Huawei Nova 5T Review: Compact, Powerful Midrange Marvel

Huawei Nova 5T

Huawei Nova 5THuawei recently launched the Huawei Nova 5T in Kenya in mid-January this year. The Huawei Nova 5T is the first of the Nova series to hit the Kenyan market and is also Huawei’s first device to be launched this year. The Huawei Nova 5T is an affordable mid-range smartphone that not only brings the looks but is also a very powerful phone with high-end specs and brings more value to you by what it costs.

But before you go ahead and buy it, what should you expect? We tell you in this full review after spending a couple of weeks with the phone.

Unboxing the Huawei Nova 5T

The Huawei Nova 5T comes with a retail box featuring the 22.5W fast charging power brick, a USB-C charging cable, USB-C earphones, SIM ejector tool, a transparent protective silicone back case for the phone and the usual set of user manuals is also in there.

Design and ergonomics

The Huawei Nova 5T feels compact to hold which comes in handy for people with small hands. The Huawei Nova 5T comes with thin bezels that curve on the edge of the phone. From the front, the phone features a 6.26” punch-hole display with a resolution of 2340 by 1080 pixels (412) ppi and fills pretty much all of it(the screen-to-body ratio is actually 84.4%).Huawei Nova 5T

On the top bezel is an earpiece grille almost too small to notice that also houses a tiny LED notification light which is very effective. A 32MP punch-hole selfie camera features on the top left and Huawei says that it is way smaller than other punch-hole cameras. It’s worth noting that there’s no headphone jack on top but a secondary microphone and a light sensor.

At the bottom is the main microphone, USB-C charging port and a speaker grill. On the left side is the slot for Nano-sized sim cards while on the right is the volume rocker, a power button that also functions as a fingerprint scanner just like we have seen on the Huawei Y9s.

The back is beautiful and made of glass where you’ll see the protruding camera module that hosts three cameras and an led flash. Next to it is the fourth camera. When struck with light from a certain angle, you get a 3d light effect giving the Huawei Nova 5T an attention-grabbing aesthetic.

For biometrics, the Huawei Nova 5T features a fingerprint sensor on the side embedded within the power button useful for both left and right-handed people and is accessible for unlocking the phone when it’s laid on the table. In my opinion, the side-mounted fingerprint scanner makes more sense as they’re ergonomically placed where your fingers naturally rest when holding the phone.Huawei Nova 5T Side fingerprint

It’s worth noting there’s also face unlock that’s relatively faster since the front-facing camera is right there where you need it which give sit an advantage over pop-up front cameras.Huawei Nova 5T Face unlock

Generally, the phone feels premium and easy to use onehanded as the sides and corners are rounded for easier grip. It is also easier to slip the phone into a pocket with no issue. The frame is metallic, cool to touch with a glossy finish that matches the glass panels.

The glossy back can be a bit on the slippery side and the case comes in handy. The phone comes in black and purple and blue colour variants.

Display and Multimedia

You’ll spend more time using the screen and the Huawei Nova 5T packs a gorgeous display. You get a 6.26” Full HD+ resolution screen that you can tweak to lower HD+ to save on battery plus Huawei’s smart resolution feature that automatically adjusts that for you.Huawei Nova 5T Display

The display is an IPS panel and gives natural colours with great viewing angles. For those who like tweaking with the display, you can choose between two colour modes: Normal and Vivid, depending on your preference.

The smaller bezels make the phone look and feel modern.

You’ll, however, find the punch hole a bit distracting when viewing multimedia content such as videos.

For audio, the single bottom blaring speaker is loud and crisp enough for streaming Netflix or YouTube. Its location is inconvenient as it can be easily covered when the phone is held in landscape mode.Huawei Nova 5T USB-C Port

It would’ve been great to include an AMOLED display.

All in all, the Huawei Nova 5T strikes a good balance with the display as it is still very bright with videos looking punchy and sharp.


The Huawei Nova 5T comes with Android 9 Pie and EMUI 9.1 out of the box. The user interface is relatively clean and uses multiple home screens. With EMUI 9.1, you get up to 59% faster app launch and up to 57% smoother UI operation.Huawei Nova 5T EMUI

It comes with very few bloatware apps. Google apps and services are available too(they come by default) – you get Google Play Store, Google Drive, Sheets, Docs, Duo, Google App, Google Photos, Google Sheets and Google Slides. There are apps like Hicare and themes app for customizing your phone too. Other pre-installed apps can be easily deleted.

For those wondering, The Huawei Nova 5T is a rebranded Honor 20 with changes internally and externally. The Honor 20 was released way before the Huawei Trade ban by the U.S. Government. This is why Google’s apps and services are available on the phone.

The Huawei Nova 5T is line to get Android 10 via EMUI 10 update so that should be exciting especially for features like system-wide dark mode. The Huawei Nova 5T rocks 128GB of onboard storage minus support for MicroSD card for external storage. However, the 116GB of usable storage will be sufficient enough for most people.

UPDATE: The Huawei Nova 5T has gotten Android 10 via EMUI 10 update in Kenya. More details here.

The themes app is rather fun as it offers plenty of settings to tweak around with.

