HUAWEI NOVA 9 – Professional smartphone but without 5G

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Huawei Nova 9 has a difficult start, like other modern smartphones of the Chinese manufacturer. The American embargo on 5G technology does not allow Huawei to provide the fastest data exchange or an additional communication channel, even if the processor installed in the device has such capabilities.

The Nova 9 , which was based on the Snapdragon 778G, has a 5G modem blocked. This is one of those cases where politics has a direct impact on technology.

Huawei Nova 9 – first impression
On the standard white box of Huawei Nova 9 we find the characteristic logo of the Nova series, two IMEI codes informing that the smartphone supports two SIM cards, the smartphone’s letter-digit designation: NAM-LX9 and the capacity of flash and RAM memory – in my case 128 + 8 GB.

After opening the box, of course, I found a smartphone, a 66 W charger with a universal USB-USB-C cable and silicone backs. The charger will probably worry those who believe that it is against ecology, and will please those who do not have such an efficient device in their possession, and would like to charge their smartphone instantly. Ah, there’s a simple key to open the SIM tray; I missed it at first.

Huawei Nova 9 is a nice, aesthetic and elegant device. The very thin shape of the housing is additionally emphasized by the slimmed edges of the device. The screen and the backs overlap the edges so that when held, the user has the impression that the Nova 9 is thinner than it really is.

Overall, the set evokes a positive feeling. For me, the presence of a charger, especially one that offers very fast charging, is indispensable. The silicone backs are a nice addition, and the design of the Huawei Nova 9 smartphone is, in my opinion, top shelf.

Aesthetics, comfort, practical considerations
The dazzling AMOLED display has almost no side edges. Approximately 3-mm margins are visible at the top and bottom. The front camera is placed in a hole in the center of the upper part of the display. The rear cameras are composed on the back of the housing using the relatively new Huawei design, which assumes that the main camera will seem optically larger. The oval panel therefore houses the main lens in a circular, silver frame, while below, in a similarly sized circular panel, there are three additional lenses and an LED. The camera module protrudes significantly above the housing surface.

On the right edge of the Huawei Nova 9 there are buttons for switching on and volume control, on the upper edge there is only a barely visible microphone hole for video recording, and on the lower edge we have: a drawer for two sim cards, a microphone for calls, a USB-C socket and a speaker . The drawer that can be opened with the key is very small, and the SIM cards are placed in it in stacks. The smartphone, sadly, does not support additional memory cards.

In addition to the great display, the design of the backs attracts attention. The back panel of my copy is opal somewhere between blue and pink, or even light purple, but it is also matte. The discreet colors do not dazzle with trash, but rather look elegant. Additionally, neither the back panel nor the screen

Tastes are not discussed, but the design of the Huawei Nova 9 seems to suggest a good taste of the user in a universal way. Aesthetics are combined here with the convenience of use and practical considerations, which will surely be appreciated by anyone who has ever had to wipe a dirty display with a cloth, catching fingerprints, every now and then. The smartphone is quite large, but it is light and fits well in the hand, although the thin edges may suggest that it slips easily.

Display
The large, contrasting OLED display with 120 Hz refresh rate and 10-bit color is one of the smartphone’s greatest advantages. The refresh rate can of course also be set manually to 60 Hz when we want the smartphone to work longer on a single charge, but it is probably wiser to choose a dynamic selection of refreshments depending on the displayed content. Then we have a compromise between a great image and the working time of the device.

If necessary, you can also manually reduce the display resolution to 720×1560 px or set an intelligent resolution and let the smartphone automatically select the resolution depending on the operating mode.

You can manually set the color mode (settings: expressive and normal) and the color temperature (default, warm, cool – or manually on the color palette), as well as the size and thickness of the displayed text.

Hardware
Huawei Nova 9 received 128 GB of disk memory, of which 105 GB is available to the user. This is still an attractive capacity for today, although it is good when it is accompanied by the optional possibility of expanding the memory with cards. In this model, however, the manufacturer did not decide to do so and it is worth being aware of it. Especially if you have a large collection of multimedia on your smartphone, record a lot of good quality movies or take photos with passion. Unfortunately, 128 GB is not enough for me. Of course, you can upload media to external devices or store files in the cloud. There is always a solution.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G is a powerful processor that can support both demanding games and many applications running at the same time. During the entire test period, I did not experience any crunches or puffs . Only when downloading large files from the Internet can you experience a drop in system performance, but this is something natural in the case of the most powerful smartphones. Huawei Nova 9 is an efficient and versatile device, though deprived of one of the most desirable functions due to the American embargo.

The smartphone has only one external speaker (apart from the handset speaker, of course). The lack of stereo can disturb those who like to listen to music loudly from a smartphone. The quality of music both via the USB-C cable and wirelessly is very good – and so is the conversation. Unfortunately, there is no 3.5 mm jack and connector in the set, but the adapters are really available to the public.

The disappointment can be and is certainly the lack of support for the 5G network in a smartphone, the processor of which would theoretically and practically allow it. A blocked 5G modem is a big minus, primarily for lovers of the latest technologies, because in practice the operation of a smartphone based on 4G networks is enough. At least for today. If someone insists on a similar design, but with 5G support, and is ready to sacrifice a good camera for a slightly worse one, I recommend looking at the review summary.

Battery
The 4300 mAh battery is probably a kind of compromise between the smartphone’s operating time on a single charge and its thickness. The good news is the 66W fast charge, but it would be nice to have both very long-lasting batteries and fast charging. Fortunately, battery performance is pretty good, especially when combined with Adaptive Screen Refresh and Smart Resolution .

