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low-cost Nokia shootout

5.1: Good definition. More colour than the 3.1, and the lens lets in better light. Image did not have ISO/shutter information.

low-cost Nokia shootout

Selfie (all have manual HDR, no screen or LED fill flash)

2.1: Unnatural colour, flare on lights, blurred background (not bokeh) IS0 320, 1/30 sec, .91MB

3.1: Lack of Autofocus means you must hold the camera about 600mm from your face. That defeats the wider 84.6° FOV. ISO 1137, 1/17 sec, 2MB

5.1 Better colour but otherwise the same front camera as the 3.1, ISO 1118, 1/14 second, 2.1MB

Video

2.1: [email protected] Adequate in daylight to produce acceptable video but lack of stabilisation makes it blurry and poor colour/contrast in office or low light conditions.

3.1: [email protected] Colour, detail and contrast are good, but lack of stabilisation led to ‘smudged’ backgrounds. A little better in office light but inadequate in low light.

5.1: as per 3.1 producing marginally better shots due to the faster processor

GadgetGuy’s take

The low-cost Nokia shootout shows three very different phones in the mass market ($200-499).

Perhaps the unkindest thing I can say is that they are all ‘passable’. I kept looking for a killer feature but alas in this price bracket that is hard to find. They all have Nokia quality (assembled by Foxconn). They are all the second generation of phones designed by owners HMD Global. As such they have addressed any of the shortcomings of the original 1st generation.

In Australia, the lack of a 28GHz band does limit use to capital cities. In building reception is lower accordingly.

The $199 Nokia 2.1 offers a large 5.5” 16:9 screen, big battery and dual speaker. It is a competent phone, but compromises like the ‘social quality’ camera make it hard to recommend especially as the 3.1 and 5.1 offer a lot more. If you can live with Android Go (not a power user), then it is fine. I suggest this is a good ‘school’ phone with a suitable level of ‘cool’.

The Nokia 3.1 offers a very small (comparatively) 5.2” screen, but that makes it more pocketable. It has excellent haptic feedback and does everything expected of it although the processor/RAM struggles sometimes. It does not have the limitations of Android Go. At $199 on special at JB Hi-Fi (usually $249) it offers a better smartphone experience than the 2.1 at the same price.

The Nokia 5.1 is better, but it costs more. 5.5” screen, better processor and better camera post-processing. It is a phone I could live with. There are few compromises, but I would be sorely tempted to spend $70 more ($399) for the Nokia 6.1 with a Qualcomm 630 processor, 3/32GB, LTE band 28, 16MP camera, fast charging and VoLTE/VoWifi calls. GadgetGuy rated it 4.3 out of 5.

Alternatives

If you are on a budget, you should look at Nokia as well as some other comparable phones. Check out our articles for more:

Rating

Overall: 3.8 out of 5 Features: 3 out of 5 Value for Money: 4 out of 5. Performance: 3 out of 5 – Ease of Use: 4 out of 5 Design: 5 out of 5 Overall: 4 out of 5 Features: 4 out of 5 Value for Money: 4.5 out of 5. Performance: 3.5 out of 5 Ease of Use: 4 out of 5 Design: 4 out of 5 Overall: 4.1 out of 5 Features: 4 out of 5 Value for Money: 4.5 out of 5. Performance: 4 out of 5 Ease of Use: 4 out of 5 Design: 4 out of 5

Price/Website

$199
Australian Website here
$249 (on special at $199)
Australian Website here
$329
Australian Website here