Review | Nokia 7 Plus smartphone

By Ajay Joseph

Following its purchase of Microsoft Mobile’s phone business, Finnish company HMD Global has been marketing smartphones under the Nokia brand. The Nokia 7 Plus is their most recent release in the line-up, slotting itself in the high-end of the mid-range segment. Boasting ample specs and a large screen and battery, the device has a lot going for it.

Design and Ergonomics

The Nokia 7 Plus goes for an all-black with copper accent design that ends up looking quite premium. The screen is a large 6-inch display, and though the resolution is just 1080p with no HDR, it’s bright and colorful. Its ultra-wide aspect ratio makes it perfect for watching movies. The screen does not adopt the now over-used notch design. Keep in mind though that there are no physical buttons at the bottom of the screen.

The rear includes a well-placed fingerprint scanner, just below the dual camera setup, that is housed within a bump, in keeping with the previous Nokia Lumia camera design ethos. The rear panel though matte plastic, has a faux ceramic finish which looks good, but easily attracts fingerprint smudges.

Build wise, it feels pretty solid but the square steel edges aren’t the most comfortable to hold in the hand. Devices with curved edges and even Nokia’s own Lumia series with its poly-carbonate bodies and curved edges felt a lot more comfortable to hold, especially if for a long duration.

Specs and Performance

Under the hood, the Nokia 7 Plus has a Snapdragon 660 SOC, coupled with 4GB of memory, and 64GB of onboard storage. The SIM tray also has provision for expansion via an SD card. Though not incorporating the current performance king — the Snapdragon 845 SOC — in day-to-day usage, the device was quick and never really slowed down. Even with several apps open, there was no sign of sluggishness. After long periods of inactivity though, when first used, sometimes it took a moment or two, to get into action.

On the battery front, the Nokia 7 Plus is an absolute beast. It comes with a 3800 mAh battery which with moderate use lasts 2 days with ease. My usage combined some checking of emails, some Facebook and Instagram, some messages exchanged via SMS and WhatsApp, and some minimal browsing and Youtube videos; after 48 hours it was still at 25% battery.

The device has a fast-charge capability that’s pretty quick in getting the phone beyond 50%. During the fast-charge, the device does heat up, and once it gets to 75% it resumes normal charging and also displays a message that device temperature has reverted to normal. While quick, it still isn’t as fast as Sony’s implementation of fast-charging.

There are three mics, which allow for stereo sound recording, and though I wasn’t able to test it, it also reportedly helps cancel noise, so that people you’re speaking to hear your voice clearly, without ambient disturbance. The mics worked great in music detection software like Shazam; returning results super quick, even at low volumes. The loudspeaker, on the other hand, is quite average, and while it’s loud and audible, lacks the quality of units in higher-end devices.

Software

The device runs Android 8.1 Oreo and is part of the Android One program, which means that it runs pure stock Android with no skins and manufacturer added user interface tweaks. This is great as it also means quick updates from Google, which are not dependent on device manufacturers.

For typing, I found the placement of the emoticon button between the space-bar and comma key annoying, as it often brought up the emoticons when not intended. Accidentally hitting the button seemed to be a regular occurrence. In general, I felt that typo errors seemed to happen more often than normal as well.

On the positive side, the predictive responses of the messaging app were quite helpful. For quick responses, the suggestions were quite apt in most cases.

Camera

The camera implementation is a dual-camera at the rear, with 12 and 13-megapixel shooters; one being telephoto that’s 2x zoom capable, and the second with an impressive f/1.8 aperture. The camera optics are provided by Zeiss, with a dual-tone LED flash. The selfie cam up front is a 16-megapixel unit.

Being a non-flagship device, I had fairly low expectations. I’ve used other mid-range devices from Oppo, LG, and Samsung and am familiar with their lackluster output. But the Zeiss dual camera implementation shines, allowing for some pretty impressive pictures. Daylight photos have good detail and color, complemented with a snappy responsive clicking experience.

Similarly, I had a good experience with dusk and dawn photos as well. In terms of weaknesses, low light is an area the device struggles. Also, exposure levels in photos were sometimes off, resulting in very bright pictures.

The software has a Pro mode for enthusiasts, which is implemented quite well. The Bokeh mode is also excellent, creating photos with an impressive depth of field. Though not big on selfies, I had friends try it, and they liked the implementation. It has the now popular beauty mode, and even without it enabled, it added minimal smoothening, creating a balanced, not too real, not obviously optimized output.

The video implementation is decent, which included slow-motion capability. There is a marginal difference between the Nokia 7 Plus and flagship device cameras, but unless low-light photography is a priority, the optics are pretty impressive.

Dim lighting and moving subjects

Bokeh effect

Macro shot of miniature

Value

The hardware and performance leave little to be desired, and battery life is superb. Add to that the premium styling, and the Nokia 7 Plus manages to set itself apart from regular mid-range phones from Oppo, Vivo, and even Samsung; looking and feeling more like a flagship device.

Unless you need the absolute best in camera tech, there’s really very little reason to turn-down the Nokia 7 Plus, for a flagship phone. Alas, not everyone needs water-proofing or wireless charging. At a price ranging from P18,400 to P22,000 depending on the retailer, the Nokia 7 Plus offers a value proposition like no other. Also available now is the Home Credit offer of 6 months at 0% interest.

Selfie shot

A ‘groufie’ shot

Conclusion

After using the device as my daily driver for the last few weeks, with the exception of some small annoyances, I can largely see myself using the Nokia 7 Plus as my phone in the long term. The impressive design and the stellar battery life are the two most significant factors. Given the great pricing, this really is the sweet spot for those who want near flagship device build and specs, at half the price.

Model: Nokia 7 Plus TA-1046
Price: P21,990
Verdict: 80% of a flagship device at 50% the price

Comment on this post