Review: Huawei nova 9 SE

By Sylvester Sy
13 Min Read
Huawei Nova 9 SE 01

Huawei Philippines has recently launched its newest nova 9 SE, with SE for “Special Edition”, a slightly lowered version of the Huawei Nova 9 that was launched last year. The device is equipped with a 6.78-inch 2.5D curved TFT LCD (IPS) screen w/ 90Hz refresh rate, 2.4GHz 6nm Snapdragon 680 octa-core processor, 108-megapixel AI quad rear camera setup, 16-megapixel selfie camera, and a 4,000mAh battery with 66W fast charging.

We’re fortunate enough to get our hands on an early unit of the Huawei nova 9 SE in Crystal Blue variant that is uniquely coated with dual-film dual-plating plus a nano-texture technology to give it a beautiful and dazzling finish. Here is our unboxing and initial impressions of Huawei’s latest camera-centric smartphone.

What makes it a ‘Special Edition’?

Huawei released the vanilla and Pro versions of the Nova 9 last year, with a handful of premium features, larger storage options, a more capable selfie camera, and a faster Snapdragon 778G 4G processor. But what makes the Nova 9 SE deserving of a special edition?

Aside from being significantly less expensive, it provides flagship features without breaking the bank. In fact, the SE model sports a larger camera module with 108 MP (compared to 50MP on the Nova 9 and Nova 9 Pro) and expandable storage.This means you can make better use of the Nova 9 SE’s 108MP high-res photography, which demands more storage space.

The absence of an OLED screen on the Nova 9 SE was replaced by a reasonably good LCD with a refresh rate of 90hz, which should be enough for day-to-day use. It also cuts down on battery use. It also offers the same charging speed of 66W, which is also present in its pricier siblings.


The Huawei Nova 9 SE arrived with the familiar white box with the model name and nova branding. I also noticed the AppGallery icon on the lower portion of the box. This means that Huawei is actively promoting its own app store as a replacement for Google Play.

Huawei Nova 9 SE - Unboxing
What’s Inside the Box

The Huawei Nova 9 SE handset is included in the box, as well as a FREE clear TPU flexible case, a 66W Huawei SuperCharge wall charger, a USB-A to USB-C power cable, paper documentation, and the SIM ejector tool.

Honestly, it’s really nice to see that Huawei still includes a charger and a silicone case inside the box when most brands nowadays no longer have these accessories out of the box. However, it is unfortunate that Huawei did not include earphones.

Huawei Nova 9 SE

Build Quality/Design

The Huawei Nova 9 SE has a minimalist design with rounded sides and a flat display blasted with a radiant, sparkling effect on the backplate. The backplate of our Nova 9 SE review sample, which is Crystal Blue, features a mirrored blue finish with dazzling highlights when the phone is shifted around.

With a 1.05mm ultra-narrow bezel and a 7.49mm ultra-thin design, the phone is tall and slim. It’s also very light, at only 175 grams.

The Nova 9 SE comes with a 6.57-inch curved OLED display with a resolution of 2340 x 1080, a 3D glass rear cover, and a punch-hole camera.

Despite the absence of an OLED display in the vanilla edition, the Nova 9 SE’s LCD display is incredibly clear and detailed, making it ideal for watching HD films on the phone. In fact, the lack of an OLED display on the screen gave photos a more realistic appearance when taken.

If you want to listen to music, the phone has a USB Type-C port on the bottom but no 3.5 mm socket, so you’ll need to buy a headphone jack adapter, which is not included in the box, or else you’ll need to invest in a pair of wireless earbuds.

Huawei Nova 9 SE - hybrid dual SIM tray
hybrid dual SIM tray

On the top of this device, you will find the secondary microphone as well as the hybrid dual-SIM tray. We also noticed that it has a red rubber ring around it to provide some sort of water resistance.

Huawei Nova 9 SE - fingerprint scanner
volume rocker and the power button

On the right side is where the volume rocker and the power button that also doubles as a fingerprint scanner are located.

Huawei Nova 9 SE - USB Type-C port
speaker grille, a USB Type-C port, and a microphone.

The bottom part of the phone has a speaker grille, a USB Type-C port, and a microphone.


The new HUAWEI Nova 9 SE is equipped with a 108MP AI Quad Camera system comprising a 108-megapixel primary camera with an f/1.9 aperture, an 8-megapixel ultra-wide-angle lens with an f/2.2 aperture, a 2-megapixel depth camera, and a 2-megapixel macro lens with an f/2.4 aperture for each.

Huawei Nova 9 SE -108MP AI Quad Camera system comprising a 108-megapixel primary camera with an f/1.9 aperture, an 8-megapixel ultra-wide-angle lens with a f/2.2 aperture, a 2-megapixel depth camera, and a 2-megapixel a macro lens with f/2.4 aperture
108-megapixel primary camera with an f/1.9 aperture, an 8-megapixel ultra-wide-angle lens with a f/2.2 aperture, a 2-megapixel depth camera, and a 2-megapixel a macro lens with f/2.4 aperture

Huawei boasts that the Nova 9 SE’s Super Nightscapes feature can handle low-light photography without a tripod. Despite the lack of OIS, the phone delivered on its promise; just make sure your hands aren’t too shaken. 

