Interface and Functionality

EMUI still isn't for everyone – but it can be a nice change of pace

Using EMUI 4.1 on the Huawei Nova and Nova Plus is a lot like running into someone at a costume party. You recognize, them, sure, but all these little details have changed (Dan doesn't normally have vampire fangs, right?). That's pretty much the experience you get from Huawei's Android skin.

It's Android 6.0 underneath, with all the functionality that entails, but a lot of effort's gone into creating a new facade for that framework.

Once you get used to things being in slightly different locations than you'd expect, or appearing a little unfamiliar, there's a lot to like in EMUI. The design is quite clean, with many fine lines and basic shapes, and that helps keep it feeling lightweight despite the breadth of changes present. It still comes across like it's trying a little too hard to recreate the feel of iOS on an Android device, but none of this detracts from usability in a major way.

Processor and Memory

Power users should look elsewhere, but most of us will manage just fine with this hardware

While the Nova and Nova Plus may each have distinct looks, they're both powered by the same silicon. That means pairing a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 with 3GB of RAM.

It's a combination we've seen before on other mid-priced phones like the Moto Z Play Droid, and it again works pretty well here, combining decent performance with relatively meager (and all sorts of battery-friendly) power requirements.


Neither phone is poised to compete against handsets running flashier chips (and even same-tier upgrades like Qualcomm's Snapdragon 652 would represent a big performance boost), but considering the market segment Huawei appears to be going after, it ends up with a nice sense of balance from this hardware. We'll get to the impact on battery life shortly, but so long as you aren't trying to run too many high-end 3D games on a Nova phone, this processor's adequately equipped to keep up with many software demands.

AnTuTu Higher is better
Huawei nova 63886
Huawei nova Plus 64152
Honor 8 89824
OnePlus 3 140007.66
Vellamo Metal Higher is better
Huawei nova 1491
Huawei nova Plus 1482
Honor 8 2922
OnePlus 3 3678.66
Vellamo Browser Higher is better
Huawei nova 3252
Huawei nova Plus 3269
Honor 8 4758
OnePlus 3 4936.66
JetStream Higher is better
Huawei nova 30.799
Huawei nova Plus 30.987
Honor 8 45.665
OnePlus 3 46.685
GFXBench T-Rex HD on-screen Higher is better
Huawei nova 23
Huawei nova Plus 23
Honor 8 40
OnePlus 3 59
GFXBench Manhattan 3.1 on-screen Higher is better
Huawei nova 10
Huawei nova Plus 10
Honor 8 18
OnePlus 3 30
Basemark OS II Higher is better
Huawei nova 1296
Huawei nova Plus 1298
Honor 8 1957
OnePlus 3 2118
Geekbench 4 single-core Higher is better
Huawei nova 844
Huawei nova Plus 847
Geekbench 4 multi-core Higher is better
Huawei nova 3103
Huawei nova Plus 3157

Storage is available as a sole 32GB option, which seems OK for mid-priced devices like these; at least it's not 16GB, and the option for microSD expansion keeps the door open for users who'd prefer more.


Connectivity

Dual-SIM support is right in line with Huawei's international interests

With a focus on global markets, it's no surprise we don't see any particularly US-targeted band support with the Nova and Nova Plus – nothing like CDMA support for Sprint and Verizon here. Instead, the phones are nicely equipped with a spread of international-friendly bands.

One plus, depending on your usage habits, is that the phones support dual-SIM operation where available. Of course, since Huawei's using a hybrid SIM/microSD tray, taking advantage of that secondary nano-SIM slot means giving up your access to expandable storage, a trade-off we wish phone manufacturers would stop forcing us to make.

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12 Comments

1. Barney_stinson

Posts: 672; Member since: May 30, 2016

Well!! Xiaomi. Is killer

5. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

Redmi 4 FTW... same processor, RAM, and storage.. (at least that's the rumor said :P) plus bigger battery, and probably better camera... for 1/3 of the price but with s**tty availability :-/

6. Scarambay unregistered

Better camera is wishful thinking. I really hope Xiaomi improves the camera and makes it at least on par with the snapper of Mi 4i. That phone had an excellent camera, almost rivaling the pics of Galaxy Note 4.

2. jellmoo

Posts: 2583; Member since: Oct 31, 2011

I don't quite get why these phones exist. The Honor 8 just seems like the better option from top to bottom...

3. libra89

Posts: 2280; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

Nice review! I think if the regular Nova was priced lower, it might have a better chance. Having the same pricing as the Honor 8, is weird.

4. Novage

Posts: 52; Member since: Nov 10, 2015

PhoneArena has a serious problem with chinese phone....

7. mike2959

Posts: 694; Member since: Oct 08, 2011

I've tried the Mate 7 and 8. I really wanted to like them. Heck flick a Pokémon ball on the Mate 8 it stutters. The GPU is terrible. The software is just weird. Oh and the battery is way over exaggerated.

8. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

Huawei's devices have always had lackluster GPU performances. I Wonder why can't Huawei beef it up!

9. flow280

Posts: 33; Member since: May 09, 2016

Wallpaper looks awfully familiar...

10. FrankUnderwood2

Posts: 243; Member since: Oct 01, 2015

I am really worried about those thin bodies (7.1 mm and 7.3 mm respectively) of Nova and Nova Plus stuffed with huge 3020 and 3340 mah batteries. After the Galaxy Note 7 fiasco, I am not touching any phone that has even a distant hint of exploding.

11. Dancy

Posts: 2; Member since: Oct 19, 2016

Nice review, but the phone seems similar to previous products, and I don't like the appearance of Nova, especially the white one.

12. Seany

Posts: 94; Member since: Sep 28, 2012

Phone Arena your reviews are always rubbish. I've got the Nova and the camera is sharp and excellent with good dynamic range. I'm a keen photographer and am very fussy but the Nova takes nice well exposed photos even in grey light. As usual you're always biased towards Apple or Samsung with pointless gimmick features. And this reviewer is a prat

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