Huawei Nova 7 SE 5G Review: A Future-Ready Midrange Phone

huawei nova 7 se 5g review

The Nova series from Huawei has been one of its most popular series of smartphones in the midrange segment ever since the Nova 2i was initially released in the Philippines a few years back. The Nova series is mostly known and loved for its camera capabilities and its excellent performance, thanks to its impressive camera system and powerful processors and specs that Huawei chooses to put in them everytime. This year, the Chinese tech giant is continuing that offering through this same Nova series banking on its camera prowess, upgraded specs, and its unique design for a more affordable asking price. 

This time around, Huawei launched the new 5G-ready Nova 7 SE in the Philippines. If you are planning on getting this smartphone anytime soon, especially now that it is already available nationwide for purchase, continue reading this review and perhaps you will find more reasons to get one than just skip it and look elsewhere.

Most affordable 5G smartphone today

Talking about the upgraded specs on this new iteration, one of the most highlighted ones on this Nova 7 SE is its inclusion of 5G network support, thanks to its HiSilicon Kirin 820 5G processor. This device is future-ready in terms of the next-gen connectivity technology, that is 5G, which is slowly becoming more available in the Philippines. The chip supports both standalone and non-standalone 5G network, making it more attractive than it already is. And since this is a mid-range smartphone, that 5G support also elevates this device even more as it is the first non-flagship smartphone in the Philippines to sport 5G chip right out of the box, this makes it the most affordable 5G-ready smartphone today lcoally at less than Php20K. 

What's in the box? 

huawei nova 7 se 5g review

The device comes in a plain white box with the "HUAWEI nova 7 SE" branding on the front with no image of the phone to be seen anywhere on the outside. At the bottom part of the box shows key information about the phone like RAM and storage sizes, color version, model name and serial number. 

Lifting the the outer box will greet you the Nova 7 SE itself facing down showcasing its glorious back panel design on the onset. Then of course underneath it are the usual stuff like the User Guide and Warranty Card documentation, the USB Type-C charging cable, its 40W SuperCharge charger, TPU protective jelly case, a SIM ejector tool, and a pair of standard earphones. The front panel of the smartphone comes pre-installed with a screen protector. 

It's good thing to know that this package still comes with free earphones, which is not always the case anymore with other Chinese smartphone brands. That way, users are enabled to experience the phone's good audio quality until they are able to purchase their own preferred audio accessory. The clear TPU jelly case is also a good thing here. Why? Because the phone sports such a good looking back design, and I am pretty sure the Crush Green , too. So having a protective jelly case right out of the box, for those who prefer to use it, is a good move by Huawei as users will still enjoy the phone's super nice design while keeping it clean and shiny. 

Also, please take a good look at the charger brick as it sports different design. You may need to buy extra adapter to use it if your power outlets at home do not support this. 

Display and Design

huawei nova 7 se 5g review

Now let's talk about the phone's offerings itself. And I would like to start discussing about its display and overall design, two of the five things I really liked about the phone which I previously talked about in this separate post. The Nova 7 SE 5G sports a 6.57-inch full HD+ LTPS IPS display with 2400 x 1080 resolution right off the bat. It supports HDR10 and covers 96% NTSC color gamut.  Similar to last year's Nova 5T, this new Nova installment sports a punch-hole cutout on the upper left corner of the screen housing the 16MP selfie camera. 

Thanks to its LTPS IPS display panel and huge 6.57-inch screen, the Huawei Nova 7 SE offers a very immersive viewing experience. Those extremely thin bezels also add to the phone's very good display quality. Colors and images, as well as texts, are vibrantly and vividly rendered in the display all the time. The display quality is way better than typical IPS LCD full HD panels from other brands. Colors are more vibrant and blacks are deeper, almost reminded me of an OLED display panel. I have another full HD+ - equipped smartphone, priced cheaper than this one, I placed them side by side to compare their displays, and the difference is pretty obvious in favor of the Nova 7 SE. 

