Nokia 1 is an honest, reliable $149 entry-level phone (review)
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.
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
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|
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
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
A-GPS works but lacks a compass or finer location position. Maps Go version lacks turn-by-turn navigation.
Rear-firing speaker vented through Express cover
3.5mm audio jack
|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|
|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.
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|
Camera – good daylight and office shots
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.
- 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
- 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.
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.
$149 from Harvey Norman.