Nokia 1 review: Hands-on

Although many eyes are on new flagship phones at MWC 2018 like the Galaxy S9, some of the budget releases are interesting. As expected, the first wave of Android Go phones was unveiled and we’ve been hands-on with the Nokia 1.

Only beaten by Alcatel for the sheer number of new phones it announced in Barcelona, Nokia brought five new handsets ranging from the retro 8110 4G, the mid-range New Nokia 6, and 7 Plus, all the way up to the 8 Sirocco which is a Samsung Galaxy S9 rival.

The Nokia 1 is simple, cheap and fun; a phone aimed at those looking for the functionality and features of a smartphone but at a price normally associated with a feature phone. 

Price and release date

Speaking of price, the Nokia 1 isn’t much more expensive than the 8110 4G - a reimagined version of the classic that came out 22 years ago.

The 8110 4G will cost 79 Euros (around £69/$95 converted) and the Nokia 1 price is £79.99/US$85. You can pre-order the Nokia 1 today from Amazon UK, and it will be released on 30 April.

The two phones have a different appeal but if you’re simply looking for better specs and features then the Nokia 1 is the obvious choice.

Design and build 

In design, the Nokia 1 looks a bit like a top-end smartphone from around six years ago – something like an old Samsung Galaxy or HTC Desire.

It does, luckily, look more modern and new in direct comparison and we like the simplistic, colourful and fun style. The Nokia 1 has a smooth plastic shell and a pebble-like shape that fits nicely in the hand. 

Compared to current devices that use glass it feels a lot less likely to be dropped by accident. Even if you do, it’ll probably cope just fine – we haven’t done a drop test but Nokia is touting good durability.

Nokia 1 design

For a cheap phone, the Nokia 1 isn’t even fat and heavy – it’s a reasonable 9.5mm and the plastic build means it’s a comfortable 131g.

Remember when everyone bought different covers for their phone, not protective cases? Well the rear of the Nokia 1 comes off easily so you can change it for another Xpress-on cover, just like the old days.

The phone will come in two colours – Dark Blue and Warm Red – but the Xpress-on covers will come in all kinds of shades.

Specs and features

As mentioned, the Nokia 1 is one of the first phones to be announced with Android Oreo Go Edition. This means that it comes with 8.1 Oreo but an optimised version for phones with lower specs.

The idea is that performance is still good despite just 1GB of RAM and the OS also takes up less storage, important when there’s only 8GB. However, there is a microSD card slot here if you need to add more.

Google calls it “A powerful experience for entry-level smartphones. It’s the best of Android, built with new and reimagined apps, so even the most affordable Android smartphones are as sweet as can be.”

Nokia 1 Android Oreo Go Edition

While the 8110 4G is limited to a few modern apps like Facebook and Google Maps, the Nokia 1 provides access to far more via the Play Store. You can get WhatsApp and whatever else you need.

As part of the Android Go experience, the Nokia 1 runs a cut-down version of YouTube called YouTube Go which is faster and uses less data. There are also Go editions of other apps like Google Maps, Gmail and Google Assistant.

These light versions are half the size and along with the fact there are simply fewer pre-installed, is one way the phone has more storage available out of the box. That’s two times more available storage according to Google.

Nokia 1 specs

The OS and the apps are displayed on the Nokia 1’s pretty decent 4.5in IPS screen, a 480x854 resolution isn’t bad for the price. And the whole thing runs on a quad-core MediaTek MT6737M. 

All of this sounds great but the question is whether Oreo Go Edition can actually run well on a low-spec phone like this. Well during our time it’s been mostly ok but also there’s been a bit of lag too.

We might be able to put this down to pre-production unit but we’re still a little apprehensive. Really we need to test it out over a longer period of time to decide and hopefully it’s not the case where you might as well spend a bit more on something running full Android. 

Remaining specs to mention include 11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS, 4G LTE a headphone jack and a microUSB port. There’s a fairly small 2150mAh battery and we’re not expecting anything mind blowing from the Nokia 1 in terms of battery life but the cell is removable so you could carry a spare.

There’s a 5Mp camera on the back with an LED flash but don’t expect anything super crisp and ready to wow your Instagram followers. Certainly don’t rely on the 2Mp front camera for selfies you’ll want to share with the world.

Nokia 1: Specs

  • Android 8.1 Oreo Go Edition
  • 4.5in display, IPS
  • MediaTek MT6737M Quad Core 1.1GHz processor
  • 1GB RAM
  • 8GB internal storage
  • MicroSD support up to 128GB
  • 5MP rear-facing camera
  • 2MP front camera
  • 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 4.2
  • GPS
  • 4G LTE
  • Micro-USB 2.0
  • 2150mAh removable battery
  • 68x134x9.5mm
  • Android 8.1 Oreo Go Edition
  • 4.5in display, IPS
  • MediaTek MT6737M Quad Core 1.1GHz processor
  • 1GB RAM
  • 8GB internal storage
  • MicroSD support up to 128GB
  • 5MP rear-facing camera
  • 2MP front camera
  • 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 4.2
  • GPS
  • 4G LTE
  • Micro-USB 2.0
  • 2150mAh removable battery
  • 68x134x9.5mm

SHOULD I BUY NOKIA 1?

Android Go Edition is finally here and the Nokia 1 offers Oreo in a very cheap phone that’s got a colourful and fun design. The idea here is good, offering more available storage and data saving apps.

However, it’s probably not ideal for the UK market where you can get a much better device for not much more. This is especially pertinent as we’re a bit worried about performance, but it could make for a good kids phone. Look out for a full review soon.

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