Since the revival of the Nokia brand in India, HMD Global has been on a launching spree clearly aimed at achieving the product breadth the brand had in the past. The company has announced phones across price brands between budget and premium. Nokia 3.1 Plus is a budget device that is priced is Rs 11,499 for its 3GB RAM and 32GB storage option. Like most smartphones these days, Nokia 3.1 Plus has a full-screen display without the notch.
Nokia 3.1 Plus goes up against the likes of Realme U1, which will cost Rs 11,999 as well as Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1 that has a 5,000mAh battery and is priced starting at Rs 10,999. There is Xiaomi’s Redmi Note 5 Pro as well, but it does not offer a 3GB RAM+32GB storage model and the base variant with 4GB RAM+64GB storage is available at a price of Rs 12,999.
Nokia 3.1 Plus relies on the Nokia nostalgia, but has been upgraded with an 18:9 aspect ratio display as well as dual cameras, which is in line with smartphones these days. This is an Android One device that runs a stock version of Android, with a promised upgrade to Android Q. We spent a week with Nokia 3.1 Plus and here is our review:
Nokia 3.1 Plus specifications: 6-inch HD+ display | MediaTek Helio P22 processor | 3GB RAM+32GB storage | 13MP+5MP rear camera and 8MP front camera | Android 8.1 Oreo | 3500 mAh battery
Nokia 3.1 Plus price in India: Rs 11,499
Nokia 3.1 Plus review: Design and Display
Nokia 3.1 Plus sports a distinctive design in the budget segment, which I took a liking to as soon as I held the device in my hands. The phone sports an aluminum back cover with a non-slippery soft-touch rubbery finish, which gives it a good grip. The blue colour variant we got for review looks very classy and subtle. Nokia 3.1 Plus is encased in metal frames with plastic caps on top and bottom.
On the front is a large 6-inch display with a prominent chin and a thick top bezel that has the Nokia branding and includes the front camera along with the earpiece. Even with thick bezels, the screen is big enough to offer an immersive experience with videos and games. Nokia has decided not to go with a notch on this one, unlike Nokia 5.1 Plus. Frankly, I find this feature distracting even on phones where it can be turned off. So, I appreciate Nokia 3.1 Plus, which offers a full display with a screen aspect ratio of 18:9.
The display has an HD+ resolution, which has decent viewing angles and is easy on the eyes. The colour reproduction is good, though I did need to switch the brightness to maximum in the bright outdoors. However, the lack of a full HD+ display is disappointing, especially when rivals include this feature. The ambient display that shows time day and date, as well as battery level when you lift up the phone, is another positive. I found this feature useful and it does not eat up a lot of battery.
Nokia 3.1 Plus review: Camera
The camera is very good for the asking price and includes all the bells and whistles of a live bokeh mode, manual mode, etc. I got good photos in bright outdoors had good detailing and colour reproduction. I was happy with indoor photos as well. My major issue with the camera was it takes time to render images, especially in Portrait mode, which was really frustrating.
The low-light photos had some amount of noise. But keeping in mind this is a budget smartphone I would say the low-light photos are at par with the competition. The front 8MP is quite nice and I was happy with the results in different light conditions. Of course, the details are not as good but should keep most users happy.
Nokia 3.1 Plus review: Processor, Battery, and Memory
Nokia 3.1 Plus offers average performance, good enough to carry on with daily tasks such as making phone calls, messaging, browsing social media and listening to music. With multiple tabs open, the phone starts to stutter and I noticed lag while switching between tabs. I would not recommend graphics-heavy games such as Asphalt-8 as it tends to slow down the phone.
The fingerprint sensor is quite fast and I was able to unlock the phone almost instantly each time I tried. There is no face unlock on this phone, which might be a negative given most smartphones these days have this feature.
The battery lasts for a little over a day with moderate usage, which is great. The stock Android experience should help with the overall battery performance as I was able to squeeze out a day and a half with browsing social media, watching videos, messaging and making calls. There is no fast charge and the battery takes almost two hours to get fully charged, which I was a downside for me.
Nokia 3.1 Plus review: Software
Nokia 3.1 Plus runs a stock version of Android, which might appeal to a lot of users. This also translates into less bloatware, a huge plus for me, and I could just download the additional apps that I really need. The phone is currently on Android 8.1 Oreo and is expected to get Android Pie update, which is great. Given this is an Android One phone, it comes with a promise of at least three years of security updates and two years of software updates.
Nokia 3.1 Plus review: Verdict
Nokia 3.1 Plus stands out for its build quality and design. However, the competition is ahead when it comes to overall performance. Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro has a Snapdragon 636 processor and a 20MP front camera with flash. The battery is a much bigger 4,000mAh. Realme U1 is another stylish option in the budget segment. It gives Nokia 3.1 Plus a tough competition with Helio P70 processor, 25MP selfie camera, face unlock, and more features. Nokia 3.1 Plus might appeal to loyal Nokia users. For others, options are plenty.