Huawei nova 2i: A budget smartphone in a premium package

The fingerprint scanner on Huawei’s nova 2i smartphone, which retails for less than $500NZ, is blazingly fast.

It’s so fast that for the first few hours I had the phone I just locked it then unlocked it using the fingerprint scanner as many times as I could. BAM! Unlocked. SHAZAM! Unlocked. KAPOW! Unlocked.

Even my son, who has a Samsung Galaxy S8, was impressed with the speed of the nova 2i’s fingerprint scanner (he still screwed his nose up a little because it’s a “mid-range, budget” phone). It’s a small thing, but the speed of the fingerprint scanner is just one of many pleasing features on this budget handset, to be honest, and the quality belies the cost.

Sporting a 5.9-inch IPS screen (maximum resolution of 2160 x 1080), a Kirin Octa core CPU (1.7Ghz),  4Gb of RAM, 64Gb of on-board storage and Android 7.0, the nova 2i has impressed the pants off of me – but the biggest thing that has impressed me is the price: I still can’t believe that it’s only $NZ499.

Huawei says the nova 2i is its first smart phone with dual-lens front and rear cameras and it takes remarkably good images. I’ve posted a variety that I took. Colours seemed to be vibrant and the phone seemed to handle low-light conditions pretty well.

For a mid-price smart phone, the nova 2i has a build quality that is top-notch. It doesn’t feel like a budget smart phone, thanks to the metal and glass construction. Sure the display might not pop as vividly as those top-end phones like the iPhone X or Galaxy S8 but remember, the nova 2i isn’t a top-end phone: It’s a mid-range, budget model and one that I would gladly use every day.

I was impressed with the battery life, too: sporting a 3340mAh battery, the nova 2i handled a day or more of average use before needing a charge. It lasts a heck of a lot longer than my Samsung Galaxy S7, although granted it’s an older phone with a smaller capacity battery.

Look, the nova 2i isn’t going to knock the top-end Huawei, iPhone and Samsung models from their perch but that’s not its target market: It’s not aimed at the user who must have the latest smart phone bling. It’s the perfect candidate for someone who wants a quality value for money smart phone but doesn’t want to break the bank.

Thanks to Pead PR and Huawei in New Zealand for providing the Huawei nova 2i for review.

Huawei P10 review: Chinese smart phone goodness

Huawei P10 (around $1000)

Huawei’s P10 smart phone.

After a month using Huawei’s P10 smart phone, I’m starting to wonder whether the other phone giants should be looking over their shoulders.

Since arriving in the New Zealand market in 20XX, Chinese manufacturer Huawei has been starting to make inroads in the smart phone market dominated by Apple and Samsung. The P10 is one of the company’s flagship models (the other is the P10 Plus), aiming itself at Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy S range.

I put my own Galaxy S7 and the P10 side by side & they’re roughly the same thickness. The P10 doesn’t have a physical home button on the front of the phone’s chassis and the only physical buttons are the volume rocker and a stylish red-coloured power button. The P10’s finger print scanner  is blazingly fast. Amazingly fast, actually.

Often with the fingerprint scanner on my S7, it’ll take two or three times before it’ll unlock my phone. With the P10, it was unlocked instantly and first time. Powered by a Kirin960 Octacore CPU and packed with 4Gb RAM, Huawei’s phone has a 5.1-inch full HD panel, a 3200 mAh battery, 64Gb of storage and is running Android 7.0.

I used the P10 every day for pretty much a month and was impressed with it. I used it for a mix of social media, web browsing and general day-to-day stuff and the battery life seemed about standard with a modern smartphone these days (about a day). Call quality was good and the camera excellent.

With dual Leica lenses (20MP on the back and 12 MP on the front), the P10’s camera is damn good. I was impressed with the resultant images, taken in a variety of light conditions (although I only have shots of the lake near my house here). I’m still undecided whether the camera is good as that of my Galaxy S7, though, which is my benchmark for smart phone cameras, though.

If there was one thing I wasn’t that keen on with the P10 it was the EMUI user interface: I just didn’t like the look of the interface as much as that on my Galaxy S7 or stock Android. That’s just my personal preference, though, and isn’t a deal breaker as the rest of the phone is so damn good.

I really enjoyed testing out the Huawei P10 and I’d definitely consider buying one if my Samsung Galaxy S7 suddenly died tomorrow.

 

Huawei Smartwatch: A classy and stylish piece of wearable tech

Since getting a Huawei smartwatch, my usual watch, an LG G Watch R, has been sitting unused and idle, gathering dust. Well, that’s not true: My teenage son has decided to flit between the LG and my FitBit surge.

I’ve hardly taken the Huawei watch off my wrist in the past two weeks. In fact, the only time I’ve taken it off is when I have a shower and when it needs charging. I really grown to love the watch, which makes my LG seem, frankly, bulky and unwieldy.

The Huawei makes a class impression from the moment you open the rather large box it comes in. The matte black stainless steel version that I had (it also comes in a stainless steel and gold versions) was nestled on a faux leather liner in the box, with the watch placed strategically in the middle. It oozed class and style.

An email notification appears on the Huawei's AMOLED screen. Swipe to the left to close it, swipe up to dismiss the program.

An email notification appears on the Huawei’s AMOLED screen. Swipe to the right to close the email,  swipe up to dismiss the program. Easy.

