Despite a bevy of smartphone launches in India almost every other week, there’s still a dearth of good phones in the Rs. 20,000 to Rs. 30,000 price bracket. At one point in time, this price point was ruled by OnePlus, but with the company steadily increasing the price of its latest flagship smartphones every six months, that is no longer the case. Oppo and Vivo do offer their respective flagship smartphones in this price range, but they are not impressive.
Nokia is looking to fill that void with its Nokia 7 Plus. The phone was launched in India last month. The HMD Global-owned Nokia met with modest success with its 2017 lineup of smartphones, but for 2018, the company has listened to consumer feedback to improve its devices further. The Nokia 7 Plus is a result of that. Since we found a lot of issues in the Nokia 6 (review) as well as the Nokia 8 (review) in our reviews last year, we want to see how much Nokia has improved in one year and if it has corrected the mistakes it did with its phones last year. How good is the phone then? Is it worth its price? Read our review to find out.
Nokia 7 Plus Review: Design, Display
The Nokia 7 plus is made from Series 6000 aluminum but when you first pick the device up, you will not get that metal feel. That’s because the rear of the device has a ceramic-like coating — similar to the Pixel 2 — which helps make it easier to grip. The coating does not have a plastic-like feel and gives the phone a sense of durability which is a win-win in my opinion.
My biggest complaint with the design of the handset is the metallic band running across its edges. The band itself is done in copper color on the black variant of the handset which adds a bit of flair to its design. However, I find the edges a bit too sharp which can make the device uncomfortable to hold over a period of time.
The copper flair is also found at the rear of the device. The Nokia logo, the metallic rim surrounding the fingerprint scanner and the camera housing are also done in copper which helps the phone stand out from a sea of other smartphones.
The fingerprint scanner at the rear might look a bit small, but its aptly located and I had no issues with its performance or accuracy. The location of the power button on the right edge of the handset is also perfect as it is easy to reach. The volume button is located just above the power button and it provides sufficient tactile feedback. The phone features a hybrid SIM card slot on its left which means it accepts either two SIM cards or a SIM card and microSD card at any given time.
The front of the phone is dominated by its 6-inch FHD+ IPS LCD display. The 18:9 aspect ratio display has minimal bezels at the top and bottom so it is not truly a bezel-less phone.
The LCD panel on the phone is strictly an okay one. It gets sufficiently bright, has good viewing angles, and its color accuracy, contrast, and saturation levels are also great. However, the display is not great by any means, with slight discoloration and brightness levels being affected when viewed from extreme angles. Its also not laminated to the cover glass so you don’t get that pop effect which you might get when you first look at the display of the Vivo V9 or the iPhone 7.
If you are coming from a smartphone featuring an OLED panel, you will definitely miss its vibrancy and saturation levels.
Nokia 7 Plus Review: Hardware, Software, Performance
For its price range, the Nokia 7 plus sits right between the flagship handsets and mid-range handsets. Keeping its price point in mind, the handset comes with a Snapdragon 660 chipset which is faster than what you will find in budget Android devices but slower than the chipsets found in flagship Android devices.
This octa-core chipset is paired with 4GB RAM and 64GB of storage space. While the RAM might seem a bit on the lower end, it is important to note that the Nokia 7 plus runs on stock Android and features an FHD+ resolution display which keeps its resource use in check.
The Nokia 7 plus is an Android One smartphone. This means that it runs on a stock build of Android Oreo with no bloatware or third-party app installed. As of writing this review, the handset runs on Android 8.1 Oreo with the April security patch installed. This automatically makes it among the very few devices running the very latest build of Android and having the most up to date security patch installed.
What makes the whole deal even better is that Nokia is promising two years of Android updates and monthly security updates for the handset. The company has an excellent track record of updating its devices on time especially with its monthly security updates. In fact, most Nokia smartphones get the latest security update within a few days of Google rolling out to its Pixel smartphones.
