Huawei nova 11i Review

The Huawei nova 11i is the company's most affordable offering from the latest nova 11 series. Its trendy design, accentuated by the captivating "double star orbit rings" in camera design, instantly grabs attention. Not only does it boast a capable processor, long-lasting battery life, and turbo charging, but it also impressively strikes a balance between performance and affordability. 

Huawei nova 11i Review

Huawei nova 11i Review

I have tested the Huawei nova 11i for weeks now and I'm glad to share with you my thoughts and insights about this new and budget-friendly smartphone in the market. Join me in this review to help you determine if this phone is the right choice for you.

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Review Summary:


  • Large screen real estate
  • Long battery life w/ Turbo charging
  • Good selfie camera
  • Awesome build and design
  • Appealing price point


  • EMUI still has many bloatware.
  • Camera takes time to shoot photos.


The Huawei nova 11i is a good-looking smartphone that's built with high-quality plastic material. As soon as I laid my eyes on the backing, I instantly love the minimalist yet elegant aesthetics. It comes with a satin finish accentuated by its frosted texture; the back is quite effective in negating fingerprints and project several color tones when seen on different angles. It's also durable with its solid build. There are two color options for this handset: the starry black and mint green. I'm fortunate enough to get the Mint Green review unit which is the poster boy for the nova 11i.

Huawei nova 11i Review: Design

I commend Huawei for integrating the "double star orbit rings" into their camera design. The design is very eye-catching when these circular enclosures shimmer with light reflection. These rings are directly integrated to the panel without the traditional boxy camera module.

Huawei nova 11i Review: Design and Construction

Moving on the sides, the frame has a slightly darker tone and comes with angled edges, where you can find the volume button and power button that doubles as a fingerprint scanner (right), SIM tray and secondary mic (top), primary microphone, USB-C port, and speaker grille (bottom). There's no headphone jack here which reflects the current design trend seen in premium phones, considering that most of us now rely on wireless headphones for audio connectivity.

Flipping the phone, the front panel is defined by a hole-punch design, provisioned for the front camera. Additionally, the slim side bezels on the nova 11i maximize the screen real estate, offering an expansive display.

Overall, the Huawei nova 11i's visual appeal looks expensive with its high-grade plastic material. Despite its size, measuring 164.6 x 75.55 x 8.55 mm and weighing 193 grams, the phone offers a moderately comfortable handling experience. While it's worth noting that the nova 11i lacks waterproofing, it is quite understandable considering its price point.


The nova 11i implements an IPS LCD panel with FHD+ 1080 x 2388p resolution and 385 ppi density. With my time using the phone, I love the fact that it comes with a large display. The screen is a 6.8-inch panel which is generous enough if you're a fan of content streaming and web browsing. Not only that, the slim bezels and punch-hole further push the screen-to-body ratio to an impressive 94.9%.

Huawei nova 11i Review: Display

The nova 11i also comes with 90Hz dynamic refresh rate which is expected to be competitive in this segment, especially with other competing brands throwing phones in the market with high refresh rates. It gives smoother perception when you're navigating through your phone and it's also good for gaming. 

Huawei nova 11i Review: Display

The phone also supports useful software features like eye comfort to filter out harmful blue light, reader mode, e-book mode, and 10K-Level Smooth Light Adjustment. These are great features for students who make the most of this phone's generous screen size when engaging with their reading materials. Moreover, you can adjust the screen's color to normal or vivid according to your liking.

Internals and Performance

The Huawei nova 11i is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 680 4G (6 nm). It's the same chipset used in the nova 10 SE from last year, which we also had gotten the chance to review. The device runs on an octa-core processor with four Cortex-A73 clocked at 2.4 GHz and four Cortex-A53 clocked at 1.9 GHz. For graphics processing, it has the Adreno 610 GPU which is also a mid-range mobile GPU.

This device has 8GB of RAM which can harness an additional 3GB of virtual RAM from its built-in storage. With a generous 256GB of native storage, it provides ample space for majority of users. Nevertheless, as a content creator, I would have truly valued the inclusion of a storage expansion option. Should you need additional storage, Huawei offers its own cloud storage service for a nominal fee.