With a 1.4-inch AMOLED screen (with a resolution of 400×400) and 4.2mm in diameter, the Huawei watch will suit smaller wrists and won’t look out-of-place on your wrist, like I feel that my LG does at times, and I liked that the watch’s strap was a standard 18mm strap, meaning you can replace it easily. It comes with all the features you’d expect  a wearable to have, including a surprisingly accurate heart rate monitor. The only button on the watch is one set at the 2 O’Clock position. On the back is a heart rate sensor.

I’ve had my LG smartwatch for a few months now so I’m no stranger to Google’s Android Wear smartwatch software, so using the Huawei felt intuitive and familiar. With a smartwatch your preaching to the converted and I can’t actually imagine not having one these days. I used the Huawei’s inbuilt alarm to wake me in the morning and track my steps throughout the day.

The Huawei Smartwatch's sporty green watch face. That green circle? That fills up the more active you are.

The Huawei Smartwatch’s sporty green watch face. That green circle? That fills up the more active you are.

 

The screen is fantastic on the Huawei watch: Colours are bright and vivid and everything just looks much clearer than on my LG, even with my ageing eyesight. The display really is superb.

Navigating through the Huawei’s mentions are as you’d expect with an Android smartwatch: You swipe left and right through the screens, up and down to find the app you want and then tap the icon. It’s easy, to be honest.

You can change watch faces either by touching and holding the watch face itself then scrolling left and right to the face you want or through the Android Wear software on your phone. The Huawei had a good selection of watch faces that suit a variety of situations and you can buy new ones for a handful of dollars. My personal favourite watch face was green sporty, which shows your activity during the day through a green circle that progressive moves around the watch face the more steps/activity you do throughout out the day.

The Huawei uses a magnetic docking station (it attaches via some gold contact pins on the underside of the charger) and battery life was what I expect from a piece of wearable tech: I got roughly a day to a day and a half, depending on how many notifications I got throughout the day, before it needed recharging. Charging was quick, too, and I’d usually plonk the watch on the docking station when I was getting ready for work in the morning and it would be close to fully charged by the time I was ready to go.

The underside of the Huawei Smartwatch. The gold pins magnetically clip to the charging port.

The underside of the Huawei Smartwatch. The gold pins magnetically clip to the charging port.

The big question is: Is a smart watch essential? Well, no, it’s not but for me, as I said earlier, I don’t think I could live without one. Wearing one has made my life a whole lot easier and the Huawei looks classy enough to wear everyday.

Wearing a smart watch is part of my daily routine. And since wearing a smart watch, I don’t look at my phone nearly as frequently as I used to: The smart watch lessens the number of times I pull my phone out of my pocket to check that message, that email, that social media comment. If I get a notification (be it email, social media or email), all I do is check my watch and if it’s urgent, I’ll get my phone and reply. If it’s not, I’ll just leave it till I’ve time to answer.

If there was any negative to Huawei’s watch it’s the price: The black stainless steel watch (with matching black leather strap) will set you back around $750, while the gold-plated version is close to $1000, which makes the Huawei considerably more expensive than some other Android smart watches on the market. As a comparison, my LG G Watch R was about $479 when it first came out.

Make no mistake, Huawei’s smart watch is a premium piece of hardware with an absolutely stunning and vivid screen that makes it one of the best Android smart watches around right now, but it’s going to face stiff competition in the coming months as manufacturers bring new hardware to the market, one of those being Samsung and its new Gear S2 [Look out for a review of Samsung’s smart watch soon]

It’s going to be an interesting few months for fans of wearable tech.

My week in gaming: Old skool point-and-click adventuring

I’ve been old-skooling it in gaming this week, after picking up a Lucasarts adventure game bundle off Steam last week. I haven’t played any Fallout 4 since picking up The Dig, Loom, Indiant Jones and the Fate of Atlantis and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade for the princely sum of … [drum roll please] $2.99.

A coincidence, do you think?

I’m enjoying The Dig, although to be fair, I’ve always been a fan of Lucasarts’ point-and-click adventure games. It’s a nice chance of pace from games like Rise of the Tomb Raider and Fallout 4, which I’m starting to wonder has just too much stuff to do in it. I’m not sure I have enough hours to devote to a game that takes 50+ hours to finish!

TheDigastronautsThe Dig seems to have had a mixed reception from both gamers and critics, and to be fair, some of the puzzles are ridiculously difficult (there’s one where you have to work out the sequence of colours for a robot arm to pick up a lens) but I’m hooked in the story, which tells of three astronauts who end up on a strange alien world after an asteroid threatens to hit the earth.

Key_Art_-_Psychonauts_2.0In other news, you might have heard that Tim Schafer and the team at Double Fine have announced Psychonauts 2 and they need our help to fund its development. I’m excited about this (even though I gave up on Broken Age despite backing it). So excited that I pledge some dollars to it tonight. Well, I think I did. I still haven’t received a confirmation email yet. I hope that doesn’t mean something bad.

On the hardware front, I’m currently looking at a Huawei watch and I have to say I’m impressed. My poor LG G Watch R hasn’t had a look in since I’ve had it. I’m also getting a Samsun Gear 2 smart watch sometime next week. I’ll post my thoughts as soon as I can.

What have you been playing? Have you been old skooling it as well?