Huawei nova 5T - The £399 Flagship?

This article is about the Huawei nova 5T, and in case you haven’t heard of this phone it is a £399 smartphone that comes with some truly flagship specs.

We have the Huawei Kirin 980 octa-core processor, which is actually the exact same processor that you can find in the Huawei P30 Pro, arguably the best smartphone that Huawei has even made, as the Mate 30 Pro isn’t out in all regions just yet. Aside from this we have 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. We also get a massive 3750mAh battery with SuperCharge, which is Huawei’s fast charging technology, with which you can charge this up to 50% in just 30 minutes.

We have a massive 6.26 inch display with a resolution of 2340x1080, with some very thin bezels and no notch aside from just the front camera cutout which is an insane 32MP sensor. But the back camera is even more impressive. We have a quad-camera module, with a regular 48MP sensor on the main module, a 16mp wide angle module, a 2MP macro module and then another 2MP module that’s used for portrait mode. 

The colours of the nova 5T (Black, Crush Blue, and Midsummer Purple)

The colours of the nova 5T (Black, Crush Blue, and Midsummer Purple)

It also has a side mounted fingerprint reader, and probably one of the craziest colours that I’ve seen on the back of any phone! It comes in a very vibrant Midsummer Purple, a Crush Blue variant, and finally the classic black colour that we have.

So as you can probably tell, this is a truly unique device! Huawei was kind enough to not only send one over but also sponsor this entire project. So what I did was use the nova 5T for an entire day, took it out, took some photos, and used it as I would when I’m on holiday because that’s when I’m using my phone the most, and see how a £399 phone with flagship specs actually performs! 

Before I even set off, I installed all of the apps that I use in a regular basis, so everything; from Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Creator Studio, Gmail, Hootsuite for scheduling my social media posts, and I’ll be keeping track of the battery life and performance through-out the entire day.

The first thing that I did was to go around the the city centre area and test out the camera. Unfortunately, it was a rainy day and it was also quite cold, but nonetheless the shots ended up being very impressive, and you’ll see what I mean in just a bit.

So whilst on the tram to the city center, I took a few selfies and the way those have turned out, blew me away.

An example shot from the nova 5T’s front facing camera

An example shot from the nova 5T’s front facing camera

This is a 32MP selfie and it’s the sharpest photo with a front facing camera that I have ever seen coming from a phone. All of that is thanks to the massive 32MP sensor, my hair is unbelievably sharp and you can zoom in a considerable amount, without seeing any noticeable pixelation at all, something that is not at all possible with a regular smartphone. 

So when seeing these on my computer, I was blown away. But it gets even better. I then took a few regular photos with the regular module on the back and they were pretty good. They had a great exposure, great colour, pretty much a perfect white balance and they were generally good shots, too bad the weather wasn’t on our side. 

But you see, this phone actually has four camera modules on the back and I wanted to put every single one of them to the test. 

So starting with some zoom photos, thanks to that massive 48MP sensor, we can zoom in up to 10x times digitally. Here’s an example of before and after the 10x zoom.

An example of the 10x zoom

An example of the 10x zoom

We then have the two fun lenses. The Wide and the Macro Lens. 

The wide-angle is something that we’ve started seeing on pretty much every flagship smartphone today, with a few exceptions, so I’m very glad to see Huawei adding a wide angle lens to a mid-range phone. Now I was expecting the wide angle modules to be just okay since even on high end phones the wide angle module is usually the one that’s noticeable worse than the other two. But take a look at this shot.

This was the shot taken with 2x zoom, I have also put in the same shot taken with regular lens, and the wide angle lens. Not only do we get much much more in the scene but I don’t really see any severe softness that wide angle modules usually have.

We took some more wide angle shots of the Manchester Cathedral and what we did next is that we actually went inside of the cathedral to test out the night mode and see how the lenses perform in a fairly dim environment. I think the results speak for themselves, dont you? The nightmode shot is one of the best night mode shots that I’ve seen on a smartphone. It’s extremely sharp but what’s probably even more impressive is that I actually took this with the wide angle module! Just take a look at the picture below, perfect exposure, perfect sharpness, the colours are very accurate as well so I’m very impressed so far.

A wide angle nightmode shot taken in Manchester Cathedral

A wide angle nightmode shot taken in Manchester Cathedral

Ok, next up I wanted to test out that Macro Module. This is actually something that we don’t really have on many other smartphones out there, so it’s a very new and unique feature and I could get extremely close to a leaf with water on, I was about 4cm or even closer than that, and the leaf was still perfectly in focus.

An example Macro Lens shot

An example Macro Lens shot

Back Portrait mode also works surprisingly well and has good background separation, although it does work better outdoors than indoors, since you do need a fair bit of light. 


The nova 5T can also shoot 4K video, up to 30fps. The footage itself is pretty sharp and well exposed. So again, good marks for Huawei on this.

So those were the four modules of this phone and I’m very impressed, especially when you consider that this is a £399 phone, less than half of what a flagship smartphone costs and the results were still very impressive. 

