Even with all the problems going on between Huawei and America, the company is still pushing forward launching smartphones in Europe, or at least some of them anyway.
Even though we don’t have the Mate 30 Pro flagship, we do have the new Nova 5T which is a flagship spec phone in more of a mid-range price range and it looks great too.
Vodafone UK kindly sent me Huawei Nova 5T to use for around about 2 to 3 weeks as my main device
During this time I had my main SIM card in so was using it for all my standard daily tasks such as social media photos calls texts and some gaming.
Vodafone have not asked me to include any specific information and also had no influence on any of my coverage on this device, they’re seeing this for the first time as you are so it is a fair and unbiased review.
The 5T is definitely up there in the looks department with large notch less screen, beautiful colours on the back and nice and slim to fit in your pocket and not get in the way.
The front is made up from a notch less 6.26 inch display with the resolution at Full HD 1080p which is great to use even on a bright sunny day thanks to the LCD technology.
The screen also has the small pinhole like cutout for the front facing camera, this time a 32 megapixel shooter with decent quality both for video and photos, but I will cover the camera in more detail later on, it’s positioned over at the left side which some people won’t mind, I prefer in the middle like on the Samsung Note 10 but that is being picky and more of a personal opinion.
The camera allows for face unlock if you prefer not to use the fingerprint reader, it works in a split second and I found I was using this more than the physical fingerprint reader most of the time.
Up top you have one of the dual microphones for noise cancelation as well as for capturing audio when recording video to get great stereo sound.
You also have something still quite rare in smartphones these days, an IR blaster which means you can use the 5T as a universal remote control for your appliances such at TV, DVD and even Air Conditioner unit.
On the bottom you have the other microphone for voice calls and audio recording which is next to the USB-C port used for charging and data transfer.
Charging does feature 22.5w Quick Charge so you can boost your battery quickly if you are in a rush, handy as there is no wireless charging on this device which is a shame, but expected at this price point.
Next to the charger you have the speakerphone which thankfully is loud but also keeps quality to a decent level when I tested listening to YouTube Music as well as watching some videos and used for the odd voice call.
Notice again a new smartphone with no dedicated headphone jack, this means using the USB-C headphones or moving to a wireless pair via Bluetooth.
On the left you have the small hole used to eject the SIM tray where you put your SIM card from your network of choice, thankfully the device is also Dual SIM so you can use with 2 cards at the same time, very handy for a personal and work balance.
On the right you have the traditional volume up and down keys which can also be used as a camera shutter when in the camera is open should you like to press a real button instead of touching the display.
You also get a small indent in the phone which is where the power button is, but also acts as the super fast fingerprint scanner too and in my testing this was one of the fastest but also most comfortable ones I have used.
Over on the back is where all the camera magic can be seen, there are 4 cameras in total featuring
- 48MP Main
- 16MP Wide Angle
- 8MP Telephoto
- 2MP Macro
These are all in the top corner so out of the way, but also lets you appreciate the stunning glass and colours used on the back, something Huawei have really become known for since their Twilight version of phones going back to the P20 Pro.
The software on the 5T is EMUI 9 which also runs on top of Android 9, it will get upgraded to Android 10 at some point so no need to worry about software updates in the future.
EMUI is a perfect version of Android got anyone who has been using an iPhone in the past to move over from, the simple icon layout as default will make you feel right at home and similar to what you are used too.
However there is an option to change the navigation settings to the app drawer that lots of people still prefer to use, or a gesture version too giving you maximum space on screen for your content.
For sure EMUI is not for everyone, however the more recent versions have been a joy to use and on a personal level something I have enjoyed using on a daily basis, however if you like a different feel you can always download one of the hundreds of launchers from the Play Store to change things up and hide the amount of Huawei bloatware that comes included.
One app you will want to use though when setting up is called Phone Clone, and this is a super fast and easy way of transferring your data from your old device to the 5T over a WiFi direct connection.
Disappointingly there is no option for Dark Mode built in which once you have used on a phone will always want to use, not only does it save battery power but also some people, myself included, prefer to use as it is not as bright and just looks better.
The good news is that Google services are available and all running fine on the 5T, this gives you access to all the Google apps you are used too on other devices, even with the issues going on behind the scenes between the company and the US Government, you will not be impacted if you use this phone which is a relief.
Performance is right up there with some of the best thanks to the Kirin 980 processor used and in testing if breezed through all my fault needs with ease, including some graphic heavy gaming such as Call or Duty or Pokemon Go.
