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

Last year, Huawei built a phone for Google called the Nexus 6P, and everyone who had one loved it. Huawei's "nova" (officially lowercase) resembles a slimline version of the Nexus 6P. But while it retains the quite beautiful design, the Nova is not a Nexus 6P at all. The five-inch Nova is the latest in a rapidly proliferating …

  1. James 51 Silver badge

    +1 for micro sd, - 1 for non removable battery but with a modest chit set and decent battery that isn't a huge issue. Still, my S6 was £10 more. If you wait a year last year's flagship phones slip into the mid market in terms of price but are still (generally) excellent phones.

  2. Known Hero

    With so many comparisons to the Iphone, why no side by side comparison photo's of the two ?

    1. JDX Gold badge

      You probably already know what an iPhone looks like

      1. Known Hero

        Your not wrong there. But not in comparison ;)

  3. ragnar it recommended? I always find it hard to tell with a review written like this.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I think the article is recommending it, but only if you specifically want something that's iPhone sized, but cheaper and based on Android.

      If you can tolerate a larger device the article suggests a couple of other phones instead:

      Cheaper and with better camera: Huawei Honor 8

      Best value (flagship camera, CPU and RAM, but still £20 cheaper than the nova): OnePlus 3

      Personally (I know I'm anon, but hey!) I bought the OnePlus 2 for me, and more recently the OnePlus 3 for my wife. Both are very good phones and amazing value for money.

      1. Chz

        Indeed. Unless you desperately need to shave off that half a centimetre of height, the Honor 8 is a far better value and not gigantic in the pocket. The only phone that really competes with the OP3, IMO.

  4. Yves Kurisaki

    So it's a mediocre phone with a slow processor, a mediocre camera and mid-range specs all around.. but that is supposed to take market away from the iPhone? Are you smoking crack?

    It's going to steal market space from the other mediocre phones, not from iPhones.

    And since the article points it out, I use a OnePlus 3T which kicks the shit out of that mediocre phone, while costing the same. It's not the same size as the iPhone, but it could actually steal iPhone users. Me being one of them, just having ditched my iPhone 7.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      C'mon, be fair, the article did stress that this was just about the size of the handset. For some people it's the physical size (or the colour of the casing) that is the most important aspect when choosing a new phone.

      No-one round here though, obviously...

    2. IsJustabloke Silver badge


      "but that is supposed to take market away from the iPhone? Are you smoking crack?"

      No, it wasn't saying that at all... it was saying that it might be a viable choice for people want a phone the size of an iPhone but the price of a mid-range android.

      The words are all there, in English and in reasonably good order, perhaps spending a little time comprehension class rather than simply being snarky might be in order.

    3. Andy 73

      So are you saying

      "Me being one of them, just having ditched my iPhone 7."

      ..that even when they switch phones, iphone owners remain snarky and self-important? ;)

      (joking of course, some of my best friends have iPhones)

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: So are you saying

        Why would anyone be dumb enough to buy a brand new just released iPhone, then dump it for Android a couple months later? If you were that close to switching, surely you would have made do with what you had before while waiting for just the right Android to come along instead of spending all that money?

        The One Plus 3 is a nice phone, but is hardly so revolutionary compared to other Android phones that it changes the equation between iPhone and Android.

        I take any claims of having "just switched from an iPhone 7" (or the equivalent "just switched from a top of the line Android that just came out") with a grain of salt. Maybe you switched from an iPhone, but I'd bet money it wasn't a 7.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The iPhone is a mediocre phone, with a walled garden , a premium price, and a knob end hipster reputation.

      So yes, another in a long line of phones that do things better than iphone. How else do you think android phones to 90% marketshare? There is a product for everyone. For prople that want premium, there are androids, for prople that want big, or a small, or cheap, or waterproof, or ruggedised and so on...

  5. my fingers stuck

    huawei nova

    sounds luke a good phone, but why would anyone buy it, only, only a few weeks ago The Register exposed Huawei phones as being one of the " fone home ' gang

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: huawei nova

      exposed Huawei phones as being one of the " fone home ' gang

      Hold, on who ISN'T in that gang? There's a list, but it's a small list, and even for the "possibly not" gang, the silicon is still from China, the underlying firmware and software from the States. And that's before we write off people like ARM or CSR who could hide whatever GCHQ wanted in their designs.

  6. The Mole


    For those of you who haven't memorized the price of the OnePlus3 at Carphone warehouse the Nova is being sold for £349.99 (please include these rather important details in the actual review).

    Personally that is far more than I want my mid-range phone to be priced, which is a shame as the size is exactly what my wife is looking for and (rather sensibly) thinks anything large than 5" is bulky, it is a shame the mobile phone companies seem to be generally ignoring this market.

    1. Dabooka Silver badge

      Re: Price

      I'm glad you did that, I read through the article twice thinking I'd missed it and didn't want to get lambasted by the Reg faithful by asking!

