Huawei Nova review
Our Huawei Nova review unveils a smartphone that isn’t too dissimilar to the Huawei Honor 5C, which we reviewed a mere few weeks ago. The Huawei Nova however, does have a fingerprint sensor and a higher-end design, making it a very good choice for mid-tier consumers.
Looking for a dual curved edge display? Read the Huawei Mate 9 Pro review
Design - Aluminium magnesium alloy
The Huawei Nova has a multi-curve design with minimalist contours and curves shaped through diamond cutting techniques.
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The aviation strength aluminium and magnesium alloy body has been sand blasted with carefully selected ceramics, to create a textured back that adds sheen and extra grip.
A single bottom mounted speaker projects sound through a speaker grill that is etched into the metal body, which is 7.1mm thick and weighs only 146g. The Huawei Nova is available in colours that reflect its use of metal alloys, including titanium grey, prestige gold and mystic silver.
Overall, you have a phone here that looks just as good as any other premium smartphone on the market.
Display - 450 nits
The Huawei Nova has a very decent display that projects 450 nits, with one nit being equivalent to the brightness of one candle. In comparison, this is brighter than the screens used on the Apple iPhone 6s and Samsung Galaxy S6 but not quite as bright as the Apple iPhone 7 and Samsung Galaxy S7.
The 5” IPS Full HD display (1920 x 1080 pixels) equates to 443 pixels per inch, which is detailed enough to read even the finest small print. Wide 80° viewing angles make it easy to share the experience and the display meets the body perfectly, with the 2.5D glass curving over at the edges.
Overall, you get a bit of flagship magic with the Huawei Nova’s display.
Phone Set Up
Security - 3D fingerprint sensor
The Huawei Nova has a 3D fingerprint sensor that is fast and accurate, sensing fingerprints through a full 360 degrees. The fingerprint sensor can be used to unlock the phone but it has other uses as well.
The fingerprint sensor can be used to access the Safe, where you can keep private documents and can even be used with App Lock, to secure certain apps. The fingerprint sensor can also be used to authorise payments, take photos, answer calls and stop the alarm.
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Quick access to notifications is given by sliding your finger down over the sensor and you can flick through the phone’s photo gallery by swiping your finger left or right.
Getting started - Transferring data
With the Huawei Nova you can use the Backup feature to transfer data over, from an old mobile phone. It is also possible to transfer data over using a computer, microSD card or Bluetooth.
The Huawei Nova has a 32GB internal memory, of which 22GB is free to the user. A microSD card slot makes it possible to boost the memory by up to another 128GB.
Getting started - Personalisation
The Huawei Nova is a real gem when it comes to personalisation. With the weather widget, you can turn weather sounds on or off, while for contacts, you can assign individual ringtones to important contacts.
If you choose, you can pin a floating dock to the homescreens in order to have quick access to frequently-used options. You can switch the display into Gloves mode for outdoor winter use and take the effort out of messaging by creating common phrases, which can be inserted into messages by simply press the + symbol.
Colour correction mode enhances the display for colour vision impaired users, while those who want a more simple experience, change switch to Simple homescreen mode, which has much large icons and fonts.
User interface - Android / Emotion UI
The Huawei Nova is powered by Android Marshmallow but it is the Emotion UI (EMUI 4.1), which adds a unique twist. Alongside a set of Huawei made apps, icons and Magazine lock screens, sits new depths of interactions accessible through knuckle gestures.
For example, you can capture Scrolling screenshots, by knocking the screen twice with your knuckle or by drawing a letter ‘S’ with your knuckle. By knocking the screen twice using two knuckles, you can activate the Screen recorder, which is ideal for capturing and sharing video game footage.
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The Huawei Nova has a 14nm 2GHz octa-core Snapdragon 625 processor with 3GB RAM. This gives excellent performance when switching between apps, browsing the internet or playing games.
Camera & Video
Photography - Low light supremacy
The 12MP main camera delivers low light supremacy through having a large 1.25μm pixel size and f/2.2 wide aperture lens. Bright contrast under low light is helped by a special lens coating, which reduces glare and ghosting.
The camera on the Huawei Nova also employs rapid Phase Detect Auto Focus and CAF contrast focusing, which compares the clarity in two images, to deliver greater detail in real time.
The camera app is loaded with options and these includes Time-lapse mode, Panorama, Super night mode with automatic exposure based upon the ambient light, Document readjustment, Bust shooting and Object tracking.
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Light painting is also on offer with light graffiti, car light trails, star trails and silky water. Pro camera mode gives control over the shutter speed, composition and exposure. For video recording, it is possible to notch up the detail to 4K standards, for playback on a 4K TV.
Selfies - Advanced Beauty mode
The 8MP camera makes full use of the advanced Beauty mode that has a new algorithm, created through collaborations with international makeup artists. You can add bespoke lip gloss and blush that are matched to your skin colour and face shape.
Beauty mode has eight templates with real time previews and, for an industry first, there are eyebrow makeup beauty effects. Beauty Skin 3.0 and Beauty Make-up 2.0 includes enhanced software to make subtle adjustments to skin tone and eye size.
Panoramic self portraits can be used to capture more of the background or for taking group selfies. For ease of use, the camera shutter can be activated by tapping the fingerprint sensor or by using a voice command.
Overall, you couldn’t ask for more from a smartphone camera pairing.
Power - Smart Power 4.0
Smart Power 4.0 ensures that the Huawei Nova remains powered up for longer sessions. In fact, the high capacity 3,020mAh battery should give the typical user two full days of usage.
There are many battery saving options that can be tweaked to improve the battery performance further, including the options to close power-intensive apps or turn on the Ultra power plan feature.
Charging is simplified with a USB Type-C power cable, which has a symmetrical connector, so it is really easy to connect.
Next review: Motorola Moto G4 Plus
Written by: Michael Brown