Phones

Nokia 7 Plus: Solid mid-range phone with clean interface

The Nokia 7 Plus has a reassuring solidity that is at odds with the fragile, glass-wrapped smartphones that dominate the market.

Chiselled from a single slab of aluminium, it feels sturdy enough to use without a casing.

Of course, the metal body is unlikely to stop the 6-inch LCD screen from cracking if the phone is dropped.

The display - with its slim bezel and a 18:9 aspect ratio - keeps up with current trends, though it does not have an iPhone X-like notch.

Copper trim lines the phone's edges, camera bump and rear fingerprint scanner to give it a hint of luxury that belies its mid-range pricing.

The matt black ceramic-like coating on the back feels smooth, but picks up grease marks and smudges easily.

The rear circular fingerprint scanner is fast and accurate, but it could be positioned slightly lower for those with shorter fingers.

Its single, bottom-firing speaker is loud - as long as your palm is not covering the speaker grilles next to the USB Type-C port. It has a headphone jack.

  • SPECS

    PRICE: $599

    PROCESSOR: Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 (Quad-core 2.2GHz, quad-core 1.8GHz)

    DISPLAY: 6-inch, IPS LCD, 2,160 x 1,080 pixels, 403 ppi pixel density

    OPERATING SYSTEM: Android 8.1

    MEMORY: 64GB (microSD expandable up to 256GB), 4GB RAM

    REAR CAMERA: 12MP (f/1.75) and 13MP telephoto (f/2.6)

    FRONT CAMERA: 16MP (f/2.0)

    BATTERY: Non-removable 3,800mAh

  • RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 3/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 4/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

Like many newer smartphones, the Nokia 7 Plus sports dual rear cameras using Zeiss optics. Its secondary telephoto camera offers up to 2x optical zoom.

Nokia has retained its gimmicky "bothie" feature that takes videos using both the front-facing and the rear cameras at the same time. To most users, it is of limited usefulness. The new Pro Camera mode may see more takers. It offers manual adjustments to camera settings, such as white balance, shutter speed and ISO, in a user-friendly interface.

In good lighting conditions, the rear cameras take good photos that look sharp and detailed with neutral colours. The bokeh effect for portrait shots appears natural.

The Nokia 7 Plus is less impressive in low light, producing photos with a lot of noise. It also takes about a second longer to focus. This is exacerbated by the lack of optical image stabilisation. There were a few occasions when my shots turned out blurred and unusable because my hand was not steady enough. But with some luck and effort, you can still take decent low-light shots.

The Nokia 7 Plus is an Android One device that runs a stock version of the Android mobile operating system. My review set came with Android 8.0, which was promptly updated to the latest version 8.1, along with the May security patch.

Its clean, bloat-free interface meant that the phone felt responsive and had ample storage too. But it lacks custom features from smartphone makers that you might be used to. For instance, it does not even have a weather app, though this is easily rectified by downloading one from the Google Play Store.

But not all features are available via third-party apps and even if they were, they may not integrate seamlessly with the phone, unlike a custom feature from the manufacturer.

Powered by the capable Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 chip, the Nokia 7 Plus almost feels as fast as a premium flagship smartphone. But compared with top phones, it launches apps a fraction slower and there is also a slight amount of lag when switching between apps. This is probably because its 64GB of internal storage uses the slower eMMC storage interface, not the latest UFS standard.

It has a sizeable internal battery (3,800mAh) that lasted me around two full days without charging. In our usual video playback test, the Nokia 7 Plus lasted a good 10hr 20min. Quick charging is supported, though it cannot be charged wirelessly.

• Verdict: A solid mid-range smartphone with good battery life and a clean user interface.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 30, 2018, with the headline 'Solid mid-range phone with clean interface'. Print Edition | Subscribe