    2. AndrueC Silver badge

      Re: Price

      what my wife is looking for and (rather sensibly) thinks anything large than 5" is bulky

      Dabbs, is that you?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Price

      Xiaomi Redmi 3S, 3GB, 32GB. 13Mpixel Sony rear camera, dual sim or single sim plus microsd. £150-£180 with UK software. Anything else is vastly overpriced.

    4. Orv Silver badge

      Re: Price

      I agree that anything over 5" is bulky. It's the difference between fitting easily in a coat pocket and not fitting. I also like to hold my phone in landscape mode and type with my thumbs, and above a certain size that "B" key gets to be quite a stretch. It's even more of an issue for some of my more petite friends.

      I've been using the Sony Xperia Z5 Compact for the last year. It's in between an iPhone 5c and an iPhone 6 in size. It does appear somewhat thick, but a lot of that is due to the edges being squared off instead of tapered. Unlike a lot of manufacturers, Sony seems committed to OS updates -- I've gotten at least three in the time I've owned the thing, including an update to Android Marshmallow. Their modifications to Android are thoughtful and unobtrusive -- some of them seem straight out of CyanogenMod.

      Also, the earphones that came with it are stupidly good. I almost threw them out without trying them because every other pair I've gotten with a phone has been trash, but I guess Sony put some effort into these.

      Cons: The camera, while pretty good in most respects, has a ton of shutter lag and trouble focusing up close. The software also over-sharpens images, accentuating noise in darker shots. The case has a weak spot between the power button and bezel; if it cracks there, the top right edge of the screen can pop out and make the proximity sensor misbehave. No wireless charging. Sometimes feels sluggish under heavy use -- another gig of memory would have helped here. Not officially sold in the US, so I had to get it from a dodgy importer, but it works fine on T-Mobile (and would probably also work on AT&T).

  7. kmac499

    5 inch is more than big enough for me thank you, (for a phone anyway) Anything larger than a handful is just waste to paraphrase the old wisdom..

  8. tony72

    Narrow bezels is the new thin?

    Just like it used to be "ooh, look how thin we can make the phone", now it seems to be "ooh, look how narrow our bezels are", regardless of whether it actually does anybody any good.

    Personally, I'd rather have an extra millimetre or two of thickness, and a battery that lasts a few hours longer. And likewise I'd rather have an extra millimetre or two of bezel, and be able to hold the damn thing without accidentally touching the edges of the screen. But hey, can't have such practicalities get in the way of fashion, eh?

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Narrow bezels is the new thin?

      It is the new thin and it is a bad thin too.

      I really want to see a good selection of drop tests for a narrow bezel phone like that. I suspect the glass will shatter trivially where other phones easily survive.

      1. W4YBO

        Re: Narrow bezels is the new thin?

        The sleeve for my Nexus 6P pushed against the edge of the installed 0.3 mm glass screen protector enough to pull a bubble up under the protector. After cleaning and remounting the protector, I ended up trimming a tiny strip (0.1 - 0.5 mm) off the sleeve where it curled over the narrow bezel.

    2. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Narrow bezels is the new thin?

      Narrower bezels have a point - more screen for less bulk. Yes, the OS needs to be smart enough to tell fingers touching the edges while holding / shifting the phone from deliberate touches intended for UI effect. I guess "you're holding it wrong" really might apply in this case! I hope the rumors that the next gen iPhone does away the bezel mostly/entirely are true, because a bigger screen at the same size sounds like a good deal to me, and I'm sure Apple wouldn't do that unless they've got the touching issues handled.

      As for wanting a thicker phone - does your battery last less than a day? If so, you either use your phone a LOT, or you bought a shitty phone that doesn't manage its battery well. Most of the time I charge my 6S plus every other day. If it was thicker and had more battery I guess I could charge it only twice a week, which would provide me exactly ZERO benefit, but with the downside that it weighs more. No thanks!

      If you have a phone that lacks battery and wish it was thicker there's a simple fix - get one of those cases with a built in battery. It'll make your phone thicker, and last longer, so you get what you want without inconveniencing the vast majority of the market (proven by low sales from thick phones with jumbo batteries, which is why they are so hard to find!) who would prefer a thinner phone. Not because of the thinness per se, but because it is lighter. Who wants to cart around a phone weighing over half a pound just so they need to charge it less often?

  9. Cuddles Silver badge

    Is this a joke?

    Huawei Nova - 141.2 x 69.1 x 7.1mm

    Galaxy S7 - 142.4 x 69.6 x 7.9 mm

    iPhone 7 - 138.3 x 67.1 x 7.1 mm

    It's basically the same size as Galaxy S7 (and most 5" phones are similar) and nowhere near an iPhone 7, so why the endlessly repeated nonsense about it being the same size as an iPhone? It may well be an impressive technical achievement to manage to cut 0.5mm off your phone's width, but no-one who uses it is even going to notice that, let alone care, and they certainly won't think it's the same size as a much smaller phone if they ever see the two next to each other.

