The Nokia 7.1 offers a careful balance of features and design that gives you a flagship-like experience at a real bargain
A choice between the design and the performance of a phone would often see the latter emerge as the most obvious winner. For a well-designed phone is of no use if it doesn’t perform well, but here’s the catch – the design of a phone, including its screen, back panel and ergonomics, affects the way one feels when using it. Which consequently mean that you can’t completely ignore the design of a phone. So, if the choice is inevitable, the best way to take is the middle ground – the balance between the two.
And that’s exactly what HMD Global’s latest Nokia 7.1 smartphone has to offer – it looks a lot like new iPhones, with tall screens, dual cameras and notches on top, and doesn’t shy away when pushed in terms of performance. But there’s one significant difference – the price.
The Nokia 7.1 is the first phone from Nokia’s stable to come with ‘PureDisplay’ screen technology, which supports HDR 10.
Encased in an aluminium body with glass on both front and back, the Nokia 7.1 looks and feels more like a 2018 flagship smartphone. It has Android One with a promise of fast updates and packs a camera that’s as capable as possible given the price. The edges around the sides are flat, helping with the firm grip while holding the device. And while there’s glass at the back, there’s is no support for wireless charging.
The back is clean and simple, with a dual-camera module at the top and an ergonomically placed fingerprint sensor that’s quick to react, followed by a Nokia and an Android One logo sculpted below.
The screen on the Nokia 7.1 fills up most of the front of phone for a great, modern look. It’s crisp and saturated enough for a delightful experience – I particularly found it pleasing while reading.
The Nokia 7.1 is available in Gloss Midnight Blue and Gloss Steel – both of which have a certain appeal, but the choice is purely subjective.
One advantage that the Nokia 7.1 has over many other Android phones in terms of software is that it’s a part of Google’s Android One programme, which means that it runs Google-style stock Android, with promised software updates for two years.
The Nokia 7.1 has full-HD+ 5.84-inch and 19:9 screen ratio display, which also automatically adjusts brightness and contrast ratios according to the ambient lighting conditions. The Nokia 7.1 also supports HDR10, which means you can enjoy wider colour gamut while viewing HDR-supported content through apps like Netflix and YouTube. The Nokia 7.1 also offers real-time SDR to HDR conversion, meaning you can experience HDR quality entertainment, event when your content is not.
The smartphone is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 processor and supports USB type-C fast charging. The Nokia 7.1 easily zipped through all the tasks and seamlessly ran all our favourite apps. While we did notice an occasional hiccup or two even with Instagram scrolling at times, it isn’t something to worry about, for all affordable phones can slow down a little when you throw multiple tasks at them at the same time.
Most games are likely to run well on this phone, but there could be an issue or two with graphics-intensive games.
One area where Nokia 7.1 lags behind is its single speaker. It’s not that great and the sound is, well simply put, unpleasant. It’s also very easy to block the speaker, which is placed at the bottom of the phone.
During our test, the 3,060mAh battery lasted for around a day, with around 20 per cent remaining by 8 p.m. But if you are one of those who even breathes through their smartphone, well then, the phone won’t last for more than 5 – 6 hours. Luckily, the phone charges quickly and hits 50 per cent charging in just 30 minutes.
There is a 12MP/5MP dual rear cameras powered by ZEISS optics that also captures Nokia-branded ‘bothie’ photos. The Nokia 7.1’s camera works on the notion ‘good when the lighting is good’. In ideal conditions, the images captured are great. But when the situations are less than ideal, the images tend to be flat and grainy.
The camera app launches quickly, and photos in general produce accurate colours. Daylight shots are surprisingly detailed.
In low-light conditions, while the details are lost, colours don’t seem to lose their originality. The company has added Portrait Mode to both front and back cameras, and the cameras do a great job of isolating the subject from the background to create an artistic bokeh.
There is also a Pro camera mode that gives you manual control over white balance, ISO, aperture and shutter speed. The Nokia 7.1’s AI enhanced front facing camera uses facial recognition to deploy animated 3D personas/masks and filters.
Overall, the cameras on Nokia 7.1 are far better in this range as compared to its competitors.
There’s always a growing space for devices that can bring the flagship experience at an affordable price, and the Nokia 7.1 strongly makes an argument in favour of such experience. The smartphone offers satisfactory performance, with a capable camera, an affordable price tag, a great screen and decent sound.
Display, Android One