Huawei Nova Plus review

A quality handset, but not quite a super Nova

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For €499 (around £420 / $550 / AU$740), Huawei is aiming surprisingly high with the Huawei Nova Plus. It almost justifies its price point, too, with a classy construction, balanced screen, and high-end components such as a fast fingerprint sensor and image stabilization for the camera.

However, a couple of underwhelming components let the side down. The phone's processor and camera are merely okay, when you really expect them to be hitting a few high notes. Meanwhile Huawei's custom EMUI is smooth, but it remains an inferior diversion from stock Android.

There's nothing inherently bad about the Huawei Nova Plus – it's a very well-put-together piece of kit, and it's a pleasant phone to use day to day. But with cheaper phones like the OnePlus 3 and Vodafone Smart Platinum 7 offering a similar and occasionally superior package for less money, is pleasant enough?

Who's it for?

The Huawei Nova Plus is for those who want that feeling of luxury that comes with a top-end smartphone, but don't want to pay full whack for the privilege.

If you're a light user it's more than up to the task, but power users might want to consider their options.

Should you buy it?

We can't see that anyone would pick up the Huawei Nova Plus and not feel quietly impressed by its general quality. It's got a kind of restrained air of class about it that still isn't all that common with Android phones.

And you'll find little in day to day use that will make you doubt that quality – but that's not really the point here. For the price, you'd expect an accomplished basic experience as a bare minimum.

But you might also expect a class-leading (or thereabouts) processor and a very good camera, and you don't get either here. The OnePlus 3 offers much of what the Nova Plus does, and then some – and it does so for significantly cheaper.

  • If you're looking at the Huawei Nova Plus, here are some other phones in the same ballpark that you might want to consider…

OnePlus 3

OnePlus 3

Android manufacturers have responded to OnePlus's high-value offering in recent years, but the OnePlus 3 shows that the Chinese outfit still has the power to give the big boys a bloody nose; in fact, it's arguably left some of them sprawled on the floor.

The OnePlus 3 is similarly proportioned to the Huawei Nova Plus, and has a similarly premium all-metal build. However, it's got a more vibrant display, a better camera, and a much faster processor paired with double the RAM. All of a sudden, the Huawei looks a little ordinary.

But the final insult here is that the OnePlus 3 costs just £329 / $399. It's bordering on the obscene.

Read our full OnePlus 3 review

Vodafone Smart Platinum 7

Vodafone Smart Platinum 7

It used to be that a network's own-brand smartphone would be a cheap and cheerful effort, for those who aren't really bothered about the phone they carry around. The Vodafone Smart Platinum 7 shows that this needn't be the case.

The UK network's first premium phone lives up to the billing, with an attractive (from some angles) metal build and a vibrant 5.5-inch 1080p AMOLED display. It's also no slacker on the performance front, with a capable Snapdragon 652 CPU helping it perform well in all tasks.

You also get a near-stock version of Android that, barring a few Vodafone bloatware apps, makes for a more pleasant UI experience than the Huawei Nova Plus offers.

Read our full Vodafone Smart Platinum 7 review

Huawei P9

Huawei P9

Here's where Huawei shoots itself in the foot a little. It's already released a well-specced, classily designed all-metal phone in 2016, with a great 5.2-inch 1080p display that's only a little smaller than the one on the Nova Plus.

The Huawei P9 also has a much faster processor than its new sibling, not to mention an excellent dual-lens Leica-endorsed camera.

Most damning of all, given the usual Android handset depreciation, you can currently pick up a Huawei P9 for less than £400.

Read our full Huawei P9 review