Readers of this blog will know that I’m a fan of Huawei phones and recently I updated my GR3 which I reviewed here a few years back. That phone was still performing fine but unfortunately a screen crack had developed on the bottom left corner close to where the charging cord plugs in. I suspect I may have either forced the plug in too hard once or maybe it was due to dropping the phone on the corner. Either way it had also started running out of space due to the number of apps I had installed.
I went looking for a replacement phone and as last time was looking in the under A$300 range. I also wanted a slightly larger screen size but didn’t want one that was too wide to comfortably hold. The Nova 2 Lite has the newer 18:1 ratio 5.9″ screen which means it is longer but not a lot wider than my previous 5.5″ model. Even when I added a chunky phone case to protect the phone it is still fine to hold and my wife finds her one (she got one too!) is fine for her too. The screen is 720p HD with something called ‘Full View’ which means that many apps can run in full or larger screen mode – this seems to work fine with the apps I’ve tried it on. While not full 1080p HD I haven’t noticed any pixelation but if you want a higher res screen, the Nova 2i has one but pricier of course.
One thing we both really wanted in a new phone was fingerprint security to make it quicker and easier to unlock the phone without needing the pin or pattern unlock. It works very well too – fast and accurate. We registered two fingerprints (index finger on both hands, you can add 5 fingerprints) as well so it could be unlocked with whichever hand we picked up the phones with.
The phone also has face recognition to unlock and this provides another method but I have found it’s always quicker to use the fingerprint reader on the rear of the phone as you don’t even touch the power button. For added security, Huawei recommends adding a PIN and it was interesting to see that after using the phone for a few weeks it prompted me to enter the PIN once to ensure it really was my finger! The rear shot of the phone below is of the sexy blue back model, I opted for the plain black model as it’s always in the cover anyway.
The Nova 2 Lite comes with 3Gb of RAM and 32 Gb inbuilt storage which can be supplemented with an SD Card up to 256Gb size. I loaded mine up with all the apps I used previously then another 10-12 and I still have plenty of space left so it should last me a while! The extra RAM certainly does make the phone snappier to use and with the Snapdragon octa-core processor it handles most tasks easily. Apparently processor-intensive games can lag a little but as I don’t play them it isn’t an issue for me.
This phone came with Android 8.0 (Oreo) installed and after a week or so the latest security update for January 2019 came through and was installed quickly. Whether an Android system version update to the latest ‘Pie’ ever comes through is unknown. Huawei, like many phone manufacturers don’t keep up with Google version updates, but providing the security ones come through I’ll be happy. Some of the features that may be new to you that are in Oreo include split screen mode so you can see two apps running at once. This might have the odd use but I can’t think of one!
The rear dual camera (13M pixel plus a 2M pixel one used for the popular wide aperture blurry background photos) performed well for me in both photo and video modes with good colour and quick capture speeds. Night shots were a little ‘noisy’ but for a mid range phone camera quality is good in my opinion. The 8M pixel front camera has ‘selfie toning flash’ for that perfect selfie if you are so inclined and performed well in Skype and Facebook video calls. Most Huawei phones include extra photo features like HDR (high dynamic range) and panorama mode and the Nova has these plus others including a ‘Pro’ mode where you can adjust aperature/speed etc and something called ‘phase detection auto focus’ to minimise motion blur. It did a good job in my test photos and I personally prefer to change the default image size/ratio from 13M pixel 4:3 ratio to 9M pixel 18:9 for capturing great wide angle scenery photos. Play around with the different options to get the best out of the camera(s).
The non user replaceable 3000mAh battery gives me a full day of use including calls, texts and internet use which is an improvement on the GR3 which I would find the battery got down to 15% or lower after a days use. I find the Nova is still on 30% after a full days use – hopefully this will not deteriorate much over the phone’s life. The Oreo system has smart app power management which is intended to improve battery life – it does it’s job in my experience. Out of the box and like all Huawei phones, the EMUI system is installed as the default launcher. The latest version does include the option of the ‘all apps’ button but I still prefer to use Google Launcher which includes the swipe right for Google News feed. I’m used to it but of course, if you’re happy with the standard one or another launcher, just set it up how you prefer.
One omission is the lack of NFC which I would have liked – this enables Google Pay to be used for purchases at shops that support this but it isn’t a deal breaker for me. I have found though that Bluetooth connections are a little hit and miss. It connected straightaway to our Google Home speaker and another Bluetooth speaker but refused to connect at all to a friends speaker. Patience is a necessity with this method of connecting devices I have found, I’ll do some more testing on this and edit the post if I have some answers. I would have preferred a USB C type charging socket but at least all the chargers at home and in the car still fit the new phone.
Like the GR3, the Nova has dual-SIM capability, but like that phone, it is a bit of a trade off. The SIM1 slot can fit either a 3G or 4G SIM, but SIM 2 can be only be used for a 3G SIM. However if you want to use an SD card it goes in place of the second SIM, so think carefully about installing any apps on an SD card as they won’t work of course if the card is removed to fit a second SIM when travelling overseas etc. With 32Gb of inbuilt storage I’ll only ever use the card for music or video storage.
I bought our phones from an Australian EBay seller that I have bought from before. They are a Huawei authorised seller and the phone came with the full 2 year Huawei warranty. I don’t recommend buying non-Australian stock if you do buy through Ebay though – while you may save a few dollars, the warranty situation is a worry and while you usually get an adaptor for the US-style charger I prefer a genuine phone built for the country it’s to be used in. Several other stores here and I presume overseas will have local stock – I just like to save some money buy buying online. I see that OfficeWorks are currently selling them a little cheaper (at $249) than what we paid while JB HiFi has it for the same price we paid.
So, in summary, I’m happy with the Nova 2 Lite so far and can recommend it if you are looking for a mid range phone with a good sized screen in this price range. The Nova 2i has a higher resolution screen and other features but is over the $300 budget at between $320-$410 at the moment.