The recently launched HUAWEI nova Y90 is brilliant in many aspects. But the lack of Google’s mobile service may deter some users who rely mostly on GMS for their daily tasks. Having said that, I am a hardcore GMS-based Android user but I find the new HUAWEI nova Y90 to be quite interesting, in a good way.
I have been using and testing out the new HUAWEI nova Y90 for just over 2 weeks now and I am currently using it as my main phone. Now this review is 100% based on my personal opinion while using the device. There are a few bumps along the way but like I said, I find it interesting in some ways. So don’t look away from HUAWEI just yet because HUAWEI’s Mobile Services (HMS) is starting to grow on me.
Hopefully my review will tell you why.
First Look and Initial Findings – HUAWEI nova Y90
For a start, I have reviewed a couple of HUAWEI phones like Mate 4 Pro and nova Y70 prior to this and both of them are based on HMS, not GMS. I find the lack of Google is annoying at times because I do rely on the big G’s services all the time. But I forced myself to fully try HMS on this HUAWEI nova Y90 and the results are totally different than what I was expecting.
Okay. First of all, I will go about the design. The new HUAWEI nova Y90 looks very similar to the Mate 4 Pro with a large circle at the back to house the triple camera module and an LED flash. It comes with a 50MP main shooter, a 2MP macro camera and another 2MP depth sensor camera. With this, the HUAWEI nova Y90 relies on the main 50MP shooter to do all the heavy lifting in photography. More on the camera later on.
The HUAWEI nova Y90 comes in 4 different colourways – Midnight Black, Pearl White, Emerald Green and Crystal Blue (the review unit). Colours are good in my opinion. I’m sure it will attract some younger generations to make the shift to HUAWEI.
It comes with a large 6.7” LCD FHD display with 2388×1080 screen resolution. To me, the display is large enough for me to do some reading comfortably and vibrant enough for entertainment use like watching movies and playing games. Viewing angles are okay in my opinion but if I raise the brightness to the max, viewing angle is great.
The punch hole 8MP selfie camera is located near the middle top area on the front display. I like it being in the middle as opposed to it being on either the left or right corner. The button placements are similar to the other nova Y series. On the right side, there’s the volume rocker and the power button below it that also doubles up as a fingerprint sensor. There’s nothing much on the left side while you can find the 3.5mm audio port at the top along with a mic hole.
At the bottom, there’s the SIM and SD card tray, USB-C port and the bottom firing speaker. There’s another mic here too. It is also a good thing that the back panel is not glossy, therefore it is not a fingerprint magnet. The frame surrounding the device is squared off instead of rounded. I like this design more because it is very much a 2022 type of design. That’s just my preference.
I do welcome the 3.5mm audio jack on the HUAWEI nova Y90 and for those who love gaming will love to have this. I do wish that the HUAWEI nova Y90 comes with dual stereo speakers since the earpiece near the top is large enough to accommodate a second speaker. I’m just sad it isn’t a stereo speaker setup.
The fingerprint sensor is located on the power button on the right side of the device. The response time is quite good and accuracy is on point. I don’t have to rescan my fingerprint because it succeeds on every first try. Unlocking the device is fast, just the way it is meant to be.
User Experience and Performance
The HUAWEI nova Y90 is equipped with Snapdragon 680 with GPU Turbo feature to bump up the graphic performance and supported by 8GB of RAM with 128GB of storage. I have tested and reviewed a few Snapdragon 680 based devices recently and this HUAWEI nova Y90 performed quite similarly. But thanks to the GPU Turbo feature, I do see some slight improvements in my gaming experience.
Now the HUAWEI nova Y90 is powered by EMUI 12 OS on the software side and is literally powered by a 5,000mAh battery. On full charge, it can last me for about 2 days, give or take. During my test, I can go a full day utilising about 40% battery which includes multitasking, video stream on YouTube, play some games and playing around with the camera. I’m not able to use the HUAWEI nova Y90 for my daily chat because WhatsApp needs to connect to Google services in order for me to download my messages from the server. But no problem with Telegram.
