At the start of 2017, a company made up of Nokia veterans called HMD Global revived the storied Finnish brand after securing exclusive rights to the Nokia name. The last 18 months have been fruitful for the brand on many fronts, and it’s safe to say that Nokia is one of the most interesting Android manufacturers around.
Following its re-entry into the smartphone segment, Nokia made a series of strategic moves that allowed the brand to stand out. First, it focused on emerging markets like China and India to drive growth. After all, the Nokia brand still has a lot of cachet in these countries, and with Android dominating the market share — exceeding 98% in India — it made perfect sense for HMD to focus its attention in Asian markets.
From the onset, HMD relied on a clean and uncluttered user interface to differentiate its devices, and earlier this year the brand announced that it is committing to Android One for all devices going forward. That focus on simplicity and fast updates has allowed Nokia to get a leg up over Chinese manufacturers in the budget space.
Nokia is also catering to a wide swathe of the audience by rolling out phones from $100 to $600. With such a wide selection of phones to choose from, these are the best Nokia phones in 2018.
The Nokia 7.1 is notable for a lot of reasons. It is one of few Nokia devices up for sale officially in the U.S., and at $350 it hits the sweet spot for those looking for a decent budget phone.
The phone also has great hardware in the form of a Snapdragon 636 chipset, and it comes with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage as standard. The 5.84-inch FHD+ display is also intriguing as it has HDR upscaling for videos and games.
The primary 12MP camera at the back is joined by a 5MP shooter that adds depth information for portrait mode, and there’s an 8MP shooter up front. You also get Wi-Fi ac, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, USB-C, and a 3060mAh battery that delivers all-day usage.
Overall, the Nokia 7.1 is one of the best sub-$400 phones available in the U.S., and while the phone came with Oreo out of the box, Nokia is rolling out the Pie update right now. As the phone is sold officially in the U.S., it has the requisite bands for GSM carriers like AT&T as well as T-Mobile, along with the usual slate of MVNOs.
Nokia 7 Plus
The Nokia 7 Plus is one of the best phones I’ve used all year. Nokia has nailed the fundamentals both regarding design and hardware — the phone has a six-layer ceramic coating that makes it a delight to hold, and the series 6000 aluminum chassis is durable. In a segment dominated by glass-backed devices, the Nokia 7 Plus is one of few phones that can be used without a case.
Under the hood, the Nokia 7 Plus is powered by a Snapdragon 660 — a stalwart in the mid-range segment — and it ensures that you don’t really run out of power, even when playing visually-intensive games. The phone comes with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage, and there’s a MicroSD card slot that can take in a 256GB card.
The 6-inch FHD+ 18:9 display has vibrant colors and is backed by a layer of Gorilla Glass 3, the 12MP rear camera is one of the best in the $400 segment, and there’s also a secondary 13MP telephoto lens at the back. There’s a 16MP front camera, Wi-Fi ac, Bluetooth 5.0, 3.5mm jack, NFC, and 360-degree audio recording with OZO audio.
Another feature that makes the Nokia 7 Plus stand out is the battery life. With a 3800mAh battery under the hood, you’ll easily get a day’s worth of use from the device, and more often than not I was able to use the phone for two days on a full charge. Battery life got better with the Pie update, with the Nokia 7 Plus being one of the first devices to make the switch to the latest version of Android.
Even though it’s eight months old at this point, the Nokia 7 Plus is a great option if you’re in the market for a device in the vicinity of $400.
The Nokia 6.1 is one of the most rugged phones in the market today. The phone has a metal chassis constructed out of series 6000 aluminum, and the fit and finish are top-notch. Nokia’s classic industrial design shines through the device, and you never get the feeling that you’re using a budget phone.
Up front, the Nokia 6.1 has a 5.5-inch screen that retains the 16:9 form factor. On the plus side, the bezels aren’t too invasive, and the phone comes with a USB-C charging port and has a 3.5mm jack. The Snapdragon 630 ensures things are chugging along nicely, and you can pair the phone with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage or 4GB/64GB storage options.
Like the Nokia 7.1, the Nokia 6.1 is up for sale officially in the U.S. via Amazon, with the phone compatible with GSM carriers like AT&T and T-Mobile as well as MVNOs like Cricket and Metro. Retailing for $229, it is one of the better options in this space.
Nokia 6.1 Plus
The Nokia 6.1 Plus shares a lot of similarities with the Nokia 7.1 — both phones have a similar design, near-identical hardware, and the same 3060mAh battery.
The main difference is that while the Nokia 7.1 is aimed at Western markets, the Nokia 6.1 Plus is limited to Asia. And with Nokia prioritizing markets like India and China, the Nokia 6.1 Plus costs considerably less than the Nokia 7.1. The base variant with 4GB of RAM and 16GB of storage retails for the equivalent of $225 in India, making it a great alternative to what Xiaomi and Honor offer in this space.
The Nokia 6.1 Plus does miss out on a few features from the Nokia 7.1. There’s no HDR upscaling for the screen, and although the device has a 16MP primary camera, it is an f/2.0 lens. The Nokia 7.1, meanwhile, has a 12MP f/1.8 shooter. But the Nokia 6.1 Plus does offer FM radio and Quick Charge 3.0.
The aggressive pricing combined with the hardware makes the Nokia 6.1 Plus one of the best budget phones of the year.
Nokia 8 Sirocco
The Nokia 8 Sirocco is the company’s most premium device yet on Android. With a dual-curved screen and a chassis milled out of a single block of stainless steel, the phone has an exquisite design that’s backed by high-end internals.
Up front there’s a 5.5-inch QHD P-OLED panel, and the minimal bezels around the border facilitate one-handed usage. The phone offers IP67 dust and water resistance, and both the front and back glass panels are protected by Gorilla Glass 5.
Round the back, the primary 12MP f/1.7 module is joined by a 13MP telephoto sensor that offers 2x optical zoom. There’s a 5MP front camera, and the phone has three microphones that record multi-dimensional audio.
The Snapdragon 835 chipset may not be the fastest anymore, but it is still just as capable and works incredibly well with the lightweight Android One interface. There’s 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage as standard, and you get Wi-Fi ac, Bluetooth 5.0, USB-C 3.1, NFC, and a 3260mAh battery that comes with fast charging and Qi wireless charging.
The phone debuted for around $800 earlier in the year, but it is now available for £349 ($440), making it a fantastic deal. The only downside is that it isn’t available in the U.S.
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December 2, 2018 at 04:02AM