That being said, it's enjoyable and comfortable consuming digital content on this smartphone whether its browsing through social media to get updates from our friends and relatives or see what's the latest thing going viral at the moment, or watching videos on Viu, YouTube and Netflix. If you play games too, it's no doubt that you are going to enjoy its display quality too. It is a very capable phone in terms of processor, so enjoying your favorite mobile games is not going to be an issue on this one most especially if you can find them on the AppGallery. 

Display-wise, the Huawei Nova 7 SE is the one to beat in the midrange category. 

Build

huawei nova 7 se review

Let's have a quick tour around the Nova 7 SE 5G. At the bottom of the device, there are the 3.5mm audiojack which is always good to have together with the free earphones, the USB Type-C port that's now becoming more and more standard in midrange smartphones such as this one, the speaker grille that sounds loud and clear, and the microphone. On the right side of the device is the dual-SIM card tray that can handle two SIM cards at the same time or a SIM and an NMcard for storage expansion. 

Do take note that only slot 1 is capable of handling a 5G SIM card, the slot 2 only up to 4G LTE-A. While it is a bit disappointing that this smartphone does not support the regular microSD card for additional storage needs, I guess we won't need one anyway since the phone already offers a huge 128GB right out of the box. That storage size is still pretty big in today's standards even myself have not experienced running out of space for my photos, videos, and apps. 

Going back to the phone, on the right side are the volume rocker and the power/lock key. Since the Nova 7 SE is not AMOLED display equipped, I did not expect this to sport an under-display fingerprint reader like some other smartphones around especially in the flagship level. But its nice to see that the reader is no longer located on the back panel, rather it is now integrated in the power/lock key. This is a good implementation though as that's where our thumb naturally rests when holding the phone making it much easier to unlock the phone than reaching the fingerprint sensor first on the back with our index finger. At the top of the phone is nothing but the secondary mic. 

Overall build, the Huawei Nova 7 SE is a solid phone as what we can expect from this type of midrange smartphone and its price range. Its slim profile and its slightly curved back panel make the phone super comfortable to hold and operate whether using one or two hands. Its glass back panel adds more premium feels to it.   

Performance

huawei nova 7 se review

As I just mentioned, the Nova 7 SE is a pretty capable smartphone in terms of overall performance. That's made possible by the HiSilicon Kirin 820 5G processor embedded at its core paired with Mali-G57 GPU and spacious 8GB RAM. On the software side, it runs on the latest EMUI 10.1 based on Android 10. 

The interface is very responsive with animation and effects looking great. I have been using this smartphone for almost a month now and ever since I booted it for the very first time, I have not encountered any lags or hiccups yet, be it playing games or binge-watching while multiple apps are running in the background. I guess it is not only because there are plenty of rooms (RAM) and horsepower (octa-core processor) in this device, but also Huawei did a good job in optimizing its EMUI user interface and its app and memory management system to achieve this feat.    

Also, switching apps back and forth as well as launching new ones is handled by the smartphone so easily and quickly. If you are a content creator or someone who just wants a phone that multitasks fast and without causing any delay, this device should be on your list as well. 

A fast and powerful smartphone with very good display quality, the Huawei Nova 7 SE is a worthy contender of a phone. 

Cameras with AI tech

huawei nova 7 se review

Speaking of content creators, camera quality is one of the most important requirements for them in choosing their gadget to record or create their content with. Thankfully, the new Huawei Nova 7 SE will not disappoint just like the previous Nova smartphones. The phone packs a total of five cameras, four on the back and one on the front. 

On the back is a 64MP primary shooter with f/1.8 aperture and is equipped with 4-in-1 pixel binning system, second camera has 8MP with ultrawide lens and f/2.4 aperture, third and fourth cameras have 2MP each with macro and depth sensors and f/2.4 apertures. Then on the front is a 16MP selfie camera with f/2.0 aperture. All these cameras are equipped with AI tech helping them produce best photo and video qualities. 

As for its camera features or modes, on the back it packs AR Lens, Night, Portrait, and Photo or the auto mode. Additional modes include Pro, Slow Mo, Panorama, HDR, TimeLapse, Super Macro and many others. The front facing camera also offers almost the same set of modes as the rear shooter. 

huawei nova 7 se review

There is a new camera feature that this Nova 7 SE offers called "Dual View" a feature that I'm sure many content creators or vloggers will find useful and exciting. And what it does is to allow users to record videos in split screen mode using both front and back cameras. They can also use this mode using the rear cameras, one screen records the regular video while the second one is zoomed in on the subject. 