The smartphone can withstand one day of standard smartphone use without any problems and it really rarely needs to be recharged a second time on the same day. Only those who rarely use a smartphone or who care very carefully about occupational hygiene will be charged less than once a day, e.g. by turning off unnecessary interfaces. I can take up to two days, but it is not worth being influenced by it. The average user who receives constant notifications, plays games, watches movies, and constantly uses social networks will have to load at least once a day.

In half an hour the battery is charged to approx. 75%. Charging the battery fully takes 45 minutes to an hour. The smartphone does not support wireless charging.

Biometrics and security
I don’t like fingerprint readers in the screen. Even flagship smartphones with this type of identification can make ugly surprises for the user. The more I am positively surprised by the operation of the screen reader in Huawei Nova 9 . I tested in three series of 20 wake-ups. I put my finger on the edge, incompletely, with the tip or the base of the fingertip. 4 times out of 60 attempts, the smartphone politely informed that my finger does not cover the entire reader and that I should repeat the attempt. This is much better than I could have expected. The first really great screen reader that I found in the tested smartphone.

Face detection works very well, but no surprise here. Huawei has this type of interface refined. However, full security in the case of this type of unlocking is still offered by only those brand smartphones that recognize the face topography with at least two cameras.

Of course, there are also traditional security features: a four- or six-digit code, password or pattern. Well, one less traditional protection using a paired trusted Bluetooth device, i.e. headphones or a watch or a band. This is called smart unlock and does not require additional authorization.

How it all works
The smartphone works under the control of HarmonyOS with EMUI 12.0.1. If the user uses several Huawei devices logged in with the same Huawei ID at the same time, they are automatically detected by the smartphone. Not only that, if you create an environment of nearby devices, you can change one of them at any time by switching to watching a movie, listening to music, or continuing a video call on another. All settings related to the Huawei device ecosystem can be found in the settings marked as Device +.

The flexible system of Huawei Nova 9 gives you a lot of possibilities to customize the interface to your needs. The smartphone can be operated with gestures or by standard using touch buttons. Icons can be grouped into folders – and this is nothing new, but the new thing is the resizing of the folder view. At any time, the icon size folder can be enlarged to 2×2 icon size view. This improves the readability of the interface and helps users who, like me, sometimes forget their glasses.

Of course, the upper tray offers express control of communication interfaces, access to Huawei Share, dark mode or e-book mode, but also a widget that controls audio playback.

In case someone was not yet aware of this: Huawei devices do not offer Google services. Instead of Chrome, we’ll have our own system browser here, instead of Google Maps – Petal Maps, instead of Google Play – Huawei AppGallery. There is a lot of software characteristic of Huawei smartphones, such as Huawei Zdrowie, Huawei Share, Phone Clone, Huawei Assistant and many others. – And just like in smartphones with Android and Google services, it is also worth having a Huawei account here to fully use this software and services.

Cameras
Huawei Nova 9 is equipped with a total of 5 cameras: 4 on the back and one in the opening in the front. The main unit with a 50 Mpx matrix and a fairly bright f / 1.9 lens is another strong advantage of the smartphone. It is accompanied by a wide-angle camera with an 8 Mpx matrix, macro and background blur cameras with 2 Mpx matrices. A selfie can be done with the front camera with a 32 Mpx matrix and f / 2.0 aperture. There was no telephoto lens at the back, but if it was, we would be talking about a higher-end smartphone for a bit more money. There is digital zoom up to 10x, but if anyone wants good quality photos, I don’t recommend zooming in more than 2x.

The main camera of the Huawei Nova 9 is a good job, although if I were to grumble a bit, I would point out not too much depth of field, blurring the edges of the frame and the lack of OIS, which is very bothering a user who is used to it. Nice and not excessive color reproduction, good contrast, copes well with worse lighting conditions. Among several ready-made photo and film subroutines, we can find the well-known – such as a night photo or a portrait, but also a new one called Vlog, which allows you to record video, for example, with two rear or front and rear cameras at the same time. The lack of optical stabilization is especially painful in the case of night photos. If the camera manages to keep still, the photo can be surprising in quality, but one shake of the hand destroys the whole effect.

The wide-angle camera is doing just fine. No revelation, but it’s ok. The colors seem a bit less vivid, but the photos are still to be proud of. Background blur cam – blurs the background. I will not miss the sensibility of installing a separate camera for blurring the background (it is enough if portrait photos taken with only one front camera with blur are good enough).

Camera for macro blades from 4 cm, takes photos of 1600×1200 px and you could also give it up, because I think that the cropped photo from the main camera will have better quality – although of course you can have a different opinion on this subject. It is worth comparing photos from the macro camera with the sharpness and colors enhanced by the software, and next to the cropped photos from the main camera. It is probably also worth experimenting on your own.

The front selfie camera with a 32 Mpx matrix has dedicated makeup, smoothing, skin tone software, and it blurs the background in several ways – and as far as I know it: it’s quite enough.

Records movies in several modes:

4K at 30 fps
1080p at 30 or 60 fps
720p at 30 or 60 fps
720p slow motion at 960 fps
1080p slow motion at 120 fps
Sample photos from the phone
Pictures are taken with the main and wide-angle camera. These and other photos in full size, without watermark and without any editing can be found in this smartphone tab gallery: just click HERE.