The first Kirin 985-based smartphone in the Philippines, Huawei Nova 7 5G, is now official, giving consumers yet another non-flagship option for super-fast 5G connectivity.
(Update, August 8: Our full review is up! Read Huawei Nova 7 5G review: Premium midrange done right.)
Locally, the handset is officially priced at P23,990, which translates to $488 converted, and will be available at authorized retailers from July 31. Read our first impressions to find out more about Huawei‘s new Nova Star.
Familiar yet different
Coming from the Huawei Nova 7 SE 5G as one of our daily drivers, one of the first things we noticed about its more expensive stablemate is how similar they are. Like the Nova 7 SE, the new Nova 7 5G features a rectangular camera module with four sensors at the back and a camera hole on the front for the single selfie shooter.
Both phones also share the same color options — Space Silver and Midsummer Purple, which we first saw on last year’s Huawei Nova 5T. The latter looks really nice and has a distinct 3D pattern showing the stylized Nova branding across the rear panel. Not to mention, we seldom come across purple devices in the Philippines, so the Huawei Nova 7 5G stands out by default.
Unlike the Nova 7 SE, however, the latest Nova has a metal frame with multiple antenna bands along the sides. It also includes an IR blaster up top for controlling appliances, including television sets and air conditioners. Additionally, the display bezels on the Nova 7 are noticeably smaller especially at the bottom.
Which brings us to our next point: Huawei has equipped the Nova 7 5G with a 6.53-inch FHD+ (2,400 x 1,080) OLED screen that incorporates a fingerprint sensor under the panel. This makes it the most affordable Huawei phone in the Philippines with an in-display sensor for unlocking.
The screen itself is plenty bright and vibrant and includes DCI-P3 coverage for better picture quality. It also supports always-on function that shows the date, time, and notification icons on the lock screen to help preserve battery life by minimizing the number of times you unlock your smartphone in a day.
The fingerprint-unlock area is located near the bottom bezel, and it’s smaller than we’re used to. We wished it were bigger and positioned closer to where our thumb naturally rests on the display, but it’s fast and accurate, and you’ll probably get used to it like we did in no time. You can also unlock the screen without punching in a password by enabling face unlock, which works surprisingly well even in dim environments.
The Huawei Nova 7 5G doesn’t have a headphone jack, and some of you might groan at the idea of being limited to wireless audio accessories. However, you can’t deny that Bluetooth earphones are much cheaper — and much better — now than they were before. This phone comes with Bluetooth 5.1 to support devices like the newly launched Huawei FreeBuds 3i.
There’s no wireless charging or waterproofing either, but then again, these omissions are expected considering the target audience. The Huawei Nova 7 5G has NFC and a dual-SIM card tray with no option for expandable storage. Most people will probably be okay with that since the variant sold in the Philippines packs 256GB of native storage.
Powerful and versatile quad cameras
The Huawei Nova 7 5G has four cameras at the back and sports a 64-megapixel main sensor, 8-megapixel sensors for ultra wide and telephoto, and a 2-megapixel macro camera. Tap to focus is available all across the different camera modes, and the company’s impressive Night mode, which takes several photos at different exposures and combines them to create a single brighter picture, is here as well.
Auto vs Ultra-wide
The handset can shoot up to 4K resolution using the front and back cameras and comes with a Dual-View mode that lets you simultaneously record footage on the cameras on both sides. The rear setup even offers slo-mo recording at up to 960 fps at 720p. More impressively, electronic image stabilization is available for both cameras while shooting at 4K.
Another notable spec is the zoom lens, which provides up to 3x optical zoom and uses both hardware and software to push digital zoom all the way up to 20x, with less impressive results. We found the 3x zoom very useful, though, especially when shooting toys and other suitable subjects for macro photography. You can also use Pro mode to capture 64-megapixel RAW images and then crop them to achieve the same result, albeit with a bit more effort.
Auto vs 20x zoom. The butterfly in the first picture is right below our car
For selfies, there’s a 32-megapixel camera fitted with f/2.0 lens. It also has several AI beautification features baked in that allow you to take higher-quality photos and video in low light. Here’s a bunch we took using the Huawei Nova 7 5G. We’ll have more to share with you soon in our upcoming review.
Selfies: Auto vs Portrait
HiSilicon Kirin 985: 5G and more
The Huawei Nova 7 5G is the first phone on the local market with the new HiSilicon Kirin 985 chipset inside. It shares some similarities with the Kirin 820 found in the Nova 7 SE, including a modem with dual-mode 5G (standalone and non-standalone) and a CPU architecture with one Cortex-A76 prime core and three big (also Cortex-A76) and four small (Cortex-A55) cores. It also integrates a Mali-G77 GPU with Kirin Gaming+ 2.0 technology for faster graphics performance in supported games.
The Kirin 985 supports existing 2G, 3G, and 4G networks as well, though on the 5G front, the SoC is said to offer a theoretical maximum download speed of 1.2Gbps and uploads up to 173Mbps. Like other 5G devices from Huawei that launched here, the Nova 7 is compatible with the 5G networks of Globe Telecom and Smart Communications. If you’re curious about 5G and what it will bring to consumers, check out our previous 5G coverage and speed tests.
Daily use and gaming performance are highlights as well, and the Huawei Nova 7 5G is truly one of the most powerful phones you can buy at this price point. Android 10-based EMUI 10.1.1 is buttery smooth and responsive. Every game we tried mostly ran without frame drops, while multitasking is handled flawlessly and apps open quickly.
It’s worth mentioning, however, that the device doesn’t support Mobile Legend’s Ultra graphics preset even though many units with less capable hardware do. As expected, the Kirin 985 scores higher than the Kirin 980 in benchmarks and real-world tests, so if you’re wondering whether the Nova 7 is faster than the P30 and P30 Pro, or any other Kirin 980-based phone for that matter, the answer is an easy yes.
EMUI 10.1.1 is paired with Huawei Mobile Services, but no Google apps including Play Store. To download your favorite apps, install them via the Huawei AppGallery or sideload them by installing APK files (read: installation files for Android apps) from around the web.
We found the quickest way to do this is by downloading Petal Search from the AppGallery. This acts as a search engine for apps, pointing you to a specific website or app store you can grab the application from.
We’ll publish our review of the Nova 7 5G soon, so check back in a couple of days to find out if Huawei’s latest premium midranger is worth the money and hype. Right now, things are looking sunny.
Huawei Nova 7 5G specs
- 6.53-inch OLED with punch-hole display, 2,400 x 1,080 resolution (20:9), 60Hz refresh rate
- Octa-core HiSilicon Kirin 985 processor with dual-mode (SA/NSA) 5G
- 8GB RAM
- 256GB storage
- Quad 64-megapixel, f/1.8 (main), 8-megapixel, f/2.4 (ultra wide), 8-megapixel, f/2.4 (telephoto, up to 20x zoom), 2-megapixel (depth) rear cameras
- 32-megapixel, f/2.0 front camera
- Fingerprint reader (under-display)
- 4,000mAh battery with 40-watt fast charging
- EMUI 10.1 based on Android 10, AppGallery
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