The Nokia 5.1 Plus is part of Nokia’s second generation of phones. If you thought Gen 1 is good; you are in for a treat.
Nokia is barely two-years-old. It is a case of Nokia being fast learners. They have released 20 plus models in that short time. All second-generation phones have an x.1 moniker – hence we are reviewing the 5.1 Plus. There is an expectation that it is better than the 5 and 5.1 and it is – just.
There is a 2.1, 3.1, 5.1, (overview here), 6.1 (review here), 7.1 (review here) and the flagship 8.1 (Sirocco review here).
A word of warning – with the Gen 2 and Plus models be a little careful of what you are buying.
We issue the standard warning that you must buy the genuine model with Australian firmware as it works on all Australian Carrier LTE bands plus can make a 000-emergency call without a sim.
The Australian Nokia 5.1 model number is TA-1108. From what we can find there are several variants for different countries. These include TA-1105, TA-1108, TA-1112, TA-1119 and TA-1120. It is also known as Nokia X5 in some Asian countries.
There is different firmware for each country or region. Have a look under Settings, System, and Certification, and it will show if it is for Australia and New Zealand.
Review: Nokia 5.1 Plus: Model TA-1108 SS (single SIM)
First impressions are a nice black slab. The notch is much larger than others, so it is questionable to call it a 5.8” screen (it is 5.5” plus notch). The frame is aluminium with a paint finish that may be susceptible to scratches. Some sources suggest a polycarbonate frame – in which case the colour is part of the mix and should not scratch. Sorry I can’t tell without being destructive.
The rear has a dual camera, flash and fingerprint sensor. It is also glass and a fingerprint magnet.
Remember the price is $379. While a 720 screen is below FHD resolution, it is still acceptable in this category. I wear reading glasses (2x magnification) and the screen icons and text are slightly jagged.
Colours are cool – a bluish tint and the skin tone is ‘off’. There is no colour gamut adjustment which seems typical of Android One devices.
Nokia claim brightness (peak) is 410 nits. Our measurement is a low 133 nits. With a glossy screen that is unreadable in daylight. Nokia also claims 1500:1 contrast. We were unable to achieve 700:1. I am not suggesting Nokia is wrong – but if you are after a super bright screen forget it.
Colour distribution is uneven with a definite blackness under the notch and brightness favouring the bottom 50% of the screen.
The notch is a waste of space. It fills an overly large 50% of the width, and the remainder is for mono notifications. If using it in landscape mode, it shows the screen is really on 5.5” usable.
It has an ambient display mode – when you lift it will show basic notifications. You can also double tap to wake.
Adaptive brightness is far too aggressive towards battery saving reducing screen brightness to unacceptably low levels. This could account for our low brightness/contrast readings – yes it was switched off, but Android can also sneak in here.
Given the price, it is fit for purpose. If you do decide to buy,
compare the screen against a few others including the Nokia 7.1.
MediaTek Helio P60
32GB eMMC (19GB free)
microSD to 400GB
The MediaTek Helio P60 is a 12nm, big.LITTLE architecture pairing four Arm A73 processors at 1.8GHzwith four Arm A53 processors at 1.8GHz (speeds are throttled from 2.0Ghz). It has on-device intelligence (Edge AI).
It is commonly part of the value segment including OPPO A3, A73
and A7x although these do not throttle the speed lie the Nokia 5.1 Plus.
We could not run Geek Bench 4 performance tests. This happens with some other MediaTek SoCs, and we trust it is not some electronic subterfuge to hide true performance.
The performance is adequate and mostly smooth. It became laggy when multi-tasking or background downloading.
Again, give the price you cannot really mind the delay between screen changes or a lag when typing.
Wi-Fi AC dual-band 1×1
Wi-Fi is a maximum of 433Mbps on the 5GHz band due to the 1×1 antenna. It holds signal to about 20 metres from our reference D-Link AC5300 router then falls over to 2.4Ghz to about 30m.
3.5mm audio jack
ANC dual mics
FM radio (with buds)
Music Codecs: AAC/+, FLAC, MP3, WMA, WAV
Video: H264/265, MP4, WMV, Xvid, AVI
Maximum ring tone is 78dBb which is fine. Voice and music are70/72dB which is a little low. The sound is tinny – it is a small speaker. Handsfree is clear enough but lacks volume you need for outdoor or group use.
