The Nokia 1 is a $149 phone aimed at the unlocked, pre-paid sim market. Its quality and heritage alone make it a good buy. But more than that. With the right use case it is more than fit for purpose.
I admit to being a little perplexed at how to review a $149 phone. What should my expectations be? Does it need to take great photos or play music? Well no, it does not, so any of these things are a bonus.
A $149 phone is just as crucial to its buyer as a $1000 phone is to someone better off. While it is back to basics, reliability needs to be right up there.
A $149 smartphone should
Be reliable and take a knock or three
Use a pre-paid sim from any MVNO or carrier (not locked to a carrier)
Make and receive calls, SMS and have good reception – a real bonus if it has 4G
Handles email, calendar, contacts
Takes adequate photos (unless you are a ‘photo-phile’)
Battery should last at least a day
The screen is reasonably outdoors readable
Sure a $149 phone will reach its limits faster than other phones. Anything else is a bonus.
The Nokia 1 met or exceeded all those paradigms.
Nokia 1 – In the box
USB 5V/1A charger
Micro-USB to USB-A cable
And a removable 2150mAh battery.
The first impression is a small, plastic, almost toylike phone with big bezels. Insert the battery, charge it and up comes Android 8.1 Go Edition. I like the grippy feel and the smaller 4.5” 16:9 fits well in-the-hand.
Specifications – Nokia 1 Model TA-1079 (single sim for Australia)
There is only one specification that matters – price. Can it do a good job for $149?
Rather than go through the full suite of tests and a lengthy review (which we did anyway), GadgetGuy’s comments below encapsulate our findings.
Nokia 1 TA-1079 SS (Black with white highlights)
4.5”, 854 x 480, 16:9 ratio, 218ppi, IPS screen 5-finger touch. 24-bit for 16M colours. 61.8% S-T-B-R. Plastic screen has no ‘toughened’ glass so can scratch.
250nits and contrast 2000:1 makes it just daylight readable. Colours are vibrant but not accurate.
MediaTek MT673M ARM-A53 Four-core 1.1GHz Media Tek calls it the most cost-effective all-in-one solution. Many sub-$250 phones use it.
The adage – never use a four-cylinder to tow a caravan! There were some lags, but overall it did well.
Will play basic low fps games like Angry Bird
1GB LPPDDR3 8GB eMMC (5GB free) MicroSD slot it 128GB.
Android Go is for 1GB. Yes, it can be laggy, but overall it’s pretty good. MicroSD for both internal or external memory and apps
5MP, 2592 x 1944 pixels LED flash HDR (can slow things down – disable it) 1280x720p@30fps (.92MP)
Passable daylight photos but limited depth of field. The video is ‘rough’ at .92MP
2MP, 1600 x 1200 pixels No, fill or LED flash 480p@30fps (.32MP)
Fixed focus and low MP means selfies are adequate. Video frame rate regularly drops to 15fps
Wi-Fi N 2.4GHz only Bluetooth 4.2 FM radio A-GPS
60Mbps download A-GPS works but lacks a compass or finer location position. Maps Go version lacks turn-by-turn navigation.
Earpiece speaker Rear-firing speaker vented through Express cover 3.5mm audio jack One Mic
Fine for calls. Handsfree gets the ‘tunnel effect’. 70dB volume is adequate Don’t expect any bass – it is for voice only
IP52 (drip protection)
All you need
Micro-USB connector OTG support
Fine. OTG works well with Windows and Mac
2150mAh removable battery BV-5V USB 5V/1A charger
Expect all-day 24+hrs life. We exhausted it in 10 hours of hard use. Recharge is four hours. The chip supports the use of 2-3A chargers for faster charging (not tested)
LTE Cat 4 150/50Mbps single sim plus microSD slot Bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 20, 28, 38, 40 The chip supports VoLTE, VoWi-Fi depending on the carrier.
Higher quality than expected and all Australian bands. Download reached 65Mbps at 4 bars signal strength. VoWi-Fi is vital for small cell use.
133.6 x 67.8 x 9.5 mm x 131g
Light in the pocket
Android 8,1 (Go Edition for basic phones) Google manages all updates until the hardware cannot handle it. Google Assistant Special “Go’ versions of Google apps for power and memory management.
This is a ‘lite’ version that only loads what is needed. Otherwise, the experience is the same. Some apps simply can’t run.
Express polycarbonate changeable covers Warm Red, Dark Blue and other colours