Nokia 7.1 review: Impressive design fused with smooth performance

Nokia 7.1 offers a brilliant display which isn't common in this price segment.

    Ever since Nokia made a comeback, the company has kept the market busy by launching new smartphones at regular intervals.

    Rating:
    4.0/5

    Nokia 7.1 review: Impressive design fused with smooth performance

     

    The latest device from the company is the Nokia 7.1 which is the successor of the Nokia 6.1 and a tad below the Nokia 8.1. Priced at Rs 19,999, the device comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 paired with 4GB of RAM, and an HDR 10 certified display which is the biggest highlight of the Nokia 7.1. But is the display enough to make this a good value for money? Let's find out in our review.

    Specifications

     

    • 5.84-inch IPS LCD display
    • Corning Gorilla Glass 3, HDR10
    • Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 CPU
    • Adreno 509 GPU
    • 3GB/4GB RAM
    • 32GB/64GB storage, 400GB expandable
    • Android 8.1 Oreo (Android One)
    • 12MP + 5MP Zeiss rear camera sensors 
    • 8MP selfie camera 
    • Fingerprint sensor
    • Non-removable Li-Ion 3060 mAh battery

     

    Design and Display

    Let's kick off with the design of the phone. The Nokia 7.1 has a glass sandwich and metal frame construction that gives it a premium look and feel. While the device isn't heavy, it still has enough mass to make it feel like a quality product.

    It borrows a similar design that we've previously seen on other Nokia-powered smartphones from HMD Global. The display takes most of the space of the front real estate, but no thanks to the LCD panel, Nokia couldn't trim the chins further. The front panel also has a notch which is pretty standard in size. Users can also hide it using a black notification bar.

    The company has housed no physical buttons on the face of the phone, and users will have to make do with the capacitive keys on the screen. However, you do have the power key and volume rockers on the right side. The left side holds the SIM card tray, and the secondary mic and a 3.5mm audio jack can be found on the top of the phone.

    The bottom side houses the primary mic, Type-C USB port, and the speaker grille. On the rear panel, you will find a dual camera setup with an LED flash and a fingerprint sensor which is followed by the Nokia and Android One branding.

    Speaking of the display, the Nokia 7.1 packs a 5.84-inch display with a resolution of 1080 x 2280 pixels. It is capable of playing HDR videos thanks to the HDR 10 support. The display is bright and crisp, and the color looks vivid from all the angles. The display quality of the Nokia 7.1 at this price point is something to be appreciated. We played some HDR content on the display and were surprised with the excellent quality.

    Software

    One of the best parts of this device is the software. Nokia going ahead with AndroidOne over Android seems to be working in its favor. The unit we reviewed had Android 9 out-of-the-box installed on it. There's no bloatware, and UI is really smooth and features like the 'Ambient Display' that shows missed calls, messages and app notifications without having to wake up the device, makes life easier.

    It also has some gestures like turning the phone over will reject a call, while picking up the device will mute the ringtone. The only ‘non-core' apps found on the device are the Nokia Support, and the Nokia Camera app. But that's forgivable given the fact that every manufacturer has to supply a camera app.

    The software also comes with a dark mode which darkens all the icons, toggle panels, and natives apps. You also get the Digital Wellbeing feature that allows you to keep track of time spent on different apps, how many times the phone has been unlocked, and the number of notifications on a daily basis.

    Camera

    Optics wise, the Nokia 7.1 packs a dual camera setup powered by Zeiss optics and electronic images stabilization. The setup comprises of a 12MP sensor with an aperture of f/1.8 and a 5MP sensor with f/2.4 aperture. For selfie enthusiasts, the company has placed an 8MP sensor up front.

    We tested the camera, and we found out that images taken in good lighting conditions had an ample amount of details and the colors looked vivid. The camera clicked some impressive bokeh shots as well, offering good edge detection between the subject and the background.

    We also tried clicking some pictures in the dark and they seemed to have a bit of noise, but the brightness was good. We noticed that the device sometime over-sharpens an image, making the color reproduction dicey. The company has surely made advancements in the low-light imaging with the Nokia 7.1, but there still many options in this segment that offer a better set of cameras.

    The front 8MP camera also takes decent selfies, although we did see some noise in the images taken in inadequate lighting conditions. But it still makes for a good overall performance. The rear camera is also capable of taking 4K videos with the quality being consistent and smooth throughout.

    Performance

    Under the hood, the Nokia 7.1 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 processor paired with 4GB of RAM. While it sounds like a pretty outdated for this price segment, the performance of the device is actually pretty zippy and smooth. The day-to-day tasks work like a charm and we didn't notice any lag or stutter while switching between the apps or navigating through the main menu. However, you wouldn't want to play high-end games on the Nokia 7.1 as it struggles to keep up with the pace the games require.
    Even mild gaming on the device made it a bit toasty, which is nothing new on devices that fall under this budget. If HMD rolls out some performance enhancing updates, we might be able to play a game or two of PUBG without roasting our palms.

    Other than gaming, there were hardly any issues with the performance unless you are a querulous user. It handles the multitasking easily and media playback worked smoothly with breaking a sweat. The smartphone is fuelled by a 3060mAh battery which in our case lasted for around seven hours. Our usage involved playing videos, constant WhatsApp chatting, mild gaming and browsing through social media apps like Instagram and Facebook. The device can easily last a day if you are a moderate user, but if you are someone who's constantly on the phone, you might need a charger by the end of the day.

    Verdict

    Overall, the Nokia 7.1 is an impressive device with a gorgeous design and a beautiful display. It offers a premium look that you won't find on a lot of devices in this price range.

    The display quality is something that makes this a stand out product, thanks to the HDR 10 certification. Although we do feel that the device can perform better in terms of graphics-intensive applications, otherwise the device works smooth as butter.

    The camera quality could have been better as well, but it still satisfactory if we consider the overall package. If we look beyond the minor flaws of the device, the Nokia 7.1 makes for a good value for money. It's highly recommended for people looking for a good screen in a smaller form factor and don't plan on firing up high-end games on their phones.

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