This past week I got to do something real amazing, I jetted off to Berlin, Germany as guest of Huawei SA to join them in introducing their new product line-up ahead of the festive season and beyond.
To my surprise, the company unveiled their new mid range device, the Nova. Many would ask whether the real smartphone excitement is happening in the mid-range? One thing is for certain, Huawei certainly seems to think so, first it was with the Honor 8 and now with the Huawei Nova and Nova Plus, two new, more affordable Android handsets. Revealed at IFA 2016 late last week. This is the Nexus 6P lookalike, as one fellow tech journo would call it.
First Impressions Count
The Nova has a 5-inch display and a sleek, brushed metal casing which the Chinese firm is counting on to differentiate it from rivals. Indeed, even at first glance one can see that there’s a lot going on with the Nova. The styling is reminiscent of what Huawei did with the Nexus 6P, with what Huawei is calling 360-degree diamond cut edges and a brushed hairline finish. Its sleek, everything looks composed.
Inside, there’s a Snapdragon 625 octacore running at 2.0 GHz, along with 3GB of RAM. Huawei says the 3,340 mAh battery – which gets 5V2A fast-charge – and should last for 54 hours of “normal” use (or 15hrs of HD video or 16hrs of browsing over 4G). If Pokemon GO is your thing, the Nova should run for about five hours of play, Huawei’s exec excitedly exclaimed. In my past week’s use, the device has managed to supply 11 hours of everyday use from a single charge – quite impressive give my extensive check on emails and social media apps.
Recharging is via USB-C, just as on the Nexus 6P and the Honor 8, and there’s a dual-SIM slot, one bay of which can be used for a microSD card instead. On the back, there’s a fingerprint reader which uses Huawei’s so-called level 4 security: beyond the ridge formation of level 2, and ridge path deviation of level 3, to instead capture a “3D fingerprint” instead – if that makes sense? Huawei says it has FIDO certification, too.
An 8-megapixel front-facing camera is used for Huawei’s current obsession, selfies, and indeed there’s the company’s own Beautiful Skin 3.0 and Beauty Makeup 2.0 software which can apply virtual cosmetics according to a number of themes. The Nova has a 12-megapixel BSI rear camera, with optical image stabilization and both phase and contrast autofocus, together with 4K video recording.
The same specifications are shared with the normal Nova, which we only had minimal play time with. That downgrades to a 5-inch Full HD display and a 3,020 mAh battery. Huawei expects that to last for 48 hours of average use (or 15 hours of HD video or 16 hours of 4G browsing). It also gets a 16-megapixel rear camera. The image quality is self evident.
Of course, because it’s Huawei, there’s a strange obsession with using your knuckles to interact with Android. On the Nova Plus, for instance, you can use your knuckle to crop images or trace an “S” to trigger a long-page screen capture. A two-knuckle gesture starts screen recording, or can be used to crop videos.
Perhaps more useful is the one-touch control, which turns the fingerprint sensor into a scroll pad and shortcut key. You can flip through photos and answer calls with it, as well as pull down the notification slide or use it as a camera shutter release.
Huawei offers the Nova Plus in three colours – titanium grey, mystic silver and prestige gold – and the Nova in four colurs (rose gold fans are set to rejoice). With 32GB of storage it’ll be priced at around R3999 for the Nova and R5000 for the Nova Plus and go on sale in October, though local availability is not yet confirmed.
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