In terms of video capturing, the phone is capable of recording up to 4K format and as low as 720p video resolution. Front camera only up to 1080p though. Through smart AI, videos are digitally stabilized and appears to be cropped. Users can also apply beautification, filters, and other effect on video recording, but these are automatically disabled in 4K resolution. 

Nova series is known for offering one of the best cameras in the midrange categories for several years now and I am happy to report that it is still the same case for this new Nova 7 SE smartphone with much more. The phone produces great quality of both photos and videos. That pixel-binning technology on the 64MP primary shooter helps the device produce photos and videos with even more details and dynamic range. Night Mode performs really well too. Autofocus is also fast on this one, and thanks to the AI stabilization, photos and videos are always clear and shake-free. 

Check out some of the sample photos I took using the Nova 7 SE. 

huawei nova 7 se sample photos

huawei nova 7 se sample photos

huawei nova 7 se sample photos

huawei nova 7 se sample photos

huawei nova 7 se sample photos

huawei nova 7 se sample photos

huawei nova 7 se sample photos

huawei nova 7 se sample photos

huawei nova 7 se sample photos

huawei nova 7 se sample photos

huawei nova 7 se sample photos

huawei nova 7 se sample photos

huawei nova 7 se sample photos

huawei nova 7 se sample photos

huawei nova 7 se sample photos

huawei nova 7 se sample photos

huawei nova 7 se sample photos

huawei nova 7 se sample photos

huawei nova 7 se sample photos

EMUI 10.1 User Interface

The Huawei Nova 7 SE is powered by the latest EMUI 10.1 based on the brand new Android 10. As mentioned, the interface is pretty responsive, intuitive, and now sports fresh new looks, features, and new navigation gestures. For example, by default, it does not have on-screen Back, Home, and Multitask buttons. To navigate, you swipe from the edge of the display to the center to go back in the previous page, and then to go back Home, quick swipe up from the bottom edge of the screen. Now to activate the Multitask, you do a slow swipe up from the bottom edge of the display. Don't worry, you'll get a quick tutorial on this when you setup the phone. 

Now if you still prefer the traditional on-screen buttons for navigating the phone, you can still activate these buttons via Settings. Go to Settings >> System & Updates >> System Navigation to enable the "three key navigation."

huawei nova 7 se review
huawei nova 7 se review

As for the brightness and display section of the device, there is now a Dark Mode readily available for users to enjoy as well as Eye Comfort and EBook Mode. Users can also toggle between 1080p vs 720p screen resolution if they would like to save battery life, or they can just leave the Smart Resolution activated to automatically do the switch when battery runs low to save energy.

And best of all, if you have other Huawei smart accessories like the Watch GT 2e (hands-on review), or FreeBuds 3 (hands-on review),  all the accompanying apps are already pre-installed and ready to be used or paired up with the accessory. The Huawei Nova 7 SE runs on Huawei Mobile Services or HMS Core. 

The AppGallery, Petal Search, and Phone Clone

As expected and like many other recent smartphones from Huawei, the Nova 7 SE 5G also does not come with Google Play services. But thankfully, Huawei has its own app marketplace which is now the third largest one in the world, it's none other than the AppGallery. 

Many apps are now downloadable directly from the AppGallery, be it social media apps, messaging, local and international news, and even mobile banking and financial applications like PayMaya and GCash. There are also a ton of mobile games available on the AppGallery And the roster of available apps keeps getting bigger by the day. 

hauwei appgallery and petal search
While the AppGallery is the world's third largest mobile app distribution platform in the world and is still continuing to add more popular and new apps, not every one of them are available in here. In this case, we can always sideload those favorite apps of ours from third-party app marketplaces like APKPure. APKPure App works like Google Play, through this you can search and download your apps, and once updates are available, APKPure App will also notify you within the app, and from there you can easily update your apps. 

