The Huawei Nova 11 Pro is a high-end premium smartphone that stands out thanks to its large camera setup and “fashion bag” exterior.
Huawei has been pulling off these strange design aesthetics for a while now and it is unlike anything you’ll find on other brands. The back is made of imitation leather that comes in different colours including black or bright green. It is, of course, designed to look like a designer label accessory. Something you’ll see if you walk around with a Louis Vuitton handbag.
Even though the leather is obviously fake, the phone doesn’t lose its premium feel. It has a striking display that wraps across both edges of the device and it is protected by Kunlun Glass which the company says is incredibly scratch-resistant.
In terms of specs, it is on par with other phones you’ll find in its price range. It doesn’t include a MicroSD slot but comes with 256GB of storage. The display 6.7-inch display packs a resolution of 2652 x 1200, and a refresh rate of 120Hz and the entire phone weighs only 188g.
Other features here include Wi-Fi 6, no 5G support and it all runs on Huawei’s EMUI 13 operating system. We know Huawei has been trying to build its ecosystem for some time now since the sanctions between Google and China got in the way of Android support, so we’ll have to see how easy the phone is to use in a bit.
Huawei Nova 11 Pro Tech Specs
- Display: 6,78″ OLED (1 billion colours), resolution: 2652×1200, refresh rate: 120 Hz
- Processor and OS: Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G (1 core, 2.4 GHz, A78 + 3 cores, 2.2 GHz, A78 + 4 cores, 1.8 GHz, A55), EMUI 13 (Android 12)
- Memory: 8 GB RW / 256 GB PW
- Battery: 4500 mAh; 100W fast charge, 0% to 100% in 30 minutes
- Main camera:
- 50 megapixels, f/1.9, (wide-angle), PDAF, laser autofocus
- 8MP (f/2.2) ultra-wide 112° lens
- 4K@30fps, 1080p@60fps, 720p@960fps, gyro-EIS
- Front camera:
- 60 megapixels (f/2.4) with 100° aperture, 17 mm, autofocus
- 8 megapixels (f/2.2), 52 mm, autofocus
- Connectivity: Dual-SIM, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/a/6, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth 5.2, A2DP, LE, NFC, GPS (L1+L5), GLONASS (L1), BDS (B1I+B1c+B2a), GALILEO (E1+E5a), QZSS (L1+L5), NavIC
- Dimensions, weight: 165.0 × 75.0 × 7.9 mm, 188 g
- Optional: under-screen fingerprint scanner, available colours: black, green.
Huawei Nova 11 Pro Design
For the most part, the phone is quite stylish. The green colour might not be for everyone but I kind of enjoyed the embossed fake leather exterior. The large camera bump does cause the device to wobbly substantially when flat on the table. Huawei does include a clear cover in the Huawei Nova 11 Pro box which helps a little bit here but not a lot.
There are holes all over the place on the Huawei Nova 11 Pro. At the top, there are three holes for the top speaker and a microphone hole. At the bottom, there are another six holes for the bottom speaker, a microphone hole and a SIM card slot with another removal tool hole.
On the right, you’ll find the volume rocker button and power button which doubles up as the Celia assistant trigger switch too. The display has one cutout on the top left-hand side where the dual front-facing camera is found. On the back, there’s the full main camera system including the striking 50MP sensor. There’s also a two-tone flash next to the setup.
There’s a lot happening on the Huawei Nova 11 Pro which isn’t visible to the naked eye. The display, which is a vibrant curved OLED panel, also houses the under-screen fingerprint scanner. Internally, the phone also includes BlueTooth 5.2, Dual-Sim support and, as mentioned before, Wi-Fi 6.
It also includes a 4500mAh battery that can be fast charged at up to 100W. This means it can go from 0 – 100% in just 30 minutes. That’s quite impressive. Huawei has also included the 100W charger in the box which is a rare thing to see nowadays.
I have to say that the Huawei Nova 11 Pro might be a large phone but it was comfortable to use. It wasn’t too heavy either. I am still not a fan of curved phone displays and never will be but getting around the device with one hand was simple enough. Even when I had to reach for the far corners and the curved edges.
Speaking of the display, you can also hide the camera cutouts on the front by bringing a black bar down to cover both the camera and the battery symbol. This isn’t anything new for Huawei but I just wanted to mention it given the fairly large dual-camera system on the front.
