camera which felt as if it were carried over from the Nova 9.

Design

Coming in this Starry Silver colour we have with us, carrying the etched Nova symbol proudly at the bottom from previous designs, it’s also textured differently from the frosted back. We must say, it’s a nice touch. These golden accents surrounding the cameras have gotten some mixed reactions. Some said it’s a little ugly, while some raced to get a closer look. Maybe it's just whether you have a thing for the colour gold or you prefer something that makes less of a statement. We’ll let you decide.

But one thing’s for sure, the module is far bigger than in the previous Nova 9 series and extends quite far out from the back, proudly stating “AI Triple Camera” surrounding it. Not surprising is how this would wobble when set on a table. If we’re being honest, the overall aesthetics do look a little imbalanced because of it .

Main Display


Especially with the dual front facing camera cutouts of the OLED, 6.78" curved display, which doesn’t help clean up the look at the front either. As far as resolutions go, this still has a 429 ppi density, produces over 1 billion colours while supporting HDR10 , with refresh rates up to 120Hz.

Needless to say, it's still a great display for indulging in all of your online content with a 91.1% screen-to-body ratio, while 300Hz touch sampling rates should be a breeze to work with on those first person shooter games.

Speakers

The stereo speakers on the other hand, doesn’t quite match up to the quality heard on the Mate50 Pro, but it’s still a better take than the mono speakers found on the Nova 9. Regardless of the differences, it still reaches up to 90 decibels and should serve as an immersive sound experience for most environments.


Performance

Despite being specified as a “Pro”, we were hoping it came with a faster chipset than the standard version… but it doesn't. You still get a 6 nanometer Snapdragon 778G and Adreno 642L. Our Geekbench scores don't suggest high scores either, scoring 786 for Single-core and 2964 for Multi-core. But it does manage a Vulcan WildLife Overall score of 2494 and averages 14.9fps.

After some rounds on Call Of Duty, it did get a little warm to the touch and really started showing a rise in temperature when put through a WildLife Stress Test, showing a 10°C increase and battery depletion of 6%. Nothing too drastic from a technical standpoint but does suggest thirsty power consumption when graphics are at full blast.


Cameras The forefront of almost every smartphone nowadays has been about cameras, especially if it's a "Pro". You'd hear everything from fancy image computation jargon, to variable zoom lengths like a 100x periscope, or in some phones, variable aperture sizes such as the one on the very recent Mate 50 Pro. So where does this stack up? Well for one, the main camera is still a 50MP but coming at an ever so slightly tighter angle of 27mm and a slightly wider aperture of f/1.8 , rather than the 23mm and f/1.9 found in the previous Nova 9. It is accompanied by an 8MP ultra-wide and 2MP depth sensor.

Image computations happen quite strongly right after snapping a photo as Huawei’s rebranded XMAGE image engine seems to be pulling a lot of the weight when it comes to correcting highlights, sharpness, detail and even lens distortions for the wider 50MP. Thanks to this, on the right occasion, photos at 0.5x to 2x come out great. While the Mate50 Pro had similar characteristics, this phone wasn’t quite given the same chipset performance, so it does feel a tad bit slower. As long as you're patient enough before reviewing a photo, you’ll like these cameras. “Quality over Quantity” right?

Exposure consistency of the 8MP telephoto for the most part does require more attention by tapping to focus, but it’s still a close match to the main camera. Colours might not hit the mark some times, but it's not a make or break situation, retaining most of its sharpness. Night time images do pretty well too, showing little-to-no noise and balances shadows quite nicely. But of course, not forgetting the key feature that separates the Nova 10 Pro from its standard version is the dual front facing 60MP and 8MP cameras. The 60MP is definitely sharp alright. If counting facial hair or spotting boogers is your thing, then yes this would be a reasonable tool for your needs. Video quality, though topping at 4K30, does seem to suffer a little more when having backlit subjects and tends to be more saturated than it does in photos. Colour balance and dynamic range are great for daytime use, but would ultimately get noisy in low-light conditions.

Overall, it's nowhere near bad, but it’s not exactly much of an improvement in its video department from previous iterations, showing quite mediocre results. Maybe this is something Huawei could invest more into considering how well they’ve done this far when it comes to taking photos. Battery Life & Price Battery life got us about a day and a half of use with its 4500mAh and comes with 100W SuperCharger which gets you from 20 to 80% in under 10 minutes. The Nova 10 Pro comes with 8GB RAM, 256GB Storage and is priced at RM2,599.Just for context, the standard Nova 10 comes at RM2,199.


Final Thoughts

While the price difference isn’t too far off, you do get a bigger screen, an extra camera at the front, a slightly bigger battery and also the 100W fast charger. To be frank, it's quite similar to the standard version and we expected more of a secret sauce in this Pro variant. In truth it's kinda just a bigger Nova 10.

But we can't take away how the Nova series is still a great mid-range option minus the SE — cause we really don't find much special about the SE despite it being called Special Edition) – Prove us wrong, Huawei. But all in all, Huawei has made bigger improvements before and it just feels a little bit of a "copy paste and make it bigger" situation here and playing it safe. Innovation can be a slippery slope with big risks but also big rewards. So in this Nova 10 Pro, maybe Huawei is just glad to find their footing before the mayhem starts all over again.

 

Written by Fitri Aiyub

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