Tech Review: Nokia 3.1 Plus is pretty fly for a budget phone

Anyone remember the start-up jingle? That’s most definitely still a thing and as much as Nokia wants to rebrand themselves, I can’t help but feel some nostalgia as I start up the phone. Sorry, Nokia!

The 3.1 Plus is an update to the 3.1 and is a part of Nokia’s “budget” line of smartphones. For a supposedly budget phone, it seems to be able to pack quite a punch with an amazing battery life and the ability to take great photos. Let’s see if it lives up to expectations, shall we?

With Nokia’s history of failed smartphones, one would be slightly hesitant to pick up any of their newer ranges and believe that they could be of the same level as their competitors. And in all honesty, I certainly was. And seeing recent trends of how extremely hyped the Internet got when one of their classics was getting a reboot, there isn’t a peep when they launch their smartphones despite Nokia wanting to step away from their past and rebrand.

So with that I thought I’d give them a shot anyway, and here I am with the recently released Nokia 3.1 Plus. After all: everyone deserves a second shot.

The Look

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Now, before I took a look at the retail price of the 3.1 Plus, I couldn’t fathom how this would be classed as a budget phone. It looks sleek and durable (as per Nokia’s reputation), and doesn’t look very “cheap”. But then again, I’ve not been in the “budget phone” market for quite some time so I could be a bit behind with how those lines of phones are nowadays!

Sitting on the back of the 3.1 Plus are the dual cameras plus the phone’s fingerprint scanner that blends in quite well with the rest of the phone’s back. I wouldn’t have really noticed it if it wasn’t for the little metal ring indicating that it is indeed the fingerprint scanner!

The Feel

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“It’s a lot lighter than my iPhone” was my first thought. The next one was “huh, the back feels a little rubbery”.

So while it might not look it, once you get your hands on the phone it’s “budget” label made a bit more sense. The phone is quite lightweight despite the battery life it packs and its aluminium body is coated with a rubbery material which I feel makes it less likely to slip out of your grip. Saves a lot of people from heart attacks, I think! Volume and power buttons all rest on the right side of the phone, and clicks satisfyingly (I’m a pro-button kind of gal).

As you type and navigate around the phone, the phone vibrates lightly by default – I found it a bit weird. Even after a week of use, I couldn’t get myself used to it, so I turned it off. Cue sigh of relief.

The Wield

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Ha, that’s a fancy term. I think I’ll keep it

Anyway, now for the big important bits.

I’m an Apple convert and I have to say that going back to Android to write this made me a bit nervous. But it seems that even with their Android One design, Nokia hasn’t strayed too far from their Symbian model– simple, straight-forward, minimal fuss. It was simple enough to navigate, and it seems that with the new Android Pie things have become easier to get to – but that’s for another piece.

The battery life was amazing. I got through a big number of Arena of Valor matches over the span of two days (including leaving it on to download their HD pack while not charging) before the battery actually died and I had to charge it again. Speaking of gaming, while playing AOV (and some PUBG Mobile) I experienced minimal lag and at the end of some gaming sessions, the phone was barely hot.

Now I’m not a “phone photographer”, but I do appreciate being able to take good quality photos from a phone and the 3.1 Plus seems to be able to produce decent shots. Sadly the phone’s 720p screen didn’t really do the photos justice on the phone itself. Until I got the photos onto my laptop, my mind was set on not getting any nice photos from this dual-camera wielding device. While you’re not going to get any great selfies with this phone, those looked quite dull even after transferring them over, you can expect to be content with whatever you capture using the rear-cameras.

Though it does make you think about how good a phone camera is means nothing without a good screen paired with it, it really makes the difference. Alas, this is a budget phone, so I’m not going to fuss too much about it. A little tweaking on Snapseed and I think they’re good for social media! Note: all the photos taken with the phone weren’t edited to show “straight from phone” quality.

My Conclusion

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All in all, if you’re in the market for a budget phone to replace the one you just broke, or just looking for a suitable second phone, this might be the phone for you. Retailing at about US$159 (MYR699), don’t expect to be able to take photos to compare against those taken by brand flagship phones – that’s not what this is made for. However, do expect this phone to last the long-run battery-wise, even if you’re pwning noobs hours on end.

Who would have thought that Nokia would want to have another go at getting into the smartphone market? I honestly didn’t, but in this day and age of consumers grasping at the straws of Nostalgia, I’m quite excited to see where they go from here and if they do manage to break out of their mould.

The Nokia 3.1 Plus is out now and can be found at a Nokia store near you! It is available in blue, white and “Baltic” (gunmetal-ish) colours. More info can be found on their website. I got my review unit thanks to Lumos PR. All photos taken by myself.

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Blaise

I'm a freelance photographer and writer. I'm using this blog to give myself a platform for the creative freedom in games and tech writing without the fear of analytics.

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