Before the iPhone was unleashed to the world, everyone wanted a Nokia. Today, the company is obviously past its heyday, but that doesn’t stop it from still churning out one excellent phone after another. On a limited budget? The $209 Nokia 7.1 is one of the best affordable smartphones we’ve ever come across, with a premium glass construction and screen that’s very hard to find for the price point. Or if you’re into photography, the Nokia 9 PureView boasts a remarkable five-camera system that’s super fun to use. Save up to $50 when you get them on Amazon today.
Reborn as an Android phone after HMD Global took over the company, the Nokia 7.1 looks stunning for its price. Its design is strikingly high-end, with a glass front and back that is encased in an aluminum chassis. Though made of glass, it feels solid and light, but we suggest buying a phone case for extra protection. Its chamfered edges have a beautiful metallic sheen that nicely complements the matte sides. Unfortunately, this phone imitates the iPhone X and has a notched display as well, so it’s going to obscure videos slightly. At least it still has a headphone jack, unlike the iPhone X. Be careful, too, as this device hasn’t been rated for water resistance.
The Nokia 7.1’s 5.8-inch LCD display is a thing of beauty, one of the best we’ve seen on a midrange phone. It’s colorful and sharp, although blacks aren’t as rich as we’ve hoped for. There wouldn’t be an issue with this screen’s brightness even when hit directly by sunlight, and most surprising of all, it supports HDR10 content. This means you can enjoy a wider color gamut and richer contrasts when watching HDR-format videos on Netflix and YouTube. Its bottom-firing speaker is also equally delightful, as it can get impressively loud and retains a full-bodied sound even at low volume.
Powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 636 processor, with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage, this phone can easily zip through apps, browsers, and games. More graphics-heavy games such as Alto’s Odyssey and Tekken performed a little sluggish but not enough to turn you off. The Android One operating system came straight from Google and thankfully doesn’t come with a lot of bloatware.
The phone’s cameras are also good but try to avoid shooting in low-light conditions. The two rear cameras, one with 12-megapixels lens and one with a 5-megapixel lens for depth sensing, capture images with accurate colors and a surprising amount of details.
A serious drawback of the Nokia 7.1 is its battery life. When used normally, with gaming, video streaming, and plenty of messaging, the phone almost died at the end of the workday. You would need to plug it up if you still want to use it for the rest of the evening.
But for just $209 (or a shockingly low $149 after being approved for an Amazon Rewards Visa card), this is an unbelievably good phone that people might suspect to cost more than it actually does. It looks and feels like a flagship phone, with a fantastic display, solid performance, and a capable camera.
The Nokia 9 PureView has a beautiful symmetrical design. It has an aluminum unibody paired with Gorilla Glass 5 that looks expensive despite its midrange price. When you hold it, it feels substantial and solid, like a fine piece of digital jewelry. Its 6-inch AMOLED display is similarly arresting, and thankfully doesn’t have a notch, unlike most recent phones, including the Nokia 7.1. The colors are vivid, it can get super bright, and the contrasts are excellent. The power and volume buttons are also nicely responsive and clicky. However, you won’t be able to find an audio jack. At least the unit comes with a decent pair of wireless headphones. There’s a USB-C port found at the bottom and a downward-firing speaker, which is disappointingly weak, to be honest.
Unfortunately, the screen houses probably the worst in-display fingerprint sensor we’ve ever encountered. Unlocking the phone usually doesn’t work the first time, and you must push extra hard to activate it. Moreover, this was released earlier last year, so Nokia should have found a way to make it work seamlessly. A few system updates would hopefully fix the issue.
It’s in the phone’s back where you’ll find its greatest strength, though: The five-camera system. Every photo taken using this phone uses all five cameras to collect as much photographic data as possible. Photos look stunning even when raw and even more startling when edited (although you honestly don’t have to). They look very natural and not oversaturated with too much contrast, unlike with other phones. There’s also a 20-megapixel front-facing camera that can take extremely detailed selfies. One great feature is Depth Map, capable of gathering 1,200 layers of depth so you can completely readjust the blurriness of the foreground and background of a photograph.
This phone runs with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. It’s not the latest of processors, but it gets the job done and is fast enough with no noticeable lags. Its battery life is also quite good. With normal use, it can easily last a day with a little bit of juice left.
The Nokia 9 PureView is an excellent phone for people who love taking and tinkering with photographs. It’s not perfect, especially because of its abominable fingerprint sensor, but it’s still quite good. Get it for $549 instead of its usual price of $599. What’s more, you can get an additional $60 off instantly when you’re approved for an Amazon Rewards Visa card, lowering the price to $489.
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