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Huawei Nova 3e Review: A Fancy Mid-Range Smartphone

Huawei is one of the largest smartphone manufacturers and recently it has been creating quite a buzz in the smartphone market. Huawei’s Nova series is quite popular in Nepal. Targeted towards a young audience, Nova phones offer premium smartphone experience on a budget.

Fresh off the recent launch of its budget offering for 2018, the Y9 2018 & Y7 Pro 2018, Huawei is back with a successor to the Huawei Nova 2i. Priced at Rs. 35,900 in Nepal, can the Huawei Nova 3e live up to its expectation? Find out in our Huawei Nova 3e review.

Huawei Nova 3e Review

Design & Build

huawei nova 3e review

The Nova 3e sports a similar glass panel with an aluminum frame design that we’ve seen from Huawei’s premium offering. This is a huge plus as the latest phone once again belies its actual price tag with a look and feel that could go toe-to-toe with some flagship smartphones. With some design cues from Huawei’s premium lineup, the Nova 3e carries a dual camera setup on the back along with a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor. The rounded edges look smooth and the antenna bands are well hidden. The glass finish is as smooth as it gets and feels as premium as some flagships in the hands. Unfortunately, the ultra-smooth rear panel comes with a couple of downsides. For starters, the Nova 3e is a slippery phone. And, a phone case is a must to protect it from fingerprints and smudges.

Moving on to the front, the minimum bezels all around looks appealing and yes there’s’ a notch at the top. People seem to have divided opinion over the notch, whereas I’m comfortable with it. It doesn’t get in the way of contents most of the times, anyhow there are some exceptions. However, there’s an option to hide the notch but I prefer to have the notch than not have the notch!

On the right side, we have a physical volume rocker and power key, with the former doubling up as a shutter button, while the left is home to a solitary dual-SIM tray. Similar to the Nova 2i, its a hybrid dual sim slot with micro SD support. Aside from the standard 3.5mm headphone jack and single firing bottom speaker, one of the notable design features is the inclusion of USB Type-C port. In a smart bit of decision, Huawei has finally included a fast charging support in their mid-tier offering. Thus, the Huawei Nova 3e comes with the fast charging version 2.0.


Nova 3e sports the trendy edge to edge screen. It uses the IPS LCD with a screen resolution of 1080*2280, the minimum bezels and the tall 19 by 9 aspect ratio means that the screen takes almost the whole surface of the phone.
The display is crisp and it has to be one of the best displays in the mid-range smartphones. The colors are punchy and it’s bright enough. The viewing angles are great and you won’t have any problems with the display in outdoor condition too.

Out of the box, the Nova 3e is set to a default color mode. This can be switched to a far cooler mode or a warmer mode in the display settings menu. There’s an eye comfort mode for filtering out the blue light, which can be scheduled for a certain time of a day, an optional smart resolution toggle that automatically drops the display down to a 1,520 x 720 resolution to conserve battery when required. The display is certainly one of the main highlights of the Nova 3e. And, at this price point, there are not many smartphones with such crisp display.

Hardware and Performance

The Nova 3e is kitted out with the same HiSilicon Kirin 659 SoC that powered the Nova 2i, as well as the Huawei Y9 2018. The SoC performs fairly well when it comes to high-quality audio streaming, or intensive multi-tasking, or Gaming. However, gaming is not its strong suit, you can play most of the games in low-mid settings but the graphics intensive games will not run smooth. But it performs smoothly when it comes to loading apps and switching between multiple apps. That’s due in part to the massive 4GB of RAM.

The Huawei Nova 3e comes with a 64GB of storage with support for expandable storage via micro-SD card. The fingerprint sensor sits on the back and it’s lighting fast as any other Huawei phones. In addition, you can also use gestures for various actions such as receiving calls, and etc.


The Nova 3e runs Android 8.0 Oreo out of the box, with EMUI 8.1 on top. There is an option to use the app drawer and most of the icons look flashy. Also, it comes with some bloatware like Huawei Health and other pre-installed tools. Swiping right on the home button takes you to smart care where you can monitor your phone usage, news, fitness data and others.

There are lots of features packed into the EMUI like the power saving mode, Backup and Restore, Simple Mode, Data transfer, three finger screenshot, and others. You can also adjust the screen resolution between FHD+ and HD+. There’s even Huawei health for monitoring your fitness and training regime and many more. Also, there’s a built-in pedometer that counts your step.

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Other interesting features include gestures for a fingerprint sensor. You can use gestures to browse the gallery, notification bar, and others. And there’s also an option to hide the navigation button, you can hide or unhide it anytime you want to.


Nova 3e has been offering the dual-lens camera in the Nova lineup, so it’s no surprise to see two sensors on its latest offering. The Nova 3e sports a primary 16MP f/2.2 lens and a 2MP lens for taking portrait shots. The photo captured from the rear camera in a favorable light are quite impressive, level of detail and colors are good and has a very good dynamic range. Like the y9 2018 and nova 2i, photos captured with Nova 3e has saturated color and nice contrast. In the low light situation, the noise is more or less kept under control but the image seems over sharpened and overexposed. Thus, you’ll notice noise in the images. But I did notice that it has improved low light performance than the nova 2i.

The wide aperture mode allows you to take shot with depth of field effect which is decent at best. There’s also a portrait mode and it seems to do a good job with a nice amount of blur and average edge detection. If you prefer a little more control over the camera, the Huawei Nova 3e has you covered. Along with a detailed pro mode, there are also options for taking panoramas, Time Lapse, a document scanner, light painting modes and AR stickers are implemented quite well, if you’re into it, it’s a nice way to kill some time with your friends.

Nova 3e rocks a 16MP front-facing selfie camera and it manages to capture nice details but same is not the case under the low-light situation. Portrait shots come off decent but sometimes the blur amount can be a little too aggressive.


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Wrapping It Up

One of the major missing features is image stabilization. You won’t notice it when taking photos during the day but you will start missing the OIS during low-light situations. The battery is nothing out of the ordinary as it has a 3000 mah battery. But coupled with a power efficient Kirin 659, it will last for a day if you’re an average user. Meaning if you are a heavy user, who likes to play games then you will have to recharge it before the end of the day. For me, the battery was good enough, it would usually last me till I got home (7-8 PM). My usage mostly includes plenty of social media, Spotify and 30 to 40 minutes of gaming on average.

Huawei Nova 3e looks stunning and feels equally beautiful as well. It’s a similar phone to the Nova 2i and it’s a very good midrange smartphone. A slightly bigger battery would have been better but its good enough. In terms of performance, it’s smooth when it comes to using apps and switching between them. But graphics heavy intensive games won’t run as smooth.

Nova 3e outweighs its deficit with its beautiful design and build quality. You’re getting a premium build quality for 35k, a good camera, average battery, and a good experience. It has its own flaws, but if you’re in search of a phone with a top-notch build quality and design. Look no further than the Nova 3e.

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