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Nokia 7 Plus Review: The Pure Android Phone You’ve Been Waiting For

We review Nokia’s newest mid-ranger!

HMD Global has been killing it ever since they got the rights to the Nokia brand a few years ago, releasing good-looking phones with good price-to-performance ratio. The company’s phone lineup looks to deliver the same this year starting with the Nokia 7 Plus. The Nokia 7 Plus is a stock-Android, metal-bodied no-notch sportin’ mid-range phone that we’ve become fond of during our time with it, a refreshing pallete cleanser despite its faults.

Aluminum body looks great and resists scratches better

HMD Global has so far resisted the current bandwagon of clothing the bodies of their phones in glass, at least in the mid-range category. The Nokia 7 Plus is instead made from a single block of aluminum, with a matte finish applied during the anodization process to give it a pleasant texture.

Having an aluminum body makes the Nokia 7 Plus tougher, in our opinion. Glass-backed phones may be beautiful, but they’re prone to scratches, even from normal use. You can always put on a case on the rear of the phone, but that defeats the purpose of having a beautiful, multi-colored rear glass since it has to be covered for its own protection.

There’s a copper accents on the frame, camera module and the fingerprint scanner to break up the monotone black finish. Holding the phone in your hand, you can really feel the Nokia DNA seep through the design. Fans of the old Lumia series will certainly appreciate the care given to the design of the Nokia 7 Plus, and we’re liking the fact that HMD Global went with their own design DNA with the phone instead of going with what’s trendy and fashionable.

The 3.5mm jack is on the top, while the volume and power buttons are on the right of the phone. The single speaker grille is on the bottom along with the USB Type-C charging port.

18:9 display is not notched

The Nokia 7 Plus’ resistance to popular design trends continue with the display. In an age where notched phones are fast becoming the norm, the Nokia 7 Plus’ 6-inch, 18:9 1080 x 2160 display doesn’t have a notch on it. Of course that means it’s a smidge taller than comparable smartphones because of the extra bezel on the top, but we’re sure that not a lot of people will mind that design compromise.

As for the display itself, well, it’s alright. It’s an IPS panel, so you’re getting decent color reproduction all around, but it lacks punch and vibrancy that come from competing phones that have AMOLED displays.

Outdoor brightness is a bit of an issue as well, as you’ll struggle to see the screen under the noonday sun.

Snapdragon 660 is fast and problem-free

Qualcomm has been killing it in the mid-range space with their new 600 series processors, namely their Snapdragon 636 and 660 chipsets. The Nokia 7 Plus uses the latter, which offers a small boost to clockspeed over the regular 636 chipset. While both chipsets use an octa-core Kryo 260 CPU, the SD 660 is a little faster than the 636, coming in at 2.2GHz for the latter and 1.8GHz for the former.

 

It’s at the GPU level that we see key differences, as the SD 636 has a Adreno 509 while the SD 660 has a better Adreno 512 (with Vulkan API).

What does this mean at a consumer level? Well, theoretically it would mean that phones equipped with the SD 660 chipset should feel faster than ones with the SD 636 SoC. In practical use however, the Nokia 7 Plus didn’t really feel any faster than a phone equipped with the SD 636 chipset, at least with regular use.

That’s not to say the Nokia 7 Plus isn’t fast – in fact, it is. Apps opened quickly, and games were mostly stutter-free. Thanks to the custom Kryo chipset, the Nokia 7 Plus feels as fast as some flagships released last year.

Stock Android for the win!

We’ve long been an advocate for manufacturers to remove unnecessary UI and bloatware via their own overlays. We liked the fact that since the brand’s return last year, all Nokia phones have run stock Android with HMD Global promising at least two years worth of Android updates. In fact, the company is going all in this year, enrolling all their phones in the Android One and Android Go program, which pretty much guarantees two year’s worth of OS updates plus three years of security patches to keep your phone nice and secure.

Camera takes good pictures, but inconsistency hurts it

On paper the Nokia 7 Plus should be able to take great photos, thanks to the dual rear camera setup. The sensors used for the Nokia 7 Plus’ rear snappers are a combination of a 12-megapixel sensor with an f/1.75 aperture and a 13-megapixel sensor with a f/2.6 aperture. The cameras have gyro EIS, dual pixel phase detection autofocus, 2x optical zoom and Zeiss-branded lenses.

While the Nokia 7 Plus takes good photos, there’s some inconsistencies in the shots that really hurt it. It has a hard time with backlit subjects, with the phone having a tendency to overexpose photos in challenging light. Dynamic range is also limited, though turning on HDR would help alleviate that.

The Nokia 7 Plus can take great photos, it’s just that it’s a little too inconsistent for our liking. Taking great photos isn’t impossible with the phone – it’ll just take a bit more work.

The front facing camera is ok, though it’s not on the same level as the selfie experts we’ve seen in the market recently. And just like before the Nokia 7 Plus has a bothie feature, allowing you take photos with the front and rear cameras simultaneously.

Battery lasts quite a bit, though quick-charge is a little iffy

With a 3800mAh battery, the Nokia 7 Plus should be able to last quite a while before needing to be charged. PCMark’s battery benchmark pegs the Nokia 7 Plus’ battery endurance at around 10 hours and 21 minutes. That being said, it felt longer to us, with the phone lasting around a day and a half or so on a single charge.

The phone also has fast charging which quickly tops up the device from 0 to roughly half in around 35-40 minutes. A full charge takes a little over two hours with the included 18-watt fast charger.

We did notice that the phone had several overheat warnings while we were charging the phone via fast charging, though temperatures quickly returned to normal after we unplugged it and allowed the device to cool before plugging it in again. The overheating issues during charging isn’t frequent enough to be worrying, though we’re hoping this is a software issue that can be addressed via patch.

Verdict: A great mid-ranger for the pure Android lover

The Nokia 7 Plus hits all the right spots, an important quality for a mid-ranger. While it doesn’t excel at any one particular area, it delivered good performance, images, has a nice build for the price and has solid day and a half battery life.

One can argue that stock Android is a little boring compared to the UI overlays that its competitors offer, but to us the less complications, the better. The phone is a jack of all trades, and is a nice dependable option for people looking for a dependable phone.

The Nokia 7 Plus is priced at Php 21,990.

John Nieves

John is a veteran technology and gadget journalist with more than 10 years of experience both in print and online. When not writing about technology, he frequently gets lost in the boonies playing soldier.

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2 Comments

  1. What happens during an overheat warning? Will it throttle back charging if the phone is kept plugged? Some people will plug it in and left it overnight or in the living rooms, so when the warning comes about, they might not notice it.

  2. It overheats on fast charging. Does it has an option not to use fast charging? I, for one, leave it charging overnight so I have a full charge in the morning. I don’t worry about overcharging coz most smartphones and chargers today have auto shut-off when fully charged. Mapapansin mo yan pag nag charge ka overnight at malamig ang charger at phone mo sa umaga.

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