Review by Edmon Abdul Nur, Freelance Technical Editor
Notches, infinity displays, waterdrops, mechanized camera modules, dual screens, and finally punch-holes. If I had asked you to choose four years ago, you would be confused as to what a notch is, for example, but today, they are everywhere.
AMEinfo was presented with a review unit of the Huawei Nova 4, and we took it for a spin to see if it’s what it claims to be: “The future of screen and camera technology.”
And – spoilers – it is.
Let me explain.
Huawei introduced the first punch-hole camera phone which was the Honor 20, although now, its successor the Nova 4 is competing with the likes of One Plus 6T.
So how does it compete?
First, we start with the least obvious highlight on this phone: The battery life. With moderate usage, the battery lasted, on average, during this 7-day review, one day. This is ideal for many and a result of a number of factors.
First, the high capacity battery rated at 3,750 mAh.
Second, we have the FHD screen which comes with a smart option that actively changes the resolution mode depending on how you are using it. I’ve noticed that this could, on occasion, slow performance down. Most notably, when playing music through my car’s Bluetooth speaker and while unlocking or checking notifications, I experienced cut-offs, but after I had defaulted onto FHD, this issue disappeared.
The Nova4 is toting an IPS LCD. While the punch-hole will be visible at night when watching a video, it’s easy to forget after some time.
Then we move on to the other reason this phone runs for so long: The Kirin 970 CPU chip, and here, with efficiency comes effectivity. Huawei spared no expense when it came to loading this phone with a beastly powerhouse that runs you the full day with no hiccups at all. In no instance during this review did I see the system hang or load. It was all smooth sailing, and the numbers speak for themselves. For a $500 (AED 1,799) device, it features 8 GB of RAM, running eight cores in two clusters, four of which run at 1.84Ghz and four that run at 2.36Ghz. It gave us a GeekBench4 score of 1,752 (single-core) and 6,319 (multi-core); just above Samsung's 2-year-old flagship, the S8+.
Capturing the moment
But these aren’t the Nova 4’s main selling points, so let’s zoom in on the cameras. It's the full package, coming with an active 20 MP with f/1.8, a 16 MP at 13mm (for wide shots), f/2.2 and a 2 MP f/2.4 depth sensor.
And lastly, the selfie camera, which at 25 MP, is a swell addition and one of the reasons you would consider this phone, aside from all the right reasons listed above.
However, this is where it lags behind the likes of One Plus: Since the camera is heavily bundled with Huawei’s “Beautify Filter” and ‘AI Scenes’ features, whether you are shooting selfies or regular pictures, they fall short of capturing reality. Sure, they do make for a fantastic Instagram post, but some consumers would prefer more realistic shots over the alternative. Still, I think this could easily be fixed with a simple software update, not just by disabling the filter in the settings bar.
One missing feature is Optical Image Stabilization (OIS), and its lack thereof would make pictures blurry on occasion.
Apart from that, the phone runs in tandem with its competition, be it the One Plus 6T or others. It also features welcome additions such as an IR blaster and a headphone jack, things that are rare to find on a mobile device these days.
Moving on to the speakers, you can find only one, but with the distinct feature that the phone’s high volume sound is safe from distortion. It sorely lacks surround capabilities.
The fingerprint, unlike many of the latest phones, is on the back, and it is much faster than an in-display reader or FaceID. The back also features another aspect that shouts luxury; the iridescent back panel shines in various colours that are eye-catching and beautiful to stare at on numerous occasions.
The build quality is solid with no flex whatsoever, and I believe it would withstand the JerryRigsEverything bend-test with flying colors (pun intended). However, it does feel plasticky at times.
In conclusion, the Nova 4 is the phone to get if you want decent battery life, cameras that wow you after every shot, and a punch-hole at the top left corner as a conversation starter.