Who said budget phones don’t look any good?
Nokia’s good looking budgeteer is here to impress critics with its big screen, big battery and gorgeous looks. It’s a step up from the Nokia 3.1 and this time it’s here to compete with Xiaomi’s Redmi 6 and Oppo’s Realme 2 and other budgeteers around the ₹10k mark. Let’s dive into the Nokia 3.1 Plus and find out whether it’s worth your hard-earned cash.
Design: Is that really a budget phone?
As soon as we got our hands on the 3.1 Plus, we were awestruck by its simplicity and matte finish design on the back. The phone feels solid and well constructed, albeit light in the hand (180g) despite the fact that it’s got a 3500mAh battery inside. For its price, it definitely does not look or feel like a budget phone. Oh, it comes in Blue, White and Baltic colourways to choose from.
You can keep caressing the matte finish back all you want, but we’d suggest keeping your cat away - for it’s prone to scratches. The fingerprint scanner is well placed and unlocks the phone in a jiffy. The two cameras at the back sport an aluminum ring that surrounds it adding to its beauty factor. Have two SIMs? Plonk your Vodafone and Jio SIM and use VoLTE on both. What about extra storage? There’s an SD card slot too.
Pixel police will be pleased to know that its 6in screen HD+ display (720p) is bright under sunlight and wide enough to binge watch House Of Cards on Netflix or play video games without a notch coming in the way. For a budget phone, this one speaks volumes.
OS and Performance: Turtle on Oreo
Hmm. Speaking of volumes. The Nokia 3.1 Plus runs on the familiar MediaTek Helio P22 octa-core processor, with 3GB RAM and 32GB storage (expandable up to 400GB). Other phones running on this processor? The Xiaomi Redmi 6 and the Lenovo K9.
Before we get critical, let’s remind you this is a ₹11,499 smartphone. Okay?
The Nokia 3.1 Plus may have the advantage of beating others in the ‘looking-good’ contest, but it slightly falls behind when it comes to performance. But hey, isn't it supposed to be smooth since it’s running on the Android One? Oh well, we thought so too. We aren't saying it isn't snappy, we just feel there are other phones like the Realme 2 which perform much better for this price.
Just using the phone felt slightly sluggish and cumbersome. Forget playing PUBG, playing games like Clash Royale also felt like it’s asking for extra power to keep things smooth. From what we’ve tested, it’s turning out to be a turtle feeding on Oreo.
Don't worry about looking for the nearest charging port before your dusk. You can rest that anxiety and go all day long with its healthy 3500mAh battery. The only bummer is the micro USB port instead of a Type-C. Argh. What about fast-charge? It's a budget phone, don't get too greedy.
Software wise, it’s thriving on Android One and free of bloatware unlike others. It’s also bound to get monthly security patches and two years of software updates. We’re waiting for its first piece of Pie and hopefully, things should get better from there. And hey, it might be one of the first phones to run on Pie under the ₹12k bracket.
Camera: Not for selfies
In general, when you’re spending ₹11,499 on a smartphone, the chances of getting a good camera are slim. The Realme 2 threw that myth out of the window and proved that its camera is better than the rest. We can’t speak of the Redmi 6, but Xiaomi’s Redmi 5 and the Redmi Note 5 have promising cameras for its price including some budget options from Nubia too. Even the budget Nokia 5.1 Plus has a better camera than this one.
OK, forget those. How’s the camera on the 3.1 Plus? If we had to describe it in one word, it would be ‘meh’. Honestly speaking, we were never fans of Nokia’s recent smartphone cameras. And the 3.1 Plus added to that disappointment. Its 8MP front camera is mediocre for selfies and the 13MP+5MP rear camera lacks focus when shooting shaky subjects. If you're using it for simple point-and-shoot, it delivers average pictures that aren't up to the mark. Sorry Nokia, you’ve got some serious work to do if you’re wanting to be the best.
Nokia 3.1 Plus Verdict
No doubt, the Nokia 3.1 Plus does have a few flaws like all smartphones, but it’s surely one of the best looking smartphones around the ₹10k mark. It’s also got a healthy 3500mAh battery and stock Android is an added perk for purists. Android Pie's arrival may just secure its place for top five.
If camera quality and snappy performance aren't on your list, then the Nokia 3.1 Plus is a great buy. Its 6in screen is great for entertainment, it feels really good on the hand and it’s minimalistic look adds on to its advantage. And for ₹11,499, this proves to be a sturdy bugger for train commuting or casual entertainment purposes.