Huawei recently announced the Nova 5T in the Philippines, marking a return to form for one of the best-value smartphone series on the local market. We’ve published our review of the Huawei Nova 5T, and we recommend that you check it out if you’re looking for a new handset that ticks most boxes without costing a small fortune.
But if you’re interested in finding out how the new Nova stacks up against competition from other famed, premium brands — more specifically, the Samsung Galaxy A70 and OPPO Reno — then you’ve come to the right place. We’ve compared all three devices to help you make an informed decision on your purchase.
Perhaps the first question is, how much should you pay for a phone that does pretty much everything a more expensive flagship can possibly do? The answer, as you probably know, is not a lot, and less than what you might expect to pay in the sub-flagship space.
The Samsung Galaxy A70 currently retails at P22,990 (about $442) in local stores, a reasonable price given the specs on offer. The OPPO Reno, on the other hand, is P26,990 ($519), making it the most expensive of the bunch. By contrast, you can pick up the Huawei Nova 5T for P18,990 ($365), which is the lowest-cost option of the three.
That said, if pricing is a major consideration, you may want to focus on the Nova 5T and Galaxy A70 as your primary options.
Design and build
All three phones are easy on the eyes and feel great to hold, flush with wide screens and small bezels, and you can tell they’re made of better materials than most other devices. In other words, they fit the bill of a top-tier handset, at least on the outside.
At first glance, though, the Huawei Nova 5T appears to stand out with a glass-meets-metal body and a fancy gradient back with the new Nova branding spread across the entire panel for the Midsummer Purple color variant. The design is subtle yet stunning, and it’s unlike anything the company has done before. The Nova 5T is also available in blue and black colors, although neither features the pattern work implemented on the unit you see here.
At first glance, the Huawei Nova 5T appears to stand out with a glass-meets-metal body and a fancy gradient back with the new Nova branding spread across the entire panel for the Midsummer Purple color variant
The Samsung Galaxy A70 is obviously the biggest of the bunch here, arriving with a 6.7-inch screen, in comparison with the 6.26- and 6.4-inch screen real estates offered by the Huawei and OPPO phones, respectively. Its bigger size means it’s harder to use one-handed even after switching to Samsung’s gesture navigation system that replaces Android’s usual three-button layout. While we like the way the A70 is put together, we can’t help but feel that this phone is too big to use as our daily driver.
SEE ALSO: Top 10 smartphone brands in Q2 2019
Another thing we’re not keen on is the A70’s plastic construction. The back part is especially prone to fingerprints and smudges and will make it more difficult for anyone to appreciate Samsung’s rainbow-like prism effect that is visible when looking at the handset from certain angles.
The OPPO Reno has a metal frame that’s sandwiched in glass and plastic that curves around the edges at the back. It’s designed to fit nicely in the palm of your hand, but the glossy plastic rear is also slippery to the touch and needs some careful handling without a case on. The main camera module doesn’t bulge out of the phone’s rear — which is good — but there’s a protective ceramic dot below the module that prevents the Reno from resting flat on a surface.
The screen design is different for each device. The new Nova has a punch hole on the left side of the display, while the front-facing camera of the Galaxy A70 sits in a tiny circular notch at the top. Unlike the other two, the Reno doesn’t have a cutout; instead, it has a selfie camera that hides in a retractable mechanism when not in use.
If given a choice between the Huawei Nova 5T, Samsung Galaxy A70, and OPPO Reno, we’re picking the Huawei. Even with its punch-hole cutout on the upper left, it simply looks better as a whole and is easier to handle.
Both the Samsung Galaxy A70 and OPPO Reno are equipped with AMOLED displays that have a fingerprint sensor behind them. The Huawei Nova 5T has an LCD — and therefore no biometrics scanner embedded within the screen. (It’s side-mounted, in case you’re wondering where it’s located.)
Quality-wise, it’s different from an AMOLED, a little less bright and never quite as saturated and contrasty. For everyday tasks like browsing the web and writing and reading emails, it gets the job done just the same.
Size is a big factor in display performance, and it’s in this area where the Samsung Galaxy A70 impresses the most. The phone presents you with a massive, extra-wide screen with a 20:9 aspect ratio, which is unprecedented in the category and great for viewing content and playing games. We don’t watch a lot of TV shows and movies on our phones, but if we were going to, we’d want to do it on a screen like this.
The OPPO Reno has an above-average screen as well, although it’s smaller than the Galaxy A70’s but bigger than that on the Nova 5T. It sits in the middle of the trio, size-wise, and it performs as such. But if you much prefer a smaller AMOLED display, the Reno may be better suited for you.
Image quality has become an increasingly important aspect of the modern smartphone experience, as smartphones continue to evolve into a one-size-fits-all device that enable casual photographers to take pictures that are good enough in every scenario. All three phones pack two or more rear cameras, with the Huawei Nova 5T having the most cameras in the room with four, followed by the Samsung Galaxy A70’s triple-lens setup, then the OPPO Reno with dual lenses around the back.
