Huawei nova review: Life of a Star

Life of a Star

GSMArena team, 3 October 2016.


Look, it's the Nexus 6P! But smaller. Well, not really - it's the Huawei nova. It's a star in the making, and you can find it in the mid-range cluster of the company's mobile universe. The nova takes after the flagship-grade Nexus 6P, which unsurprisingly, is also Huawei-made.

The Huawei nova is a new take on the mid-range smartphones introducing a pinch of premium feel over the mandatory hardware minimum. And Huawei has never been about just ticking a few boxes; instead, they always strive to find a way to add a twist here and there for a richer user experience.

Huawei nova review

Indeed, the nova is as stunning as the P9 because both share similar looks, but its 1080p IPS display has been trimmed down to just 5". The chipset has been swapped with the energy-efficient Snapdragon 625, which is an excellent choice for the class and a wise decision for an optimal battery performance.

Finally, there is a single 12MP camera on the back, which may be single and without the Leica branding, but it's as promising, at least on paper. Before we continue, check the full specs of the Huawei nova.

Huawei nova key features

  • 5" IPS LCD display of 1920x1080 pixels resolution, 441ppi
  • Full metal unibody design out of airplane-grade aluminum
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 chipset, octa-core 2.0GHz Cortex-A53 CPU; Adreno 506 GPU
  • 3GB of RAM, 32GB storage
  • Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow with Emotion UI 4.1
  • 12MP camera with a LED flash, f/2.0 aperture, hybrid autofocus, PDAF+ contrast detection; 4K video recording
  • 8MP front-facing camera with f/2.0 aperture, 1080p video
  • 3,020mAh Li-Po battery with rapid charging (35% in 30 minutes)
  • Hybrid DualSIM/microSD card slot (up to 128GB)
  • Cat. 7 LTE (300/150Mbps); dual-band Wi-Fi b/g/n, Wi-Fi hotspot, Wi-Fi Direct; Bluetooth 4.1 LE; NFC; GPS/GLONASS; FM radio; USB Type-C
  • Available in Prestige Gold, Titanium Gray and Moonlight Silver

Main shortcomings

  • No scratch-resistant screen coating
  • Non-removable battery
  • Hybrid DualSIM/microSD card slot limits options on the dual-SIM model
  • Only single-band Wi-Fi support
  • A bit pricey

The lack of any information on the screen protection is as disturbing as it was a few Huawei smartphones ago. We have already confirmed that a few of Huawei's latest displays are easy to scratch, and that's probably the nova case, too. And it's beyond us why the Huawei nova lacks dual-band Wi-Fi support as the chipset natively supports it.

Huawei nova review

The sooner we let go of those two omissions, the sooner we'll jump onto our traditional hardware checkup.

Reader comments

  • Prtki

It says here that up to 256 GB of memory is allowed and in the support center they told me that it is allowed up to 128 GB. What is right?

  • Anonymous

The Huawei Nova was the very first Hauwei I have used. I LOVE the device! It is smooth to operate and hasn't given my any hassles. I am definitely sticking to Huawei from here on out...

  • AnonD-688572

FYI - not sure about the version above here but any of the ones I've seen on Aliexpress (Chinese ones anyway) DO NOT have NFC! I bought 2nd hand based on stats above and got caught out - maybe worth flagging in the stats.