During an event in Moscow earlier this year, Nokia announced a refresh to their Nokia 2, 3, and 5 series phones. While there is no official confirmation of a US release for the updated Nokia 2 and 5, we do know that as of July 2nd, you'll be able to snag a new Nokia 3.1.
According to HMD, the Nokia 3 was the most successful smartphone in their lineup since reviving the brand in 2017. This makes the 3 series very important for the company, and in turn, makes the first upgrade vital.
The Nokia 3.1 is a substantial upgrade from the 2017 Nokia 3. While none of its improvements are headlining features, there are far too many to consider this a minor change. Based on the number of changes, it appears the HMD team took a hard look at each specification of the Nokia 3 and upgraded as much as they could while keeping its price within range of its predecessor. The result is one of the best value phones for under $160.
- OS: Android 8.0 Oreo (Android One)
- CPU: Octa-core 1.5GHz MediaTek MT6750
- GPU: Mali-T860MP2
- RAM: 2 GB
- Storage: 16 GB
- Display: 5.2 inch 18:9 IPS LCD
- Resolution: 1440 x 720
- Rear Camera: 13 MP f/2.0
- Front Camera: 8 MP f/2.0 wide-angle
- Battery: 2,990 mAh
- Colors: Black, Blue, White
- Materials: Aluminum frame, polycarbonate back
- I/O: 3.5 mm headphone jack
Just like every other Nokia smartphone released in 2018, the Nokia 3.1 is a part of the Android One program. Created by Google CEO Sundar Pichai, the Android One program is a series of smartphones running unmodified Android. These devices use a standard set of hardware that is intended to lower their cost.
Additionally, unlike other devices, Google handles the software updates. Therefore, security patches are timely and software updates come within days of their official release. All Android One devices are promised to receive two years of OS upgrades, so this device will receive not only Android P but Q.
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HMD updated the display of the Nokia 3 from 5 to 5.2 inches. In increasing the size of the screen, HMD opted for an 18:9 aspect ratio instead of the traditional 16:9 of last year. As a result, in landscape mode, the display is wider allowing you more real estate to enjoy videos.
The 720p resolution was carried over from last year, which is disappointing, but should significantly assist with battery life. As a result of the changes to the display, HMD was able to improve the screen-to-body ratio from 67% to almost 70%.
One thing HMD established with last year's Nokia releases was a prioritization of build quality. While many reviewers didn't like the design of the 2017 Nokia 3, they did enjoy the build quality, commending it for its use of metal to improve durability.
The same premium build quality is carrying over to the Nokia 3.1. The frame is aluminum, which keeps the phone rigid. While the back is polycarbonate (plastic), the device still manages to remain durable thanks to the use of the frame. Additionally, most drops on devices occur on the sides, which is where HMD added the most protection.
The rear camera received an upgrade from 8 MP to 13 MP. It's still a single lens with f/2.0 aperture. However, video recording has improved to a maximum 1080p at 30 fps, an upgrade from the 720p at 30 fps of its predecessor. The front-facing camera is also wide-angle at 84.6°.
Not only is this phone GSM unlocked (allowing it to operate on both AT&T and T-Mobile networks), it also has Dual SIM, which should come in handy when traveling abroad. Instead of paying outrageous fees for using your US-based number overseas, you can purchase a SIM from the country you're visiting and insert it into the second sim slot. Calls directed to either number will come normally. Only outgoing calls will require you to choose which SIM to use.
While many in the US won't be familiar with the processor, HMD is once again going with a MediaTek SoC. The MT6750 is an octa-core processor using big.Little configuration. The four Little cores run at 1 GHz, while the four big cores run at 1.5 GHz.
The battery capacity has also increased to 2,990 mAh. When combined with the power efficient system-on-chip and 720p display, expect a day and a half battery life.
While it does pack a headphone jack, one disappointing omission is the lack of a fingerprint scanner. Without it, there is no way to use biometrics to unlock your device. However, the standard methods of PIN, passcode, and pattern are still available.
The Nokia 3.1 is available for pre-order from Amazon and B&H right now. The latter includes a free portable 5,200 mAh charger with all preorders. It will also be available at Best Buy at launch, although preorders aren't available. It will ship on July 2nd. There are three colors available: Blue (with copper edges), Black (with white edges) and White (with iron edges). Each color is available for only $159.00.
With the Nokia 3.1, HMD is once again redefining the expectations for low-cost devices. No longer should we so quickly dismiss a device which isn't priced over $600. Instead, when you look closely at smartphones such as the Nokia 3.1, you see real value when on a budget.