A unique hardware combination that is as cool as it is expensive

A unique hardware combination that is as cool as it is expensive

The Huawei Nova series is an interesting series from the Chinese company primarily aimed at younger people, and comes in at a more affordable price tag. It usually packs some flagship-level features but downgrades on some others, and the Huawei Nova 10 Pro sticks to that philosophy with a little extra bling.

For what it’s worth, this is the same old Huawei situation as it has been with every other device before it. You don’t get the Play Store, you get AppGallery, and all the same difficulties you may have had with AppGallery in the past continue to apply here. That’s not to say there aren’t improvements – in fact, AppGallery is starting to work for me as a pretty decent alternative. But for most, it’s still not at the level it’s worth switching to yet. It works pretty well for most things, but it’s not perfect and I still find myself struggling with certain tasks quite often.

I like the Nova 10 Pro as a smartphone, but as usual the software situation can be difficult to overcome at times, especially with the price.

    Huawei Nova 10 Pro

    The Huawei Nova 10 Pro is a stylish upper mid-range smartphone from Huawei that packs some pretty cool photography tech.

Huawei Nova 10 Pro screen

Huawei Nova 10 Pro: Specifications

Huawei Nova 10 Pro
processor Snapdragon 778G 4G
Weights and Measures
  • 164.2mm x 74.5mm x 7.9mm
  • 191 g
  • 6.78 inch OLED 1200×2652
  • 1.07 billion colors, HDR10
  • 120 Hz
  • 50 MP f/1.8 PDAF
  • 8 MP ultra-wide, f/2.2, 112 degrees
  • 2 MP depth sensor
  • 60 MP front-facing camera 100 degrees
  • 8 MP 2x telephoto front
Memory 8GB RAM, 128GB/256GB
Battery 4500 mAh
Network Only LTE, 4G
Sensors On-screen optical fingerprint sensor, Accelerometer, Barometer, Gyro sensor, Geomagnetic sensor, Hall sensor (analog), Proximity sensor, Light sensor
Gates USB-C 2.0
Olympics Android 12 with EMUI 12
Colors Black, silver, green, violet
Price Starting at €699

About this review: I received the Nova 10 Pro for review from Huawei on my recent trip to IFA in Berlin. While the company sponsored my travel to attend the event along with other media persons, it had no input into the content of this review.


The front of the Huawei Nova 10 Pro, showing the home screen

The Huawei Nova 10 Pro’s design is pretty, even if it’s a bit over-the-top. The front of the phone is quite nice, with a large 6.78-inch 120Hz AMOLED display. There’s a pill-shaped cutout for the camera on the top left, and it houses two front-facing cameras. It’s not for face unlock though – one of them is a 60MP front-facing camera for selfies that supports up to a 100-degree field of view, and the other is a 2x telephoto.

On the flip side, however, is where things really get bling. The camera module is surrounded by a gold ring, and the primary sensor in the center of the camera island is also surrounded by gold. The back of the phone has a slightly textured metal of some sort, with the company’s nova logo emblazoned at the bottom… also in gold. It looks good for the most part, but I find the camera module a bit sticky.

Huawei Nova 10 Pro

It’s a “youthful” design I guess, which is obviously what Huawei has gone for here. It feels premium in the hand and I don’t have much to criticize except how over the top it all is. If it weren’t for the crazy gold rings, I think this would be one of my favorite designs in a budget phone released this year. The accompanying case do cover the gold pretty much so you can only use it if you want.

There are dual speakers on the top and bottom, pretty decent haptics, and the screen is curved. There is also an optical fingerprint sensor under the screen at the bottom. All of these add to the premium feel of the phone, especially as curved displays (except for practicality) are usually only reserved for flagship smartphones. We’ve seen more and more mid-range options come with one, but the whole job of the Huwaei Nova 10 Pro is to appear as flagship-like as possible.

Huawei Nova 10 Pro: Camera

To be fair to Huawei, the company hasn’t really lost its touch when it comes to cameras. The Nova 10 Pro has a pretty good camera system in tow. However, some of the most powerful camera hardware here goes to the front-facing camera system, with a 60MP ultra-wide. It’s a pretty high quality sensor that looks great and I think it makes sense for the target market this device is aimed at.

Another feature that is also pretty cool is the front camera’s 2x telephoto. Have you ever seen a video on a social media platform where it shows the user zooming in on something behind them? It is exact what it is for. It’s not exactly my cup of tea, but it makes perfect sense to include it in a phone aimed at younger people. The quality isn’t bad either, and the width of the ultra-wide is great for fitting a lot of people into a single shot. The selfies below are compressed, but you can find the uncompressed versions in the Flickr album.

Finally, the cameras on the back are pretty good too. I especially noticed that they did well in low light and I got some pretty impressive shots when I was out on a night ride. Oddly, I encountered something odd when taking photos during the day in the sky, but I imagine these can be ironed out over time. You can view uncompressed photos in the Flickr album embedded below.

Huawei Nova 10 Pro

Huawei Nova 10 Pro: EMUI

Huawei Nova 10 Pro comes pre-loaded with EMUI 12 based on Android 12. There are no Google Play services as you already know, so you have to use Huawei’s own AppGallery to get applications. As time goes on, it will surely get better. There are region-specific applications in the store, and more and more apps are added every day. Some Irish and German banks are still not available on it, but it’s certainly a better situation than it used to be.