Huawei nova 11i Review: Performance

The SoC handles basic tasks with ease. Running multiple apps simultaneously and switching between apps are also quite smooth, this is due to its ample memory. It also performs well in terms of gaming. In fact, it can handle most of our favorite mobile games, like Mobile Legends: Bang Bang. Ultra graphics is supported in MLBB, but I suggest you settle with smooth to high graphics settings only for an enjoyable gameplay. 

However, when we talk of graphic-demanding games like Genshin Impact, the phone could still run these apps but you'll notice a dip in performance. This is quite understandable; in fact, the nova 11i is quite a worker in its own right at this price range. 

It also features Histen 8.1 audio solution and the capability of reaching up to 88dB volume. In my experience, I agree that the loudspeaker could get loud enough, but the whole soundstage clings to higher frequencies which is not balanced, and lacks bass. Nonetheless, the mono speaker is good enough for sharing tunes and watching movies with friends.

Huawei nova 11i Review: Loudspeaker and Audio Quality

We also ran Geekbench 5, and these are the numbers:

Geekbench 5 CPU: 380 (Single-Core), 1595 (Multi-Core)

Overall, the Huawei nova 11i is designed to cater to users who wants a good balance between affordability and performance. 


The Huawei nova 11i sports a dual rear camera, featuring a 48MP main sensor with f/1.8 aperture. Alongside it, there is a 2MP depth sensor that enhances the camera's ability to capture bokeh portraits. On the front, the device is equipped with a 16MP selfie camera with f/2.2 aperture which delivers good quality photos for sharing on social media platforms.

Huawei nova 11i Review: Camera Performance

Photos taken with ample lighting have good detail, color saturation, and contrast. The dynamic range may need a little improvement, but I'm amazed how the phone processes each scene with the use of AI. On top of that, the sharpness is okay but there are times that it tends to be overwhelming. As for the bokeh shots, the camera offers decent separation of subjects and the background.

Huawei nova 11i Sample Photos
Sample Photo: 1x zoom vs 2x zoom
Huawei nova 11i Sample Photos
Sample Photo: 1x zoom vs 2x zoom
Huawei nova 11i Sample Photo
Sample Photo: 1x zoom
Huawei nova 11i Sample Photo
Sample Photo: 1x zoom
Huawei nova 11i Sample Photo
Sample Photo: 1x zoom
Huawei nova 11i Sample Photo
Sample Photo: 1x zoom

Camera outputs tend to drop details and mute colors when used in low-light. You can patch this with the use of Night Mode which could easily recover shadowy parts of the image. 

Huawei nova 11i Night Mode Sample Photo
Sample Photo: Night Mode
Huawei nova 11i Night Mode Sample Photo
Sample Photo: Night Mode
Huawei nova 11i Sample Selfies
Sample Photos: Selfie wide, Selfie Portrait

Moreover, the front-facing camera takes good selfies for social media use. The selfie shooter supports wide-angle selfie shots, beautification, and portrait shots. To me, these are very convenient features as someone who loves taking selfies.

I also appreciate the inclusion of AI Lens in this phone's camera as it comes with various functionalities, such as Smart scanner to scan QR and barcodes; Shop to scan a product, check its name and price, or even purchase it on the spot. There's the Translate feature where you can get real-time translations in multiple languages; and Identify objects to identify contents of an image and search by image.

There's also a very convenient feature where you only need to double tap the volume down button to instantly open the native camera app when the screen is off. This becomes particularly useful when you find yourself in a situation where you need to capture a photo quickly. With that being said, I noticed that the camera app is not quick in taking photos, there's always one to two seconds delay when I tried taking shots using the rear camera; I hope a software update could fix that.


The Huawei nova 11i features a 5000mAh Li-Po battery with smart power management that ensures extended usage without having to worry about running out of power. Based on actual usage, it typically lasts a full day before needing a recharge. However, power-hungry tasks like gaming, video streaming, or using resource-intensive apps can noticeably affect battery life, requiring more frequent charging for uninterrupted usage.

Huawei nova 11i Battery Review

The device also features 40W wired charging capability with 22-layer intelligent charging protection, which according to Huawei, can juice up the battery to 60% in 30 minutes.

