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By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist

REVIEW: Huawei Nova 12i, a feature packed budget smartphone

The Nova 12i has the same processor found in last year’s Nova 11i, which sadly means no 5G.

There are two things that immediately strike you when looking at the new Huawei Nova 12i, the colour and the star Orbit Ring camera array.

Huawei Mobile South Africa launched the new mid-range Nova 12i and Nova 12 SE smartphones under its Nova series last week.

While the Nova 12i in green which I was sent to review strikes a shimmer and sparkler in the light, like a precious jewel which is very attractive, unfortunately it has a very plasticky feel to it because it’s made of plastic. That’s not bad considering, but I would have preferred a metal back which gives you that reassurance.

Huawei however does include a clear plastic case in the box which you can slip on and protect the device while still admiring the colour without the added worry of dropping and scratching the Nova 12i.

No 5G

The Chinese company also included a 40w charging brick in the box, that supports Huawei SuperCharge. This is a big bonus considering some of the other manufacturers have long since left chargers out of the box only including cables.

Specs wise, the Huawei Nova 12i has most of the bells and whistles and all the other jazz for a midrange smartphone that costs R7 000.

You don’t get the Google or Google Maps and the other suite of apps. But, this was not really an issue as the smartphone emulates Google Mobile Services from the GBox app.

The Nova 12i smartphone is equipped with 6.7 inch screen and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 680 processor with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. This is the same processor found in last year’s Nova 11i which sadly means no 5G. It also has a 90 Hz refresh rate.

With the currently online streaming services and content currently available in South Africa, having 5G would have been a tick in the right box. But I did not have an issue as EMUI 14,  the phone’s OS was enough to counter the lack of 5G.

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If you love photography like I do, the Nova 12i packs a 108MP main sensor, a 2MP depth sensor and 8MP front-facing camera which is a low considering the Gen Z’s desire to take crisp selfies to share with their chommas on Insta.

The Nova 12i brings in AI snapshots in its arsenal of camera features which also include mid-motion clarity and the night shot photography. With AI all the rage at the moment, tinkling with it to enhance photos takes photography to a new level.

If you want a higher resolution camera, the 12 SE features a 32MP selfie cam, an 8MP ultrawide, and a 2MP macro sensor, but  it will cost you up to R1 500 more and that means deeper pockets.


When it comes to the design of the Huawei Nova 12i, style are top priorities and while it may feel slightly bulkier due to its larger 6.7-inch display and 5 000 mAh battery, its ergonomic design and rounded edges ensure a comfortable grip for extended use.

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