Nokia’s latest addition to its ever-growing mid-range line up, the Nokia 7.1, is all set to go on sale on December 7. You can also pre-order it on Nokia’s official site. The question is, should you?
The larger, flatter-than-usual box holds the Nokia 7.1 handset, a fast-charging brick, Type-C cable and a pair of earphones. The phone itself is stunningly good-looking. Its sleek and solid build means it doesn’t look like anything mid-range. The build quality on the device is exceptional. It’s far from thick, coming in at just under 8mm. But with that beautiful glass back, you may want to be careful with how you hold it. And yes, that surface is also something of a fingerprint magnet but not much you’d expect.
The back of the phone holds the camera module in the centre with the fingerprint sensor right below it – and a little too close to the surface, so you can miss it sometimes. It’s also not as responsive as other phones in this segment.
On the front, the screen has a chin with the Nokia logo and a notch at the top, which is a very popular trend in today’s smartphone market.
Display: (almost) the fairest of them all
This is where the 7.1 shines. With a PureDisplay that is HDR-10 compliant, it is the first phone in its class to have such a high-resolution screen. It also has the ability to convert your SDR videos to HDR, which means super-sharp videos to show off with. Images look sharp and bright on the vivid 5.84-inch screen, making viewing content on this device a real pleasure.
It is a rather narrow device, though, so it may take a while to find the right grip.
The screen ratio itself has been optimised for most apps, though I did face some issues with Instagram. YouTube allows you to zoom into the video to occupy the full screen but Amazon Prime does not.
Yes, the cameras are great!
The Zeiss lenses on the rear have been a big part of the 7.1’s marketing campaign. With a 12MP main camera and a 5MP depth sensor, the camera takes awesome pictures in natural light, although sometimes the ‘advanced AI depth-based imaging’ struggles to capture DSLR-style photos when the object in focus does not have clear edges.
It falters a bit in low light but the HDR does a good job of bringing out detail in dimly-lit surroundings. The device is even capable of recording in 4K UHD. The front camera is also good and is able to pull off the portrait (bokeh) mode, unlike many others in this class. The custom-built camera app also allows you to take a picture simultaneously from both the front and rear cameras. The multi-screen is fairly seamless – standard Android.
Performance: not quite a workhorse
The 7.1 comes with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 636 processor and 4GB of RAM, specs that have become the minimum requirement in the mid-range market. However, the choice to include the 636 instead of the 660 is a little perplexing because a lot of its immediate competitors like the Mi A2 have better processors. Moreover, the price tag of Rs 20,000 brings it dangerously close to the Pocofone F1 which has a Snapdragon 845. Despite this, the 7.1 handles smoothly and is capable of playing games like PUBG Mobile without affecting the gamer experience.
I didn’t experience any lag for everyday apps, nor does it have a problem loading old apps. But the old apps to reload if you’re running a RAM-intensive app like PUBG.
The phone is running Android 9.0 Pie out of the box. The Pie interface is a big jump from its predecessor. It’s part of the Android One program, which means it comes with clean, bloatware-less, stock Android and is guaranteed for relatively quick updates for the next two years.
The battery life is okay(ish)
The 7.1 is powered by a modest 3060mAh battery capable of fast charging through its USB Type-C port. A fast charger comes with the box. It also lives up to HMD’s claim that the device will charge to 50 percent in 30 minutes.
The less power-intensive Snapdragon 636, paired with Android Pie’s power-adaptive battery feature, increases the efficiency. With moderate use (some video streaming, messaging, a few photos and about 20 minutes of gaming), I was able to get through the day, but just barely. If you’re planning on gaming or staying out late, keep your charger handy.
It does heat up a little if you’re memory-intensive gaming for a prolonged period (over 1 hour), but nothing alarming.
Music to your ears? Not quite
The phone comes with a single, bottom-firing speaker next to the Type-C port. The audio quality is not the best and the tiny speaker easily gets covered when using the phone for watching videos or playing games. The speaker is most definitely not one of the high points here. There is a headphone jack but you should probably swap out the plastic in-box earphones for something more comfortable
So…should you buy it?
The Nokia 7.1 is certainly a well-built phone with solid hardware and smooth software. However, possibly its biggest drawback is the rather pricey Rs.19,999 price tag. For these specifications, many competitors like the Mi A2, Motorola One Power and even the Nokia 6.1 Plus at the lower end, and the Pocofone F1 at the higher end, offer better deals in terms of price. In terms of build quality and screen resolution, however, it blows everything else out of the water.
The cheaper, more powerful phones in the mid-range market give this Nokia device some fierce competition. However, if you’re one of the many Indian consumers who wants a robust, good looking phone, then the Nokia 7.1 device will prove itself a worthwhile purchase.