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.

Image quality

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.

Taking a pic Lower is better Taking an HDR pic (sec) Lower is better CamSpeed score Higher is better CamSpeed score with flash Higher is better
Huawei nova 1.8
Huawei nova Plus 1.8
Honor 8 2.1
No data
No data
OnePlus 3 1.7

Video recording

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.

Headphones output power (Volts) Higher is better
Huawei nova 0.212
Huawei nova Plus 0.183
Honor 8 0.42
OnePlus 3 0.82
Loudspeaker loudness (dB) Higher is better
Huawei nova 76.1
Huawei nova Plus 73
Honor 8 73.3
OnePlus 3 74



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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