The Nokia 8 Sirocco edition might have cost more, the Nokia 1 and 6 might have been more affordable, but going by what we were hearing, there was no doubt which of the four devices that Nokia launched in India generated the most curiosity – the Nokia 7 Plus. And that was because the device was targeted at a segment that has not seen too many high-profile devices of late – the Rs 20,000-30,000, that price band that bridges the mid-segment with the high-end one. At Rs 25,999, the Nokia 7 Plus is reminiscent of the very popular Lumia 1320, one of the first mid-segment devices that sported a large 6.0-inch display, in terms of positioning.
Of course, just how well it performs (and whether it will follow the footsteps of that illustrious predecessor) will be revealed in the coming days, but our initial impressions can be summed up in seven points (of course) and one more (of course, again):
Solid and smart…and yes, it is actually made of metal!
We must confess to feeling a certain sense of fatigue when “block of aluminium” references crop up as regards Nokia devices, but even though the Nokia 7 Plus too follows the “carved out of a block of aluminium (Series 6000, in case you wish to know what kind), it does look very different from its predecessors. And that is because Nokia has gone with what it calls a “ceramic feel coating” on the slightly curved back, which gives the phone a very different look from the run of the mill metal customers at this price point. It also feels slightly “softer” than metal does – whether you like it or not depends on your personal preference. That said, the copper metallic border along the sides of the device and on the outer part of the dual camera unit and the fingerprint scanner on the back glints fiercely in the sun. At 158.38 mm in length, it is not the smallest phone we have seen, but its 7.99 mm thickness (minus the jutting out camera unit at the back) makes it look slim enough too. The USB Type-C port is on the base, while the 3.5 mm audio jack is on top of the device. The metallic volume rocker and power/display buttons are on the right and the SIM card tray on the left. One can quibble about the absence of dust and water resistance, but all said and done, the 7 Plus has a typically Nokia solid, substantial feel to it, and those copper highlights give it a smart took as well.
Ooo, that 18:9 display…and look ma, no notches
We were tempted to start with this point because the Nokia 7 Plus sees Nokia finally get into the 18:9 aspect ratio display zone, which makes the device stand out from its own brethren, although not from most of the competition. And it does so with a 6.0-inch full HD+ (2160 x 1080) display that seems reasonably bright and seems to handle colors and contrasts well. No, it is not eye-popping in AMOLED tradition, but it is very good for its price point. And no, it does not have a notch either. Some might quibble at the display having Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection rather than a newer version, but we reckon most people slap a tempered glass on their phone displays anyway.
Ooo, three cameras…and look ma, all from Zeiss
The biggest hardware highlight of the Nokia 7 Plus is without doubt, its camera set up. The Nokia 8 saw the Zeiss brand make its return on Nokia devices, and with the 7 Plus the Zeiss comeback continues. The device features dual cameras on the back – one 12.0-megapixel with f/1.75 aperture and a 13.0-megapixel with f/2.6 aperture. There is a 16.0-megapixel front facing snapper, and that too has Zeiss optics. In an interesting change, Nokia has gone back to its semi-circular Pro mode UI – a move that will delight nostalgia lovers. Of course, the cameras promise a lot (2x optical zoom, and a fair bit of color and detail) and based on our initial experience, they do seem faster than the ones we saw on the Nokia 8. Could they bring Nokia back into the photo game? Stay tuned for more. Oh and before you ask, the Bothie is still very much there – so you can use both front and back cameras at the same time.
And three mics too (but just one speaker!)
One of the highlights of the Nokia 8 which perhaps did not get the sort of attention it merited was the presence of three microphones for recording sound, using Nokia’s OZO audio technology. Well, they are here as well, which should make the 7 Plus a great option for those into recording sound. We just wish Nokia had paired it with stereo speakers – there is just one on the 7 Plus, right at the base next to the USB Type-C port.
Two day battery, we hear
Nokia claims that the 7 Plus comes with two-day battery life, and that is because it packs in a rather large battery by Nokia standards, all of 3800 mAh. And there is support for quick charging too. Nokia’s devices have generally done well in the battery department since the brand’s return and we have high hopes of this one as well.
Decent specs for the price
Which brings us to the spec sheet (finally) of the Nokia 7 Plus…and we think that for the price, they are definitely on the decent side, without being superlatively surprising. Yes, the full HD+ display is on point, and the cameras are definitely heavily hyped, but some might feel a twinge of disappointment at the Snapdragon 660 processor, although we would accuse them of expecting too much. There is also 4 GB RAM and 64 GB storage, expandable to 256 GB using a microSD card if you give up one of the two SIM card slots. Connectivity options include 4G, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS and NFC. And running on top of this is stock Android 8.0, with Nokia’s assurance of providing timely updates to keep safe and secure. No, this is not a benchmark buster but we dot see too many being disappointed by what it offers.
And some competition
As we had pointed out initially, the Nokia 7 Plus steps into a zone in which there have not been too many high profile devices of late. There are the selfie-centric Vivo V9 and Oppo F7, both of which have “tall” displays and powerful cameras, but we suspect the biggest challenge to the Nokia 7 Plus might come from another comeback brand, Motorola, whose Moto X4 offers a rather premium design and rock solid experience (pure Android again) at a price that is lower. It also has a rival in the family, but that is another story and one which you will read shortly, hopefully. But the Nokia 7 Plus at the moment has the benefit of being in a relatively uninhibited zone, with nothing from the likes of Xiaomi and Samsung laying siege to it. Mind you, that is not going to stop comparisons with the Redmi Note 5 Pro – we will be making one too, so stay tuned.
Plus One… Android One, of course
All this is underpinned by the little matter of Android One. Once the preserve of affordable devices (read sub-Rs 10,000), the alliance has been moving up the price ladder, with the likes of the Moto X4 and the Xiaomi Mi A1 and now has got Nokia in its ranks. That means that the Nokia 7 Plus will get (hopefully) assured Android updates for two years (not that THAT was a major issue with Nokia, whose devices have sometimes got updates faster even than the Pixel).
At Rs 25,999, the Nokia 7 Plus finds itself in a relatively thinly populated zone, which is why many think it might be the vehicle for greater things for the brand not just in the Indian market but in others as well. Of course, a lot will depend on how well it performs. Stay tuned for our review in the coming days.