The phone did get a little warm after a big gaming session which is not uncommon for phones so don’t let that worry you, there is a lot that goes into pushing the graphics on the display, and even though it was warm, it was a comfortable level.
RAM comes in at a decent 6GB which is more than enough for most users and when I was playing games as mentioned above I had no issues at all even multitasking multiple apps.
The battery is a large 3750mAh capacity which is non removable and will easily last you a day of use even with some heavy gaming, unfortunately though even though you do get 22.5w quick charging with the supplied cable and wall plug, there is no wireless charging or reverse wireless charging option to be had.
Networking support is also decent with 4G+ speeds offering some blazing fast speeds, it all depends on the network and location you are of course, but I manage to hit 100Mbps a few times which is great for anyone using data on the move.
Storage comes in at 128GB which is a fair amount for a mid range device, although it is a shame there is no expandable option, especially considering the extra space was used for a second SIM slot that a lot of people won’t even use.
Huawei have always been known for their cameras and the Nova 5T is no different with four of them on the back and one on the front.
Starting off with the selfie camera on the front you get a 32 megapixel camera which can record 1080p videos as well and quality is very good even if you want to do some vlogging on the move the quality of the camera is very good as you would expect.
However it is the rear camera that is the main area to focus on with an impressive 4 camera setup.
The main camera sensor is a 48 megapixel one and even though it doesn’t feature the Leica branding, it still offers fantastic quality images in all conditions as it does come with OIS to help make your photos stable even in night-time conditions, although some of the results can be a bit grainy in really poor lighting conditions even with night mode switched on to help.
The second camera is a 16 megapixel super wide angle with a 117 degree field of view to get those amazing landscape shots, but also to enable the super macro mode to get really close up to your subject and keep the best quality possible.
Wide Angle is becoming really popular on smartphones because of the amount of detail you can capture in a scene, something you really miss when your new phone does not have one like I found in the Google Pixel 4 range.
Thirdly you get an 8 megapixel telephoto lens complete with OIS and this allows for a 3 times lossless and 5 times hybrid zoom which means you can get closer to your subject in a situation where you may not be physically able to get closer but need to zoom in a little.
Finally there is a 2 megapixel macro lens to add to the other cameras, however what this actually brings to the table was very questionable if it was even needed in the first place, or if it’s only there to add to the number of cameras in a world of multi camera devices.
Using the camera is very simple thanks to the intuitive software seen on most phones these days where you can slide up and down between the modes which includes
- AR Lens
There is an option for more settings and this opens up a whole heap of extra settings for the ultimate camera experience plus the option to download new ones which includes
- Slow no
- Light Painting
- Time lapse
- Moving picture
- Super Macro
Video mode is also very capable on the Nova 5T thanks to the high quality cameras on the back which allow up to 4K resolution at 30 frames per second, but you do lose stabilisation unless you keep at 1080p so make sure you plan ahead before hitting that record button.
The built-in AI does a great job at determining what type of scene you’re taking a picture off, and adjusting for this is great because it means even the most novice photographer can get some beautiful photos with very little work needed.
Of course if you don’t like the whole AI thing then with one tap on the button you can switch all of this off and do everything manually.
Audio captured is also very good quality from the stereo microphones and was very impressive in testing on playing back on the device and also online.
Below are a sample of the photos the camera can take as well as some sample video clips recorded at full resolution to judge for yourself.
Overall the Nova 5T camera is very capable and is one of the best out there, especially in the mid-range where for below £400 you’re getting a very decent camera with an impressive amount of options, both with the lenses and software even though you do lack the Leica touch on the flagship models.
You cannot argue that the whole debate going on between Huawei and America is causing a knock on effect for both consumers and Huawei as a brand, with many people looking elsewhere for their smartphones because of the uncertainty of the future.
I’ve always been a fan of the company and enjoy using their smartphones, in fact some of my more recent phones include the P20 Pro the P30 Pro and the Mate 20 X 5G which was one of my favourite phones of all time, and one I use as my personal device.
The company are known for their amazing photography capabilities and stunning design, it is just a shame a lot is being overlooked by the issues going on at the moment with software and services.
If you are in the market for an under £400 smartphone, want a great camera in your pocket for both normal photos and selfies, plus want great battery and a brand known for high quality then the Huawei Nova 5T is amazing value and a phone you will really enjoy.
A big thank you to Vodafone UK who sent me the Nova 5T to review here you can pick one up yourself from £40 with unlimited data where you are free to use as much internet as you like without worry of running up a bill.