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Huawei Nova 11 Review — Why Android & iOS Users Shouldn’t Be Afraid to Switch

Huawei’s Nova 11 delivers some high-end features with a more reasonable price-tag.

Jeremy Proome

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Huawei’s Nova series, which acts as the company’s mid-range category, is an admittedly impressive line-up of devices that offer high-end features not unlike the flagship models, with some minor concessions in order to keep the price in check. The brand’s latest entry, the Nova 11, is a solid device that delivers a premium experience but cuts out some of the smaller bells and whistles that most users would be happy without anyway.

The Nova 11 features a 6.7-inch OLED display (120Hz), Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G 4G chipset, 8GBs of RAM, 256GBs of storage, and a 4,500mAh battery — so, in terms of pure specs, you’re getting some pretty impressive oomph in-line with some higher-end models. It only runs on 4G networks, so keep that in mind if it’s important to you.

Design-wise, the display is almost edge-to-edge if not for a small bezel which is barely even present. The body is made out of plastic, which, while some may feel lacks that premium look and feel, but it’s a far better decision, as the plastic body is far more durable and lighter compared to glass or ceramic finishes, and it also has a matte-like feel to it, making it a bit easier to grip if you’re not using a cover.

The display itself has vivid, strong contrast to colours, and delivers some immense brightness if you crank it all the way up. The high refresh and touch-sampling rate makes all gestures and operations feel snappy and responsive, giving you that flagship-like experience when scrolling or swiping, with no lag or stutter in between your daily tasks.

In terms of actual usage, the Nova 11 runs on Huawei’s EMUI 13 operating system, which has a lot of similarities to what you’ll find on an Android device, in terms of appearance at least. It’s clean and intuitive, and while some of the gesture controls might be unfamiliar to longtime Android users, it’s essentially all pretty logical with regards to how you do certain things, like closing apps, minimising, or splitting your screen for multitasking.

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The elephant in the room that always needs addressing is Huawei’s lack of Google Services. However, many don’t know that Huawei has G Box integration, which acts as a third-party platform to download, launch, and run all Google Service apps, such as Google Maps, YouTube, Uber, or anything else you’d struggle to find on Huawei’s App Gallery. What this means is that you basically get all the apps you would on any other device, making a potential switch to Huawei now a non-concern.

Of course, with any Huawei phone, the camera will always be a focus, with the company priding itself on its mobile shooters. The rear is bolstered by a 50 50 MP ultra vision camera (f/1.9 aperture) and an 8 MP ultra-wide macro camera (f/2.2 aperture), along with a depth sensor. The camera in standard Photo mode captures some incredible images, with the sensor performing very well in low-light, but excellently in well-lit environments. The camera autofocuses quickly and effectively, and images have a stark sharpness to them, which can be adjusted if need be. The portrait mode also adds an effective and well-placed bokeh effect, if you’re seeking that for your personal and social media content.

There is a 60 MP Ultra Wide Portrait Camera (f/2.4 aperture) on the front of the device too, which is more than adequate for video calls or selfies, but obviously using the rear shooter for all your actual photo-taking is the best idea.

Unedited shot from Huawei Nova 11.

As for some extras, the Nova 11 features a very responsive in-display fingerprint sensor which hasn’t faltered once, along with 66W SuperCharge capabilities, allowing the phone to be charged from dead to full within 30 minutes — and this isn’t just a claim, we tested it.

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The Huawei Nova 11 might not be the flagship device from the brand, but despite the less exotic design, it sure as hell feels like one. The display, camera set-up, and moment-to-moment usage deliver a slick experience, and while the battery could’ve been a little bigger, the SuperCharge feature more than makes up for it. If you’ve been on the fence about picking up a Huawei device, the Nova 11 makes the transition a whole lot more appealing.

The Huawei Nova 11 is priced at R12,999.

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