Huawei nova review: Life of a Star

Life of a Star

GSMArena team, 3 October 2016.

Display

The Huawei nova has a very promising 5" IPS display of 1080p resolution and 441ppi pixel density. The 2.5D screen glass looks nice, but we would have really appreciated an adequate glass protection to keep the scratches away from the display. Once again, there is no protective glass mentioned anywhere in the Huawei's promo materials and official specs.

Huawei nova review

Huawei promises 450nits of maximum brightness. The 390 nits max brightness we measured is close enough to their claim.

The minimum level of brightness that we observed is great at 3.3nits and should be quite comfortable for reading in the dark.

Thanks to the really deep blacks the contrast is excellent at 1540:1, living up to Huawei's promised 1500:1, and it's better than the P9 and Honor 8's.

Regarding color reproduction accuracy, the Huawei nova screen is an average performer. It came out less than stellar with an average deviation (DeltaE) of 6.7 - a bit higher than what we would ideally like. Fortunately, opting for the warm colors calibration option fixes all colors that were off and achieves a very good average deviation (DeltaE) of 4.8.

Display test 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Huawei nova 0.25 385 1540
Huawei nova plus 0.31 397 1281
Huawei P9 0.46 500 1094
Huawei P9 Lite 0.42 497 1192
Honor 8 0.37 460 1243
Sony Xperia X 0.44 539 1219
Samsung Galaxy C7 0.00 422
Xiaomi Redmi 3 Pro 0.49 561 1145
OnePlus 3 0.00 433
Samsung Galaxy S6 0.00 363

The Huawei nova did an uninspiring job in our sunlight legibility test. A score of 2.467 means you may have a hard time seeing what's happening on the display in bright sunlight.

Sunlight contrast ratio

  • Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+
    4.615
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge
    4.439
  • OnePlus 3
    4.424
  • Samsung Galaxy S7
    4.376
  • HTC One A9
    4.274
  • Samsung Galaxy Note7
    4.247
  • Samsung Galaxy A3
    4.241
  • Samsung Galaxy S6 edge
    4.124
  • Samsung Galaxy S6
    4.124
  • Samsung Galaxy Note5
    4.09
  • Huawei Nexus 6P
    4.019
  • Vivo Xplay5 Elite
    3.983
  • OnePlus X
    3.983
  • Oppo R7s
    3.964
  • Huawei P9 Plus
    3.956
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016)
    3.918
  • Samsung Galaxy C7
    3.896
  • Samsung Galaxy A5
    3.895
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 outdoor
    3.879
  • Samsung Galaxy J2 outdoor
    3.873
  • Samsung Galaxy A8
    3.859
  • Samsung Galaxy A9 (2016)
    3.817
  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
    3.816
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016) outdoor mode
    3.802
  • Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016)
    3.789
  • Apple iPhone 6s
    3.783
  • Meizu Pro 5
    3.781
  • Microsoft Lumia 650
    3.772
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016)
    3.756
  • Oppo F1 Plus
    3.709
  • Vivo X5Pro
    3.706
  • Apple iPhone SE
    3.681
  • Samsung Galaxy A7
    3.679
  • Meizu PRO 6
    3.659
  • BlackBerry Priv
    3.645
  • Apple iPhone 6s Plus
    3.53
  • Samsung Galaxy J3 (2016)
    3.523
  • Samsung Galaxy J3 (2016) outdoor mode
    3.523
  • Acer Jade Primo
    3.521
  • Microsoft Lumia 950
    3.512
  • Oppo R7 Plus
    3.499
  • Samsung Galaxy J7
    3.422
  • Meizu MX5
    3.416
  • Oppo R7
    3.32
  • Samsung Galaxy J2
    3.235
  • Sony Xperia X Performance
    3.234
  • Motorola Moto X Play
    3.222
  • Huawei P9
    3.195
  • Lenovo Vibe Shot
    3.113
  • Motorola Moto X Force
    3.105
  • LG Nexus 5X
    3.092
  • Huawei Mate S
    3.073
  • Microsoft Lumia 640 XL
    3.065
  • Apple iPhone 6 Plus
    3.023
  • Sony Xperia X
    2.989
  • Samsung Galaxy Note
    2.97
  • Huawei Mate 8
    2.949
  • Sony Xperia XA Ultra
    2.906
  • LG G5
    2.905
  • HTC One S
    2.901
  • Sony Xperia Z5
    2.876
  • Microsoft Lumia 550
    2.851
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3 Pro
    2.803
  • Sony Xperia Z5 compact
    2.784
  • LG V10
    2.744
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3
    2.735
  • Sony Xperia M5
    2.69
  • Huawei P9 Lite
    2.679
  • Vivo V3Max
    2.659
  • Xiaomi Mi 4i
    2.641
  • Sony Xperia XA
    2.609
  • Xiaomi Mi 4c
    2.574
  • LeEco Le Max 2
    2.567
  • Microsoft Lumia 640
    2.563
  • Lenovo Moto G4
    2.544
  • Oppo F1
    2.528
  • Sony Xperia Z5 Premium
    2.525
  • Huawei Honor 7 Lite / Honor 5c
    2.506
  • Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
    2.503
  • Oppo F1s
    2.481
  • Motorola Moto G
    2.477
  • Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus
    2.473
  • Huawei G8
    2.471
  • Huawei nova
    2.467
  • Sony Xperia Z
    2.462
  • Lenovo Vibe K5
    2.459
  • Huawei Honor 7
    2.406
  • Sony Xperia E5
    2.386
  • ZUK Z1 by Lenovo
    2.382
  • Samsung Galaxy J5 (2016)
    2.378
  • HTC 10
    2.378
  • Huawei nova plus
    2.329
  • HTC One E9+
    2.305
  • Alcatel One Touch Hero
    2.272
  • Apple iPhone 4S
    2.269
  • Lenovo Vibe K4 Note
    2.254
  • Sony Xperia C5 Ultra
    2.253
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 (MediaTek)
    2.249
  • Sony Xperia C4 Dual
    2.235
  • Xiaomi Mi Note
    2.234
  • Motorola Moto G (2014)
    2.233
  • LG Nexus 5
    2.228
  • Huawei P8
    2.196
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 2
    2.166
  • OnePlus Two
    2.165
  • HTC One X
    2.158
  • LG Aka
    2.145
  • Archos 50 Diamond
    2.134
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note
    2.119
  • Acer Liquid X2
    2.084
  • Huawei P8lite
    2.078
  • Moto G 3rd gen max manual
    2.026
  • Xiaomi Mi Max
    1.996
  • Sony Xperia E4g
    1.972
  • OnePlus One
    1.961
  • Meizu m3 note
    1.923
  • Meizu m2 note
    1.892
  • BlackBerry Leap
    1.892
  • HTC Butterfly
    1.873
  • ZTE Nubia Z9 mini
    1.759
  • Sony Xperia U
    1.758
  • Asus Zenfone Selfie
    1.68
  • Motorola Moto E (2nd Gen)
    1.675
  • ZTE Nubia Z9
    1.659
  • Jolla Jolla
    1.605
  • Motorola Moto E
    1.545
  • Sony Xperia M
    1.473
  • HTC Desire C
    1.3
  • Sony Xperia C
    1.283
  • Meizu MX
    1.221
  • Sony Xperia E
    1.215

