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Huawei Nova: A pleasant surprise in a 5-inch phone

An Android smartie with just one funny story

The camera and other goodies

The main 12Mp camera is let down by the omission of OIS. It's generally OK in decent light, and can produce good results when there's no movement.

Below are some snaps taken with the phone's primary camera. The swan is not exactly the fastest moving animal in the world, but several attempts to capture the couple here were thwarted by movement. Graininess spoiled the near-darkness photos.

Click for 50% sized image

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A cropped portion: click for full image at 50% size

The battery life is pretty good, but then Snapdragon 625 phones are carving out a reputation as battery champs. 3020mAh should get you through a demanding day, especially with Huawei's aggressive power management (which is less annoying than it used to be).

You don't get the Nougat – it's still Marshmallow, which means no EMUI tidy-up, at least not yet. But the makeover is a work in progress, and the Marshmallow/EMUI 4.1 combo is still pretty smooth. (I'm hoping an OEM makes a smartphone skin designed to induce catatonic boredom in the user: then it could be called ENNUI.)

The really irritating nags that used to plague Huawei phones, and the really aggressive power management tricks like shutting down Uber while you're waiting for a car, have been toned down.

Overall, with such intense competition at this price point, the Nova has to compete on its form factor. And here the only competition in Droid-land is the Sony X Compact. The latter is lighter, but decidedly more plasticky, and slower. (And unlike Sony's other Compacts, it isn't waterproof.)

If you prefer value over pocketability, and want a more reliable snapper, look elsewhere. Huawei's cheaper Honor 8 has a better camera and is great value.

The marketing slogan for the Nova is "defy expectations." Although it's Huawei's sweetest-looking phone ever, for once, here's a Huawei phone that didn't. ®

Basic specifications

  • Five‑inch IPS display with a resolution of 1080 x 1920 (443ppi)
  • Size: 141.2 x 69.1 x 7.1mm (5.56 x 2.72 x 0.28in)
  • Weight: 146g (5.15oz)
  • 12Mp main camera, 8Mp secondary cam
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 2GHz ARM Cortex-A53 octo-core processor
  • 3GB RAM and 32GB of storage space plus microSD slot supporting up to 256GB
  • Android Marshmallow 6.0.1
  • Non-removable Li-Po 3020mAh battery

More numbers and stats.


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