Unfortunately, for most, it is still difficult to recommend a Huawei phone, despite all the efforts and progress on it. It will get there, and I will finally understand where the company is coming from in the HSE work, but it is simply not far enough anyone can use a Huawei phone. There are budget options out there that will do much of what Huawei can do, but with Google Play Services in tow making it as easy as ever to switch and get all your favorite apps. However, I think Curve Pay helps bridge some gaps as it was a big reason I couldn’t switch earlier.

The problem is that switching to a Huawei phone is switching to a whole new ecosystem. Similarly, a user can switch from Android to iPhone, for the sake of argument, a user can switch from “Android” (as we know it) to Huawei’s EMUI. Everything is Android, but the jump to EMUI is a much bigger leap and requires getting to know a whole new ecosystem with its own quirks. When you switch to an iPhone, you won’t have access to all your apps either, but there are plenty of options in the App Store.

However, it wanted works if it wasn’t the case that not all important apps are on AppGallery. If my banking apps were on AppGallery, if I could consistently use my phone to pay in stores, and if I could easily get my emails on my phone, then I’d be interested. But none of that is the case, and installing another email app like Blue Mail (which Huawei recommends) isn’t a perfect replacement for Gmail either. I’ve also found that sometimes AppGallery Search/Petal Search is terrible and I have to go to my browser to search for an app there instead. A good example of this that I encountered was 3DMark.

I now understand what Huawei is going for, and that is the creation of a hero different ecosystem. It’s not Android (well, it is, but it’s not the same ecosystem), and it’s obviously not Apple either. Huawei wants to become a third player. It’s getting there, but until the kinks are ironed out, it’s hard to justify a switch for most people so far. However, I think a third player in the room is good competition and as they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Maybe it’s not good yet, but who knows what the future may hold for AppGallery.

One thing I want to say is this: why earth is there a splash screen ad when i open AppGallery?

Huawei Nova 10 Pro: Performance

The Huawei Nova 10 Pro packs a 4G version of the Snapdragon 778G, and it’s quite a performer. In normal use you won’t notice any issues whatsoever and it will handle pretty much anything you can throw at it. The only lag I’ve experienced using this device has been in the camera viewfinder when taking photos and switching apps, but that’s rare and temporary.

However, as is the case with this chipset, it packs a rather underpowered GPU. You won’t be gaming on this phone, as the Adreno 642L trails a lot of the competition and won’t survive through a lot of gaming. When I tested this chipset in the Honor 70, it struggled to achieve stable framerates in Genshin Impact on the lowest settings. If you want a phone for gaming then this phone should be avoided unless you are a casual gamer. You will be able to play games like PUBG, Duty callsor temple racebut you need to dial back the graphics settings a bit.

Nevertheless, you will not have any problems using the phone in normal use. Surfing the internet, texting friends, taking pictures, everything will work pretty much without a hitch. This is a great chipset for people who just use their phones normally without anything super intensive.

Charging and battery life

Another main feature of the Huawei Nova 10 Pro is the charging speed. When you pack a 100W charger in the box, it takes 20 minutes to charge this phone from 0% to 100%. For the target market, a fast charging speed like this makes sense as it is aimed at people who are on the go and may need to charge their phones in short bursts at a time.

On top of that, Huawei’s own EMUI software is pretty good with battery life, and so is the chipset. This phone’s battery was decent during the couple of days I used it as a daily driver, able to get me through a day. However, it was far from my normal usage situation that I would have on other phones, as I couldn’t use all my apps. As a result, your mileage will definitely vary.

Should you buy the Huawei Nova 10 Pro?

Huawei Nova 10 Pro front-facing camera zoom

The Huawei Nova 10 Pro suffers from the same problems as every Huawei device before it over the last two years, and that’s that it’s hard to recommend to just about everyone. I reviewed the Huawei P50 Pro earlier this year and absolutely loved it, and I really get a feel for what the company is doing when it comes to AppGallery. Despite all of this, it is currently extremely difficult for me to switch to full time. It doesn’t have everything I need, and even if it gets there, it’s not there now.

In other words, until it gets there, it’s hard to recommend it. The cameras are excellent, but between the price of this device (€699 is pretty expensive for what’s on offer here) and the difficulty someone might have as an average consumer, I don’t quite know how to recommend this phone. If Revolut was your main bank and you didn’t care about getting email alerts always on time, maybe this phone would be an easier sell. However, for now it is not. As much as I would like it.

    Huawei Nova 10 Pro

    The Huawei Nova 10 Pro is a stylish upper mid-range smartphone from Huawei that packs some pretty cool photography tech.

For what it’s worth, this phone is a good sign that Huawei is really listening and things are moving forward. AppGallery is improving day by day, and with localized approaches to each application service (there are Irish versions of apps on AppGallery, which is pretty impressive to me), it’s starting to reach a point where I think I can recommend it. That day isn’t here yet, but at least a viable competitor in the space is always good for consumers. This is also a unique enough phone in the features it’s put together that I think Huawei is starting to figure out that to thrive it needs to find a niche that works. This could well be the start.

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