Huawei Nova Plus review: Almost a OnePlus 3 killer


Plus-sized smartphones typically have quite a bit in common with their miniature siblings , but the DNA running through Huawei’s Nova and Nova Plus handsets couldn’t actually be more different. While the regular Nova looks a bit like a wee Nexus 6P, the Nova Plus is more akin to Huawei’s Mate 8 and Mate S handsets.

Of course, Huawei’s bumped the Nova Plus’ camera down a smidge so it’s in a slightly more central position on the back of the smartphone, and the rear-facing fingerprint reader is now significantly more squarer, although it is still slightly rounded. It’s still got a wonderful metal-crafted body, though, and its high-end construction actually feels oddly fancier than the regular Nova.

Huawei Nova Plus: Display

Fire it up and you’re welcomed by its gorgeous 5.5in, 1,920 x 1,080 IPS display. That’s the same resolution you’ll find on the regular Nova, which technically means the Nova Plus is a little less sharp than its little brother. However, you’d be hard-pushed to really see the difference if you held each phone up side by side, as icons and text looked equally sharp on both phones from a normal viewing distance.

Huawei Nova Plus max screen brightness

It’s an impressive display, too, as its IPS panel covers 96.5% of the sRGB colour gamut. While slightly lower than the Nova’s perfect score of 100% coverage, colours still look rich and vibrant across the board. Coupled with its high peak brightness of 498cd/m2 and an excellent contrast ratio of 1,265:1, images really shine, with colours popping straight off the screen.

Huawei Nova Plus review: Performance

The one thing the Nova Plus does have in common with its little brother is its underlying hardware. Powered by an octa-core 2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor and 3GB of RAM, the Nova Plus is an admirable mid-range performer. With Geekbench 4 scores of 833 and 3,021 for single- and multi-core tests respectively, this phone is perfectly suited for pretty much any performance-hogging application you throw at it. It was swift and responsive in general use, and web browsing was pretty nippy as well, with a score of 827 in the Peacekeeper JavaScript test.

Gaming performance was similarly impressive. A 10fps average in GFXBench GL’s onscreen Manhattan 3 test might not sound like much, but in real-world use, its Adreno 556 GPU managed to run almost any game I threw at it, with titles such as Sky Force Reloaded performing as intended, without any hiccups even during heavy bouts of frenetic dogfighting.

Huawei Nova Plus bottom

The only mildly disappointing thing about the Nova Plus is its battery life. With a huge 3,340mAh battery at its disposal, I was expecting it to far exceed the Nova in our continuous video-playback test, but it only managed a fairly average 11hrs 7mins when I set the screen brightness to our standard level of 170cd/m2 – two hours shorter than its little brother.

Huawei Nova Plus battery life

That’s a shame, as I was hoping the Nova Plus would have enough stamina to compete with its similarly priced rival, the OnePlus 3. Alas, it falls well short of the OnePlus’ 16hrs 56mins, making it less reliable over the course of a day.

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