Last year's Nova and Nova Plus were two sides of the same coin. The smaller of Huawei's mid-range handsets looked like a miniature Nexus 6P; the bigger one had a whiff of OnePlus 3 about it.

The Nova 2 and Nova 2 Plus, though? They are pure iPhone 7.

For the 2017 sequels, Huawei has gone for an unmistakably Apple-esque vibe, complete with dual rear cameras for some fancy depth-of-field effects and lossless zoom.

Don't think of them as mere clones, though: if they ever make it to the UK, they might be the inexpensive Android alternatives ex-iPhone fans have been waiting for.

Huawei Nova 2 design & build

I got to fondle both phones, but spent more time with the 5.5in Nova 2 Plus. Apart from the screen size, though, they're otherwise identical.

Let's get this out of the way early: yes, they look a lot like the iPhone.

With no red accent around the power button, no metal band stretching across the dual cameras on the back (like you'd find on the more expensive P10) and no metallic accents around the edge of the screen bezels up front, there's even more of a resemblance here than on Huawei's current flagship - which itself has an uncanny resemblance to Apple's best.

I actually like this simpler look, though. Given the price, even coming close to matching Apple for look and feel isn't really a bad thing.

The metal unibody construction is easily up there with the best Huawei has to offer, too, with no visible seams or seals.

It's glossy around the sides, but tapers to a matte finish on the rear - you'd be hard-pressed to tell this wasn't a premium handset from a distance.

It's got all the mod cons you'd expect from a big bucks phone, too - USB-C charging, relatively slim screen bezels and a super-quick fingerprint sensor on the back. Oh, and let's not forget a 3.5mm headphone jack. Some things Apple does aren't worth copying.

Huawei Nova 2 screen & sound

The 5in Nova 2 and 5.5in Nova 2 Plus both have 1920x1080 LCD screens. Yes, the smaller phone looks sharper thanks to a higher pixel density, but not by much.

There's nothing major to complain about here - both have great viewing angles, enough brightness that I could see clearly outdoors (once I'd cranked it to the max, at least) and fairly vibrant colours.

I'd need to set one side-by-side with the P10 to see if Huawei has used a cheaper panel, but it certainly feels like you're getting the right level of screen for your cash.

The same can be said of the speaker at the bottom, which was about as loud as you'd expect from a smartphone. It's no HTC U11, but it'll do in a pinch for catching a YouTube video while you cook dinner.

Huawei Nova 2 performance

This is the first phone I've tried with Huawei's own Kirin 659 CPU inside. It might sound like a real step down from the Kirin 960 you'll find in the P10 an P10 Plus, but it's still an octa-core chip, with four 2.36ghz high performance cores and four 1.7ghz low power ones.

Paired with 4gb of RAM, there was easily enough power to run Android Nougat smoothly - even with Huawei's EMUI skin running on top, and a whole host of pre-installed apps filling up the internal storage. Which is standard practice for all phones in China, apparently.

I would easily expect it to hold its own against the Snapdragon 625 you'll find in most other mid-range phones.

The Mali-T830 GPU felt like a good match to the 1080p display, too, even if the bundled puzzle games weren't exactly the most graphically-instensive apps you'll find in the Play Store.

The smaller Nova has 64gb of built-in storage, while the larger Nova Plus steps this up to 128gb. Either way, you can add a microSD card to the second SIM card slot if you're running low on space.

Battery life is the only other major area where the two phones go their separate ways. The Nova 2 has a 2950mAh cell, but the bigger Nova 2 Plus makes room for a higher capacity 3340mAh one.

In general use, both phones should easily get you through a working day - especially as they both have 1080p screens. There's no power-sapping QHD resolution to worry about here.

I didn't get a chance to actually test that theroy, though - a full battery test will have to wait for a full review.

Huawei Nova 2 camera

If you've used the P10's dual cameras before, you'll have a good idea what to expect from the Nova 2 - the 12MP+8MP setup combine to let you zoom in to 2x with no real loss of quality, or to add dreamy bokeh effects to your photos.

The Camera app is almost identical, although there's no monochrome mode here - and of course no partnership with high-end camera gurus Leica.

That doesn't mean they can't take great photos, though: the snaps I took looked clear, detailed and colourful on the respective phone screens. There were a telltale signs of oversharpening, just like I experienced with the P10, but it's not clear right now how prominent it will be in the final firmware.

I didn't get the chance to copy my test shots off the demo unit I'd borrowed, so can't give a final verdict on image quality. Based on the hardware, it probably won't match the P10, but should still put in a good showing against the similarly priced competition.

Up front, the 20MP selfie cam talks a big game, but craving so many pixels into a tiny sensor isn't a guaranteed recipe for success. The snaps I took looked a little smudgy when zooming in - more than I'd expect given the pixel count, anyway.

Huawei Nova 2 Initial Verdict

The Nova 2 improves on the original with a streamlined design, uprated internals and dual cameras with genuinely useful features like zoom and portrait blur.

It's only confirmed for China so far, though, with no UK launch officially planned - but never say never. There's plenty here to like, including a price that should keenly undercut the P10.

$365 Nova 2, $423 Nova 2 Plus.

The only thing that could torpedo a UK launch is Huawei's own Honor brand - which is much more popular when it comes to less-expensive hardware that can still trade blows with the big boys.

Still, I'm hopeful you'll at least be able to pick one up SIM-free in the near future.