One of the major downsides I need to mention is the lack of an IP rating. The Huawei Nova 11 Pro isn’t water or dust-resistant at all which is quite shocking in today’s industry. Especially if you have used every flagship phone from literally every other brand in the past. It would be a tough thing to get used to knowing my phone wasn’t waterproof now.
Huawei Nova 11 Pro Performance
The Huawei Nova 11 Pro is a capable phone. It includes a Qualcomm SM7325 Snapdragon CPU making it able to whisk through any task.
Daily use saw the device survive a full day of normal social media browsing and an odd video here and there. I could increase this battery life by tweaking the display settings. First off, I could reduce the frame rate down to 60Hz either from a set 120Hz or the adaptive mode. I could also decrease the resolution from 1200×2652 to 800×1768.
Of course, these tweaks are instantly noticeable across the phone. The resolution changes how sharp it all looks and the frame rate affects how fluid the experience feels. But the display is incredible regardless. It is vibrant and bright. Everything looks amazing on it from watching videos to browsing the net. It is definitely the best part of the phone, in my opinion.
There’s even a whole always-on display feature and an entire app store section to choose from hundreds of different watch faces. It just adds further value to the phone.
In terms of the overall performance, I was impressed by how capable the CPU was. I ran a Geekbench test and got 3011.
I was also able to take advantage of the various multi-tasking features that come with EMUI 13. For example, one let me launch an application in a separate window and move it about to where I wanted it. I could also swing it to the edge of the display to hide. All this happens while you’re busy with other tasks.
Of course, this CPU can easily handle games too. I tested Asphalt 9 and the game ran smoothly even with the display on 120Hz and the resolution on max. I also made sure to max out the game’s graphics settings too.
It won’t be a Huawei review without talking about the elephant in the room. The lack of Google Mobile Services is definitely felt on this device as it does on every other model without it. However, Huawei has done everything possible to make the experience pain-free. The company recommends downloading GBox which is basically an Android emulator to run apps not available on AppGallery.
This was recommended as soon as I opened up the AppGallery. There are also alternate apps for everything you’ll use on a daily basis. You can, of course, just download an apk for an app and install it too. There’s always a way around this. The only issue I think Huawei faces is educating users on the freedom the device offers if they step out of the Android box.
Huawei Nova 11 Pro Camera
Then there’s the camera. The giant lens at the back isn’t there for looks. The main lens packs a 50MP wide sensor and an 8MP ultra-wide sensor. The front then includes an 8MP portrait sensor and a 60MP ultra-wide sensor. Why you would ever need a 60MP camera on the front of a phone is beyond me.
In terms of film, the front sensors are capable of 4K 30FPS and 1080P 30FPS. The main camera can then to 4K and 1080p at 30FPS as well as 720p and 960fps.
First off, the main lens is quite a capable camera. While its OIS doesn’t feel as reliable as my iPhone 14 Pro, shots were sharp and the general colour reproduction didn’t disappoint. The lens can take well-detailed photos.
One thing I was quite disappointed about was the lack of 16:9 photos on the unit. I looked everywhere and could not find the option. You can take “Full Screen” shota and “Square” but no 16:9.
While the Huawei Nova 11 Pro includes a dedicated 2MP macro camera, it is actually not great at all. Instead, the ultra-wide lens does a much better job at macro than the macro itself. This was quite funny to test out.
Lastly, the low-light photography on the device is also okay. There’s definitely a lot of computational work going on behind the scenes to improve low-light photos. As a result, everything looks a bit blurry and smudgy.
Huawei Nova 11 Pro Verdict
The Huawei Nova 11 Pro is definitely a very capable phone. I was impressed by the sheer camera quality from its 50MP lens. Considering this device costs only R15,999, the inclusion of this high-end camera lens makes the unit a tough competitor in its price range. Of course, you also need to look at things like Google Mobile Service, the lack of water proofing and other downsides at the same time. But if you’re team Huawei and you need a great camera that isn’t as expensive as the “Pro” range, definitely keep this one at the top of your list.
The Huawei Nova 11 Pro is now available in South Africa starting from R15,999. Find out more about the phone here.
Huawei Nova 11 Pro Review
The Huawei Nova 11 Pro main camera is its main selling point and it delivered beyond my expectations. While there are a few issues such as the lack of waterproofing and Google Mobile Services, if you’re team Huawei and need a new camera phone, this is definitely it. It also doesn’t cost as much as the Pro range.