A few years ago, Nokia as a credible phone manufacturing brand was dead and well on its way to being buried.
But a new owner and renewed investment has prompted a dramatic resurrection, as parent HMD global breathes life into what was once the world’s favourite mobile range.
The company announced a slew of new products earlier this year at Mobile World Congress and recently these began hitting shelves here.
The new flagship is the Nokia 7 Plus and for its price, it is really quite a credible and attractive smartphone.
This is a good-looking device.
Not in a glass covered, curved screen, iPhone X/Galaxy S9 sort of a way, but in its own unique way.
If looks slim and has a ceramic feel coating on the rear, an aluminium frame and anodised edges, giving it an attractive modern two tone appearance.
The screen is gently bevelled, making it comfortable to hold and the power and volume buttons are situated on the right side.
There is a 3.5mm audio socket on the top, a USB-C charging socket on the bottom and its fingerprint sensor is on the rear, right below the main camera lenses.
As with other phones, this situation isn’t ideal as it leads to smudging on the lenses, and also forces those with small fingers to stretch.
Most high-end smartphones these days use OLED technology in their displays.
The Nokia 7 Plus on the other hand has an IPS LCD screen.
But the 6-inch full HD+ unit isn’t bad at all.
It has an 18:9 aspect ratio and while it isn’t bezel-less like the expensive new models from Samsung and Apple, if does fill much of the front of the phone.
With no physical button in the way it isn’t entirely clear why Nokia couldn’t have continued the screen right down to bottom of the handset.
Instead there is an 8 or 9mm strip top and bottom (the top houses the selfie camera, flash and speaker).
Overall the screen performance is pretty good. There is no fancy stuff like HDR, but the colour replication is excellent, and it does well in different viewing conditions.
In a phone with this price tag you won’t get the latest hardware.
But nonetheless the Nokia 7 Plus isn’t underpowered.
The engine is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 chip coupled with 4GB of RAM.
It won’t set things on fire, but it does zip along nicely as long as you don’t ask or expect too much from it.
The phone comes with 64GB of on-board storage, which is adequate enough for most people, but you can expand the memory further up to 256GB using the MicroSD card slot.
HMD Global is part of the Android One initiative which in essence means the Nokia 7 Plus runs on a pure version of the Android operating system, without any Nokia unique bells and whistles attached.
In practice, apart from it being a straighfroward Android interface, the only real additional benefit is that the phone will receive monthly security updates pushed out by Google and doesn’t come with a load of unnecessary apps from Nokia.
The phone has a 3800mAh battery, which delivers pretty good performance, although Nokia’s 2-day claim is probably a bit of a stretch when the device is being used regularly.
The fingerprint sensor is lightning fast and accurate.
Generally dual main cameras are still the preserve of the higher-end premium priced devices.
So it is a big bonus to find one on the Nokia 7 Plus.
It consists of a 12MP wide-angle unit as well as a secondary 13MP sensor that provides 2x optical zoom, both of which use Zeiss optics.
The quality isn’t exceptional, but it is very respectable in many lighting conditions.
The interface is straightforward and offers a good range of functions, including Time Lapse and Slow Motion video recording functions, as well as the option to capture at 4K resolution.
Live broadcasting from Facebook and YouTube is also integrated into the interface.
It also has the ability to choose which microphone is used to capture audio and you can capture an image from the front and rear camera simultaneously with the images either overlaid on each other or placed side by side – so called "Bothies"!
There is also a Pro Camera mode for those who like to play with the settings themselves.
The front facing camera has a 16MP sensor, again with ZEISS optics.
The phone only has a single speaker and it isn’t much to write home about.
But it does have 3 microphones, so the quality of 3D audio capture is good.
It comes in two different colour combos – black/copper and white/copper.
There are no gimmicky artificial intelligence or animated emoji features to talk about – but for most people that is probably no great loss.
With a retail price of around €399, the Nokia 7 Plus represents great value for anyone looking for a premium style Android smartphone with compromises.
Yes, the display isn’t top notch and the hardware spec is underpowered compared to high-end devices.
But overall the experience is a good one, with a decent camera setup and Android One on board.
There is plenty of choice out there around this mid-range price point.
But the Nokia 7 Plus is certainly one to check-out and is one of a growing number of reasons why Nokia as a brand is far far from dead.
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