It has a single bottom-firing speaker that will go to 84dB. Upper-bass creeps in at 500Hz and frequency response is good until 10Hz with a hint of upper treble to 15Hz. A mid-sound signature for voice.
Bluetooth uses a standard SBC codec. It will play lossless FLAC over Bluetooth or 3.5mm. Frequency response is 50Hz to 17kHz. Google Play is the default music app, so there is limited EQ adjustment.
GPS and e-compass
The fingerprint sensor is fast at under .5 seconds.
GPS is a battery muncher, and we experienced lag in critical turn by turn situations. That is a function of the SoC.
5V/2A USB-C charger
Missing: Fast charge
0-100% in about 2h hours
On test day it ran for 18 hours. This includes a mix of GPS, MP4, browsing, dozens of camera shots etc. Battery use is particularly noticeable using GoogleMaps dropping over 10% in 35 minutes. In part that is because we had to run the screen at 100% brightness to see the maps.
On a 720p video loop in aeroplane mode is just under eight hours.
Under 100% load, it drops about 15% per hour – you can expect 7 hours maximum. Conversely, it consumes little current in idle.
We suggest it is an all-day battery under normal use.
It is the same battery as the Nokia 6.1 and 7.1.
Cat 4 150/50Mbps Bands: No official listing. It appears to support 1, 3, 5, 7, 8 and 40 but it is missing band 28 (Nokia have been asked to confirm this)
Single sim (Model TA-1108 for Australia)
Second sim slot for micro-SD
VoLTE and VoWiFi depends on the carrier
Band 28 is for Telstra for use in small cells and blackspots to boost the signal. It also better penetrates buildings. While band 28 is not mandatory, it does mean you may be surfing on 3G instead of faster 4G.
Android 8.1 Oreo Android One (details here) Free Google Photo storage Google assistant and Google Lens Three years of monthly security updates and two years of OS upgrades
Android One – pure Android free from bloatware. Android Pie is
coming, and that may make a big difference to battery life.
Gloss Black, Gloss White, Midnight Gloss Blue
Glass front and rear over painted aluminium or polycarbonate
Slippery – use a bumper case
149.51 x 71.98 x 8.096mm x 160g
It is fit for purpose, but it may scratch – buy a bumper cover.
These are typical of Android One phones.
Rear Camera 1
13 MP PDAF, f/2, 1.12um
Auto, LED Flash, HDR, 2x Digital Zoom
1080@30fps with EIS
Sensor: Samsung S5K3L6
Same as Nokia 3.1, 3.1 Plus and 8 and in the Alcatel 3 series
On paper using smaller pixels and a f/2.0 lens means this is
a competent daylight camera. And it is!
It is not a Zeiss based camera. There is noticeable shutter lag, further processing and saving time. There are focusing issues for moving subjects.
It is a fair social media camera, again on par with what you expect of the price.
Daylight shots are OK. Colours are muted and detail is missing. HDR does not bring out details in shadow or light.
Indoors Office Light
Images are shadowy and lack fine detail. Colours are off.
Forget it – grainy, blurred and unacceptable.
8MP is adequate for good light. The Live Bokeh feature is not bad but quite variable sometimes producing a jagged foreground image.
1080@3-fps is good, but EIS has to work overtime to keep the image stable.
There is a range of animated masks/stickers/filters as well as an AI imaging processor. We could not see where this cut in over any other Android One phone. There is beauty mode and Google Lens.
GadgetGuy’s take: Nokia 5.1 Plus
After the Nokia 7.1 ($499) which has a 4.9 rating, I was similarly expecting a great, standout phone in the 5.1 Plus. Sorry, it is a no-nonsense, value phone that does not manage to stand out in any one way.
The screen verges on acceptable. The camera is OK in good light, but shutter lag is very annoying. Performance is OK but can get laggy. The inability to run Geek Bench tests is a concern.
International reviews corroborate the camera lag and quality but appear not to have experienced the SoC lag or screen brightness issues. On those points, you will need to look before you buy.
This is a budget Nokia to fill a niche, but I would go for the 7.1 any day and be very much happier.
Value for money
Easy of Use
Reader Rating4 Votes
Good honest phone that highlights what you can get if you but the 7.1 instea