Huawei Nova 8 Review: A Solid Addition To Your Vlogging Arsenal
The Nova 8, Huawei’s mid-range device announced last year, has finally come to our shores. But will its versatile camera set-up and video capabilities be enough for us to make the switch to Huawei Mobile Services?
The Huawei Nova 8 comes in just one colour - Blush Gold, which is a beautiful mix of glossy and matte textures on the back, complemented by a stunning hue-shifting colour scheme. It feels comfortable in our hands, but it may get slippery without a phone cover. You would probably want to pop one on anyway since it can also be a bit of a fingerprint monster, and Huawei also includes a case in the box.
At only 169 grams with a thickness of 7.64mm - it will be one of the lightest phones you’ll see out there.
If you watch a lot of videos, you’ll be glad to know the Nova 8 features a 6.57-inch OLED Full HD+ curved screen which supports 10-bit colour depth, with a 90Hz refresh rate and 240Hz touch sampling rate. Its bright display and added depth give it that little extra oomph, making for an enjoyable experience when watching your favourite TV shows and movies on Netflix.
As with most bezel-less designs, false touches are to be expected. But Huawei claims an AI-supported mistouch prevention, which, frankly, works pretty well. We have yet to experience any accidental touches so far. It has an in-display fingerprint reader which doesn’t miss a beat and the haptic sensors provide a premium vibration feedback to the touch.
The mono speaker construction however isn't the best, probably not ideal for movies since it doesn't provide as immersive of an experience. But it’s decent enough for casual viewing like watching some of our videos on YouTube.
There’s also no audio jack, but most people are likely to have wireless earphones anyway. So, no harm done there.
The Huawei Nova 8 is powered with 8GB of RAM, and runs on the new Harmony OS EMUI 12, with a more minimalistic design and now with enhanced accessibility for single-handed use. Basically, it’s easier to reach the things you need like the Control Panel with one hand.
It's worth mentioning that Huawei’s improvement over Harmony OS continues to focus on cross-device compatibility, so serious Huawei users reap the benefits of using Harmony OS' features and functionality throughout the ecosystem. After all, they are positioning themselves as a third option for consumers compared to iOS and Android.
Running on a Kirin 820E chip, our benchmark tests for the Nova 8, however, shows that it’s slightly underpowered compared to other mid-range phones, scoring only 566 for the single-core test and 1909 for the multi-core test.
Given a lighter and slimmer body, it still pays off with a decent battery capacity at 3,800mAh. Slightly under the typical capacity of this tier, but it would most likely last you the day with normal usage.
If in doubt, you'll still be supported with the 66W USB-C Huawei SuperCharge charger which brings you to 60% in 15 mins. We tested it out ourselves, and yes, it is that fast.
This version released in Malaysia, however, will not come with 5G capabilities. Considering Malaysia has announced plans to roll out 5G services in five major cities by 2022, you might want to look out for a phone that is 5G-ready if you happen to be in one of those cities, but it’s not a deal-breaker for most.
The Nova 8 comes with a quad-camera array on the back with a 64MP main camera, 8MP Ultra-wide lens, 2MP depth sensor and a 2MP macro lens; and at the front, a 32MP selfie camera.
Autofocus is great for taking still objects. It captures what you want in a point-and-shoot style, while managing exposure accurately. But it's not quite ideal for moving subjects such as pets or humans, as its shutter speed isn’t as fast as we’d like it to be and always feels like it's hunting for a subject but never gets to lock-on when you need it to.
Images come out slightly more saturated and underexposed when switching between focal lengths. Meanwhile, the AI function does its best to combat this, however, colours can look blotchy in low-light conditions.
It definitely helps process out most of the noise from the image but may distort some textures such as skin complexion, fabrics, and other surfaces.
To put it simply, the pictures come out smoother than expected due to the extensive processing by the AI. It almost seems as if Beauty Mode is always ON even with it completely turned OFF.
The 2MP macro lens does surprisingly well, but requires sufficient lighting for any usable shots.
Coming into the Nova 8’s video capabilities is where we feel it shines the most.
Video stabilisation is great. At 4k 30fps, footage is crisp and sharp. It holds up really well in bright natural light settings, while giving a decent amount of high dynamic range when shooting outdoors. Artificial lighting, however, will create some noise as to be expected from a large 64MP sensor. Overall, it's a great main camera for casual or even serious use and more than capable for all of your creative needs
The slow-motion mode tops at 1080p at 120fps and an impressive 240fps at 720p. It produces decent footage given enough light, and a useful feature for content creators or anyone who wants a more creative style to add in their inventory.
You can’t always walk around with a DSLR everywhere you go, so the Nova 8 could be a great bet at a well-rounded vlogging tool with five built-in cameras including a great 32MP front facing camera.
As Fitri, our resident videographer believes, the best camera you have in your arsenal is the best camera you have on you at all times.
Something that always needs to be said, however, is that Huawei not being supported by Google Services does take getting used to. More essential apps are now available on Huawei’s App Gallery, like most of the banking apps and contact tracing apps like MySejahtera. But for the rest, there are several workarounds. You can download apps direct from official websites (like for Whatsapp and Facebook), use Quick Apps which saves your unavailable apps into a shortcut via the Huawei browser and downloading from APK sites. Security may be an issue considering it directs us to third party sites, and it won’t always be the most updated version.
Overall the Huawei Nova 8 sits comfortably in 2021 with a wide array of cameras, great image stabilisation, a 6.57-inch OLED display, beautiful construction and design.
From where we're sitting, it doesn't seem like the tech giant is slowing down, but rather, they're aiming to be a major contender as they once were, in the near future. We can't help but to be optimistic about what Huawei has to offer when things finally play out.
Considering some of its software shortcomings, walk into this with eyes wide open. We think it’s a decent mid-range phone that packs enough of a punch, while filling most of your creative needs for you.
The Huawei Nova 8 is priced at MYR 1,899 and is available nationwide in Malaysia, and PHP 19,999 in the Philippines. More information can be found on Huawei's website.
Content by Fitri Aiyub and Melissa Tan