Back four more: Huawei’s new midrange #Novastar

In Photo: The powerful cameras of the Huawei Nova 3i, The Iris Purple variant of the Huawei Nova 3i and The Redmi 6

A QUAD camera setup (with AI), Q-Mojis, a powerful new processor and James Reid.

Just four of the reasons the Huawei Nova 3i has become a big hit even before it officially launches today in the Philippines.

It’s been barely three months since Huawei shook up the flagship market with P20 Pro, the world’s first smartphone with a triple-rear camera setup and now it seeks to further establish its name in the midrange category with its new “Novastar.”

And judging from the early reviews, I do agree: the Nova 3i is one of the most polished midrange phones that’s packed with flagship features.

As I’m writing this column, I’ve only had the phone for two days, but even if I’ve been used to the P20 Pro, I must admit that the Nova 3i is pretty impressive.

Here are eight things that I instantly liked about the Nova 3i:

  1. Quad cameras: The four camera setup has become a trademark of the Nova series and Huawei has given the Nova 3i a boost in megapixels with a 16MP + 2MP rear camera, and 24MP + 2MP front camera. The secondary camera sensors are there to give your shots that bokeh effect.

The camera modes are robust and include Aperture, Portrait, Pro, HDR, Panorama, 3D Panorama, Artist Mode, Timelapse, Document Scan as well as Video, Super Slo-Mo (HD 720p 120fps and HD  720p 480fps) and AR Lens which I will discuss a more in a bit. The Nova 3i has AI-powered cameras which are capable of scene recognition much like Huawei’s Mate 10 and P20 phones.

This feature can detect more than 500 different scenery, such as the beach, sunset, food, blue sky, fireworks, stage performance, etc., and will apply the appropriate customized enhancements to make your photos look even better.

  1. QMoji and AR Lens: AR or augmented reality stickers have become such a hit, I think it’s becoming the new mandatory beauty mode feature in a smartphone. The Nova 3i’s AR Lens provide not only stickers but also 3D objects, as well as photo and video backgrounds. My favorite so far is the one with the “Kimi no Na wa” background music, although I don’t think I’d be able to use it because of those pink cat ears.

But the star of this feature is definitely the 3D Qmoji. Huawei’s version of Apple’s Animoji, Qmoji allows you to choose from a chameleon, blow fish, wolf, cat, rabbit, robot, penguin or a cherry with headphones that mimics your face movements. It’s fun to use and don’t be surprised to hear video greetings via Qmoji’s real soon.

  1. Fingerprint and Face Unlock: The Nova 3i uses two biometric security features. Huawei arguably has the fastest fingerprint unlock and the Nova 3i is as fast as you’d expect. It uses the 24MP front camera for a pretty neat Face Unlock, which I like, because you have the option of either immediately unlocking your phone after it detects your face, or if you still need to “slide to open” to prevent accidentally unlocking your phone when you look at it.
  2. FHD+ Display: The Nova 3i has a large 6.3-inch FullView Display 2.0 with a FHD+ resolution of 2340 x 1080, or equal to 409ppi. It does have the polarizing (but “hideable”) notch with a 19.5:9 aspect ratio and boasts an 81-percent screen-to-body ratio.

The display is bright and beautiful, and you have several color mode and temperature options which you can further tweak depending on your preference. If you want to save power, you can switch to Smart Resolution that automatically lowers the resolution to HD+ (1560 x 720).

  1. Iris Purple: Just like the P20 Pro’s Twilight color, the Nova 3i has a similar color graidient called Iris Purple, which is as eye-catching and makes it easily standout from all other smartphones. But there are safer color options, like Classic Black and White, as well.
  1. Premium build quality: Color isn’t the only thing that makes the Nova 3i standout. The new design is a big improvement, and the Nova 3i now looks more like the sibling of the P20. The Nova 3i’s build is more premium, sporting Huawei’s latest signature touch of an iridescent glass back that sparkles and a glossy metallic frame that is very nice to hold.
  2. All new Kirin 710: The Nova 3i is the first phone equipped with Huawei’s new generation Kirin chipset: the octa-core HiSilicon Kirin 710. It has an eight-core processor, two of them Cortex-A75 running at 2.2 GHz and two other Cortex-A53 at 1.7 GHz. Compared to Kirin 659, it said to be almost 40 percent faster in terms of performance based on benchmark tests.

The Nova 3i also comes with a whopping 128 GB storage, but there is still a micro SD card slot if you need even more storage. As for the OS, it ships with the latest Android Oreo 8.1, with Huawei EMUI 8.1.

  1. Price tag: Probably the best thing about the Nova 3i is its price. With an SRP of P15,990, it makes the Huawei Nova 3i one of, if not the best bang-for-the-buck smartphone in its class.

Does it get even better with daily use? Wait for our full review in the next few weeks.

REDMI 6: THE DUAL-CAMERA BUDGET KING?

