Despite the sanctions imposed on it, HUAWEI doesn’t surrender and continues to create and sell Android devices that can be attractive to users. The company invested a lot of effort into creating a new app ecosystem to challenge Google’s and Apple’s app stores. Furthermore, the Android smartphones it makes are some of the best in the world when it comes to cameras while also featuring a beautiful design and good hardware. For the last seven days, I tested the latest version of their nova smartphone, namely the HUAWEI nova 10. With an interesting design and a lot of promises, is it a good choice for you? Let me tell you more about the HUAWEI nova 10, its strengths, and its drawbacks in this review:
The HUAWEI nova 10 is a good choice for:
- Young people who like its design
- Anyone looking for a mid-range smartphone with top-notch cameras
- People with technical inclinations, able to use workarounds in order to get all the apps they need
We have many good things to say about the HUAWEI nova 10:
- Interesting design and colors, attractive for younger audiences
- Beautiful OLED display with a high refresh rate
- Good hardware that can run any app or game
- Reliable cameras in any lighting conditions
- Support for the Wi-Fi 6 networking standard
- Very fast charging
There are also a few drawbacks to consider:
- Direct access to Google apps remains restricted and available only through workarounds and third parties
- No ingress protection against water or dust
- No 5G connectivity (although the chipset is capable, HUAWEI is banned from using 5G)
- It doesn’t represent a meaningful upgrade from the previous HUAWEI nova 9
The HUAWEI nova 10 is a good mid-range Android smartphone. Its design is attractive for younger audiences, its cameras are excellent, and it comes with very fast charging. All in all, I believe it’s a good choice for those who like sassy design and are technically inclined, as the lack of Google services is still a problem. Sure, there are workarounds for getting access to apps that can’t be found in HUAWEI’s AppGallery, but they’re not for everyone. The main competition for the HUAWEI nova 10 is the previous nova 9, which is priced even more affordably and has almost identical hardware. Except for the obvious design differences between the two, the nova 10 has slightly better cameras. The biggest improvement is the new 60 Megapixel ultrawide camera, while the nova 9 has a 32 Megapixel wide selfie cam. How much these differences weigh in the final purchase decision will vary from person to person.
The HUAWEI nova 10 is a mid-range Android smartphone, but its packaging is similar to that of a premium device. The box it arrives in is large, good-looking, and made of high-quality cardboard. On the top cover, you get to see the name of the smartphone and a small invitation to HUAWEI’s AppGallery store. The other sides are mostly void of any details, but there is a sticker on a smaller lateral that tells you the main specs of the smartphone you bought.
Inside the box, you’ll find the HUAWEI nova 10, a fast 66W charger, a USB Type-A to Type-C cable, a soft transparent case, an eject tool for the SIM tray, the quick start guide, and the warranty documents. Oh, and the phone’s screen comes with a protective film already applied.
Unboxing the HUAWEI nova 10 is a pleasant experience, and I appreciate the fact that the company bundles a (very) fast charger in the box.
Measuring 162.2 mm (6.39 inches) in length, 73.9 mm (2.91 inches) in width, and 6.9 mm (0.27 inches) in thickness, and weighing just 168 grams (5.93 oz), the HUAWEI nova 10 is a slim and lightweight smartphone with an average size. With a screen and a body that’s a bit larger than its predecessor’s, the nova 9, it manages to weigh less and be thinner at the same time.
The HUAWEI nova 10 is available in three different color versions: Starry Silver, Provence, and Starry Black. The sample I received in testing was the Starry Silver one. I can say that it looks nice, though it’s clearly designed to attract younger audiences.
Why designed for younger audiences? Well, the cameras on the back of the smartphone are what I’d call flamboyant, looking extravagant and somehow “bling.” 🙂 While the rear cover is made of plastic, the camera setup is surrounded by a glossy golden border and yet another golden ring around the main camera. And there’s also some writing there on the outer ring, all in capital letters, telling you that the smartphone is equipped with an AI Triple camera and a 50 MP sensor.
On the front, the screen is slightly curved towards the left and right edges, ending in a very thin plastic frame. That’s different from the top and bottom edges, where the screen doesn’t curve. There, the frame is wider and only a tiny bit curved.
The selfie camera sits inside a small hole in the screen, found at the top-center.
The bottom of the smartphone houses the SIM tray, a microphone, the USB-C port, and the loudspeaker.
Both the power button and the volume rocker are positioned on the right edge of the nova 10. While thin and not very protruding, they’re quite easy to identify, and their tactile feedback is pleasant.
On the top edge, you’ll only find the secondary microphone and three small holes. The latter, I believe, are connected to the ear speaker that gives its main output via a thin cutout between the screen and the top frame.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any mention of any ingress protection. That means that the HUAWEI nova 10 is not protected against dust or water, an omission I didn’t expect.
The HUAWEI nova 10 is a smartphone that looks good and feels well-made. I like its front side and color options, and although the bling style of the rear cameras is not my thing, it is something that younger audiences will appreciate.
The hardware of the HUAWEI nova 10 classifies it as a mid-ranger. Under the hood, the smartphone relies on a Qualcomm SM7325 Snapdragon 778G 4G (6 nm) chipset with an octa-core (4x2.4 GHz Kryo 670 & 4x1.8 GHz Kryo 670) processor and an Adreno 642L graphics processing unit.
Regarding memory and storage, the HUAWEI nova 10 is equipped with 8 GB of RAM and can have 256 or 128 GB of internal flash storage space. Unfortunately, there is no microSD card slot on the phone to extend the storage, so choose the storage capacity carefully when you buy it.
The display is based on an OLED panel that can display over one billion colors at a maximum refresh rate of 120 Hz. It has a resolution of 1080 x 2400 pixels, a diagonal length of 6.67 inches, and a pixel density of about 395 Pixels Per Inch (ppi). Furthermore, it also supports HDR10.
The cameras on the HUAWEI nova 10 are noteworthy. On the back, it features a triple-camera system with excellent specs: 50 MP wide camera (f/1.9 aperture, PDAF), 8 MP ultrawide (f/2.2 aperture, 112˚ angle), 2 MP depth camera (f/2.4 aperture). On the front, the selfie camera uses a 60 MP sensor (f2/4 aperture, 112˚ angle). The smartphone supports EIS (Electronic Image Stabilization) and HDR, and it can record video in up to 4K on both the rear and front cameras.
The HUAWEI nova 10 supports Wi-Fi 6, 4G LTE, Bluetooth 5.2, and A-GPS. Unfortunately, although the chipset is 5G-capable, HUAWEI is banned from using 5G technology on their devices, so we don’t get it on the nova 10 either. To continue, the smartphone also has NFC and all the essential sensors you’d expect: an optical fingerprint (under the display), an accelerometer, gyros, and a compass. The USB Type-C port on the HUAWEI nova 10 is a 2.0 one, and there’s no 3.5mm audio jack on the phone.
For autonomy, the HUAWEI nova 10 uses a non-removable Li-Po 4000 mAh battery that supports fast charging but no wireless charging. As you know, the box of the HUAWEI nova 10 includes a fast 66 Watts charger.
For all the official specifications of this smartphone, visit this webpage: HUAWEI nova 10 Specifications.
If you want to know more about the experience offered by the HUAWEI nova 10, the software on it, as well as how fast it proved to be in the benchmarks we ran, read the second page of this review.