Sunday, December 15, 2019
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Huawei Nova 5T Review – Flagship specs at an affordable price with a strong sense of déjà vu

Huawei’s latest launch may seem a bit peculiar, how has a company that has sanctions preventing it using Google services launched a phone using them?

At a quick glance, this looks like a spectacular phone offering flagships specs at an affordable price point of just £400.

Huawei Nova 5T 128GB 6.26” LCD Display Smartphone with 48 MP Camera, 6GB RAM, SIM-Free Android 9.0, EMUI 9.1, Single Sim, (Black) UK Version

  • With one of the biggest screen-to-body ratios around, the all-new Huawei Nova 5T takes smartphone design to the limit. Embedding the front camera within the screen expands the field of view, revolutionising the user experience
  • From panoramic, instagrammable views to sparklingly clear selfies, powerful photo and video algorithms capture every colourful detail, anywhere, any time. Equipped with four rear-mounted AI cameras, stunning high-definition, ultra-wide-angle, Macro and Bokeh photography are all possible with the Huawei NOVA 5T
  • Shoot bigger and better photos with the F/2.2 ultra-wide-angle lens. Whether showcasing beautiful landscapes or capturing striking portraits, the Huawei NOVA 5T is there to help you broaden your horizons
  • With a huge 32 MP selfie camera nestled in the front top corner, Plus 4-in-1 Pixel Fusion, the Huawei NOVA 5T brings out your natural beauty and individual Characteristics. By balancing the exposure and backlighting while optimising the background, The AI technology creates Bright, clear selfies you can be proud of
  • Unlike other smartphones, the Huawei NOVA 5T always keeps up with you. A massive 6 GB RAM accelerates and powers multiple apps, while 128 GB of internal storage gives you all the space you need for photos, songs, movies and more, so you never need to compromise on the things you love

In comparison to the P30 Pro, the last flagship to launch with Google, it shares the same powerful Kirin chipset and has the same base memory and storage options.

The camera spec is impressive, but not as good as the P30 Pro, this swaps on the RYYB sensor with a 48 MP Sony sensor and marries it with a 16MP ultrawide, 2MP macro and a 2MP depth sensor.

The 32MP sensor is hidden away in a small cut out to the upper left of the display, and the phone has an averaged sized batter of 3750 mAh battery.

The overall specs and £400 price point make this very competitive with the oft-recommended Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro or the more recently launched Realme X2 Pro.

However, it all feels very familiar, and this is how Huawei has managed to sneak a new device with Google through the net.

When you compare the Huawei Nova 5T to the Honor 20 which was launched nearly 6 months ago, you will see that they are identical. Not familiar. Identical. Ok, the colours are a little different.

I have noticed some reviewers claiming that this has more RAM than the Honor 20 but there are two variants of this phone, I received the 6GB model and the £400 that is sold on contract and retails is the 6GB model.

This is clearly a marketing move, likely an attempt to convince less suspecting consumers that they can still launch great phones with Google following all the recent issues. For that, I don’t blame them.

The big issue Huawei face with this phone is the price, while the Honor 20 shares the same RRP, because it has been out for months it is currently  £329.99 on Amazon, and has been as low as £309. So without touching this phone, I can already say that the recommendation will be to opt for the Honor 20.

This may not always be the case though, if you are happy with grey imports then you can pick up the 8GB/128GB model from eGlobal for just £299.99.

Similarly, if you need a phone on contract, the Huawei Nova 5T is on Vodafone and O2, but not Honor, and the Huawei currently has a promo on for some free FreeLace earphones.

No doubt that it a few months the prices of the two phones will level out and things will be level pegging, which will give you the option to shop around and find the best deal.

Moving on to the phone itself, I never got a chance to review the Honor 20, so at least it was my first experience of this.

Design, Build & Display

This is an attractive and well-made phone, not as premium as the P30 Pro but this is expected for the price. The first noticeable thing is the switch from a notch to a punch-hole for the selfie camera. I have no feelings towards this design either way, while neither a notch or punch hole is ideal, they don’t offend me as much as some people.

The use of the punch hole means this is an LCD display and this is 6.26-inch Full HD+ panel with a 1080×2340 pixel resolution. The display is a lot brighter than you would get on cheaper models including Honor’s own Honor 20 Lite.

Huawei/Honor opted to skip the now ubiquitous in-display fingerprint reader and go for a side-mounted option which doubles up as the power button. This has been a contentious decision, and I am on the fence about it. I still miss the days of a proper front-facing button, a rear-mounted one is a bit better for left-handed people, while in-display can be a bit hit or miss with accuracy.

The overall build quality feels superb, this has a glass for both the front and back held together with an aluminium frame. It is noticeable less weighty than my P30 Pro, Realme X2 Pro, and the Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro which I am currently reviewing. The 20g weight difference and 2mm width difference does make this feel a bit easier to use in the hand than the other models mentioned.

This lacks a 3.5mm headphone jack, and there is no microSD storage

Camera

The Huawei Nova 5T has a 48-megapixel f/1.8 main camera, 16-megapixel ultra-wide camera, and two 2-megapixel cameras for depth-sensing and macro photography. It lacks the telephoto lens that the Honor 20 Pro has, and I can’t help but think that would have been better suited than a macro lens.

The Sony IMX586 48-megapixel image sensor is the same you will find in many phones from this year including the OnePlus 7 Pro, OPPO Reno 2 and more. It’s an excellent image sensor, but looking across brands performance can be different, as this is mostly down to the software processing done on it. This is where Huawei has an advantage over some companies, and the phone is capable of producing superior results than similarly priced models from other brands.

The dual neural processing units of the Kirin 980 chipset allows the camera to automatically optimise shots based on the scene it detects and this works well on all the phones using this chipset.

The Huawei Nova 5T can record 4K video (at 30fps), 960fps 720p super-slow-motion video and comes with a range of AR lens filters and effects. One area you may have issues with is video, it is not so much that it is bad, but the lack of OIS means that you’ll want to keep the phone as steady as possible ideally with a gimbal.

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Maikel Du
I worked in many technical fields, but I always resort to blogging which has become an addiction to me