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REVIEW: Huawei Nova 5T

Alvin R. Cabral/Dubai
Filed on November 24, 2019 | Last updated on November 25, 2019 at 05.10 pm
The Huawei Nova 5T comes with USB-C headphones, a clear case and a fast charger.

Huawei brings quad-lens camera and some more to a more affordable tier

We're at the homestretch of the year and, as always, Huawei isn't putting on the brakes on its smartphone launches. They've pretty much got us covered all-year-round (one more next month?).

So here they are with its latest mid-range offering, the Nova 5T, which brings some stuff that you may have heard of before. And you may be surprised to find out what some of them are.

I'm still waiting for clarification from Huawei on which is the Nova 5T's direct predecessor -apparently it's the Nova 4 - but until then, let's move on solo for now (we'll update it once we receive it):

TALE OF THE TAPE

This latest mid-ranger is a 6.26-inch device that dons a punch-hole on the upper-left corner to maximise your digital real estate. The screen is rich and vibrant, and is edge-to-edge save for that teeny-weeny chin.

As always, the volume rocker and power buttons are to the right, the card tray is on the left and below is a USB-C port, which not only serves as your charging point but also as the way to plug in a headset because there's no 3.5mm audio slot; don't worry, the in-the-box headset's compatible with the device.

It has an overall clean build - how can we get rid of all those fingerprint smudges, though? - and I particularly like the rear because the glass complements the shade under it very well (our unit is the 'crush blue' variant). There are no fancy 3D designs on it, which suits me well since I'm not exactly a fan of all those aesthetics.

And also in that area is its you-know-what.

Camera

The Nova 5T has a quad-lens camera system, comprised of 48MP main, 16MP ultra-wide, 2MP macro and 2MP bokeh lenses. It's almost similar to the one on the Huawei P30 Pro, albeit with a different configuration.

Anyway, the Nova 5T gives out some pretty neat shots, especially in well-lit conditions: 

For some reason, however, the images turned out darker than what the actual scene was. The 48MP sensor 'only' has an aperture of f/1.8, so that could be a factor. I am a huge fan of images not being overexposed, but neither was I expecting this.

Closing in on stuff, however, gets my nod:

Now that's more of a natural feel. The subjects are well-detailed and really look pleasing. Those on the right are macro shots, and the Nova 5T does a pretty good job at it.

The cameras also combine to give you wide-angle shots; and as is always the case, the more you zoom in, the more it gets mushier:

The last one is at the maximum 10x digital zoom - and there's no optical zoom.

Of course, these lenses are backed by AI technology, which determines what kind of scene or subject you're taking (greenery, food - you know, the usual stuff).

By default, AI is enabled; those shots above were taken with that setting - though I did snap them with AI off as well, and it apparently doesn't make a lot of difference.

This next set, however, shows it off a bit. The shot on the bottom-left was taken with AI activated; if you look at it closely, it's a little brighter:

Seems like this is a case-to-case basis. And, yeah, I just threw in another macro shot on the right because I love it.

And on to night shots. The photos below were taken with AI off, AI on and night mode, respectively:

Not much of a difference between the first two, but you can obviously see that night mode will solve all your lighting issues in the dark.

On wider shots, night mode fixes things up, but just a bit:

Expect, however, smudges and noise in dark scenes, especially in areas that are farther, even with night mode on.

And another thing that irks me: If you use night mode, prepare to wait more or less eight seconds - five while it adjusts the exposure and some more to finalise it - before your snap is done. That's a considerably long time, so you'd better make sure you've got a steady hand... and your subject is very patient.

The selfie camera - housed in that punch-hole up front - has a 32MP sensor. It takes snaps pretty well and isn't over-the-top when it comes to 'beautifying' you.

And today's biometrics mainstays are also present. The fingerprint scanner is incorporated in the power button, and I didn't have any issues with it. Face recognition, meanwhile, is snappy in - of course - well-lit situations. The darker it gets, the longer it'll take to unlock; you need a good-enough light source - say, a lampshade nearby or some light from somewhere - to brighten up your face. If you want it to work in total darkness, the only way is, apparently, to have the Nova 5T at its highest brightness setting. Pound-for-pound though, I think the fingerprint scanner is faster than face recognition.

Battery life, meanwhile, is okay. In our standard one-hour YouTube-at-full-brightness test, the Nova 5T lost 14 per cent; that's fairly nice, but I was expecting somewhere along the 11-12 per cent range. Making up for that, however, is that it was able to last until around brunch time the following day.

It also has super-fast charging capabilities, with Huawei claiming that your juice meter will be filled 50 per cent in just half-an-hour. Well, in my run, it did go up at 47 per cent in 30 minutes, 87 per cent in an hour before crawling to the 100 per cent finish line in one hour and 21 minutes. Not bad.

And so...

The Huawei Nova 5T is another pretty solid offering in its class, clamping together flagship specs from here and not-so-flagship specs from there. And it even undercuts some in the Honor range, particularly in terms of pricing and some specs. Keep in mind that it's also powered by the Kirin 980 chip, which is the same one found inside the P30 and P30 Pro. It does a nice job of gluing things together to give you maximum and optimum performance.

And this smartphone runs on Android 9 Pie, so you still have access to Google's spectrum of services. That said, given the uncertainty of the whole situation, the question of whether it will continue to access Google features is there. I am confident, however, that either this whole brouhaha will be resolved or Huawei will be able to remedy this (which they are very much capable of).

GOODIES: Very good camera (in well-lit scenes), simple and sleek build, priced right

GOOFIES: Non-expandable memory, lacks wireless charging, missing 3.5mm audio slot can be an issue for some, no IP rating

EDITOR RATING: 4.0/5

- alvin@khaleejtimes.com


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