Videos can be recorded in four different resolutions: 4k, 1080p, and 720p. The Dual-View video feature lets you record a video using the rear camera and selfie camera at the same time! which is perfect for creating vlogs that give you a unique perspective. This function is best for content creation, such as vlogs or tiktok videos, because it allows you to easily capture two perspectives. Alternatively, you can also use the Dual-View to simultaneously shoot a close-up and a wide-angle photo.

The Nova 9 SE has a 16-megapixel punch-hole selfie camera with an aperture of f/2.0. In normal daylight shots, it produces a decent amount of detail and high contrast. In low light, the camera pulled out decent colors. Saturation is acceptable, though image noise is more visible.

Huawei Nova 9 SE

Overall, the Nova 9 SE’s camera performance is above-average considering its low price tag. 

Here are some sample photos using Nova 9 SE:


The Huawei Nova 9 SE is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 680 chipset with 6nm lithography and an Adreno 610 GPU, as well as 8GB of RAM and 128GB of expandable storage. According to Huawei, the device also has a graphene heat dissipation system that helps cool down overheated parts more quickly.

For software, the device is running on the latest EMUI 12. It also features HMS and Huawei AppGallery. The OS itself is snappy and responsive.

Huawei Nova 9 SE

Aside from EMUI, the Huawei Nova 9 is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 680, a 6nm octa-core 4G CPU. While 5G isn’t required, it’s strange to see a handset in this price bracket without it, especially when similar-priced phones such as the POCO X3 GT 5G, Samsung Galaxy A32 5G, and OnePlus Nord N10 5G do.

The phone has 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, which should be plenty for the majority of users.

Huawei Nova 9 SE

I found that the phone performed well, with apps launching swiftly and no problems with gaming, which was aided by the phone’s quick refresh and touch sampling rates.

When it comes to mobile games, playing games like Call of Duty or Mobile Legends: Bang Bang ran at the highest graphic settings and ran smoothly, and I did not experience any issues. To be honest, I’ve been using this phone for more than a week now, playing Call of Duty, and I’ve enjoyed the experience so far.

Huawei nova 9 SE-AnTuTu-Benchmark

Huawei nova 9 SE scores 222527 on AnTuTu Benchmark, not bad for a mid range device.


The Huawei Nova 9 SE is equipped with a 4,000 mAh battery that could last you one full day with moderate usage. If by any chance you need to recharge the battery, you can replenish the battery fast with its 66W Super Charge adapter, which is capable of refueling the battery from 0% to 100% within 47 minutes during our test.

Huawei nova 9 SE-PCMark-Work-3.0-battery-life
PCMark score battery life


  • It has a gorgeous design
  • Excellent camera performance for a mid-range device
  • Super fast charging


  • no 5G


The Nova 9 SE has a super 108-megapixel camera that will help you with your photography. It also features an iridescent finish that gives it a high-end look while remaining extremely inexpensive. The Dual-View option is another fascinating feature that is extremely relevant to today’s content developers.

Huawei Nova 9 SE

We also noticed that the graphene cooling system managed to help reduce the temperature of the device. However, I think the camera could still be improved especially for the ultra-wide mode during low light conditions.

Huawei nova 9 SE Specs

Display: 6.78-inch 2.5D curved TFT LCD (IPS) screen w/ 90Hz refresh rate, 270Hz touch sampling rate, FHD+ 2388 x 1080 resolution at 387 ppi
CPU: 2.4GHz 6nm Snapdragon 680 octa-core processor
GPU: Adreno 610
ROM: 128GB
Back Camera: 108 MP f/1.9 w/ Phase focus, contrast focus + 8MP f/2.2 112-degree ultra-wide-angle + 2MP f/2.4 4cm macro + LED flash
Selfie Camera: 16MP f/2.2
Battery: 4,000mAh w/ 66W SuperCharge
Connectivity: WiFi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac (2.4GHz/5GHz), 4G LTE, Bluetooth 5.0, GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou, Galileo, QZSS, dual SIM
Sensors: Accelerometer, light, orientation, proximity, gyroscope, sound, magnetic, pressure
Others: Side-mounted fingerprint sensor, graphene heat dissipation system, USB-C, Colors: Crystal Blue, Pearl White, Midnight Black
Dimensions: 164.64 x 75.55 x 7.94 mm
Weight: 191 g
Price: PHP 13,999

Price and availability

The new Huawei nova 9 SE is now available in the Philippines in all Huawei stores, kiosks and partner mobile stores nationwide for PhP 13,999.

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