The Huawei Nova 3 is among the newest upper mid-range phones with flagship-grade SoCs to have been officially announced for India. Currently, the upper mid-range segment includes flagship handsets such as the OnePlus 6 and the Zenfone 5Z, in addition to the Honor Play, which is another mid-range device with flagship grade chipset.
The Nova 3 will be the fourth device in this category and will go on sale starting August 23. I have been using the Nova 3 as my primary device for some time now. You can check out my views on the design and build quality of the phone here. Meanwhile, let’s take a look at how good the display is on the Nova 3.
Huawei Nova 3 Display: The Panel
The Nova 3 uses an IPS LCD panel that Honor says supports 16.7 million colours. The panel has an unconventional resolution of 2340 x 1080 pixels, thanks to the notch. This is a tall display that measures 6.3-inches across in the 19.5:9 aspect ratio. While most users will like the added real estate that the Nova 3 ’s aspect ratio endows, watching 16:9 videos on the display might be an issue thanks to the black bands on both the ends of the panel.The official spec-sheet does not talk about any form of glass protection. The competition, on the other hand, that includes the likes of the OnePlus 6 (Gorilla Glass 5) and the Zenfone 5Z (Gorilla Glass 3) fare better on this front.
Coming from the Zenfone 5Z that had one of the better LCD panels that I have recently come across, I felt that the colour and saturation levels were off on the Nova 3. Outdoor screen visibility was average even with the brightness cranked up all the way. Additionally, the glossy display meant I faced some trouble deciphering stuff while out in the open. The panel used on the Nova 3 from my initial impressions seems to be only a notch above the one I saw on the Honor 9N that my colleague Awad is currently using. For a handset that sells for over Rs.30k, I expect Huawei to ship with a better panel.
Huawei Nova 3 Display: Customisation options
For the layman, the Nova 3 offers an easy way to switch between the ‘Normal’ and the saturated ‘Vivid’ mode. However, turning on the Vivid mode resulted in a higher colour temperature that looks unnaturally cool. Colours, however, pop in the Vivid mode, which is great as long as you don’t care about a blue cast on the whites. I found myself using the handset in the ‘Normal’ mode. This mode, while not accurate, is the closest you can get the standard sRGB colour values. There is no support for the DCI-P3 colour mode, but you do get a colour wheel that allows manual adjustment of tint and colour temperature.
For those of you with nocturnal traits, the Nova 3 also supports the Eye Comfort mode that claims to relieve eye fatigue by filtering blue light. The mode is also customisable and you can adjust the intensity of the effect. Users also get the option to turn the notch off completely which is great for notch haters. All Huawei and Honor handsets with Full HD+ displays also give users the option to switch to a lower resolution which could help eke out more battery life and result in enhanced screen-on-time.
Huawei Nova 3 Display: How did it fare?
If you’ve read our article on the Honor 9N’s display, you already know that we carry out an extensive testing process to assess display performance. The Nova 3 fared marginally better than the Honor 9N in our display tests. Being an LCD panel, it does suffer from issues that are known to plague smartphone LCD panels. For example, turning up the brightness value beyond a reasonable level will ensure that the blacks no longer remain, well, black. This is more pronounced when you use the handset under dim or zero lighting.
Another noticeable aspect of the display on the Nova 3 was the fact that the Gamma values were off by a significant margin. Surprisingly, the phone fared well in our white saturation and banding tests. Like it’s cheaper sibling the 9N, the Nova 3 also had a hard time keeping up with our colour gradient tests and struggled with blue, red, and magenta swatches; which, if I may add, are difficult to render.
I also compared the Nova 3’s display with the OnePlus 6 that we had with us and the AMOLED panel on the OnePlus consistently ended up displaying more accurate colours. In an ideal world, with no competition, I would have rated the Nova 3’s display as ‘good enough’. However, the competition out there is stiff and both the Zenfone 5Z and the OnePlus 6 offer a better display experience.