Huawei Nova 5T smartphone

Huawei Nova 5T Smartphone REVIEW – Best Bang For Buck In 2019?

September 18, 2019
3 mins read
Huawei Nova 5T Smartphone REVIEW


Huawei Nova 5T Smartphone REVIEW


Huawei has pumped a lot of its premium phone smarts into its nicely priced Nova 5T, so where does it cut corners? PAT PILCHER gives it a thorough workout in his Huawei Nova 5T review.


Huawei Nova 5T review
Huawei Nova 5T smartphone

While budget and mid-range phones have improved over recent years, Huawei’s Nova 5T redefines the budget category by offering what are arguably flagship specs at a super affordable price.

Reviews making such hyperbolic claims might not be anything new, but bear with me as I proceed with my Huawei Nova 5T review. Because there are some excellent reasons for making this bold claim.

If you cast your mind back to Huawei’s P30 Pro launch, the excitement was palpable. Huawei had launched a phone with a muscular CPU, a crazy optical zoom and night shooting capable camera setup, all in a sexy glass and alloy designer chassis.

Meanwhile, back in the present, the Nova 5T costs a fraction of the P30 Pro (how does $699 grab you?) and in most ways that count, it performs a lot like that premium winner.

Huawei Nova 5T smartphone review
Huawei Nova 5T smartphone

Huawei has been steadily upping its design game and has crafted some beautiful phones. With the Nova, you get a glass/plastic/alloy chassis with a hole punch screen as well as a cool 3D holographic Nova logo etched into its back.

The Nova is available in black and Cadbury purple versions, both of which are very easy on the eye. Rounded edges and a decent amount of heft lend the Nova an upmarket feel. Swinging it around reveals four cameras arrayed vertically on the upper left side. A power button and volume control are on its righthand side.

A feature that impresses is the integration of a fingerprint scanner into the power switch. Being located on the righthand side might annoy left-handers, but for non-lefties, it makes powering up and unlocking the Nova a quick and seamless action.

On its bottom are a USB C port and speaker grille. A notable absence is the lack of a 3.5mm headphone jack.

Huawei Nova 5T smartphone

The 6.26-inch LCD screen runs at FHD+ and has a small hole-punch on its upper left side. The hole-punch is both small and unobtrusive, which means that in use it all but disappears, leaving you with a tonne of screen real estate. Considering the display is LCD and not OLED, I was pleasantly surprised at its accurate colour reproduction and the decent contrast on offer.

Budget/midrange phones are often underpowered, owing to the use of a low spec CPU and limited RAM/storage. Huawei has added some serious horsepower by using the same flagship Kirin 980 processor that powers the P30 Pro. On the storage front, the Nova comes with a healthy 8GB dollop of RAM, along with a chunky 128GB serving of storage.

For those on a tight budget who have many apps and a sizeable media collection, the Nova’s powerful CPU and roomy storage make it hard to ignore. It’ll keep up with almost anything you’re going to throw at it. Lags and stutters didn’t happen while I was testing the Nova.

Huawei Nova 5T review
Huawei Nova 5T smartphone

Rounding out a solid spec is Android Pie, overlaid by EMUI 9.1. This means that many of the goodies on the P30 Pro are also on offer, including GPU Turbo, which can deliver a performance bump with supported games and better battery consumption.

Being a Huawei phone, the cameras are a big part of its overall design. To this end, Huawei has equipped the Nova with four rear shooters – a 48-megapixel main sensor (f/1.8 aperture), a wide-angle 16-megapixel sensor (f/2.2 aperture lens), and a 2-megapixel depth sensor plus 2-megapixel macro shooter (f/2.4 aperture lens).

While super Macro mode is supported, the shots I took weren’t all that super. This is probably due to the lowly 2-megapixel sensor used.

That said, I found during this Huawei Nova 5T review that the rest of the Nova 5T’s cameras performed superbly. Images had accurate exposure and colour reproduction. Shooting under low light levels also showed off AI image processing capabilities of Night mode, which got helped along thanks to optical image stabilisation. I also liked that 48-megapixel RAW mode images were also supported.

Huawei Nova 5T smartphone

Around the front, I found myself pleasantly surprised by the selfie shooter. These are so often a low-res afterthought used to pad out spec sheets, but the photos captured by the 32-megapixel selfie sensor were crisp and accurate.

Macro camera aside, the Nova’s camera setup is a solid leap forward for midrange/budget smartphones. The Nova punches well above its affordable sticker price when it comes to photography and you’d be hard pressed to find better photographic capabilities in other similarly priced phones.

The battery powering the Nova 5T is a 3750mAh beastie. Compared to the 4000mAh batteries that are now a default item on flagship phones, the Nova’s battery seems small. It turned out that the energy-friendly design of the Kirin 980 meant that the Nova 5T ran for a full day off a single charge and still had around 10 percent in the tank in the evenings. Further rounding things out is the addition of 22.5W fast charging which prior to the Nova had previously only been found with flagship hardware.

Huawei Nova 5T Review – Summary

Huawei has redefined what a budget phone is, with the Nova 5T. It manages to deliver a superb amount of bang per buck value and confuses the line between budget and flagship given the sheer amount of functionality and features crammed into its petite chassis at such an improbably low price. If you want flagship bang on a stretched budget, the Huawei Nova 5T is a good bet.

Pat has been talking about tech on TV, radio and print for over 20 years, having served time as a TV tech guy and currently penning reviews for Witchdoctor. He loves nothing more than rolling his sleeves up and playing with shiny gadgets.

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