To further enhance my experience, I installed a custom launcher and custom icon pack to fully personalize the phone.Huawei Nova 5T custom


The Huawei Nova 5T features 8GB of RAM and a Mali G76 MP10 – this is the same hardware that powers Huawei’s flagships, the Huawei P30 Pro and Mate 20 pro.

As expected, performance on the Huawei Nova 5T is exceptional, no matter what I threw at the phone it handled it without issue, from gaming thanks to the GPU Turbo 3.0 to light tasks such as browsing the web or scrolling through social media or replying to emails when you’re out and about.

GPU Turbo 3.0 lets games run in smoothly in 60fps, reduces processor power consumption by 10% and covers up to 25 most popular games.

You can play PubG or Asphalt 9 on this phone with their highest settings enabled without any lag. It can get warm especially in performance mode near the cameras but not to the point of causing any discomfort.

If you’re into doing heavy tasks, this is the phone to get.

Cameras and Photography

The Huawei Nova 5T is equipped with four AI-powered rear cameras that sit on a protruding lozenge. From the top is the 16MP sensor with an f/2.2 ultra-wide-angle lens, 48MP Sony IMX586 main sensor with an f/1.8 wide-angle lens, a 2MP f/2.4 depth-sensing camera and a 2MP sensor with an f/2.4 macro lens. 10X digital zoom is available too.Huawei Nova 5T Cameras

The Huawei Nova 5T is a versatile shooter with great camera quality especially in scenarios with bright light. Images come out sharp with vibrant colours and good contrast. However, the AI can be aggressive especially with HDR but if you have an editing app like Adobe Lightroom, you can edit the photos to your liking.

Low light performance is impressive too with HDR applied even without needing night mode enabled although you’ll tend to get noise on the photos. Night mode comes in handy as the AI image stabilization handles shakes to minimize blur.

For video recording, the nova 5t does 4K video at 30fps and you can easily shift from normal to ultra-wide to zoom in on shots. Video stabilization is excellent too.

For daylight shots, the ones taken by the Huawei Nova 5T look more impressive and natural – something that most people are going to love

Here are some samples:[Click to expand to full size]


Regular shots


Lowlight shots & Night mode shots

In conclusion, the Huawei Nova 5T takes great photos that look so lifelike and realistically when viewed in full size – the photos retain detail and colours even when without much light to work with – lowlight shots carry the same characteristics and qualities as daylight shots so you’ll love the consistency.

Connectivity and Battery life

The Huawei Nova 5T has dual sim support, 4G LTE, Bluetooth 5.0 and NFC. The Huawei Nova 5T features a decent 3,750mAh battery although it would have been nicer to bring a 4000mAh battery. The Huawei Nova 5T has support for Safaricom’s VoLTE.

The 3,750mAh battery is generous enough to keep the lights on throughout the whole day and another.

The screen on time is over 8 hours and with mixed usage, you can even get 9 to 10 hours.Huawei Nova 5T battery

Another good thing is that the phone supports Huawei’s 22.5W SuperCharge and you can get from 0 to 50% in under 30 minutes, to 80% in an hour and in an hour and half, full charge. So the days of leaving your phone overnight to charge are over with the Huawei Nova 5T.Huawei Nova 5T Supercharging


The Huawei Nova 5T has an attractive premium and solid design, plenty of storage, a high-quality screen, good cameras, excellent battery life and snappy performance making it a competent midrange phone to purchase as it offers more value for money.

Pricing and availabilityHuawei Experience Store

The Huawei Nova 5T retails for Ksh 41,999 which you can buy in Huawei’s official and branded retail shops countrywide including the recently opened Experience centre in Sarit centre in Nairobi.

Nairobi Airtel Sarit centre westlands store
Nairobi African Retail Traders Moi Avenue Store A and B
Nairobi Makarim Hilton Arcade store
Nairobi Dixons Kenyatta Avenue Store
Firi Communications
Nairobi Tricom Ronald Ngala store
Nairobi Photohive Moi venue store
Ropem cinema
Nairobi Smart Hub
M store
Nairobi Dixons Tom mboya
Click Electronic
3C Hub Moi Avenue
Trends Moi Avenue(Ropem)
Ideal Communication
Jamii telecommunications
Generations Embu
Winners Mobiles
Mobile Trends
Senford Computers
Neno world
Decent One
One to One Samrat
Mambo Communication kitui
Tinda Enterprise
Airtel partner shop
Generation Machakos
Image Connections
Militech Communications
Tricom Machakos
Thika Orchards Communications
Phone Matt LTD Thika
Pesa Point Thika
Mersons Communications thika
Dhaval 1
Ramzy Africa
Bemotech communications next to safaricom shop
Magical mobiles along Uganda road
Anand Rupa mall
Keromatt Kericho
Fone Fun Kisii
Star mobile
MombasaK tech solutions
RR Tecnology
New tech
Wireless Netzone
Snaap connection
Mt Kenya
Nyeri Decent one
Ideal Quality
Kerugoya Mercy Communication
MeruC&M Fastcom
BungomaBungoma mobiles
Vision gate
Davi Stationary
Airtel brighter brands
AL haqq
Jamia shop
3C Hub Nakuru

Huawei has also partnered with Lipa Later to offer affordable financing plans to purchase the Huawei Nova 5T and other Huawei devices and accessories.

Read our full comparison review between the Huawei Nova 5T  and the OPPO Reno 2F. Watch the video here.