Huawei Nova and Nova Plus Review

Call Quality

Neither Nova disappoints with this most basic phone requirement


Probably the most overlooked category when it comes to how many smartphone shoppers are making their purchasing decisions, the Nova and Nova Plus both manage to sound – well, fine. The smaller Nova gets points for being a bit more comfortable to use as a voice handset, just by nature of its size, but neither phone is a big let-down here.

Battery Life

Mid-range hardware shines when paired with the good-sized batteries we find here


The Nova and Nova Plus are quite slim phones, measuring in at 7.1 and 7.3mm, respectively. Despite this, they both find room for some good-sized batteries, with the Nova ending up with a 3,020mAh power plant, and the the Nova Plus with a 3,340mAh component.

Combine that with processors that barely sip from the well of available power, and screens that don't push resolution limits, and you've got the formula for some smartphones with all-day battery life.

Indeed, our custom tests supported just that finding, as the Nova clocked over 10 hours of screen-on time, and the Nova Plus came in north of 12. Depending on just how hard you push your phone, it's not crazy to expect that you might need to charge it just every other day.

Even without quick-chargers in the boxes, the two Nova phones both recharged in a reasonable amount of time, each taking around two hours.

Battery life (hours) Higher is better
Huawei nova 10h 1 min (Excellent)
Huawei nova Plus 12h 12 min (Excellent)
Honor 8 9h 7 min (Excellent)
OnePlus 3 5h 53 min (Average)
Charging time (minutes) Lower is better
Huawei nova 117
Huawei nova Plus 126
Honor 8 98
OnePlus 3 74

Conclusion



Huawei put together two very solid phones with the Nova and Nova Plus. They don't do any one thing really well, but instead combine respectable performance (so long as you aren't too into gaming), alright camera quality, and decent design into two relatively affordable packages. And that they do all that while also offering some day-long battery life is just the icing on the cake.

But while they're largely well-done phones, it takes more than just doing alright to succeed in this crowded smartphone market, and here the Nova and Nova Plus start running into a little trouble. Take that design: decent, sure, but on both phones it ends up falling somewhat short of the extra-premium metal look Huawei seems to have been going for. Or the cameras: they get the job done, and even include a few extras, but neither is quite a best-in-class component.

That puts a lot of pressure on pricing to make the Novas into attractive handsets, and once again, the figures just aren't quite where they need to be. International pricing comes in at just under 400 EUR for the Nova, and 420 EUR for the Nova Plus.

We're happy to see how close those two are, and with the Nova Plus going for barely any premium over the smaller Nova, it makes it easy to pick the phone the looks and feels best to you – with price being just a minor consideration.

Well, that's comparing the two against each other, at least, because things are a lot more complicated when we look at the larger market, with better-equipped competition available for about the same price – or just slightly more. None of this is to say that Huawei's hardware isn't worth the asking price, but the question would be a lot easier to answer if we were looking at figures some 50 to 100 EUR less.

In the end, neither of these phones is likely to steer you wrong, especially if you're not demanding a ton from your smartphone – and if you want a handset that feels great to hold, and has a battery that won't leave you hanging, either makes a really nice choice. But there's also not a lot here that screams THIS is the mid-priced phone to get. As a result, we'd definitely recommend considering these two Novas – but maybe check out some phones from the competition, as well.

Software version of the review unit: Android 6.0.; Build Number: MLA-L11C432B130 (Plus) CAN-L11C432B100 (Nova)



Pros

  • Fantastic battery life
  • Feels quite well-made, maybe more than pricing would suggest

Cons

  • Expected more from the cameras, after all Huawei's hype
  • Display not terribly bright nor accurate
  • EMUI will take novice users some getting used to
  • No unified “Nova” hardware design, some poor aesthetic decisions

PhoneArena Rating:

7.3

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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: 2595; 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: 2282; 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: 695; 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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