Battery life

The Huawei nova is powered by a hefty 3,020mAh battery. The battery is non-removable but combined with the 14nm midrange Snapdragon processor we expect it to go a long way.

We ran our battery test and the Huawei nova plus scored an 84h rating, which means you can count on the battery to last 3 and a half days on a single charge if you do an hour each of calling, browsing the web and video playback a day. The phone posted consistently good scores on all tests, including standby.

The dual-SIM standby takes just 2 hours from the total endurance rating.

Huawei nova review

Standby battery life was gauged in the Performance mode, which does not put any limits on the hardware. The Standard mode will add a couple of hours to the rating, while the Ultra Power Saving will keep your phone alive for some extra time.

The battery testing procedure is described in detail in case you're interested in the nitty-gritties. You can also check out our complete battery test table, where you can see how all of the smartphones we've tested will compare under your own typical use.

Connectivity

The Huawei nova is properly equipped in terms of connectivity. The radio support includes up to four 2G bands, five 3G bands, and eight 4G bands. The LTE connectivity is Cat.7 which means up to 300Mbps downlink and up to 150Mbps uplink.

Our variant comes with a hybrid nano-SIM/microSD slot. The secondary card can only hook to 2G networks while the primary one gets the full set of cellular connectivity.

The Huawei nova oddly supports single-band 2.4GHz Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, with Wi-Fi Direct, Wi-Fi+ and hotspot capabilities. Bluetooth is v4.1 and NFC is available too.

The GPS support includes A-GPS and GLONASS. There is an FM radio as well.

A 3.5mm jack provides the standard audio connectivity option. There is the new USB Type-C connector for charging and data connections. Mind you, it defaults to charge-only every single time you connect it to a PC, and you have to manually switch the mode from the notification area if you want to do something else.

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.