Or you can use Huawei's newly launched service - the Petal Search Widget. It is a search engine app or widget that lets you search everything you need including apps, news, images, and more. Through Petal Search, it will allow you to download and to install apps not only from the AppGallery but also from official and third-party websites. It also provides suggestions and trending app information. 

The Phone Clone feature is also one of the best thing this Nova 7 SE has out of the box upon setting up the phone. This feature is best used for transferring all of your apps, files, photos, and videos from your old phone or Huawei phone to this Nova 7 SE. I find it very useful. 

Battery and 40W SuperCharge

The Huawei Nova 7 SE is equipped with a 4000mAh battery pack and comes with 40W SuperCharge right off the bat. For its price tag and together with some of the features and specs that the phone offers, I would say this combo just made the deal even sweeter for consumers. The battery size is just right as it does not make the phone heavier and thicker yet still able to provide a long lasting battery life. At one point with moderate to heavy use all throughout the day, I was able to consume about 80% of the battery charge from 100% and still left with around 20% at night to cap my day off. 

Of course results will vary depending on usage. 

hauwei nova 7 se review

When you run out of battery, charging the phone is also a delightful experience. In just 30 minutes of charging, the phone will already have about 70% battery life from zero, according to Huawei. I can definitely say that that promise is delivered most of the time based on my own experience with the Nova 7 SE. To fully charge the phone from zero percent, it only takes me a little over an hour all the time. 

Final Thoughts

The Huawei Nova 7 SE is yet again one of the well rounded smartphones that Huawei released in the midrange category this year. They even upped the game by throwing in a 5G connectivity feature and still pricing the phone below Php20K mark. That also makes the phone the most affordable 5G-ready smartphone in the Philippines.  Through its stunning design, most especially the Space Silver one that we got here, high-midrange features, and technical specifications, its price tag of Php19,990 makes it one the most desirable smartphones in the local market today. 

The lack of Google Play support may be its biggest obstacle on its way and perhaps many buyers will consider when getting this smartphone for themselves. While that is true in a way, Huawei's AppGallery, Petal Search Widget, and other third party app stores can absolutely compensate and provide the same level of Android smartphone experience. 

The Huawei Nova 7 SE is a very beautiful smartphone both inside and out. If you think the phone looks great in photos and videos you have seen so far, you will appreciate even more in person. At the beginning I was actually expecting the phone to look good, but I was even surprised when I finally saw it in the flesh. 

For its more affordable price tag and what it can offer to the masses, a very capable and future-ready midrange smartphone, I think the Huawei Nova 7 SE is a smartphone to beat in this segment. At least at the moment. 

huawei nova 7 se review

Huawi Nova 7 SE 5G specs:

  • 6.57-inch Full HD+ LTPS IPS Display
  • 2400 x 1080 resolution
  • HDR10 Support
  • HiSilicon Kirin 820 5G octa-core processor
  • Mali G57 GPU
  • 8GB RAM
  • 128GB internal storage
  • Supports microSD card up to 256GB
  • 64MP + 8MP + 2MP + 2MP quad rear camera with ultrawide, bokeh, and macro lenses
  • 16MP front camera with Super Night Selfie 2.0
  • EMUI 10.1 based on Android 10
  • Huawei AppGallery
  • No Google Play support
  • WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS
  • Dual SIM
  • 4G LTE
  • 5G
  • 3.5mm audiojack
  • USB Type-C
  • Side-mounted fingerprint scanner
  • Space Silver, Crush Green
  • 40W SuperCharge
  • 4000mAh battery
  • Php19,990

Pricing and Availability

The Huawei Nova 7 SE 5G in Space Silver and Crush Green is now available in the Philippines for Php19,990. It can be purchased from Huawei Philippines' Lazada store as well as from Huawei Experience Stores and authorized retailers nationwide. This is also now available vai Globe Postpaid PLAN.


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DUGOMPINOY: Huawei Nova 7 SE 5G Review: A Future-Ready Midrange Phone
Huawei Nova 7 SE 5G Review: A Future-Ready Midrange Phone
This is my official review of the new Huawei Nova 7 SE 5G smartphone. Read more here.
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