399 (£TBC) • consumer.huawei.com/en
Huawei has gone from strength to strength in the UK, with recent releases including the flagship Huawei P9 proving popular in Britain, but it isn’t done yet. Announced at IFA 2016 in Berlin, it launched a new range of smartphones to take on the mid-range market, the Huawei Nova and Huawei Nova Plus (see page 54).
The Huawei Nova, along with the Nova Plus are both marketed as being mid-range smartphones. UK users will be able to pick up a Nova for €399 when it’s released in Europe in the autumn.
Huawei’s brand new Nova isn’t to be sniffed at – sporting 2.5D glass and a curvy body, the Nova doesn’t look or feel like a mid-range smartphone. This isn’t news though, as Huawei is famous for offering users a premium design at a sub-premium price – think Huawei P9 and Mate 8. The 2.5D glass meets the smartphone’s aluminium unibody perfectly, providing users with a completely seamless design that allows for smooth swipes from the edge of the display.
The Huawei Nova isn’t a large phone – in fact, the 7mm thick smartphone is similar in dimensions to Apple’s iPhone 6s despite the fact that the iPhone 6s features a 4.7in display while the Nova features a 5in display. How is this achieved? The Nova features incredibly thin bezels and as the smartphone features no physical buttons on the front of the device (true of many Huawei devices), the display can take up a larger portion of the front of the smartphone.
The Huawei Nova features a brushed metal finish on the side with a sandblasted finish on the rear, which provides users with a nice in-hand feel and adds to the premium design of the smartphone. On the sandblasted rear users may notice a circular fingerprint scanner similar to that featured on the recently announced Honor 8, and is a step away from the square-shaped reader featured on the Huawei P9, Mate 8 and even the Nova Plus.
The Nova is available to buy in Apple-esque shades of Silver, Grey and Gold.
What does this translate to in real life? During our time with the Huawei Nova, we felt that despite
having a large display it was easy to hold and use one-handed. This might have something to do with the curved edges of the smartphone, which allowed the Nova to sit comfortably and perfectly in our hands. It feels similar in the hand to the iPhone 6s despite having a larger display, which is a pat on the back for Huawei’s design team when considering the Nova is much cheaper than Apple’s current flagship.
So, what does Huawei’s mid-range smartphone offer users to tempt them away from the competition? Let’s start with the display – the crisp and vibrant 2.5D 5in IPS display featured on the Huawei Nova is apparently designed to perform well in low-light conditions due to the inclusion of a blue light filter to provide extra comfort in evenings and other dark conditions. At the other end of the spectrum, the Huawei Nova’s display can be
incredibly bright for use outdoors, although we couldn’t test just how bright during our time with the smartphone.
In terms of power, the Huawei Nova comes packing a Snapdragon 625 processor and is coupled with 3GB of RAM. While we only had a limited time with the smartphone during our hands on, we didn’t experience any kind of lag when navigating around the various menus and apps of the Huawei Nova, even when accessing the camera (a stumbling block for many smartphones). It was responsive, snappy and we’ve got no complaints – especially from a mid-range smartphone.
While the Snapdragon 625 provides a snappy user experience, it’s not the only reason it was featured in the Huawei Nova – Huawei was keen to point out that the Snapdragon 625 provides users with 30 percent battery life than the Snapdragon 615. This coupled with a fairly substantial 3200mAh non-removable battery should provide users with two days of battery life, although we’re yet to test and verify Huawei’s impressive claim. It’s charged via USB-C too, like many other recent Huawei-branded smartphones.
With regards to storage, you’re looking at 32GB out of the box and while this isn’t that impressive, it’s expandable thanks to Huawei’s ‘Hybrid slot’, which offers either microSD and SIM or dual-SIM capabilities depending on your requirements.
The cameras featured on the Huawei Nova are surprisingly good, too. Why? Let’s start with the rear-facing camera – a 12Mp snapper with 1.25μm pixels and an aperture of f/2.2. What does this mean in the real world? It means that photos
taken in low-light conditions should come up much clearer – and that’s something that we can confirm.
While our testing was far from thorough, a quick camera test during our hands-on showed us that the Huawei Nova performs better in lowlight conditions than Apple’s current flagship smartphone, the iPhone 6s. There was more detail in the photos, and they were generally lighter than those taken on the iPhone. The only real disappointment was not being able to save the photos taken on the Nova for use in this article.
The front-facing camera isn’t to be sniffed at either – an 8Mp camera with f/2.0 and similarly impressive results in low-light conditions. While there’s no dedicated front-facing flash like on other Huawei smartphones, the company confirmed that those that need more light could simply use the Nova’s display as a flash.
So, what does the Huawei Nova offer in terms of software? The Nova comes with Android 6.0 Marshmallow complete with Huawei’s own Emotion UI (EMUI for short) overlay. While many people aren’t fans of skins that essentially redesign Android, we’re a fan of EMUI from the timeline-style notification centre to the circular icons used throughout the operating system – although it does take some getting used to.
So, what do we think of the Huawei Nova? For a mid-range smartphone, it boasts impressive capabilities – especially in the camera department.
While it doesn’t have dual-snappers like the P9, its performance in low-light conditions is impressive. It’s gorgeous too, and feels comfortable in the hand – in fact, it feels more like a highend smartphone than a mid-range smartphone, the hallmark of Huawei.
The biggest question is – is it worth the money? While no UK pricing has been announced, the €399 price tag puts it in line with smartphones including the OnePlus 3, which offers a more powerful processor and more RAM – but we’ll hold our reservations until we get one back to Android
Advisor towers. Lewis Painter
• 5in (1920x1080, 443ppi) IPS • Android 6.0 Marshmallow • Snapdragon 625 CPU • 3GB RAM • 32GB storage • MicroSD supports up to 128GB • 8Mp front-facing camera • 12Mp rear-facing camera • Nano-SIM • GPS • A-GPS • Glonass • Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n • Bluetooth 4.1 • USB Type-C • Fingerprint sensor • 3020mAh lithium polymer battery • 141.2 x 69.1x7.1mm • 146g