But there’s actually a very special feature that this phone has. So the main module is actually a 48MP sensor. But you see taking 48MP photos will eat up your storage four times faster than what a regular phone’s 12MP camera would. So what the nova 5T does is that it actually uses just the 12MP area of the sensor to take the photos and then it uses the remaining area of the sensor, to improve the clarity. But if you go into the settings menu, there’s actually a secret 48MP mode that allows you to take full 48MP photos and here’s an example. 

A comparison shot between the 12MP Camera and the 48MP secret option

A comparison shot between the 12MP Camera and the 48MP secret option

You can probably see that weirdly enough the 48MP shot is a bit softer, and that’s because in the 12MP mode it’s actually doing that sharpening that I was talking about before. But the real difference between the two lies if you zoom in. When digitally zoomed in the 12MP one starts to look pixely, while the 48MP shot is noticeably sharper. If we had had a bright day with lots of sunlight, the results would’ve been even sharper on the 48MP mode since you do need to be in a well light environment, for the very best results.

So after taking all those photos, Connor and I decided to go and get something to eat. We went to this Italian restaurant where we took some more indoor shots. This was another dimly lit area, so I’ve been using night mode for pretty much all the shots. Now, something that I haven’t mentioned yet, is that the nova 5T also has an AI camera. This means that the camera can detect what it actually shoots and it will automatically adjust based on that.

Above are a couple of examples of the AI Camera. Number one is a picture that I took. Picture one is of my pizza, and you can probably see how sharp the pizza is, and how vibrant the nova 5T made the colours of it look.

Picture two is a photo of a water bottle and same story here, you can see how the AI camera made it stand out from the background, even though this was actually not taken with portrait mode but with the regular photo mode instead.

And finally picture three is a selfie that I took in the restaurant, and whilst it is a bit softer than the outdoor one, it’s still very sharp for low light indoor selfies. 

Ok, so we did get quite a bunch of shots and what we wanted to do was to find a place to sit down, transfer these shots and do some work. In my case, start scripting the main part of the video and drafting this article. We did go to the Central Library but ended up at a coffee shop after I had transferred all the shots. Speaking of, this was a very easy and quick process, thanks to that USB C port that the Huawei nova 5T has, so I had zero issues getting the shots off of the phone.

Many users guessed the images posted on Twitter and Instagram were from the iPhone 11

Many users guessed the images posted on Twitter and Instagram were from the iPhone 11

I wanted to take a few more indoors shots with night mode enabled to see how they would turn out, and like before we got some very impressive shots, especially the one with the floor lamp where the nova 5T made a fantastic job of separating the shadows from one and another. I even posted some of the images that I’d taken with the nova 5T on Twitter and Instagram as stories. Now I did this to to see how many of you got the name of the phone right and pretty much everyone either said that it was an iPhone 11 Pro or a Pixel 4. So from your own thoughts this clearly measures up to flagship quality photography at its £399 price point!

After I had done my first drafts I started watching Marques’s Pixel 4 review, read some news articles, browsed the web. I haven’t really talked about the display, but it’s great. We haven’t really had a sunny day to fully test it outdoors, but in the overcast weather that we had an indoors, it was very easily viewable.

Now you may be wondering how the battery was doing by this point in the day. Well, it was at 80%, however when I was transferring the photos before, I did have it connected to my laptop and the battery charged from 70% up to 90% during that time, in about 30 minutes or so which was quite impressive. 

By this point, since the days are quite short towards the end of the year, it was getting quite dark, so I took a few actual night time shots in some very low light conditions and below are a few of them. They actually have that Pixel style look which I really like! They’re very processed but overall, they’re good, especially when you consider how little this phone costs! 

When we finally got back into the office, the battery was at 75%, but do keep in mind that it did charge 20% while transferring the photos, so the real number would be around 50-55% which is pretty good, considering that I took loads of photos with it all day. 

I wanted to put it on charge and see how fast it would charge. Now, as I mentioned at start, the nova 5T does support Huawei’s SuperCharge which lets you charge up to 50% in just 30 minutes, but what I want to see here, is how fast it would charge from 75%, up to 100%. Charging from closer to 100% is always very slow as the phone tries to preserve the heal of the battery life, by trickle charging or slow charging, the closer they get to 100%, and this was pretty much the case here as well. It took close to a full hour to charge the remaining 25%, but charging up to the first 50% can indeed be done in just 30 minutes. 



In conclusion I am pretty impressed. This is a £399 phone and the night mode on this camera and the daytime selfies left me saying “wow” the moment I opened them on my computer, they’re really that good!

You also have the wide angle module which one famous flagship smartphone that costs more than double than this one does, lacks! And we have the macro module which turned out to be quite useful!

The performance was very good. I haven’t noticed any lag or any slowdown whatsoever, and that’s thanks to the Kirin 980 processor and 6GB of RAM on this unit. 

The Side Mounted fingerprint unlock is insanely fast. Literally the moment you rest your finger on it to unlock the phone, since that’s also the power button, it instantly unlocks.

Something I didn’t mention was that it also has an LED notification light inside the top speaker grill. Pretty cool! 

At £399 you get the perfect blend of performance, features, battery life and camera. It comes out on the 8th of November and you can purchase it on all major carriers here in the UK.