We check out Nokia’s latest budget Android One smartphone!

When HMD Global unveiled the Nokia 3.1 last year, the upstart brand’s goal was to make the Android One experience accessible to budget-oriented devices. However, the Nokia 3.1’s underwhelming hardware, missing features, and debatable price tag was a bit of a miss with consumers. 

It’s refreshing then to see HMD Global try to redeem themselves with a substantially better Android One smartphone in the form of the  Nokia 3.1 Plus. Beyond the Plus moniker, HMD Global’s new budget Android model is substantially better than its predecessor across all aspects—internals, build, display, battery, and many more.

What is inside the box?

HMD Global is consistent with its packaging across all Nokia phones. That being said, the Nokia 3.1 Plus comes in the same white square box that has the photo of the phone in front. Inside, you have a headset, MicroUSB cable, charger, documentation, and SIM ejector tool.

Looks like the bezels went on a diet.

Yup! That is the first thing we actually noticed on the Nokia 3.1 Plus aside from being bigger than its predecessor. This time around, HMD Global trimmed down the top and bottom bezels to keep the phone as compact as possible even if it is substantially bigger than the Nokia 3.1.

In fact, the Nokia 3.1 Plus is substantially bigger than the more expensive Nokia 5.1 Plus and Nokia 6.1 Plus. It is roughly the same size as the Nokia 2.1, though you’re getting a slimmer build, no stereo speakers, and aluminum back.

That finish looks unusual.

Unlike the Nokia 3.1, the Nokia 3.1 Plus has an aluminum back, along with two plastic tabs at the top and bottom. While the design may be dated in an age of curved glass and glossy polycarbonate backs, we prefer this design choice. Aluminum is pretty tough, and we’re sure the Nokia 3.1 Plus can take its fair share of beatings without dying.

Our review unit, which comes in blue, has a matte-like coating that is prone to smudges. Unlike glossy finishes, you will need to wipe it with a damp cloth to remove the smudges, as a regular, dry microfiber cloth sometimes does not do the trick.

Let’s run through the ports: you have a 3.5mm headphone jack on top and two trays on the left side. One holds a NanoSIM and MicroSD card, while the other holds another NanoSIM. You have your power and volume buttons on the right side, and two speaker grilles (only one is the actual speaker) and MicroUSB port on the bottom.

Hooray, no notch!

Unlike the Nokia 6.1 Plus and Nokia 5.1 Plus, the Nokia 3.1 Plus skips the notch with its large 6-inch HD+ IPS display. Like its predecessor, color reproduction is good while you will have to make adjustments with its automatic brightness feature, as it is slightly dimmer than usual.

Like all Nokia phones, the Nokia 3.1 Plus comes with an Ambient Display that lights up the display every time you receive a notification.

Finally, a modern MediaTek processor.

One of our biggest complaints on the Nokia 3.1 was that HMD Global decided to equip it with an archaic MediaTek MT6750 processor that took a toll on the phone’s overall performance and battery efficiency. For the Nokia 3.1 Plus, HMD Global used a newer Helio P22 processor—a modern mid-range processor that is manufactured using a 12nm FinFET process.

With the same RAM and storage configuration at 3GB and 32GB respectively, the Nokia 3.1 Plus feels snappier than the Nokia 3.1 though we will reserve our verdict until it has passed through our series of tests.

Any extra features?

Aside from the new processor and bigger display, the Nokia 3.1 Plus has a bigger battery at 3500mAh, which should power the device for over a day. There’s also the addition of a fingerprint scanner at the back (a strange omission on the non-Plus model), along with a dual rear camera setup. While it has the same 13-megapixel primary rear camera, the addition of a 5-megapixel depth sensor should help in bokeh effects. The front camera remains the same at 8-megapixels.

Here are a few sample shots:

How much does it cost?

With the Nokia 3.1 now priced at Php 8,990, the Nokia 3.1 Plus gets its predecessor’s original price of Php 9,990. While it is better than the Nokia 3.1, the Nokia 3.1 Plus is facing tough competition against the likes of Huawei, vivo, Xiaomi, and OPPO.

While the main selling point of the Nokia 3.1 Plus is its Android One experience, we will do our usual battery of tests to determine if it is indeed a better budget Android One phone.

Nokia 3.1 Plus specs

  • MediaTek Helio P22 octa-core processor
  • 3GB RAM
  • 6.0-inch HD+ IPS display, anti-fingerprint coating, Gorilla Glass
  • 32GB internal storage, expandable via microSD
  • 13-megapixel f/2.0 and 5-megapixel f/2.4 rear cameras with PDAF, LED flash
  • 8-megapixel f/2.0 front camera
  • Dual SIM
  • 3G, LTE
  • WiFi, Bluetooth
  • GPS, A-GPS
  • NFC, Fingerprint Scanner
  • 3500mAh battery
  • Android 8.1 Oreo (Android One)