The Nokia brand may never again be as huge as it was in the 1990s, but new owner HMD is building up a solid line-up of Android handsets – and the Nokia 7 Plus is perhaps its most persuasive offering yet. It’s not a high-end flagship to rival the Samsung Galaxy S9, but it looks and feels almost as classy for less than half the price.
Deal update: Save on a Nokia 7 Plus with an EE contract
We’re always on the hunt for the juiciest deals, and this one from Buy Mobiles is well worth a bite. For £528 – payment spread over 24 months – you’ll get the Nokia 7 Plus handset in black, plus a SIM on EE with unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, and 4GB of data. Did we mention there’s zero upfront payment?
The phone itself costs roughly £380, but to get it with a contract as good as this you’re looking at an upfront payment on about £50 followed by monthly payments of £30; compare that to this deal, which has an upfront payment of £0.00 followed by monthly instalments of £22.
Our original review continues below.
Nokia 7 Plus review: What you need to know
The Nokia 7 Plus features a generous 6in, 18:9 IPS display and a solid aluminium casing finished in hard-wearing “ceramic feel” paint. Add the tasteful copper-coloured edging, and it both looks and feels like a premium phone.
Inside, the eight-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 can’t match the performance of a top-of-the-range handset, but there’s plenty of power here to run your everyday apps without a hiccup. The dual camera features a 2x optical zoom, which will appeal to Instagrammers – and since the phone is part of the Android One programme, it runs a stock installation of Android 8.1, with no ugly customisations or intrusive bundled apps.
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Nokia 7 Plus review: Price and competition
At £349 SIM-free, the Nokia 7 Plus sits in the middle ground between budget handsets and iconic “flagship” phones. This isn’t a very hotly contested bit of the market, to be honest, but the Nokia 7 Plus does have a few rivals.
Its closest competitor is the Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra, which comes in a very similar 6in format. The Sony’s screen has an old-school 16:9 aspect ratio, however; it’s a bit more bezelly at the top and bottom than the Nokia 7 Plus, and its Snapdragon 630 processor is slower.
For those who prefer a more moderately sized phone, the 5.1in Huawei P10 is another strong mid-price option. It can be found online at a similar price to the Nokia 7 Plus, and it boasts dual Leica-branded cameras.
And if you want to go even smaller, the Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact, released last year at £500, is now available SIM-free for the same price as the Nokia. The dinky 4.6in screen only has a resolution of 1,280 x 720, but battery life and performance are very respectable, and electronic image stabilisation makes it particularly good for video.
Nokia 7 Plus review: Design
The Nokia 7 Plus feels reassuringly solid and substantial to hold, and at 8mm thick it’s agreeably slim in the hand. It’s not exactly a bold design, but the copper highlight around the edge adds personality. Only time will tell how well the hardened paint really works, but Nokia has been making big claims for it, so I’m optimistic that even after a few years of use, the 7 Plus won’t end up looking as battle-worn as my old Lenovo P2.
Wake the screen up and you’ll also be struck by just how much of the front is taken up by the 18:9 IPS panel. It’s not quite an edge-to-edge display, à la iPhone X, but it’s remarkably close, with only slim bezels at the top and bottom, which helps keep the handset’s overall dimensions down to a perfectly pocketable 76 x 158mm. The corners are subtly rounded, adding a hint of distinctiveness, and it’s topped with Corning Gorilla Glass 3 for extra durability. All told, the casing and the display create an excellent impression that belies the phone’s price.
There is just one let-down, and that’s the single speaker along the bottom edge. Phone speakers are never going to be the last word in hi-fi, but this one is particularly limited, with nothing at all in the way of lower-mid or bass response. This makes it very unpleasant to listen to music, and if you’re in a noisy environment it can even be hard to make out recorded speech.
Still, you’re not short of headphone options: there’s a 3.5mm jack at the top, plus Bluetooth 5 and a USB-C connector at the bottom. At the left-hand side, the SIM tray includes a microSD card slot, allowing you to carry around a huge local media library, should you so wish – or, if the 64GB that’s built in is enough for you, you can choose a dual-SIM version of the handset instead.
Nokia 7 Plus review: Display
The Nokia 7’s screen isn’t just big – it’s a high-quality IPS panel. We found that it covered an excellent 95.9% of the DCI-P3 colour gamut. In layman’s terms, that means colour performance is on par with what you’d expect from a professional monitor costing thousands of pounds.
Brightness isn’t bad either. We measured a maximum of 430cd/m2, which is slightly ahead of the Google Pixel 2’s 410cd/m2, though a long way behind the truly dazzling 996cd/m2 achieved by the Samsung Galaxy S9. In practice, the Nokia 7 Plus is fine for outdoor use – a polarised coating helps cut down on glare, and an excellent contrast ratio of 1,928:1 helps too. You may have to squint, but only on the sunniest of days.
