Nokia 1 is an honest, reliable $149 entry-level phone (review)
4.0Overall Score
Price (RRP): $149 Manufacturer: Nokia HMD

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

  • The phone
  • USB 5V/1A charger
  • Micro-USB to USB-A cable
  • Basic earbuds/mic
  • 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) GadgetGuy comments
Screen 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.
Processor 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.
GPU Mali-T720MP1 Will play basic low fps games like Angry Bird
RAM 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
Rear Camera 5MP, 2592 x 1944 pixels
LED flash
HDR (can slow things down – disable it)
[email protected] (.92MP)
Passable daylight photos but limited depth of field.
The video is ‘rough’ at .92MP
Front Camera 2MP, 1600 x 1200 pixels
No, fill or LED flash
[email protected] (.32MP)
Fixed focus and low MP means selfies are adequate. Video frame rate regularly drops to 15fps
Comms 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.
Sound 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
IP Rating IP52 (drip protection) All you need
Other Micro-USB connector
OTG support
Fine. OTG works well with Windows and Mac
Battery 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 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.
Dimensions 133.6 x 67.8 x 9.5 mm x 131g Light in the pocket
OS 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.
Colours Express polycarbonate changeable covers
Warm Red, Dark Blue and other colours
Plastic without looking cheap
Missing Let’s no go there
Price $149
Website https://www.nokia.com/en_au/phones/nokia-1

Camera – good daylight and office shots

Nokia 1

Colours are a little washed out and field of view is fairly narrow.

Nokia 1

This blurred shot is typical of what happens if you don’t hold it very still

Nokia 1

Much better

GadgetGuy’s take. How much can you expect from an entry-level phone?

Well, it’s a mixed bag.

The Nokia1 provides more than I expected. It is a competent phone, hardy, the screen is OK, and battery life should give a full 24-hour day.

I did not mind Android Go, but compromises are evident. But I think I would spend more to get pure Android One on the Nokia 3 or Moto e5.

OK, If I had $149 and wanted a phone that is a step above a disposable, this is it. I would give it to kids and elderly parents.

Pro

  • Removable battery
  • microSD formats for app install
  • All Australian LTE bands for all carriers
  • Most Android Go apps like Gmail are fine
  • Camera is adequate in day and office light

Con

  • There are performance lags due to 1GB RAM, 8GB storage and it has the tiniest processor.
  • Forget low light photography
  • The BV-5V battery is a new size and not easy to find. Cost about $20
  • A-GPS and Google Map Go does not offer turn-by-turn navigation
  • Don’t try to load many apps – the key is to keep it simple.
  • Add a 32GB memory card for $35.

Ratings

We have to rate this within the <$199 mass market paradigm. On that basis alone it’s a 5 out of 5 but let’s look at it holistically

  • Overall: 4 out of 5
  • Features: 4 out of 5 – Android Go is great but has limitations full Android does not
  • Value for Money: 5 out of 5 – I have nothing to compare it with, but I suspect it crams as much into the price as possible.
  • Performance: 3 out of 5 – Hey what do you expect?
  • Ease of Use: 4 out of 5 – Lost a point for daylight readability
  • Design: 4 out of 5 – Plastic but not cheap. Cute, almost toylike.

Price

$149 from Harvey Norman.

Nokia 1 is an honest, reliable $149 entry-level phone (review)
Price (RRP): $149 Manufacturer: Nokia HMD
Good value as an entry level phone with Android Go
It is what it is
Overall
Features
Value for money
Performance
Ease of Use
Design
4.0Overall Score
Reader Rating 0 Votes