Huawei Nova 5T launched: Ooooozing with great value

Last Aug 29, Huawei Philippines launched the Huawei Nova 5T at an unbelievable price of Php18,990 in a glamorous media event at Island at the Palace. The event itself was short and relatively intimate – everyone already had a chance to try the phone prior to the event – yet it heralds one of the most important phones of Huawei this 2019.

A few months ago, Huawei was in the trade war between China and US, bringing down a whole lot of their market share, and driving most people to avoid Huawei because Google stopped supporting it. It was practical move for many – there are too many competitors in all market segments such as Samsung, Xiaomi, Vivo, Oppo, why would anyone stick with Huawei – a brand with so much uncertainty in its software development?

Here comes the Huawei Nova 5T – launched with not too much noise in the market – but packing a whole lot under its hood. It’s undoubtedly one of the best surprises that Huawei is launching in the market right now, which it needs badly to re-grab market share.

  • 7nm Octa Core HiSilicon Kirin 980 processor
  • Mali G76 MP10 graphics
  • 6.26-inch IPS LCD display (2340 x 1080 resolution), 19.5:9 aspect ratio
  • 8GB RAM
  • 128GB internal storage
  • Quad Rear Cameras:
    • 48MP f/1.8 main camera
    • 16MP f/2.2 ultrawide
    • 2 MP f/2.2 macro
    • 2MP f/2.4 depth sensor
  • Front Camera:
    • 32-megapixel, f/2.0 front camera
  • Dual SIM
  • 4G/LTE, WiFi, Bluetooth
  • Fingerprint reader (side-mounted)
  • USB Type-C charging port
  • 3,750mAh battery with 22.5W Fast wired charging (Huawei proprietary)
  • EMUI 9.1 based on Android 9.0 Pie (upgradable to EMUI 10-based Android Q)
  • Colors: Crush Blue, Midsummer Purple, Black

We barely had enough time to review the phone, but here are our first impressions:


Overall, it’s quite a beautiful phone, but also seems very unassuming when it comes to its capabilities. Despite its 6.26-inch screen, it felt great in my hands due to the thin bezels. It’s quite thin and light, at just 174g. The front facing punch hole camera is on the left side of the screen, which you won’t really notice much since the hole is small relative to the size of the screen.

As some might have noticed, it shares specifications similar to the recently-launched Honor 20 – even the side fingerprint scanner. In Malaysia, Huawei actually opted to launch the Nova 5T instead of the Honor 20, due to its similarity in specifications.

The design initially felt awkward, then it made perfect sense. Normally, if you’re a right hander, the thumbs clasp the right side anyway, so it’s just the perfect fit. You’ll need to set the fingerprint to your thumb however, instead of the usual index finger. The fingerprint scanner also houses the slightly recessed power button, which is a very clever design decision. All this isn’t too favorable for left handers, who will probably have a much harder time gripping the power button. The volume rockers sit on top of the power button/fingerprint scanner.

One major design flaw that’s very undesirable (for stubborn people) – is that it lacks the 3.5mm audio jack. It sucks, but it seems like that that’s going to be the design for most midrange phones to flagship phones (Samsung already started with their flagship Galaxy Note 10). So, if you do opt to buy the Huawei Nova 5T, make sure to buy wireless earbuds as well.


The Huawei Nova 5T comes with a 6.26-inch 1080p screen (~412ppi density), using an IPS LCD. Not much complaints there – while OLED is still the best screen option for mobile phones now, IPS LCD’s still produces color-accurate images. The Huawei Nova 5T is still not a flagship phone, and they still needed to cut some corners in some areas – and the screen is one of them. In our short usage of the phones, brightness isn’t the best, but it’s still acceptable in most areas and users probably won’t have any major issues with it. In sunny situations, the screen still performs quite well, and colors are quite vivid.

(Initial) Performance

The EMUI 9.1 on the Nova 5T felt snappy, powered by their flagship HiSilicon Kirin 980 SoC Chipset. While this is a welcome decision for a mid-range device, it was a surprising move given that the recently-launched P30 Pro also uses the same SoC. However, this might be in preparation for a lot of things in Huawei’s immediate gamplan: using even higher-end SoC’s in the future to re-gain their share over their competitors, bringing down the price of flagship phones, and putting flagship features in midrange phones like the Nova 5T. The Kirin 980 SoC chipset on the Huawei Nova 5T, coupled with a massive 8GB RAM, definitely won’t have any immediate issues when gaming or loading applications. It even beat the Snapdragon 855 in some applications, except for GPU and AI performance. Thus, most users won’t have any complaints about the performance of the Nova 5T. We tried the demo unit in their Mobile Legends demo area and it ran without any hiccups.

Mobile Legends isn’t the best benchmark for performance, but it’s the most widely used anyway.

One of the potential issues some users might have with the Nova 5T is the lack of expandable storage, so buyers will be stuck with the 128GB internal storage. This definitely does not make much design sense, but it’s not far from the previous design decisions on Huawei’s flagship series – the Honor 10 and 20 – which both lack expandable storage. From experience, 128GB is perfectly fine, especially when users use a lot of cloud-based applications, such as Google Drive, Google Photos, Spotify, Netflix, or Youtube.


One of the great features of the Huawei Nova 5T is the Rear Quad-Camera setup with AI features. The back camera is a 48 megapixel shooter. It’s main camera is a 48MP Sony 1/2″ sensor, with 4-in-1 Light Fusion, with a large f 1.8 aperture. They also included a 16MP wide angle camera for taking wider shots. There’s also a 2MP depth camera in the main array of cameras. On the side, there is another 2MP Macro camera, for taking close-up shots (up to 4cm)

For the front facing camera, there is a 32MP selfie camera with an aperture rated at f/2.0.

What does it all mean? The Huawei Nova 5T is generally very capable of taking great photos – whether it’s a wide angle shot, a standard shot, a close-up shot, or a selfie. It will definitely be great for normal users, while it might feel a bit lacking for users with higher requirements. Low-light photos, especially using the selfie cameras, left a lot to be desired, although the rear cameras provided adequate results. Maybe we’ll post more photos when we do get to spend more time with the unit.

Final thoughts

We had the Huawei Nova 5T for only a short time, yet it already proved to be a real winner for Huawei. Great specs at an unbelievable price of Php18,990! Incredible value indeed – and we’re excited with what Huawei will offer moving forward with its aggressive new releases. Personally, I would rather wait for the new surprises up Huawei’s sleeves. If you’re itching to buy a new phone now, the Huawei Nova 5T is a great option.

Pre-orders start at Sept 6th until Sept 13. Pre-orders come with a Free pair of Huawei Surround Speakers and 1 year of iFlix subscriptions.