The Nova 5T has the same top-end 48-megapixel Sony IMX586 sensor as the Reno, the same one inside the likes of the OnePlus 7 Pro and Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro. The Reno, though, pairs the sensor with f/1.7 lens as compared with the Nova 5T’s aperture of f/1.8. A lower aperture allows a camera to receive more light, and consequently more information, which in turn makes for better photos.
In terms of ISO range, however, the Nova 5T has a range of 50 and all the way up to 102,400. This is much higher than the 6,400 ISO of an Apple iPhone XS Max and equal to that of a professional camera like the Canon 5D Mark IV. The Galaxy A70 sports a 32-megapixel main sensor behind f/1.7 lens. It’s not bad, but it’s not amazing either.
Sample pictures shot in default modes of each phone while working at DC Super Heroes Cafe at SM Megamall: Huawei Nova 5T (1x, 2x, ultra-wide), Samsung Galaxy A70 (1x, ultra-wide), OPPO Reno (1x, 2x).
All three cameras have depth sensors for adding artificial background blur behind your subject in Portrait mode. Additionally, the Nova 5T and Galaxy A70 have an ultra-wide-angle camera, which should come handy when shooting landscapes, cityscapes, and big group shots. The wide camera on the Huawei phone delivers sharper images at 16 megapixels, whereas the one on the Galaxy A70 maxes out at 8 megapixels.
The fourth camera on the latest Nova is a 2-megapixel macro shooter located to the side of the vertical triple-camera array. It has the singular ability to capture detailed pictures from 4cm away. This makes it ideal for clicking photos of flowers and tiny insects.
While the images taken with all three devices look good in daylight, especially at 48 megapixels, it was the Nova 5T that managed to deliver the best results. And even in low light, it produced sharper and brighter pictures compared to the Reno when using Night mode. The Galaxy A70 lacks a dedicated setting for night shots.
For selfies, both the Nova 5T and Samsung Galaxy A70 come with 32-megapixel, f/2.0 cameras. OPPO has used a motorized pop-up module to house the Reno’s 16-megapixel selfie camera. Often, we found that selfies taken with the Nova 5T looked crisper and had better color representation.
The Nova 5T is easily Huawei’s most powerful phone in the midrange class to date, boasting the same high-end Kirin 980 spec you’ll find in the Mate 20 and P30 series. This time, it’s paired with 8GB RAM and 128GB of internal storage, which you can’t expand. Still, the Kirin 980 is particularly fast and responsive for a phone priced decidedly lower than most of its competition, and it can be great for gaming, too.
The Nova 5T packs enough grunt to max out most modern games. Even PUBG Mobile, a very graphics-intensive application, runs at the highest settings available without breaking a sweat. The handset also offers an optimized navigation experience and ensures that EMUI 9.1 based on Android 9.0 Pie flies on the hardware. RAM management is not an issue. Generally speaking, it’s hard to find gaps in performance.
The Galaxy A70 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 675, alongside 6GB RAM and 128GB storage with microSD card support, while the Reno gets a Snapdragon 710 with 6GB of RAM and 256GB of non-expandable storage. Understandably, both devices are slower than the Nova 5T, both in benchmarks and real-life tests. Our unit scored 314,568 in Antutu Benchmark, almost doubling the score of the Galaxy A70.
The battery capacities of the Nova 5T, Galaxy A70, and Reno are 3,750mAh, 4,500mAh, and 3,765mAh, respectively. All three feature fast wired charging via a USB-C port, but not wireless charging. Looking at the Nova 5T’s 22.5-watt power brick and its battery capacity, it naturally charges the quickest, and we actually managed to shed off a few minutes from Huawei’s “50% in 30 minutes” claim.
The midrange space is definitely a special niche that brands have identified. It’s one that’s filling fast, too — just take a look at the front page of this website.
The Huawei Nova 5T, Samsung Galaxy A70, and OPPO Reno are all excellent options for those on the lookout for a new smartphone with some reasonably high specs and an even more reasonable price tag.
The Galaxy A70 might be a better fit if you need a big and vibrant AMOLED screen and can live with the caveats of carrying around a device of its size, whereas the Reno’s no-notch, full-screen display should prove to be an attractive feature to anyone with more cash to spend.
Of the three, however, it’s the Nova 5T that appeals to us the most, all things considered. It looks and feels like an expensive, high-quality product and something you would want to own. Having five different cameras for different situations is certainly something to think about as well.
Most impressively, the Nova 5T uses a flagship-grade Kirin 980 that is backed by 8GB RAM and can rival the best the industry has to offer. All this for only P18,990 ($365), which is one of the lowest prices we’ve seen for a sub-flagship phone.
Specs comparison: A chart for your reference
Share this Post