Huawei Brings Premium to the Mid-range with Nova and Nova Plus: Hands On

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Nova plus 4

Huawei Nova Plus

Huawei came to IFA in Berlin to launch its brand new mid-range smartphone series, Nova. To be precise, it revealed a 5-inch device simply called Huawei Nova, as well as the larger, but otherwise identical, 5.5-inch Huawei Nova Plus. Above all, Huawei touted the Novas selfie abilities and reasonable price.

Thus, Huawei Nova and Nova Plus sport Full HD displays, surrounded by an aluminum unibody, and up-to-date design, with slightly rounded display edges.

They both feel premium in hand, with an above-average finish. Though underneath the aluminum, they are certainly in the midrange.

They feature a Qualcomm octa-core Snapdragon 625 running a 2.0 GHz clock. The smaller Nova has 3GB RAM, while the larger one comes with 4GB. The starting models both have 32GB of memory storage, while Huawei will offer 64GB versions. Both also support microSD expansion, with the microSD card slot also serving as a second SIM card slot. Both also have Huawei’s fingerprint sensor, which we’ve found to be one of the fastest and most reliable on any device.

Huawei Nova

Huawei Nova

Both smartphones have an 8-megapixel front-facing camera, and feature the odd “PerfectMakeup” mode. The name says it all. The feature essentially uses software tweaks to eliminate blemishes and craft the perfect selfie, which is why Huawei representatives pointed out several times during the presentation, the Nova smartphones will especially appeal to female buyers.

Yep, it’s groan worthy. But don’t let that deter you. Huawei has pushed smartphone camera tech with its Honor 8 and recent P9. To that end, the rear-facing camera is either 16 megapixels (Nova Plus), or 12 (Nova). Both record 4K videos.

During our brief hands-on time from IFA, we came away most impressed with the display. Both Huawei Nova and Huawei Nova Plus have very bright displays with highly saturated colors. They are almost surreal. Touch seemed responsive, though contrast sustainability might present issues. View the devices from a wider angle and not directly, the contrast is significantly poorer.

Huawei representatives boasted about a very sustainable battery on both models. Nova has a 3020mAh battery, while Nova Plus includes a 3340mAh battery. They reassured attendees that the batteries on both smartphones offer twice the autonomy a the iPhone 6S. Specifically, the battery offers two days of intense work without the need to recharge.

Interestingly, the back of the phones do not resemble each other, as the specifications would suggest. The back of the smaller Huawei Nova follows in the design footsteps of the Nexus 6P line, with darkened plastic stripe on the back with a camera hidden away.  The Huawei Nova Plus has a bulging camera located in the middle of the rear surface, right next to the fingerprint reader – just like on the Mate series.

Rear of Nova

Rear of Nova

Rear of Nova Plus

Rear of Nova Plus

It’s tough to test the camera in a setting like IFA. But they were both quick to respond and offered the kind of imaging quality that matches better mid-range phones, or average flagship ones. This means that they are a slightly poorer than the latest Samsung smartphones or iPhone 6S in terms of realistic color interpretation, visibility of details and dynamics. However, the selfie camera is above average for this range on both smartphones (makeup effect or not). Both the Nova and Nova Plus actually seems a step up from the flagship P9, if quick impressions are anything to go on.

Both smartphones will be available next month throughout the globe. Huawei Nova will start at 399 euros in Europe, and Huawei Nova Plus will start at 429 euros. Given Huawei’s recent record they may cost the same in dollars if they ever come to the US.



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