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HUAWEI nova 9 Review: Flagship Camera Performance

HUAWEI nova 9

The HUAWEI nova 9, the company's latest smartphone, features a quad rear camera with a 50-megapixel ultra vision sensor. Created for individuals who are passionate about mobile photography and video content creation.

HUAWEI nova 9

The HUAWEI nova 9 comes in two vibrant colors the premium-looking Black and the eye-catching Starry Blue, the latter is the color of our review unit we used for this review.

Huawei nova 9 Specs:

HarmonyOS 2.0
6.57-inch Full HD+ OLED display, 2340 x 1080 pixel resolution, 392ppi
120Hz refresh rate
2.4GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G 4G octa-core processor
Adreno 642L GPU
8GB RAM / 256GB UFS internal storage, non-expandable
50MP, f/1.9, PDAF + 8MP, f/2.2 ultra-wide + 2MP, f/2.4 macro + 2MP depth sensor rear cameras, LED flash
32MP selfie camera
In-display fingerprint scanner, Face unlock
Loudspeaker
Dual SIM, Dual standby
HSPA+, 4G LTE
WiFi 6, dual-band
Bluetooth 5.2
GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, QZSS, BDS
NFC
USB Type-C
4,300mAh battery, 66W fast charging
Colors: Starry Blue, Black
175g

Unboxing
It comes packaged in the standard Huawei box, with Huawei's branding displayed on the front and the usual technical specs as well as some important details on the back.

HUAWEI nova 9

The box contains the nova 9 smartphone, free case, type-C USB cable, 66W charger, and user manual and warranty card.

Design and Built
With its slim profile and curved edge display, the Huawei nova 9 has a premium appearance, it weighs about 175g, making it feel light in the hands it's one of the lightest phone in the 6.5+ inch category.

HUAWEI nova 9

The Starry Blue's double-coated finish on the back makes it stand out and when illuminated, the colors shift. It's not a fingerprint magnet which is great and not slippery also the free case helps it to protect it against scratches. There's also the nova branding present.

HUAWEI nova 9

The cameras at the back take up huge space, the main 50-megapixel camera housed in a large circular case with a ring around it, while the other three sensors are housed within a secondary ring along with the LED flash.

The power button, as well as the volume rocker, are located on the right side of the device. The buttons are easy to reach and have a pleasant tactile feel to them when they are pressed.

HUAWEI nova 9

At the bottom end, it houses the USB-C connector, the speaker grille, microphone, and the SIM card tray that can hold two SIM cards, and there's no room for a microSD card for extra storage.

HUAWEI nova 9

HUAWEI is well known for its design and photography abilities on its smartphones, and the nova 9 carries those features as well as innovative technology such as HUAWEI SuperCharge, camera capabilities, and more.

Display and Audio Quality

Another strong feature of the nova 9 is the 6.57-inch Full HD+ OLED display, the OLED panel is a beauty, curved over the sides the colours are sharp and HDR looks very nice. The viewing angles are excellent, and it is also viewable when used outside.

HUAWEI nova 9

The screen features a 120Hz and 300Hz touch sampling rate for incredible responsiveness; as well as support for Full-Path P3 Color, which enhances the viewing experience by providing smooth graphics, vibrant colors, and sharpness.

The screen resolution can be customized according to your preferences; you can select between High (1080 x 2340), Low (720 x 1560), or Smart resolutions that dynamically adapt the screen resolution to conserve battery power. However, we like to use the High settings to fully appreciate the phone's visual capabilities.

HUAWEI nova 9

Similarly, you can pick between Dynamic and High settings, which balance smoothness and battery life, while High settings utilize a 120Hz refresh rate for smooth visuals but it consumes more power, and Standard settings utilize a 60Hz refresh rate. Therefore, if you want to conserve battery life, you can select the Dynamic settings.

HUAWEI nova 9

Watching videos and playing fast-moving games is great thanks to the 120Hz refresh rate, And for lower frame-rate content, the system automatically switches to 60 Hz, preserving battery life in the process.

There's also a fingerprint reader hidden beneath the display, which is quick and dependable in unlocking the phone. It also supports face unlock also available which uses the front camera and it's also fast and works everytime it's used.

When watching Netflix or YouTube movies or playing games, the audio is loud and has a decent sound quality. Unfortunately, there isn't a 3.5mm headphone jack, but a type-c adapter is available if you want to use wired headphones or Bluetooth earbuds to fully enjoy your playlist.

Performance
The nova 9 uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G 4G mobile platform paired with Adreno 642L for graphics, 8GB of RAM, a massive 256GB UFS internal storage, and packs a 4,300mAh battery with 66W fast charging.

HUAWEI nova 9

Although it is not the latest, quickest, or most powerful device in the midrange category, it performs well and provides a smooth user experience, as apps launch quickly and multitasking is performed without lag. However, it supports only 4G mobile connections, which is disappointing given its pricing point.

Here are some benchmark apps that show the Huawei nova 9 performance.

AnTuTu – 459,201
Geekbench – 775 (Single-core); 2953 (Multi-core)
3D Mark – 5051 (Sling Shor Extreme); 695 (Wild Life Extreme - Vulcan)
PC Mark – 9631 (Work 3.0)

HUAWEI nova 9

When it comes to everyday use, the nova 9 can handle any task and apps run smoothly with no lag, multitasking is a breeze, switching between apps is also quick, and because of its massive storage capacity, there is no need to worry about running out of storage, since most apps and games today need more storage and RAM to run smoothly.

