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Editor's Choice

Editor’s Choice: Huawei nova 11 Pro shines

It’s not merely the distinct colour that leaps out. The device is designed to dazzle, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

This week’s Editor’s Choice is a rare example of a mid-range device earning the prize. The accolade is given to products that represent a significant advance in technology, or a remarkable approach to innovation or user needs. The Huawei nova 10 Pro is Editor’s Choice for the next week, starting 31 August 2023, thanks to its combination of elegance and durability.

What is it?

It’s a smartphone that makes one want to hold it and even wave it about. With a textured “vegan leather” back, distinct emerald, green colour option and ultra-slim profile, it feels as cutting edge as handsets get.

It’s designed to dazzle.

That makes it all the more surprising that the Nova 11 Pro is a mid-range phone, although near the top end of that segment. 

A large 6.78-inch display sounds imposingly big, yet the screen feels compact due to its tall form factor, bezelless design, and 93.4% screen-to-body ratio. The result is that it feels smaller than the Huawei flagship, the P60 Pro, despite a bigger screen. It is also thinner and lighter, at just 6.88 mm and 168g.

A 120 Hz OLED Curved Display features what Huawei says is a “66° golden bending angle”. To me, it means a comfortable grip and a satisfying user experience. For the first time in the Nova series, it has a customised Kunlun Glass screen, giving it 10 times the drop resistance of its predecessor. I couldn’t bring myself to test that capability on such an elegant device.

The true stand-out feature is the front or selfie camera array. It features two lenses: a 60 MP Ultra Portrait lens with a 100-degree ultra-wide-angle, and a 1/2.61-inch sensor that supports 4K resolution; and an 8 MP Close-up Portrait lens offering 2x optical zoom and up to 5x digital zoom. Huawei’s Multi-Vision Photography software allows it to optimised for group photos, textured portraits, and makeup close-ups.

The back features an Orbit Ring array, which adds to the aesthetics of the green vegan leather, as well as echoing the look of a conventional camera. What lurks inside the array is less impressive than on the front, but still makes its mark. A 50 MP Ultra vision camera, described as “the best performing rear camera of the nova family”, is paired with an 8 MP ultra-wide macro camera, and a Laser Focus sensor that supports autofocus. An RYYB (red, yellow, yellow, and blue) colour filter array promises to increase the amount of light entering the camera by 40% compared with traditional RGB (red, green, and blue) filters, improving sensitivity to light and shooting in low light.

A 10-channel colour temperature sensor promises vivid and accurately restored colours. We couldn’t test that accurately, but the new XD Portrait function came into its own, enhancing low-light portraits and capturing richer detail under poor lighting. It lived up to its promise of retaining natural skin texture and tone.

The second true stand-out nova 11 pro comes down to what comes out of the box: A Huawei 100W SuperCharge Turbo charging brick, as a standard accessory. It charges the device to 60% in 10 minutes, and fully charges it in 20 minutes. Low battery anxiety truly is a thing of the past.

What does it cost?

Available from the Huawei online store or any operator from R799 a month for 24 months. Full price is R16,999, but the Huawei store is currently offering vouchers for a R1699 discount, along with a free Huawei Band 8 with a retail value of R1499.

Why does it matter?

It is rare to see such high elegance combining with such high durability. The Kunlun Glass, says Huawei, “improves the robustness of the glass through enhanced injection of composite ions, generating hundreds of millions of nanometer crystals”. The Kunlun Glass is the first to receive a five-star glass drop resistance certification from Switzerland’s SGS.

What are the biggest negatives?

  • Limited rear camera array, but that is balanced by one of the most powerful front camera systems on a smartphone.
  • The striking green vegan leather would be wasted if one used a full phone cover. That’s a good reason for having a Kunlun Glass screen. 
  • Does not support 5G.

What are the biggest positives?

  • Great device for vlogging, with a wide array of video capture options. Market-leading dual selfie camera.
  • Exceptional fast-charging, with the 100W Supercharge brick in the box.
  • Did we mention this is one of the most elegant smartphones on the market? Well, it is.

* Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Follow him on Twitter and Instagram on @art2gee

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