Huawei nova 11i Battery Charging Test

We've done a charging test and discovered an interesting feature: the handset is equipped with turbo charging capabilities. When you plug in the phone, it immediately notifies you, offering the option to activate Turbo charge. It's important to note that using this feature may result in a slight increase in the handset's temperature. Therefore, we suggest utilizing Turbo charge when you're simply leaving the phone to charge and avoiding resource-intensive tasks during the charging process. Here are the results when Turbo charge is activated:

  • 20% in 10 minutes.
  • 30% in 16 minutes.
  • 60% in 34 minutes.
  • 80% in 51 minutes.
  • 100% in 1 hour and 32 minutes.

Based on the above results, there's merely a minor variation, specifically a four-minute difference, from Huawei's claim that a 30-minute charge will restore 60% of the battery.

The phone also comes with nifty software features designed to optimize performance, conserve battery, and ensure the longevity of the battery's health.


The nova 11i runs the EMUI 13 out of the box, which means that it offers the newest features such as the swipe up gesture. This gesture allows users to have quick app interactions by swiping up the app itself, providing easy access to key features or insights without fully opening the app. 

Huawei nova 11i Review: EMUI 13

You can even pin it as a widget for your homescreen. It's important to note that not all apps, as of this writing, support this feature, but it works with pre-installed apps like petal search, music, clock, gallery, health, notepad, and MeeTime. You will instantly recognize supported apps by a horizontal line under the app icon.

Huawei nova 11i Review: Software

The latest OS version also includes improved security and privacy features to make your data more secure. These features, like app lock, password vault, and file safe, are designed to protect your personal information and prevent unauthorized access. Additionally, the privacy features give you more control over your data. You can manage permissions for specific apps, control image privacy, and ensure that existing apps only access the necessary information.

Overall user experience is smooth. I rarely find myself waiting for apps to load once I pulled them up. The icons and widgets are also well-designed. However, as much as I love Huawei's EMUI, they still come with a considerable amount of bloatware out of the box. 

On top of that, it also has suggested apps that come pre-categorized in folders, such as Business, Entertainment, Lifestyle, Games, etc. I prefer to have only essential apps on my homescreen. The suggested apps, although convenient for quick installations without navigating to AppGallery or using Petal Search, can be unnecessary and clutter the interface. Otherwise, you would need to spend time deleting the ones that you don't actually need, and they're many.

Verdict: Should You Buy the Huawei nova 11i?

The Huawei nova 11i is definitely a good smartphone for its price. In fact, it's great in certain features as it offers large display, decent processor, good selfie camera, and long battery life with fast charging capability. It's also a beautiful smartphone that's well-designed and has vibrant accents.

Huawei nova 11i Review: Best Budget Smartphone in 2023

I recommend this phone for students and young professionals who love browsing the internet and sharing updates in social media. It's also great for users who are into casual gaming and content consumption. Overall, the Huawei nova 11i offers great value starting at just Php 11,999.

Key Specifications:

  • 6.8-inch FHD+ IPS LCD display
  • 90Hz refresh rate, 270Hz touch sampling rate, 16.7M colours
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 680 4G (6 nm)
  • 2.4GHz Octa-core processor
  • Adreno 610 GPU
  • 8GB RAM + 128GB ROM, 8+256GB
  • Dual rear cameras: 48MP main + 2MP depth
  • 16MP front camera
  • Dual SIM
  • 4G LTE
  • WiFi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 5.0, GPS
  • USB Type-C 2.0
  • Fingerprint (side-mounted)
  • EMUI 13
  • 164.6 x 75.55 x 8.55 mm, 193 grams
  • 5000 mAh battery w/ 40W wired charging
  • Starry Black, Mint Green
  • Includes: phone unit, pre-installed screen protector, transparent case, SIM eject tool, 40W adapter, USB-C cable, documentations

Pre-order the Huawei nova 11i

Product SRP Freebie
Huawei nova 11i (8+128GB) P11,999 w/ Freelace Lite worth P2,999
Huawei nova 11i (8+256GB) P13,999 w/ Freelace Lite worth P2,999

From June 21 to 29, 2023, you can pre-order the Huawei nova 11i in two storage options, namely 128GB and 256GB, via online stores. Additionally, you can pre-order the 256GB variant from June 23 to 29, 2023, through offline stores.

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