As we all know by now, Nokia was nursed back from the brink of death under the care and guidance of HMD Global in 2017.
Although last year marked its return to the world of the living, we can safely say that 2018 is the year where it is going to make its presence felt in the smartphone market by showcasing a whole range of very promising smartphones at MWC 2018.
Catering to a price point that is highly underrepresented is the Nokia 7 Plus, with an updated design, the legendary Nokia build quality and a creamy stock Android experience.
We had to give it a thorough Stuff treatment when we finally got our hands on this slab of nostalgic goodness.
DESIGN & BUILD: NO NOTCH, BUT TOP NOTCH
In true Nokia fashion, the Nokia 7 Plus does not disappoint at all when it comes to the look and feel of a 2018 smartphone. It’s built like a tank while maintaining a rich and premium feel to it. Just pick it up and you would be deceived into thinking it’s a device that might as well cost about twice its asking price. It is pretty slim too but by no means the slimmest device out there.
To differentiate it from the rest of the rectangular slabs, Nokia has opted for an aluminium chassis that has a brilliantly beautiful copper colour scheme. It also has the same copper accents along the screen, fingerprint sensor and dual-camera module on the rear. A 3.5mm headphone jack is housed at the top left corner, while the USB-C port, speaker and microphone are cut out beautifully into the copper chassis at the bottom. The volume rocker and power button on the right-hand side are placed in the perfect position for most users and have a satisfying feedback when pressed.
The 6 in IPS LCD full HD+ display dominates the front and is the first Nokia device to hop on to the 18:9 aspect ratio bandwagon. Although the display is vibrant with great viewing angles and brightness, it only gets Corning’s Gorilla Glass 3 for protection. It curves on all four corners giving it a Google Pixel XL-esque front, but with a bit more flamboyance. The Nokia branding on the front is tucked away smartly in the top right corner, right next to the front camera.
Turning things around, the rear is covered in a ceramic coating and gives the back panel a matte finish that keeps any ugly smudges or fingerprints at bay. There is quite a prominent camera bump but while on its back it is stable enough to do some tabletop texting without much wobble.
Overall it is one of the most handsome devices we have seen in a long time. Combine that with the fit and finish, a general feeling of ruggedness and attention to detail on the design front and you are left with the best device at this price point when it comes to hardware and build quality.
PERFORMANCE: OREO'S CREAMY GOODNESS
A complete stock Android experience with monthly security updates and the promise of getting two years of version updates on a phone that costs ₹26k? Get outta here! You better believe it. The Nokia 7 Plus is part of the Android One programme that should make the stock Android lovers very happy indeed. The device comes with Android 8.1.0 Oreo with pretty much all the Google apps pre-installed. The UI is extremely smooth with absolutely no signs of hiccups or stutters.
Aiding the software here is Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 660 processor which makes mincemeat of most tasks along with the 4 GB’s of RAM. It won’t be breaking any speed records but at no point will you be disappointed with its speed. Games and heavy apps work smoothly and without any noticeable lag. We tested it with Asphalt 8 and Cafe Racer to find no real fuss to complain about.
All that gaming would drain most smartphones in this range but the Nokia 7 Plus takes battery life to a whole different level with its 3800 mAh battery. Nokia claims a battery life of about 2 days but an average user should get around a day and a half easily with that behemoth battery. When eventually one does run out juice, the bundled charger tops the device up to full in under two hours.
The Nokia 7 Plus is an absolute beast of a device (at least at this price range). It is quick enough for all but the most hardcore users, having Stock Android on it makes it a pleasure to use and that battery life goes above and beyond expectations.
CAMERA: NEITHER HERE NOR THERE
The Nokia 7 Plus sports a dual lens 12 MP and 13 MP rear camera with 2x optical zoom along with a 16 MP front camera. Both cameras boast Zeiss optics and make quite the impression on paper. Shots taken in well lit conditions have ample amounts of detail and vibrance. Colours are reproduced with relative accuracy. The camera is quick and does not take ages to process which is exactly what you need to capture fast moving objects.
While the camera is brilliant in well-lit conditions, things take a bit of a dive as the sun goes down. The camera takes slightly longer to focus and if HDR is left on, it starts to take really long. You are better off turning HDR off and having a go at it with the flashlight on. Keep in mind that we are nitpicking here and the dual cams work decently well without HDR.
The selfie addicts out there won’t be disappointed with the brilliant performance of the 16 MP front camera. The camera tends to overexpose the background slightly on rare occasions but makes sure your mug has the correct exposure. We were quite impressed with the selfie performance on the device especially considering the mid-range price tag.
We also have the usual pro mode, beauty mode and panorama shots that work well, but it performs adequately enough in auto mode to bother tinkering around in the settings. The live bokeh mode on the other hand, is a different story. While taking selfies in the portrait mode, the camera does a good job of blurring out the background while maintaining great detail around the edges, but using the rear camera in this mode is a bit finicky and tough to get right in the first attempt. When one does get it right though, it works as advertised but we found that there wasn’t enough blurring of the background to make the subject pop.
Camera performance on the Nokia 7 Plus is on par if not better than the performance of other smartphones in this price range with only minor faults which can be fixed with future software updates.
Video recording on the 7 Plus is reasonable with nothing extraordinary to brag about, but also nothing to complain about either. It is capable of shooting 4K videos at 30 fps but we recommend shooting at 1080p for a smooth yet brilliant looking shot.
The Nokia 7 Plus also has a nifty little feature that allows you to record surround sound with its three microphones and OZO Audio Technology.
NOKIA 7 PLUS VERDICT
Let’s make things clear. We are looking at the smartphone that is going to be the major breadwinner for HMD Global. It’s priced just right (if not a bit on the premium side) and has the goods to back it up. The build quality is epic, with an extremely handsome design and robustness that is just not present in other smartphones in this category.
Apart from the exterior, the smartphone doles out a software experience that is a sheer pleasure to use. Adopting the Android One programme is a stroke of genius on the part of Nokia and we couldn’t get behind it enough.
On the camera front, the 7 Plus could do with a few improvements with its low-light performance but it does do better than most in the selfie department and when lighting conditions are optimal.
HMD Global have placed the Nokia 7 Plus in a price category that is catered to the least. Add to that all the stuff that is on offer and you are left with a lot of smartphone for your money.