Huawei Nova Plus smartphone review
Well featured and functional but lacks any wow factor
- Good battery life
- Jack of all trades
- Master of none
A second-tier phone in every way. There's little it can't do. But that's about the most exciting thing about it.
Price$ 549.00 (AUD)
Huawei has launched a new, second-tier Android phone called the Nova Plus. But while it’s some distance off the current top-tier of Android phones in terms of price, the specs are less far behind. It appears at a time where the flagship, Huawei Mate 9 has launched internationally but also while the Mate 8 and photographer’s-friend, P9 are still among the best phones on the market.
Having matured in the market, price drops have set in on both of – which are still among our current mid-range smartphone recommendations – and as such the Nova Plus finds itself in immediate competition with its siblings. So which phone should you buy?
5.5in, 1080 x 1920, 401ppi display; 32/3GB RAM; Snapdragon 625 2GHz Octa-core CPU plus Adreno 506 GPU; 16MP/8MP cameras, Fingerprint reader, 3,340mAh battery, NanoSIM, USB-C; Android 6 (Marshmallow); 152 x 76 x 7mm, 160g. Full specs here.
Handling and design
First up, this phone looks very good. It looks very similar to the recently-launched Android Flagship Google Pixel XL, thanks to its white trim and sandblasted-Aluminium chassis, but it doesn’t have the silly (and very fragile) glass back. Frankly, the Huawei looks a bit better in our opinion. Both phones have a rear-mounted fingerprint reader (our favourite position), a USB-C charging port and have power and volume switches on the right at the top. But there the similarities end.
[Related: Oppo R9s smartphone full review]
The 5.5-inch Full-HD LCD screen is sharp and bright. It’s naturally not quite as face-grabbing as AMOLED models but it’s one of the better models we've seen. The screen is generally fine for games and videos but as you move up in quality requirements – especially with VR where the screen-door effect is prominent – we started started to remember that there were better screens on the market. It’s still very useable for day-to-day applications though.
The bottom-facing speakers don’t get particularly loud or punchy but they are generally clear for all applications whether it’s bass or treble rich music or speakerphone apps.
Apps loaded quite quickly and everything was generally responsive but it’s a noticeable step down from what we’ve seen on the top-tier phones – albeit not by much. 3D games like Asphalt 8 (and Pokémon Go) were generally fine though there were a few, noticeable slowdowns.
Our one real gripe is with the default launcher software which has no way to organise your apps. While pulling the screen down and seeing your most recent four plus a search box is OK, we otherwise struggled to find the apps we wanted in our large list.
Another weird omission is the lack of 5GHz WiFi. While this isn't a deal breaker, it's unusual for any decent phone these days.
The Nova Plus comes with a 16-megapixel rear camera and an 8-megapixel front camera. They're generally impressive but not perfect.
Video goes up to 4K but Image Stabilisation only functions up to Full HD. It’s very fast and accurate for focusing and sound is captured accurately. There’s not the greatest dynamic range on offer but dark locations areas are handled very well indeed – exposure is quickly adjusted to record an impressive level of detail at the natural expense of grain. While the Image Stabilisation didn’t seem to do much we were impressed overall with the video capture on offer here – it’s well above average.
We were also generally (there’s that word again) impressed with still images. In good lighting it was sharp and accurate with colours being captured at a neutral level rather than popping out of the screen. In very low light it was actually very impressive with usable shots coming from very dark rooms. However, in modest light, grain and blur would too quickly appear for our liking – we suspect this camera hardware is better than its software allows.
The selfie camera comes with Beauty mode which can be set to 10 levels. Results are more impressive without it, but some people will like a bit of airbrushing. However, sending it up to 10 isn’t advised unless you want to scare people.
Next: Battery Life and conclusion
Join the newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Dynabook Portégé X30W-J – a very good all-rounder
- 2 Realme 7 Pro review: Further progress
- 3 Oppo Watch review: A masterclass in imitation
- 4 Google Pixel 5 Review: Soft Reboot
- 5 Google Pixel 4a review: The Goldilocks Google phone
Latest News Articles
- The story of the Windows XP 'Bliss' desktop theme (and what it looks like today)
- Apple now displays repairability scores for iPhones and Macs in France
- Acer APAC Predator League 2020/21 to be held in April
- Thunderbolt turns 10
- Don’t worry, Spotify Free users: You can still cast to Google speakers
PCW Evaluation Team
Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.
This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.
It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.
As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.
The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.
This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.
- iPhone 12 Pro review: The iPhone that’s future proof
- Google Pixel 5 Review: Soft Reboot
- Oppo Watch review: A masterclass in imitation
- Everything you need to know about Smart TVs
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?