Gaming-wise, this phone is capable of running a wide selection of games, including graphics-intensive titles like Genshin Impact, which can be played on high graphics settings. Playing games such as Call of Duty: Mobile, PUBG, and other PFS games can take advantage of its high touch sampling rate, provide a significant edge over other devices that do not support it.

EMUI 12
The nova 9 runs on EMUI 12 (based on Android 11), although there is no mention of Android in the menus or system information. Despite this, it still feels like an android system with a highly customized system.

HUAWEI nova 9

Huawei's default home screen is visually appealing, with a pleasing arrangement of app icons. One of the most noticeable changes in this version is the notification shade to the screen. The user interface looks clean, attractive and it looks much smoother and more vibrant.

EMUI 12 has extensive customization and capabilities; it makes use of swipe gestures to access the notification center, quick access menu, recent apps, and back functions, among others. If you are accustomed to using the menu buttons that are often located at the bottom of the screen, this does require some adapting.

HUAWEI nova 9

One of EMUI 12 cool features is the Device+ Smart Collaboration which is found at the quick access menu, this works within the Huawei ecosystems, so if you have Huawei Matebook or MatePad this is going to be useful, it allows you to do file sharing, make calls, send messages, and check photos from your phone to the laptop to tablet screen. It also works on the new Hauwei TV as well.

Unfortunately, it still does not support Google services, thus not all apps and games are available in AppGallery, such as the popular Call of Duty, but it will redirect you to APKpure to download the APK files and manually install the apps if you choose to do so. For apps or games that utilize Google services, there are workarounds available; you only need to do a web search to learn how to do it.

You can read more about EMUI 12 here: https://consumer.huawei.com/en/emui-12/

Battery and Charging
The nova 9 is equipped with a 4,300mAh battery, which may not seem like much when compared to other brands, but its strength comes from the ability to charge the battery at a rapid rate using the included 66W charger.

HUAWEI nova 9

The phone's battery life is sufficient for a day of average usage, but not for two days, unless you use it exclusively for calls and text messages with minimal use of social media apps. On our typical usage, which includes watching Netflix, YouTube, and other videos, checking social media apps, playing a lot of games, using the cameras, and video chatting, it barely lasts a day.

HUAWEI nova 9

In our testing, we were able to charge the battery to 40% capacity in just 15 minutes and to 80 percent capacity in half an hour, which is is fairly impressive and good for a full day's worth of use.

Unfortunately, it does not support wireless charging, despite the fact that other brands do. Even an entry-level Cherry AQUA S10 Pro, which is a local brand, supports 10W wireless charging.

Cameras
One of the most impressive features of the nova 9 is its powerful 50-megapixel ultra vision camera, which also has an 8MP super wide-angle lens, a four-centimeter macro lens, and a depth camera. It has a 32-megapixel front-facing camera for capturing selfies.

HUAWEI nova 9

The 50-megapixel primary camera utilizes Huawei's RYYB pixel layout for improved low-light performance — but lacks optical image stabilization (OIS), which is required for great night photography.

HUAWEI nova 9

The camera app user interface offers a number of different shooting modes, including Night, Portrait, Photo, Video, VLOG, High-Res (which uses 50-MP), Stickers, Pro, Slow-mo, Panorama, Time-lapse, and Aperture, as well as a Super Macro and Story Creator. It offers a straightforward and intuitive user interface.

The primary camera performs well during the day; the pictures look impressive. with vibrant colors and rich details in all lighting settings. Even in low light, photos appear to be well-exposed, detailed night mode photos with accurate color, but shots may occasionally be unusable if you do not have stable hands and the phone's electronic stabilization cannot keep up. The ultrawide can perform in adequate lighting, but there is a noticeable loss of details when compared to the main lens, and colors tend to be washed out.

It features 4K @30fps video as well as a dedicated vlogging mode that allows you to record split-screen and picture-in-picture videos utilizing both the front and back cameras at the same time, as well as switching between them in an instant.


50MP camera mode


Outdoor, late afternoon


High-resolution


Portrait


It's only fair to highlight how well the Nova 9 performs in terms of photography. While the primary camera only captures images at a resolution of 50 megapixels, it is clearly a superior camera. Huawei's proprietary image processing software and algorithms play a significant role, but in any event, the Nova 9 has a clear advantage when compared to other brands at its price point.

Pros
Premium Slim and lightweight design
Sharp 120Hz OLED Curved screen
Strong main camera
Impressive fast charging

Cons
No Google Services support
No mobile 5G connection
No wireless charging
No stereo speakers

Our Verdict
The Huawei nova 9 is no doubt one of the best midrange smartphones today, with its sharp curved display, very capable cameras and solid selfie shooter, fast performance with EMUI 12, good battery life with fast charging capability. Unfortunately, it falls short on several essential areas, like the lack of 5G capability, the absence of the Google Play Store, and the lack of wireless charging. However, if you're in the market for a new Huawei smartphone, the nova 9 is an excellent upgrade option.

The HUAWEI nova 9 is priced at ₱23,999, it is now available at Huawei Experience Stores, online HUAWEI Store, Shopee, and Lazada.

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