The Finnish company recently introduced the Nokia 7.1, a fairly premium device for its price. Unfortunately, the smartphone is not good enough to stick out above the stiff competition. In this review you can read why.
HMD Global, the Finnish company responsible for Nokia smartphones, has had a number of busy months behind it. There were no less than twelve smartphones from the manufacturer in 2018, and although that shows that things are going well with the Finns, this is not necessarily useful for the consumer. Which device do you have to choose, and what are the biggest differences between a smartphone of 250 and 350 euros?
It gets even more complicated when you as a manufacturer will release variants of your devices, with minimal differences and confusing names. So you have the Nokia 3, Nokia 3.1 and Nokia 3.1 Plus worldwide, and there are already four phones with the number seven released: the Nokia 7, 7 Plus, 7.1 and 7.1 Plus. At the end of October the Nokia 7.1, a midrange smartphone with a suggested retail price of 350 euros, was introduced in the Netherlands. With this device we have been working in the past few weeks.
Design and screen
For a phone of about 350 euros, the Nokia 7.1 has a strikingly beautiful design and sturdy housing. The phone has a glass back and is embraced by a metal frame. This allows the 7.1 to take a beating and you do not have to worry immediately if you drop it. Also nice: fingerprints are less visible on the glass back than with many other Android smartphones. Perhaps this has something to do with the blue color.
If we turn the Nokia 7.1 on, the device looks less original. Like many other Android phones that have appeared this year, the 7.1 has a large screen with thin edges on the side and a notch in the screen. On the Nokia phone, the notch feels more like a gimmick, because there is a decent ‘chin’ under the screen, which is much larger than with other smartphones. If the edge had been thinner, the screen could have been slightly lowered, making the notch unnecessary.
Fortunately, there is little to say about the quality of the screen. The display measures 5.84 inches and has a resolution of 2280 by 1080 pixels, which ensures sharp images. Unique is that the screen also supports HDR videos, and ‘normal’ images can also be converted to HDR. This works well and ensures that the screen shows more detail and more beautiful colors.
Reasonable hardware, clean software
Where the Nokia 7.1 has on the outside peaks of a high-end smartphone, it is clearly one on the inside of the middle segment. The phone has a Snapdragon 636 chip, which is also included in the HTC U12 Life and Motorola Moto Z3 Play, with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. This is not very impressive and the performance of the hardware can also be described.
The Snapdragon 636 chip is simply not the fastest and in daily use you will notice it. Regularly you see small hitches and animations often do not run smoothly. Similar devices like the Xiaomi Mi A2 (also part of the Android One program) and the Motorola Moto G6 Plus are clearly faster, and here Nokia bumps a bit behind. The fingerprint scanner is fast again.
The big plus, and also the most important reason to buy the smartphone, is the software. The Nokia 7.1 is an Android One phone and receives security updates and two big updates to new Android versions for three years. It is a bit of a shame that the 7.1 runs out of the box on Android 8.1 (Oreo), but the Pie update is being rolled out at the time of writing. In addition, you are well in the coming time as well in terms of security updates, because they appear every month pretty smoothly.
Furthermore, it is nice that Nokia does not make adjustments to Android, and leaves the operating system as Google intended. The Finnish manufacturer only supplies its own camera app, all other applications are from Google itself.
On the back of the Nokia 7.1 is a dual camera of 12 and 5 megapixel camera, where the secondary lens is there to gather depth information for portrait photos. Those pictures look good, but do not expect miracles. Edges are not always well cut out, but if it works, it looks very nice. It is of course the case that more expensive smartphones apply the bokeh effect (much) better.
Nokia 7.1 is ideal for everyday photos. With enough daylight, pictures look nice and sharp, reasonably truthful and colorful. In the evening hours the quality deteriorates and you see noise quickly, but that is to be expected for a device in this price range.
Nokia supplies its own camera app, which is a bit complicated. At the top you see eight different buttons, each with their own function, and at the bottom are all different modes. That may be a bit overwhelming and you will probably need some time to master all the functions. Fortunately, the camera app is pretty smooth.
Moderate battery life
With a capacity of 3060 mAh, the battery of the Nokia 7.1 is big enough to get through the day, but you should not expect more. With light use you run into few problems, although more intensive users at the beginning of the evening will have to find a socket to charge the phone for a while.
That charging is fairly fast due to the included fast charger: in half an hour you have the battery full again. In addition, the speed slows down, but that is not very disturbing. Wireless charging is not available, despite the glass housing, and is currently reserved for high-end smartphones.