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Hands On with Huawei Nova Plus

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Sep 1, 2016, 9:45 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   @phonescooper

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Huawei Nova

Huawei churned out two mid-range handsets in Berlin, the Nova and Nova Plus. The phones share most features, but the Plus is a bit bigger thanks to the larger screen and battery. Here are first impressions of Huawei's new hardware.

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Huawei is trying very hard to be one of the big boys. The Nova and Nova Plus are relatively high-end handsets with mid-range specs. The devices feature unibody aluminum construction, good battery life, and decent cameras. The Nova Plus is the larger of the two, but the phones share almost all their essential features.

The phone is big but not overly big. Huawei did a respectable job keeping the footprint to less-than-dinner-plate dimensions. Remember, this phone has a 5.5-inch screen — the same as the iPhone 6s Plus. It feels thinner and lighter than Apple's more expensive device, but it doesn't feel cheaper. The aluminum finish, complete with shiny chamfers, is truly impressive. I like the feel of the metal in my hand. This phone is slim enough that it should it into pockets with relative ease.

The styling is a bit on the vanilla side (the phone reminds me a bit of the Nexus 6P). The gold color has a white glass face, but the silver and gray models have a black glass face. A pink version is pink everywhere.

Hardware  

Huawei picked 2.5D Arc Glass for the face. This glass — very popular on today's phones — curves along the edges to allow for more seamless joints between the glass and metal. It flows well on the Nova Plus. I wasn't bowled over by the full HD display, but it certainly isn't bad. It is bright and has enough pixels that UI elements are clean and sharp.

Like many devices, the Nova Plus' SIM card tray is tucked into the left edge. This means the volume toggle and screen lock button are on the right edge. The volume toggle is a narrow metal line with a sharp profile, while the screen lock button is shorter and has a rubbed texture. It is easy to tell the buttons apart by feel. The travel and feedback of both is quite good. The headphone jack is on top and the USB-C port is on bottom (along with the speakers.)

The phone's rear panel is somewhat curved, but not much. The squarish camera module protrudes quite a bit, and has a nice shiny rim to set to off visually. The flash is to the left of the camera and the fingerprint reader is below the camera. I had no trouble locating the reader with my finger without looking.

As for the specs and performance, what I saw looked good. It runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow with Huawei's somewhat heavy-handed UI on top. The Snapdragon 625 helped push screen transitions along smoothly. One neat feature, the fingerprint reader acts as a trackpad. This was cool to test when scrolling through the photo gallery.

UI  

The Nova Plus will cost 429 Euros and the smaller Nova will cost 399 Euros. Sadly, Huawei has no plans to sell either in the U.S.

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