For the record, the screen resolution is 2,160 x 1080, which translates to a dot pitch of 402 PPI. Everything looks perfectly sharp – as it should, as the pixels are far smaller than the eye can individually discern. And this means the phone can play 1080p media at its native resolution (with small black bars at the sides), which is probably more computationally efficient than scaling it down.
Nokia 7 Plus review: Performance and battery life
The Nokia 7 Plus uses one of Qualcomm’s mid-range Snapdragon 600 processors, rather than a premium 800 series chip, but it’s the most powerful model in its class, with eight cores clocked at up to 2.2GHz, and a very capable Adreno 512 GPU.
This gives the Nokia 7 Plus a real performance advantage over cheaper smartphones. In the Geekbench CPU benchmark, it achieved a single-core score of 1,643 and a multi-core score of 5,910, while the GFXBench Manhattan gaming test saw it average 22fps onscreen. For comparison, the £220 Samsung Galaxy J5 – one of our favourite low-end phones – managed just 800 and 3,736 in the same CPU test, and a mere 10fps in the graphical benchmark.
To be fair, the similarly priced Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact and Huawei P10 handsets proved 10-15% faster in the CPU benchmark. And when it comes to gaming, both of those phones achieved more than twice as many frames per second – although that undoubtedly has a lot to do with their lower resolutions.
Don’t get too hung up on that, though. We didn’t experience the slightest stutter or lag while browsing around the Nokia 7 Plus, nor when opening, running and switching between apps. Unless you’re determined to run the most demanding 3D games and productivity apps, there’s more than enough power here.
Battery life is decent too. With the screen set to our standard brightness of 170cd/m2, we were able to enjoy 15 hours and 40 minutes of continuous video playback before the charge hit 5%, at which point the phone’s power-saving mode kicked in and dimmed the screen. The video then kept playing for another 45 minutes before the phone finally conked out.
To be clear, this isn’t a particularly noteworthy performance – it doesn’t even make it into our rundown of the top 20 best phone batteries. But it’s far from a disaster. During our testing we found that the Nokia 7 Plus was easily able to get through a day and a half of usage and testing on a single charge, and for many people that will do just fine.
Nokia 7 Plus review: Camera
On the back of the Nokia 7 Plus, a compact 1.5mm bulge houses a Zeiss-branded dual-lens camera, capable of capturing 12MP images at f/1.75 with 2x optical zoom. That’s a pretty promising set of specs, and the software features a “pro” mode that lets you spin virtual dials to adjust the shutter speed, focus and ISO mode.
Unfortunately, this isn’t brilliantly implemented. The pro interface is discouragingly laggy, which makes it a pain to try out different settings. And while you can set the shutter speed to between 1/500 and four seconds, you can’t adjust the aperture or exposure settings to compensate. Unless you’re shooting a very dark scene, slow speeds tend to produce horribly overexposed images.
Still, if you’re happy to stick with auto mode, the Nokia 7 Plus takes decent snaps, and the 16MP selfie camera at the front captures bags of detail too. The results are perhaps a little over-sharpened for my taste, and even with HDR enabled, dark areas come out a bit murky. But those are minor quibbles – overall, images are nice and clear, with great colour reproduction, and the optical zoom is a lovely bonus.
Nokia 7 Plus review: Verdict
The Nokia 7 Plus’ headline feature is clearly that expansive 6in screen, which is better than you’ve any right to expect at this price. But performance, battery life and camera quality are all very decent as well. As long as you can live with the ropey internal speaker, it’s a fine piece of hardware.
And let’s not forget about the software. As we’ve mentioned, this is an Android One phone, and that means you get an unadulterated Android 8.1 experience. That might not sound like a big deal, but I’ve seen far too many smartphones weighed down with ugly custom front-ends and unwanted widgets. By comparison, the Nokia 7 Plus feels delightfully clean and intuitive.
What’s more, the Nokia 7 Plus is one of a short list of third-party phones which can be used to beta-test the next release of the operating system. So if you buy the phone today, there’s a good chance you’ll be near the front of the queue for a software upgrade when Android P comes out in a few months’ time.
It all adds up to a very attractive proposition. For sure, there are cheaper phones – and faster phones to boot. But the slick and solid Nokia 7 occupies a very sweet spot between the two, with a sumptuous screen and plenty of power for a very reasonable price.
|Processor||Octa-core 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 660|
|Screen resolution||2,160 x 1,080|
|Rear camera||Dual 12-megapixel|
|Memory card slot (supplied)||microSD|
|Dimensions||158.4 x 75.6 x 8 mm|
|Operating system||Android 8.1|