    1. Law

      Re: Is this a joke?

      I had the same reaction, not sure why you got voted down really.

      There are more comparable mid-rangers to the iPhone 7 in size than this, but we can't have a phone review without the mention of an iPhone in there somewhere, it's the rules.

      Out of interest, I compared the iPhone 7, the Nova and the Galaxy A3 (more like-for-like if we're talking dimensions rather than spec here).... it's also more affordable than the Nova, and closer in pixel density too. It has more screen protection too (unless gsmarena hasn't got all the details for the nova there - it's bare).

      The point is, it's not even close to the first cheap android I can think of if people just want a smaller iPhone-esc size - there wasn't really any need to bring up iPhone once, never mind 7 bloody times.

      See for yourself:

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Is this a joke?

        >There are more comparable mid-rangers to the iPhone 7 in size than this, but we can't have a phone review without the mention of an iPhone

        The iPhone is a common object out there in wider society, so most people will know roughly how big they are without owning one. The are dozens of different Android models used by people I know, so most folk won't know a Galaxy A 3 Aqua Compact Plus if they saw one.

  10. pyite

    Headphone volume

    The most irritating Nexus mis-feature is the way they limit the headphone audio. Apparently this was due to a lawsuit involving the Nexus One. It is possible to fix this, but you have to root the phone which I want to avoid if possible.

    Do the Huawei phones such as this one and the Mate 8 do the same thing? If not, I think Santa will have to bring me one of these two phones.



    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Headphone volume

      If you haven't tried it, the non-root workaround for that issue is an app called "Hearing Saver" (slightly ironically); with that, you can set a volume to be applied when your headphones are plugged in, and another to be applied when you unplug them, and those volumes override the "safe" limit.

      1. pyite

        Re: Headphone volume

        Thanks for the suggestion, I'll give it a try! When I use my phone with an FM transmitter to listen in my pre-bluetooth car, I have to turn both the phone and radio to 100% volume for it to be barely listenable while driving.

        Anyone know if the Huawei's have this limitation?

    2. Bassey

      Re: Headphone volume

      I don't have the Nova but the last Huawei Phone I had DID have a limit set when you plugged in your headphones but it very politely asked if you were sure when you tried to go above its limit, warned you it might damage your hearing but then let you go ahead. My current Xiaomi Redmi S3 Prime does the same thing so maybe it is a (rather more sensible) Chinese solution to the lawsuit problem.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And uncontrolled Android market segmentation continues. Unabaited

    Great, yet another slick phone with an OS that will never ever see a security update from the real Choco Factory. Good luck with that cute, slick, wafer thin craptastic device. Rejoice, you're already hacked!

  12. Peconet57

    I am on my Samsung S4 4lte.

    I will keep my Galaxy S4 with its 9000 mah battery. It is a tad thick with the battery but not too bad for holding. On one full charge it lasts me two to three weeks depending on usage.

    1. W4YBO

      Re: I am on my Samsung S4 4lte.

      Does it come with welding leads? That's a big honkin' battery!

  13. tiggity Silver badge

    Kudos for including some oft asked for specs info

    Thumbs up to Mr. O for including details often overlooked on review summaries and so subsequently asked about in comments e.g.

    Dual SIM

    SD card support & max size support

    Info on battery removability.

    Though soon no doubt will also be required to mention 3.5 mm headphone jack (as a definite plus point!) if comparing to iphone7

    And the "buys some new leads" requirement of USBC probably needs to be a must have bit of info these days (even if just to confirm USBC as most common intefca eon new phones, given the amount of flaky USBC cables around I'm just holding off on it as long as possible until non dubious cables are cheap & abundant as my phones get charged in lots of locations & I keep a cable in each location so cable change is an issue).

  14. bbsimonbb

    I just bought a Huawei Honor. It came with a little sticker "Honor - For the brave". They're still not teaching irony in Chinese marketing schools.

    1. Down not across Silver badge

      Chinese slogans

      I just bought a Huawei Honor. It came with a little sticker "Honor - For the brave". They're still not teaching irony in Chinese marketing schools.

      The slogans on the many of the Chinese products are endless source of amusement. Going back (quite a ) few years there were cheap MP3 players at Bezos Bazaar. The brand was Ainol. And their slogan..

      "Enjoy life, enjoy Ainol"

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Chinese slogans

        Pretty sure Ainol are still around, though the last time I saw the name they were flogging cheap tablets.

        Coat please - the one with the 8" suppository in the pocket...

  15. speedster614

    Looks good

    But can anyone tell me whats the price of this phone in UK, I was thinking to buy another Huawei model name honor 4, I saw good reviews about it,like this let me know which one will be better. thanks

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