Nokia 7.1 hands-on: A $350 success story
It won’t make headlines, but this phone ticks all the right boxes.
The Nokia 7.1 isn’t going to steal any headlines but it represents a significant upgrade over its predecessor and could be a smash hit. Replacing the Nokia 7, it borrows several clues from the more-premium Nokia 7 Plus, and at $349, it could be a smash-hit stateside.
Aiming to provide competition for devices like the Honor 10, it has everything you’d expect in a mid-range smartphone. Excellent design, smooth performance and the best of Google, including fast updates thanks to Android One, no bloatware, and a streamlined experience — basically, everything we’ve come to expect from the new-and-improved Nokia.
The die-cast metal core and aluminum frame feels great in the hand, and the anodized metal finish looks stunning. Nokia tells us the design has been inspired by aspects of jewelry design, and this is apparent in the Gloss Steel version.
The hint of copper trim around the edges provides a subtle beauty, and it really feels like the Nokia 7.1 has been designed to accessorize with whichever outfit you’re wearing.
Great design, smooth performance and the best of Google — Nokia in a nutshell.
The 5.84-inch FHD+ 19:9 display is packed inside a compact body that belies the size of the screen, with 2.5D curved glass on top and rounded corners adding to the ergonomic feel. The display brings full HDR10 support, and promises to offer better a more immersive experience thanks to SDR to HDR real-time upscaling throughout the phone.
The rear fingerprint sensor is each to reach, fast, and sits beneath the dual camera setup. The main camera is a respectable 12MP f/1.8 combo, while the second camera is used to capture depth for portrait mode shots.
The updated bothie mode now lets you adjust the split between the front and rear cameras (right).
Nokia says the 7.1 is designed with storytellers in mind, and there’s a few new camera experiences to help you broadcast to your heart’s desire. You can now control the amount of bokeh in a picture using a helpful slider, and the viewfinder updates in real-time.
The single front 8MP camera comes with a new AI assisted portrait mode — we weren’t able to test it, but I wouldn’t expect excellent results here. Nokia has also added the Pro Camera, allowing you to fiddle with advanced settings when taking an image — and updated its dual capture “Bothie” mode to offer additional customization over your live streams. You can now add Snapchat-like filters and masks, and adjust the split between front and rear cameras – unlike the 50:50 split it is on other Nokia phones.
The Nokia 7.1 has a clean Android One take on Oreo, which should be lightening fast with the Snapdragon 636 processor. In the U.S., you’ll get 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage while some markets will get a cheaper model with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. The 3080mAh battery is on par with other devices at this price point and should power you through a full day.
Looking at everything it offers, the Nokia 7.1 offers a compelling mid-range experience at an attractive price point. It’ll be available at Amazon, Best Buy and B&H starting at $349, with pre-sales launching on October 5, and the phone available on October 28.
The widespread availability — crucially, including in-store at Best Buy from early next month — should put this phone front and center in front of prospective buyers and it has a real chance of being a success for Nokia stateside.
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