REVIEW: Nokia 7.1
With most modern flagship phones now in the €1000+ price range, Nokia has introduced a sub €300 phone that is sure to impress buyers on a budget. HMD Global, the newest owners of the Nokia brand have brought these handsets a long way from the likes of Snake and cumbersome phone. The new Nokia 7.1 is not only great value for money but also looks the part too.
Trying to find the balance between affordability and premium features is quite difficult to do but Nokia, for the most part, have achieved this with the 7.1.
Having spent the last few weeks using the Nokia 7.1 over my previous handset, the Huawei Mate 20 Pro, I’ve definitely been impressed with what Nokia has achieved for such an affordable phone.
From the minute you take the Nokia 7.1 out of the box, you can see Nokia’s design and engineering expertise at work. With it glass front and back, anodised diamond cut edges and ergonomic feel in the hand, the Nokia 7.1 definitely feels a lot expensive than it’s price tag.
On the front, there’s an impressive Full HD+ 5.8″ PureDisplay LCD that supports HDR and even upscales SDR content to HDR.
The Nokia 7.1 has a glass back and a bright and responsive Full HD+ 5.8″ display with a 19:9 screen ratio. The display uses what Nokia calls a PureDisplay LCD, which means that it supports HDR content and even upscales SDR to HDR. Admittedly, there’s no escaping the notch at the top of the display and quite substantial chin at the bottom as well but, again, given it’s price point, we’re happy to over look these design choices.
Round the back of the device is the dual camera set up with dual LED flash (more on this below) and the stylish fingerprint scanner, which, if we’re honest, could be a little faster but gets the job done either way. You’ve got your single firing speaker at the bottom of the device with the USB Type charging port also. Thankfully, for you headphone jack fans out there, Nokia has included one on the top of the device also.
Under the hood, the new Nokia 7.1 has a Snapdragon 636 processor, 3GB of RAM and 32GB of onboard storage and can support MicroSD cards up to 400GB.
The phone runs Android Oreo out of the box, but we received our upgrade to Android 9 Pie during our time testing the device. The 7.1 was a respectably fast phone to begin with but with the latest version of Android (which the handset is going to be upgraded to for the next two years) it runs even smoother which is very impressive given its midrange processor.
All of these specs combined make the Nokia 7.1 a smartphone that is sure to suit the needs of most users. Spotify, Instagram, Facebook and even a little bit of light gaming were a breeze on the device and it was only graphically intense gaming like PUBG Mobile that caused one or two hiccups.
When it comes to power users though, the Nokia 7.1’s battery life might not be what they’re looking for clocking in at 3060mAh. If you’re someone that’s on your phone all day long, be it for general browsing, scrolling Instagram or taking photos for example, you might be looking for the charger before the day is out. Otherwise, if you’re more of a moderate to light user, you should be okay.
I must note though, the Nokia 7.1 uses fast charging via USB Type C so I was actually able to get about 50% battery in just over 30 mins which is very handy if you’re in a rush.
For the HDR PureDisplay Nokia has included on the device, watching HDR content on Netflix really is quite impressive. Better still, the phone’s ability to upscale regular SDR or standard dynamic range content to HDR on the likes of YouTube is also pretty cool, we just wish the peak brightness of the display was a little higher to really make things pop.
Let’s not beat about the bush here, budget phones are never really known for their camera capabilities when compared with the likes of Hauwei, Apple and Google. That might change with the Nokia 7.1. On the rear of the device, you’ve got a dual camera set up with 12MP (f1.8) and 5MP (2.4) lenses and, from our tests, we were very impressed with what this set up is capable of.
As to be expected, the camera performs best under good levels of lights and is also able to take impressive close ups as well. The ‘Live Bokeh’ mode is also well implemented and being able to edit the bokeh level, even after taking the photo, is a really nice touch.
There’s also Auto HDR mode which can be a lifesaver when trying to capture images in high contrast scenarios like against a bright window or directly into the sun. It does this by combining multiple shots at varying exposures into one final HDR image. This settings is turned on my default and really helps out in tricky lighting scenarios, we just wish it worked on the selfie camera too. Speaking of which, there’s an 8MP camera up front which gets the job done but make sure you avoid the aggressive Beauty mode by switching it off.
As with most smartphones now, the Nokia 7.1 also comes with an Auto HDR mode that combines multiple shots to get the most vivid colours in your photos. The camera comes with this setting turned on by default, and I never felt the need to turn it off.
With most modern flagships gradually increasing their prices into astronomical levels, HMD Global and the Nokia brand have shown you can still create impressive, all round handsets for a fraction of the cost. The Nokia 7.1 is an excellent phone at its price-point and I’m sure anyone looking to pick one up won’t be disappointed.