Gadget Enthusiast

Does Having 4 Cameras On A Phone Really Mean Better Photos? Eh, Kinda.

  • The Huawei Nova 2i launched in October 2017.
  • It comes armed with 4 cameras, with a 13MP front camera with a 16MP rear camera. That enables features such as portrait mode and wide aperture.
  • It currently retails for approximately RM1299 online.

I think we can agree that 2017 seemed to be the year for selfie smartphones.

It’s a true testament to how powerful mobile photography has impacted our consumer decisions. The quality of the camera on a phone has now become one of the major deciding factors before we decide whether it’s worth the splurge or not.

At least for me it is.

So when Huawei offered us a review model of the Nova 2i, which is said to be their first smartphone purely dedicated to perfecting the art of selfies, I jumped on the opportunity to give it a run.

Since its release back in October 2017, the phone has gone on to receive many positive reviews, claiming it to be worth its price—and it’s one of the more affordable selfie smartphones on the market.

One of its biggest draws was obviously the quad-camera, because logically 2 extra lenses would give me better A+ selfies no?

We’ll see.

Design

First up, let’s touch a bit on what you’re getting with the phone.

The Huawei Nova 2i device.

The phone came with a nice 5.9-inch touchscreen display with a resolution of 1080 pixels by 2160 pixels. So watching Netflix shows was quite an experience on this device.

The one thing that bothered me personally—as a regular iPhone user—was the placement of the fingerprint sensor. I’m not used to having it located anywhere but the front of the phone so it took some getting used to.

It comes with some mid-range specs, like an Octa-Core Kirin 659 processor that’s mated to 4GB of RAM. You also get 64GB of storage that can be expanded with a microSD.

I was left quite impressed with the battery performance. With light usage, it lasted 3 full days before needing a charge and with heavy usage, it lasted a full day with no battery heat. I did notice it did take longer to fully charge, about 2 hours or so.

But let’s move on to what we’re really here to test—the camera.

Camera

Huawei’s first big attempt at a selfie phone was with the Nova 2 Plus which offered a 20MP camera. Now they’ve upped the game by bringing the Nova 2i with dual cameras for both the front and back.

It comes with 13MP f/2.0 + 2MP f/2.4 front cameras while the rear gets a 16MP f/2.2 + 2MP f/2.4 combo. The main role of the secondary lenses is allegedly to provide the best depth of field background for any possible scenario.

This also means that you get portrait mode for both the front and back along with a front-facing LED flash to help with low light selfies.

The camera interface itself is an upgrade from the previous Huawei models. The portrait mode is found on the left (blue icon) with the bokeh mode (yellow icon) and the beauty mode on the right. The small circle icon on top is the moving pictures mode.

I put the cameras to the test in a few different settings and some performed better than others:

  • Indoor lighting

The cameras worked well with indoor shots that had decent lighting.

Our office cat posing well for the camera.

Before moving into the selfies, I wanted to see how the rear camera fared. I think it did really well and the pictures ended up coming out quite crisp with the bokeh effect adding a nice depth to the photo.

The phone has a Wide Aperture mode that actually lets you adjust your aperture manually to have full control over your bokeh effects but I didn’t really toggle it too much. I found that the normal mode is perfectly adequate at capturing your normal surroundings.

Quite handy for getting food shots.

When it comes to taking photos of anything with a lot of colours, I’d say the photo comes out a lot more vibrant. I noticed that with yellow lighting, it gives a different tinge to my photos. It still looks alright, although not as crisp as I’d want it to be.

I do like the rear camera and since portrait mode could be used as well, I took advantage of that.

I really like the shots I was able to get with just a point and click.

However, depending on our background, the bokeh effect could backfire and come out looking like there’s a lot of noise. Not sure if the image processing is lacking or I needed to mess with the settings a bit more.

Also keeping the hand steady is a challenge.

The Huawei Nova 2i is marketed as a selfie-centric device, so it came with a few additional beautification features built in the camera itself.

You have the beauty mode where you can adjust the level according to how “chio” you want to look. I personally stay away from those effects as I think it makes the person look a little fake.

But for the sake of this review, we tested it out.

On the left is with the beauty mode on and the right is with it off.

It’s not a drastic change but you could see some of the differences.

  • Outdoor lighting 

Outdoor shots look amazing on this phone during the day. Selfies taken with the front facing 13MP camera looked good with the right amount of colour accuracy and sharpness.

Car selfies be lit.

But when it came to low light shots, that’s when the quality decreased and the noise affected how it looked overall. So don’t hope too much on getting good selfies in the dark.

You can see the noise but it’s not too apparent.

The rear camera however was decent, so long as you don’t zoom in too much.

Verdict

Overall I enjoyed my time with this phone. It made taking good photos easy and without needing to mess with the settings much.

Of course you can’t expect the portrait modes to work as good as a DSLR but compared to other Androids on the market with this feature, I’d say the Huawei Nova 2i’s quad camera performed well.

A trick I would say is to try and keep the subject of your photo still. The phone relies on face-detection for the quality to come out nice so if you have a shaky hand, expect a lot of blurry shots. The distance of the subject to the camera also affects the bokeh effect so play around with it.

I’m no photographer or expert with camera settings so I didn’t mess around much, but if you’re curious, you can test out the aperture to see if it’ll help.

If you’re one who enjoys taking fuss-free selfies or photos in general and are looking for an affordable option (the phone is priced at RM1299), you can add this onto your list to be considered.

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