Huawei Nova and Nova Plus Review
A pair of adequate cameras are only hurt by Huawei's larger-than-life promises
In its promotion for the Nova phones, Huawei shines the spotlight on camera performance. While the two share a lot of hardware, each has its own main camera: the Nova with a 12MP sensor, while the Nova Plus picks up a 16MP component that also adds optical stabilization.
Go in with mid-range expectations and you won't be let down
Let's get the good news out of the way: neither camera really lets us down. Both phones take some quite nice-looking pics, and manage to acquire focus quickly. In general, images shot with the Nova tended to appear a little higher-contrast than what the Nova Plus put out, but the higher resolution of the Plus resulted in clearly sharper pics once we started zooming in.
Both phones support a number of software enhancements, including a “beauty” mode that softens the appearance of skin and a “makeup” mode for selfies that allows you to apply lipstick and fake eyelashes. Neither gets in the way, thankfully, and while it can be fun to play around and see what they can do, we're just happy that the cameras work as well as they do even without any software extras.
Video looks great, but noise-canceling audio needs some work
Either of these phones are well equipped for video recording, shooting in resolutions as high as 4K. The cameras both adjust quickly to varying lighting conditions, and are also speedy to change focus in the middle of a shot – not something we can say for all cameras.
Huawei also does a really good job at removing background noise from videos, though we had a few issues with audio quality. Perhaps due to that noise-canceling system, voices can sound a little “wishy” at times, like an MP3 with the compression dialed-up too high. And while audio was generally nice and clear, we couldn't help but notice it peaking occasionally.
With so much else in common, it's odd the two Novas don't sound more alike
Neither of the two Novas is particularly a multimedia powerhouse, though both still manage to do alright. The phones each offer a single bottom-edge speaker – don't be fooled by the dual grilles on the Plus, as only one's functional. Output on both Novas is fine, though the phone's aren't quite tonally matched; we found the Nova's audio heavier on the treble than the sound coming from the Plus. That can make the Plus sound a little softer and muted in comparison, though it's arguably the better-balanced of the two.