Nokia 7 Plus review: A hit phone at a lower price
DEAL ALERT: We’ve got two great deals for you if you’re looking to pick up a Nokia 7 Plus. If it’s a contract deal you’re after, Buy Mobiles is offering a 64GB handset with a 4GB monthly data package through EE for just £22 per month. Or if you’d rather buy the handset outright, Joy Buy will sell you a 64GB one for just £214.65. Considering that the original price for the handset was well over £300, that’s a pretty solid deal.
Our original review continues below.
You’re probably fed up of hearing the phrase “Nokia is back”, but indulge me just one more time, would you? Because Nokia is back. Again.
No, none the landslide of new handsets have been flagship beaters, but they’ve been solid, well made and, above all, revive all those 1990s feelings. It’s no wonder that the new-old-kid on the block outsold Google, HTC, Sony and OnePlus last year. People love a Nokia.
And if the firm continues to push out handsets the quality of the Nokia 7 Plus, then long may it continue. For £349, Nokia has released a smart-looking phone with more than enough grunt for most people and that reassuring Nokia logo is proudly in place.
Nokia 7 Plus review: Design[gallery:1]
Even mid-range phones are taking on a classy, flagship look nowadays and the Nokia 7 Plus is no exception. At 8mm from front to back, it feels slim enough, while the copper highlighting around the edge makes it a touch more distinctive than the black oblongs it’s up against. The chassis itself is aluminium but it’s coated in hard-wearing “ceramic feel” paint for a classy look.
In short, it both looks and feels good, which is a fine start. It also manages to use its 76 x 158mm frame well, packing in an 18:9 IPS panel with slim bezels at the top and bottom and no notch. With subtle, rounded corners, you’d probably estimate the phone would cost around £100 more than it does.
It manages this without any irritating compromises. The Nokia 7 Plus retains both expandable storage and the 3.5mm headphone jack. If you’re happy with just the 64GB of onboard storage, you can sub the microSD card slot for an extra SIM card and the fingerprint reader is mounted in the centre of the rear panel in easy reaching distance of either index finger.
In fact, there’s just one blot on the Nokia 7 Plus’ design copybook and that’s the onboard sound. There’s just a single speaker on the underside of the phone, and it’s bad even by smartphone standards: next to no lower-mid or bass response and a volume so low that it makes speech even hard to hear in crowded environments. Not a huge issue with the 3.5mm headphone slot still present and correct, of course, but a drawback all the same.
Nokia 7 Plus review: Screen[gallery:2]
The Nokia 7 Plus’ IPS screen dominates the front of the phone, and it’s a biggun too. This is a 6in smartphone with a screen resolution of 2,160 x 1,080, meaning you’re getting roughly 402 pixels per inch. That’s more than enough for most people: especially when the screen is as good as this one.
Its colour palette is tuned DCI-P3 and in that space it’s decently accurate. Our tests found it covers 95.9% of that colour gamut, which means it’s fab for movie watching. A lack of a standard or an sRGB-tuned mode, however, does mean that graphics and photos have a tendency to look oversaturated and inaccurate. This is not a screen you could trust for making a colour-critical purchase on.
Contrast is impressive, though, with a ratio of 1,928:1, and although 430cd/m2 isn’t the brightest screen we’ve seen, it’s slightly ahead of the Google Pixel 2, which retails for £270 more. With a polarised screen coating reducing glare, you’re unlikely to have many problems reading the screen.
Nokia 7 Plus review: Performance[gallery:5]
So you’re looking at a phone with flagship looks and a flagship screen for £349. What’s the catch?
Well, one is pretty obvious. Rather than using the latest and greatest Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor found in the OnePlus 6 and American version of the Samsung Galaxy S9, the Nokia 7 Plus turns to Qualcomm’s 600 series of mid-range chips. To be specific, the Nokia 7 Plus employs an octa-core Snapdragon 660 processor, which runs at up to 2.2GHz. That translates to a little more grunt than the Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra, which can only stretch to a Snapdragon 630, but it’s still not super quick.
The Nokia 7 Plus is pretty much on its own for performance in the price bracket then? Well, no, not quite. If you’re prepared to consider last year’s handsets, then both the Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact and Huawei P10 offer a lot more punch – especially in the graphics department.
But most non-gamers won’t notice the difference. The phone is plenty fast enough when browsing the web and switching between apps, in part because it’s a member of the Android One collection, which promises a bloat-free Android experience without superfluous bells and whistles and continuous, regular updates for at least two years.
And no matter how much app switching you’re doing, you’re unlikely to trouble the 3,800mAh battery too much.
The phone managed to get through 15 hours and 40 minutes of looped video at a locked 170cd/m2 brightness before hitting 5% battery. It then managed a further 45 minutes of video with power-saving functions locked in. Not too shabby.
Nokia 7 Plus review: Camera[gallery:7]
If the Nokia 7 Plus has an Achilles’ Heel, then the camera is it but it’s far from bad.
On paper, things sound promising.The Zeiss-branded snapper comes with two lenses, capable of capturing 12-megapixel images at f/1.75 with a 2x optical zoom. It even offers a “Pro” mode that lets you twiddle with virtual dials to adjust shutter speed, focus and ISO sensitivity.
It’s not as good as it sounds, mainly because of a laggy interface that makes trying different settings less a journey of discovery and more a tedious slog. And it’s a bit limited in its own way, too: yes, you can set the shutter speed to anywhere from 1/500 and four seconds, but you can’t tweak the aperture or exposure to compensate. That’s a recipe for overexposure every time.
Auto mode isn’t too bad, but it’s not the best we’ve seen. Images are a tad oversaturated, and dark areas come out a little on the murky side, even with HDR enabled.
Far from fatal, and the optical zoom is a welcome bonus. But if top-notch snaps on a budget are important to you, it’s worth paying a little less for the Motorola Moto G6 Plus. Note, though, that the Moto doesn’t have optical zoom. It uses its second camera solely for portrait mode.
Nokia 7 Plus review: Verdict[gallery:11]
If I had one criticism of the Nokia 7 Plus, it would be that it doesn’t give picky reviewers like myself much to take issue with. That iffy speaker aside, this is one phone that doesn’t put a foot wrong: the 6in screen is great, and performance, battery life, camera and design are all above average, too.
It’s not the best phone you can buy right now, but the best ones out there cost around £300 more. If you can’t find an extra £120 for the OnePlus 6, and if you don’t want to downgrade for the superior camera of the £269 Motorola Moto G6 Plus then this is as good as it gets.