HMD announced a new slate of Nokia phones Tuesday. To go along with the previously announced Nokia 6.1 (review coming soon!), we have the Nokia 5.1, Nokia 3.1, and Nokia 2.1. The highest-end phone here starts at $220, and the price goes down from there.
Every Nokia phone is worth paying attention to, because they are all part of Google’s Android One program. This means they run stock Android and get monthly security updates. Nokia promises two years of major OS updates and three years of security updates for everything. It’s really hard to find good, cheap smartphones, and with this lineup (depending on distribution), HMD seems to have the market locked up.
Before we dive in, here’s a big spec table:
|Nokia 5.1||Nokia 3.1||Noka 2.1|
|STARTING PRICE||€189 ($218)||€139 ($160)||$115|
|OS||Android 8.x Oreo||Android 8.0 Oreo||Android 8.1 Oreo (Go Edition)|
|DISPLAY||5.5″ 2160×1080 LCD (18:9)||5.2″ 1440×720 LCD (18:9)||5.5″ 1280×720 LCD (16:9)|
|CPU||MediaTek Helio P18
Eight Cortex A53 Cores, 1.5GHz/1.0GHz
Four 1.4GHz Cortex A53 Cores
|GPU||???||Mail-T860 MP2||Adreno 308|
|RAM||2GB or 3GB||2GB or 3GB||1GB|
|STORAGE||16GB or 32GB + MicroSD slot||16GB or 32GB + MicroSD slot||8GB + MicroSD slot|
|CAMERAS||Rear: 16MP /w flash
Front: 8MP /w 84.6 FoV
|Rear: 13MP /w flash
Front: 8MP /w 84.6 FoV
|Rear: 8MP w/ flash
|PORTS||Micro USB, headphone jack||Micro USB, headphone jack||Micro USB, headphone jack|
|BODY MATERIAL||Aluminum unibody||Aluminum sides, plastic back||Plastic|
|EXTRAS||Fingerprint reader, NFC, stereo speakers||NFC (some versions)||Stereo speakers|
Is it just me, or is it troubling that as the price goes up, the battery gets smaller? That doesn’t make any sense.
The Nokia 5.1—surprisingly flagshippy
Anyway, first up, there’s the Nokia 5.1. This is an aluminum unibody device with a 5.5-inch, 2160×1080 LCD for €189 ($218). You might have noticed from the resolution that this is an 18:9 display, and, along with the rounded display corners, it looks more like a trendy flagship than even the Nokia 6.1 (which still has a 16:9 display). Unlike the Nokia 6.1, the 5.1 (and every other phone we’re covering today) has an old-school MicroUSB port.
The Nokia 5.1 comes with an SoC called a “MediaTek Helio P18,” which I’ve never heard of before. MediaTek’s site only lists the Helio P10 and Helio P20, so it’s a bit unclear as to what this SoC actually is. HMD’s press release says the Helio P18 is “40% faster” than the Snapdragon 430 in last year’s Nokia 5. We know it has eight cores and runs at 2.0GHz, but there isn’t much more information than that. If we assume the P18 slots in between the Helio P10 and P20, it should be Cortex A53-based, just like those SoCs. The P20 is built on a 16nm manufacturing process, and the P10 is built on 28nm, so place your bets for what the P18 ends up being. We’ve asked HMD for more information and will update this if it gets back to us.
The 5.1 is the only phone announced today with a rear fingerprint reader. Everything else is relegated to using a manual unlock screen. There’s also NFC, a MicroSD slot, a headphone jack, and front-facing stereo speakers.
The Nokia 5.1 will be available July 2018 “at a global average retail price of Euro 189” ($218). There are two RAM/storage configurations—2GB/16GB and 3GB/32GB—and three colors: copper, blue, and black. HMD isn’t talking distribution yet, but we can take some educated guesses based on the spec sheet. The Nokia 5 has three variants, labeled “APAC, EMEA & HK,” “LATAM, AU & Taiwan,” and “India” so it’s a safe bet it’s at least coming to some countries in these regions.
The Nokia 3.1—HMD’s most popular model
For something cheaper, there’s the Nokia 3.1, which, in addition to the spec downgrades, cuts the fingerprint reader, stereo speaker setup, and aluminum unibody for a price drop to €139 ($160). The sides here are still aluminum, but you’re stuck with a plastic back. There are still the 2GB/16GB and 3GB/32GB RAM and storage configs, but now the SoC is a MediaTek 6750. This still sounds like a nice upgrade over last year’s Nokia 3—HMD’s press release says it’s 50-percent faster.
The display is smaller and lower-resolution: 5.2-inches with a 1440×720 resolution, which makes for an extra-tall 18:9 aspect ratio. You still get a MicroSD slot and headphone jack, but only the “APAC & EMEA” version gets NFC. HMD notes that the Nokia 3 was the “most successful model” the company released last year.
The Nokia 3.1 has versions named “APAC & EMEA,” “LAM & NAM,” and “India,” so these regions should be on the lookout for a launch. There are three colors—blue/copper, black/chrome, and white/iron, and the first launch is June 2018.
The Nokia 2.1—This Android Go phone is US-bound
The Nokia 2.1 is the most interesting phone announced today, since it comes with Android Go and should be headed to the US. Android Go is a special configuration of Android that attempts to make a slimmed-down version of Google’s mobile OS, specifically geared for devices with 1GB or less of RAM. Besides a slimmed-down OS, you also get special “lite” versions of the Google apps installed by default.
We recently did a full review of Android Go and found Google’s first attempt at this to be a bit scattershot, but the good news is that if you hate on the Google lite apps, you can always install the full version from the Play Store. Thankfully, the Nokia 2.1 has a faster SoC and should have a better screen than the ZTE Tempo Go that we tested Android Go on. The poor performance of the Tempo Go really hurt the Android Go experience.
Sure enough, this Android Go device has 1GB of RAM, with computing power provided by a Snapdragon 425 SoC. The display is back to a 16:9 aspect ratio, with a 1280×720 resolution taking up 5.5 inches. You also get a huge 4,000mAh battery that should make Nokia 5.1 and 3.1 customers jealous.
There’s still a MicroSD slot and headphone jack, but unfortunately there’s no NFC. You actually get stereo speakers back, which aren’t present on the Nokia 3.1.
The Nokia 2.1, with a Qualcomm processor and a price listed in US dollars on HMD’s spec sheet, is actually coming to the US. The versions for this one are named “APAC & EMEA,” “LAM & US,” and “India.” As an ultra-cheap Android Go phone, the Nokia 2.1 fills a nice gap in HMD’s US lineup. The company’s other Android Go phone, the Nokia 1, never made it to the US. Look out for this one July 2018.