REVIEW: The Nokia 7.1, a fine mid-range smartphone you should consider
If you want a decent mid-range phone, the Nokia 7.1 will not disappoint. But it's important to realise the limitations of mid-range.
Nokia has been making a comeback in recent times and has offered some solid options in the smartphone range, including the Nokia 7 Plus (you can read the full review of that here). Nokia has also reinvented the famous 3310 as an option for those looking for a simpler life these days.
As we've mentioned before, the mid-range smartphone is a tricky beast to get right. Some companies have delved into that realm and been left floundering with issues arising from underpowered hardware borrowed from budget smartphones.
But that's changed in recent years with a number of Chinese offerings which have broken the mould, with OnePlus and Huawei at the forefront, although their most recent offerings can't be considered in any way budget smartphones.
Nokia has submitted another addition to the market: The Nokia 7.1.
We'll start by outlining what comes in the Nokia 7.1's box.
- Nokia 7.1 smartphone
- USB Type-C cable
- In-ear headset
- Quick start guide
- SIM Ejector tool
The Nokia 7.1's 150x71x8mm dimensions means the phone sits somewhere between a Pixel 3 and a OnePlus 6T in terms of size, meaning it fits fairly comfortably in your hand.
It's crafted from a single block of aluminium and comes complete with a notch and a fair wedge of a chin at the bottom.
The edges are nicely chamfered, although we do wish phone makers would make a conscious effort to go back to rear cameras without bumps again.
The fingerprint scanner is around the back, as usual, and with a thickness of 8mm the Nokia 7.1 is also slightly chunkier than some of the best phones around, but it really isn't enough to make a difference.
Surprisingly, USB-C doesn't replace a 3.5mm headphone jack, which you'll find on top of the phone. Yes, we repeat, it has a headphone jack.
There's even a microSD card reader for expanding storage.
All in all, the design works very well and while it doesn't ooze premium quality like, say, an iPhone, we're big fans of the design.
The screen is 5.85 inches across, but this number is pumped up by the notch. It’s narrower than the 5.2-inch Nokia 5, making it very easy to handle and use.
The ace in its sleeve is the Nokia 7.1’s Full HD “plus” screen, and it's clearly one of its strongest points.
This is a pretty decent screen for the price you're paying.
Clip via Nokia Mobile
Everything on the screen is nice and sharp with a good wisp of brightness and contrast, despite the fact the Nokia 7.1 is using an IPS LCD display.
It also boasts an excellent software advantage over many other Android phones by being part of Google’s Android One programme. It runs a Google-style Android and will therefore have software and security updates for a number of years.
It's powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 chip, which is one of the maker's mid-range chips but is more than capable for every day tasks without delay. It can occasionally feel a little sluggish if you're used to the performance of high-end phones, but for regular every day use, it doesn't feel like an issue.
It runs with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, which makes it likely you'll need to look into the expandable memory mentioned earlier.
The Nokia offers:
- Dual-lens 12MP (f/1.8 aperture*)
- 5MP (f/2.4 aperture)
- 8MP front camera (f/2.0 aperture)
*F-stop value represents the amount of light that goes into the lens. The smaller the f-stop value, the more light will enter the lens. For example, an aperture of f1.8 will allow a lot more light than an aperture of f2.2, which causes better, brighter photography in low light conditions - night photos etc.
The camera software has a decent amount of options including Live Bokeh, Slow Motion and TimeLapse modes, while there's also a Pro mode that allows you to use manually adjust settings, but for most every day users, you'll be happy with the automatic settings.
Images shot in adequate light were crisp and detailed with vivid colours. Portrait shots were also quite impressive with good edge detection and smooth gradients between the subject and the background, although there is a susceptibility to over-sharpening images at times.
HMD Global, who own Nokia, have also made some great strides in terms of their low-light photos.
Video recording maxes out at 1080p for the front camera, while the rear module is capable of 4K video recording. The quality of videos is quite decent, with the electronic image stabilisation meaning the shots are relatively stable and clear.
The crisp and vivid HDR display is the main selling point of the Nokia 7.1, and is arguably one of the best in this price range.
Battery life isn't going to blow you away but the average users should have no problems getting through a day on a single charge. You also get fast charging that can deliver up to 50% of your battery back in 30 minutes.
The Nokia 7.1 is pretty much on par with its rivals when it comes to performance, cameras, and specs. It does, however, stand out from the crowd with its gorgeous display and surprisingly good cameras.
If you're looking for a good, mid-range smartphone, then it really won't disappoint you. But you're not going to mistake this for an iPhone XR or a Huawei Mate 20 Pro.
The Device is available Sim Free from €269 from Carphone Warehouse, Harvey Normans, Powercity and Three Ireland.