I know some of my usual readers here are hardcore fans of pure Android and GMS but rest assured that HUAWEI’s mobile services can and will work just as good. I for one was sceptical as well. I rely mostly on GMS to get my things done but after using a few HUAWEI devices, I find that I am okay without GMS and adjusting my daily apps to use HMS.
Just remember, if you need to use any GMS based app, you can use the web browser to access via the web version of the app. And if your favourite app is not available on HUAWEI App Gallery, you can always find it using a third party app installer or simply seek for the APK file.
Speaking of the HUAWEI App Gallery, there are already hundreds of thousands of apps available and are compatible with HMS. All the popular ones are already made available with thousands more to come. Soon you will not have to worry about unavailable apps for your phone.
Previously, my go-to game PUBG Mobile was not available on HUAWEI’s App Gallery but it is now downloadable from the app. Now it’s time to talk a little about gaming on the HUAWEI nova Y90. Since the device is equipped with a Snapdragon 680 and GPU Turbo feature, I do wonder if there are any improvements in rendering in-game graphics. Having said that, the HUAWEI nova Y90 scored 222573 points on Antutu 3D Benchmark.
PUBG Mobile runs smoothly on other devices with the same SoC. On the HUAWEI nova Y90 however, it feels just a little sluggish during the beginning. But when everything has been loaded up, it feels smoother and responsive. Having said that, I am not able to select it to use the highest graphics settings. Only up to 30fps and normal high quality instead of HD. However, the gameplay is quite good.
No chicken dinner for me but I am quite happy with the overall gaming experience. Good thing it comes with a 3.5mm audio jack but on the downside, the HUAWEI nova Y90 doesn’t come with a stereo speaker despite having the potential to include that. And that will be a plus point for the nova Y series. It is usually one of the deciding criteria whenever I want to purchase a new phone.
Camera and Photography
The rear of the HUAWEI nova Y90 may look like its flagship sibling, Mate 40 Pro. But the HUAWEI nova Y90 is a mid range device, so between the three cameras on the rear, only one that is mainly used for every occasion. The 50MP main rear camera works great. It is good on hardware specs and just as good on the software post-processing side.
Main use of the HUAWEI nova Y90 is for the younger generations, whereby one of the main focus is for social media and content creations. Features like portrait mode and dual-view are mostly used for content creations.
As for the secondary camera, it comes with a macro camera instead of a wide angle camera or a telephoto camera. I would say this might be a miss out for the nova Y series. If only it comes with a dedicated wide angle camera or telephoto/portrait camera, that would’ve been a sweet deal. I’m just suggesting, not complaining.
Night photography is a hit and miss for me. At times, I can get a good clear shot of my subject but other times I can get blurry shots even when I stand still while taking the shot. Best option is to put the phone on a tripod and give it a go. Photos taken during daytime and outdoors are great. I get punchy colours and sharp details. I don’t have much to complain about the outdoor daytime photos. Indoors and low light photos are good too but some blurriness can be seen near the edges.
As for the macro camera shots, it’s not so bad but it’s not that great either. Colours are a little washed out with lower saturation but it’s pretty clear with good details if or when you manage to capture from a “sweet spot” distance. With this, I can forgive the lack of colour vibrancy.
Just have a look at the photo gallery below and tell me what you think of the camera performance and results in the comment section.
The HUAWEI nova Y90 is made for the younger people who love to create contents and share them to their social media accounts. Content creations are becoming more popular and therefore, they need a good device for that purpose. And the HUAWEI nova Y90 delivers on the reliability and additional camera features.
As for performance and gaming, I don’t see any issues with it. Multitasking is good, thanks to the generous 8GB of RAM (which I think should be the norm) and gaming is just okay. Heavy graphical games like PUBG Mobile or Genshin Impact may lag a little bit but other games like Asphalt 8 are awesome. And yes, the downside as an entertainment device is the lack of stereo speakers.
Nevertheless, the HUAWEI nova Y90 is a great new addition to the Y series. It is a capable smartphone that will suit your daily needs and more. Battery life is great. You can go on at least 2 days on a single charge to keep you connected anywhere.
The new HUAWEI nova Y90 is now available for purchase. You can head over to HUAWEI’s official website to buy one right now. It is retailing for RM999.00