With a combination of a powerful mid-range chipset and stock Android, it is not surprising that the Nokia 7 plus is an excellent performer. Coming from a flagship phone like the Pixel 2 XL, I did not notice any stutters or lags while using the Nokia 7 plus for well over a month. I did notice applications taking slightly longer to load and the phone stuttering or skipping frames when under heavy load but that is to be expected given the handset does not feature a flagship chipset.
Nonetheless, for a phone priced at around Rs 25,000, the Nokia 7 plus is a great performer, and you will have little reason to complain in this regard.
Nokia 7 Plus Review: Camera
The Nokia 7 plus features a dual-camera setup at its rear. The primary sensor is a 12MP shooter with a f/1.75 aperture, 1.4um large pixel, and 2PD, while the secondary camera is a 13MP telephoto sensor featuring f/2.6 aperture and 1.0um pixels. Both camera sensors make use of ZEISS optics and are accompanied by a dual-tone flash.
Barring the lack of OIS, the Nokia 7 plus camera specs are similar to that of any flagship phone. And this shows in the photos it can capture. It is definitely no Pixel killer in the imaging department, but it can surely hold its own. The color accuracy, details, saturation, and contrast are all on point. The camera really excels in daylight but as light does down, it starts to show signs of weakness. Primarily, the lack of OIS means the Nokia 7 plus tends to capture blurry photos in low-light scenarios. You will need to keep your hands very steady to ensure photos in a dark environment don’t end up turning into a blurry mess.
Another Achilles heels of the Nokia 7 plus camera is its poor dynamic range. While the photos come out properly exposed, the limited dynamic range is a bummer. As you can see from the sample photos, the sky was consistently blown out in every photo I took.
The secondary 13MP telephoto sensor is used to offer 2x optical zoom and Portrait mode a.k.a Live Bokeh. The less said about the sensor, the better. Photos taken at 2x optical zoom almost always come out blurry and the poor performance of the sensor shows in portrait photos as well. It is better to avoid using the secondary sensor in anything less than perfect lighting conditions.
As for video quality, the highlight is not the quality of the video but that of the audio. Thanks to Nokia’s OZO audio feature, the Nokia 7 plus captures extremely high-quality audio which makes its videos stand out from the competition.
The front of the Nokia 7 plus features a 16MP selfie camera. If you are someone who is fond of selfies with a gracious amount of smoothening and sharpening, you are not going to like the selfies taken from the handset. There’s no issue with the selfie camera here. It takes detailed and natural selfies which means imperfections on your face are going to show up in the selfies that you take which might not go down well with the selfie-loving crowd.
The camera app bundled by Nokia is strictly ok. It does with a Pro Mode and there’s also a Live Bokeh mode, but the UI could have been much better. Switching to Pro Mode is easy since you can simply drag the shutter button to the center of the screen to switch to it. However, for the Live Bokeh mode, you have to bring up the navigation drawer first which is not very intuitive. Instead, Nokia should consider following Apple’s footsteps here and allow users to swipe on the viewfinder to access different modes.
Nokia 7 Plus Review: Battery Life
The Nokia 7 plus comes with a 3800mAh battery. Coupled with its Snapdragon 660 chipset, 6-inch display, and 4GB RAM, the 3800mAh battery is more than enough to power the handset for over a day of heavy use. Ideally, you will easily get around 1.5 days of battery life from the handset with two SIM cards in use. With light usage, this can be stretched to around 2 days as well.
As if the excellent battery life is not already enough, the Nokia 7 plus also features Quick Charge 3.0 support. This means that when charged with a compatible charger, you can get around 50 percent of power in just 30 minutes which is enough to last you a day of use.
Nokia 7 Plus Review: Conclusion
There’s a lot to like about the Nokia 7 plus. The phone has some minor issues but it does not change the fact that its one of the best — if not the best — smartphone in its price range. Its far superior to its competition from Oppo and Vivo whose performance leaves a lot to be desired.
If you are in the market for a smartphone with a budget of around Rs 25,000-Rs 30,000, there’s only one obvious choice you have here: the Nokia 7 plus.