The Huawei nova 9 SE is the latest smartphone from the company to launch in Kenya. The nova 9 SE is currently available on pre-order in Kenya for Ksh 40,000. At this price, this phone should be competing with the OPPO Reno 7, and Samsung Galaxy A53 among others. Both these are really good phones and the nova 9 SE joins the list of smartphones within this price range that you may be looking at if you are looking for a new smartphone.
The Huawei nova 9 SE is the smaller brother to the more premium nova 9 smartphone that launched in the country earlier in the year. The nova 9 is available for a little bit more retailing at Ksh 66,000.
With the nova 9 SE launching in Kenya in a few days, I have a review unit and I will be sharing my thoughts on it then, Before that, I will first be unboxing it in this post and share my first impressions on it if you are planning to buy this phone.
Before we get to the unboxing, let us first highlight some of the phone’s key specifications.
Display: 6.78-inch display with 90Hz refresh rate.
Processor: Snapdragon 680 chipset.
GPU: Adreno 610 GPU.
RAM: 8GB RAM.
Storage: 128/256 GB storage.
Rear camera: 108 MP + 8MP + 2MP + 2MP.
Front camera: 16MP.
Battery: 4000mAh battery with 33W charging support.
Software: Android 11 with EMUI 12.0.1
As you can see from the specifications, the nova 9 SE is no slouch, it does come with some decently good specifications that make it a good choice for anyone.
Huawei nova 9 SE Unboxing
Unboxing the nova 9 SE, this is what you should expect to get in the box.
- Nova 9 SE
- USB Cable
- Wall Adapter supporting 66W fast charging
- Silicone Case
- User guide and warranty information.
Huawei nova 9 SE First Impressions
The Huawei nova 9 SE is a well-built smartphone, it feels good to hold and the shiny back cover gives it quite a unique touch. I got the Crystal Blue variant that looks good. This phone will get everyone’s attention when you have it on the table. It just looks premium and you won’t be mistaken for thinking it costs more than it actually does. The back of this phone is a fingerprint magnet so the free transparent back cover will come in handy. I like how the phone looks and feels without the back cover so I will not be using the back cover that often.
The back camera is very visible with the round styling that we have come to expect from Huawei smartphones. It is the only thing that you see on the back of the phone and it houses the 108MP main sensor, 8MP ultrawide sensor, 2MP macro sensor and another 2MP depth sensor. The camera module stands out and it looks quite good with the blue colour on the back of the phone. The Huawei nova branding is at the lower part of the phone.
The speaker grille is at the bottom of the phone with the USB Type-C port and microphone next to it. The sound quality you get from these speakers is good but they lack the deep bass that I have experienced on even cheaper Huawei smartphones before. I am also disappointed that we are not getting stereo speakers on a phone that costs this much.
The power and volume keys are on the right of the phone with the fingerprint sensor embedded underneath the power button. The fingerprint sensor is very responsive and easy to reach when holding the phone with one hand.
The display is one of the things you will love with the Huawei nova 9 SE. It comes with a 6.78 inch IPS LCD display with very sharp colours. This is one of the best IPS LCD displays I have used recently. It offers excellent colour reproduction and is responsive to touch. This display has a 90Hz refresh rate for smooth scrolling. The thin bezels of this phone make this display stand out and gives it the design language we see on more premium devices. I am really impressed with how thin these bezels are and they make the whole experience much better to be honest.
Powering this phone is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 680 processor that we have seen on most of the recent mid range smartphones that have launched in Kenya the last few weeks. This processor is powerful for day to day use and can even handle a few demanding tasks with no issues. I will be testing it out extensively and sharing my thoughts on it in the full review that will be out in a few days.
A 4,000 mAh battery provides all the power and this can easily last you an entire day. Huawei has always had long lasting batteries and the nova 9 SE is not any different. I have not had any issues getting this phone to last me an entire day and even have more than enough power left by the time I went to bed. This phone also supports 66W fast charging that should fully charge the phone in less than 45 minutes.
No Google Services
The elephant in the room has to be the lack of Google services on Huawei phones. We are so used to Google services on Android smartphones that we can’t ignore this aspect. Huawei has tried to use its own Huawei Mobile Services instead that get some things done. It has replaced Google Play Store with Huawei App Gallery where you can find some of the apps you love. Most of the popular local apps such as Showmax, Bolt, banking apps, Safaricom apps etc are available on the App Gallery. They do work excellently once you download then so there is no issue there.
For apps you cannot get on the App Gallery, you can download them through platforms such as APKPure where you can download and install any Android application that is available on the Google Play Store. The apps you download on ApkPure work as you’d expect without any issues.
Most of the Google apps (YouTube, Gmail etc) can be downloaded but you will not get them to work well here since Google services are missing on this phone. There are workarounds for services such as YouTube as you can use YouTube vanced which works with no issues on the review phone that I have. Just make sure you install an older version of YouTube vanced if you decide to use it.
For services like Gmail and Google Maps, you can access them via the browser and they will work well but the experience will not be as good as having the app. Huawei has alternatives for all these Google apps including Petal Maps to replace Google Maps, Petal Seearch to replace Google search etc. I will highlight more on these in the full review once I have used the phone a bit longer.