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Nokia 7.1 Review: Hands-on

With Android One, great build quality and a sensible price the Nokia 7.1 could be a winner in a crowded market. Here's our hands on review
By Henry Burrell | 5 hours ago

The Nokia 7.1 is a familiar mid-range phone for the end of 2018: a notch, big bottom chin and dual cameras.


Its build quality is above average though, and Android One on board is preferable over some cheaper Android skins on phones the same price.

PRICE WHEN REVIEWED
  • £299
HMD Global launched the Nokia 7.1 at a flashy event in London. It seems even mid-range devices get the swanky announcements these days, but it’s possible that this phone is worth the effort.

It adds to Nokia’s growing range of smartphones with choice at every budget. The Nokia 7.1 (though HMD say Nokia 7 and not the “.1”, don’t get us started) could be a sweet spot of price, specs and design.

We had time with the phone at the London launch.

PRICE AND AVAILABILITY
The Nokia 7.1 will cost £299 in the UK for the 3GB RAM 32GB storage model. HMD says in Europe this version will cost €319 with a 4GB/64GB model available for €349.

The phone will be available for order on 5 October and launches in the UK on 17 October.

DESIGN AND BUILD
First impressions of the Nokia 7.1 are a phone with impressive build quality. A glass sandwich with a 6000 series aluminium rim, it’s a study phone with a decent weight to it.

The notch design is still not everyone’s taste, and it still looks odd with that and then a fat chin at the bottom emblazoned with the Nokia name. Surely it could be a rectangle with smaller bezels?

This aside, the glass is a nice hue on the Gloss Midnight Blue model we had time with. There’s also a white version called Gloss Steel with copper detailing. Debatably Nokia could have not made the phone quite so glossy if it hadn’t opted for glass, but it does make the phone feel more premium than it actually is.
It charges via the USB-C port on the bottom and has a headphone jack on the top edge. The slim design houses a 5.84in screen in 19:9 format, so this is a one-handed phone for most people. It looks and feels quite like the high-end LG G7 ThinQ in size and weight.

FEATURES AND SPECS
Despite its mid-range specs, the Nokia 7.1 is quite fully featured.

Screen
The phone has a 5.84in 19:9 notched IPS LCD display that looked excellent in our time with it. The 2280x1080 resolution is pretty great for a phone in this sub £300 price range.

It’s got decent touch response and supports HDR10, meaning high quality playback of compatible streaming content. Like the high-end Sony Xperia XZ3 the Nokia 7.1 can also actively upscale SD video into HD directly on the phone – a cool feature that works without you realising and should improve your day to day use.

Processor, memory and storage
With a Snapdragon 636 energy-efficient chip inside, the Nokia 7.1 should prove to have excellent battery life. The UK set up of 3GB RAM and 32GB storage is the minimum you’d want in a smartphone today, but the deal is sweetened by the free unlimited Google Photo cloud storage you get with the phone.

Connectivity and audio
Bluetooth 5.0 with aptX here will provide excellent wireless audio connectivity, and isn’t something found on every phone of this price. A single downfacing speaker is what you get for external audio for hands free calling.

Cameras
The dual camera set up is now standard fare for most phones at every price and the Nokia 7.1 joins the club. A 12Mp and 5Mp sensor mean you can take bokeh effect portrait shots of people and there’s a quite in-depth Pro mode built into the camera app.

You can also live stream video directly from the camera app to other platforms if that’s your thing.

An 8Mp front facing camera hides in the notch for selfie duties, plus the bothie that Nokia continues to push, which is still weird (a split image of a selfie and a person in front of you).

Battery life
With a 3060mAh battery the Nokia 7.1 should be able to see you comfortably through a day of use as its paired with such an efficient processor in the Snapdragon 636. USB-C fast charging promises 50% battery top up in half an hour – another great feature from premium phones that has successfully tickled down to the mid-range.

SOFTWARE
The killer feature for the Nokia 7.1 is the fact it runs Android One. In this instance it’s based on Android 8.1 Oreo but will get an update to Android 9 Pie soon after launch.

Android One is a clean, close to stock version of Android with excellent update perks.

HMD says the Nokia 7.1 will get three years of monthly security updates and two full OS updates to Android Pie and Q. Phones like the Honor 8X promise the OS updates too, but don’t have the advantage of Android One’s regular security updates.

It’s a great thing when you can buy a cheaper mid-range device in 2018 and know that it will be fully secure until 2021. This is particularly pertinent at this price when sometimes phones get no updates at all.

VERDICT
Despite the crowded mid-range the Nokia 7.1 could prove to be one of the best choices for a smartphone in the price range.

Its generic but solid design is improved with an above average display and the ongoing attractiveness of opting for Android One mean it’s a phone we will fully review with interest and could be the sweet spot for Nokia’s busy line up.



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