ALSO launched earlier in the week was Xiaomi’s new budget king, the Redmi 6 and 6A, as well as its 2018 flagship, the Mi 8.

A follow-up to the world’s best-selling Android smartphone, the Redmi 6 has a 5.45-inch 18:9 display with a screen-to-body ratio of 80.5 percent. It sports the latest MediaTek Helio P22 SoC. ​Its octa-core CPU is built on 12nm process and consumes about 48 percent less power than comparable 28nm chipsets. Its 3,000 mAh high-capacity battery allows the phone to stay in standby mode for up to 19 days.

It has a 12MP+5MP dual camera setup with the main sensor having a 1.25µm large pixel—the largest among popular smartphones in this price range. The 5MP front camera of Redmi 6 is supported by Xiaomi’s AI Portrait mode, which renders a realistic bokeh effect with a single lens.

The Redmi 6A, on the other hand, offers great value as it adopts the same body and screen as Redmi 6 and sports the MediaTek Helio A22 SoC that’s also built on the 12nm process. Redmi 6A has a 3,000mAh battery that allows the phone to stay in standby mode for up to 19 days, a 13MP rear camera featuring phase detection autofocus. and a 5MP front camera—both capable of using Xiaomi’s AI Portrait mode.

The Redmi 6 comes in two versions: 3GB + 32GB for P7,490 and 4GB + 64GB for P8,990, while the Redmi 6A 2GB + 16GB is priced at P5,290. A Redmi 6A 2GB + 32GB version will also be available soon for P5,990. Now, for those looking for a flagship phone with a more affordable price tag, look no further than the Mi 8. Boasting of Xiaomi’s best ever camera, the Mi 8 received a 105 photo score from the respected camera benchmark organization DxOMark. The Mi 8 has a 12MP dual AI camera, and a 20MP front camera that uses pixel binning technology to combine information from four pixels to create one large 1.8µm pixel for clearer photos in low light.

Powered by the red-hot Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 SoC, the Mi 8 offers stunning performance justified by an AnTuTu score of more than 30,000, and it’s the first phone in the world to have dual frequency GPS that offers extremely accurate navigation.

The Mi 8 features a four-sided curved glass back panel, aviation-grade aluminum frame and a 2.5D glass screen. It sports a 6.21-inch FHD+ Samsung AMOLED full screen display with an 18.7:9 aspect ratio and 86.68 percent screen-to-body ratio.

The Mi 8 will be available starting August 3 with a price of P25,990 for the 6GB + 64GB version, and the 6GB+128GB variant at P27,990.

SKECHERS PERFORMANCE RUN

I’VE been desperately trying to get in shape, and most of my friends have suggested I try running. So I’ve been window shopping for a new pair of legit running shoes and doing a bit of research on how to pick the right pair. I came across Skechers Performance shoes at a recent event and the brand says their shoes have been engineered to provide maximum speed and comfort because of their their all-new Flight Gen midsole technology.

Flight Gen is a new generation midsole designed to provide a highly responsive ride with plenty of cushion protection.

It generates an increased rebound with less weight, coming in a huge 30 percent lighter than the previous Flight Gen midsole material. In terms of actual benefit, it delivers increased comfort and enables the wearer to move at higher speeds.

The Skechers Go Run 6 is a neutral shoe sporting a breathable nearly seamless compression knitupper for a snug and sock-like fit and silhouette. Soft yet secure, the upper conforms to the wearer’s foot shape for optimal fit and comfort. A durable parametric Web outsole provides multisurface traction.

For secure and comfortable stability, runners can opt for the Go Run Forza 3. Favored by elite marathoners, the Forza is a lightweight and responsive stability shoe designed with a full rubber outsole and triple density midsole to provide a stable, smooth transition with durability and traction. The Go Run Forza 3 offers added support for superior active stability ideal for long distance running.

Last, there’s the Go Run Ride 7, the go-to well-cushioned neutral shoe. It features an ultra-lightweight Flight Gen cushioned midsole for optimal impact protection and response, as well a breathable knit fabric upper and a durable high-traction outsole. The Go Run Ride 7 is a must-have for those looking for a neutral shoe with substantial cushioning guaranteeing smoother runs.

In addition to Flight Gen technology, the entire collection is also equipped with Skechers Performance’s signature M-Strike, which works by reducing each stride from three counts: landing on the heel, rolling to the midfoot and then toe off to only two counts: landing on the midfoot, followed by immediate toe-off which promotes efficiency in each stride. Skechers is holding its very first inaugural Skechers Performance Run at SM By the Bay, Mall of Asia Complex, on August 5.

Headlined by its celebrity ambassador Gerald Anderson, the event highlights the brand’s slogan to “GO like never before” and its mission to make a fit and active lifestyle more accessible and enjoyable to more people.

The Skechers Performance Run 2018 consists of three categories: 5k, 10k and 21k run distances to cater to both beginners and seasoned runners.

To register online, visit www.skechers.com.ph or to www.takbo.ph, or you can visit any of the Skechers Concept Stores.

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