First impressions of the Nokia 2.1, 3.1 and 5.1 from the Nokia event in Russia *UPDATED*

At today’s event in Moscow, Nokia Mobile refreshed its lower to mid range lineup of Nokia phones. Now, every Nokia phone has an upgraded model for 2018. Today we saw the new Nokia 2, Nokia 3 and Nokia 5, that were also called Nokia 2.1, 3.1 and 5.1 for better distinction from its predecessors. I was live on the ground in Moscow, and down below follow the first impressions the all new Nokia 2, Nokia 3 and Nokia 5 left on me.

Nokia 2.1 is the device I really didn’t expect at today’s event. I don’t know how, but HMD managed to keep every info (and photos) of the devices hidden until the official announcement, which is a big deal in today’s tech industry. Kudos for that.

The original Nokia 2 is an attractive-looking device for its price range, but the all new 2 raises the bar to the next level. The frame around the device is smaller, making the housing feel more seamless as it goes around the edges. It’s made from polycarbonate, with the thin metal frame around and HMD added some new color options like Blue/Copper and Blue/Silver. The device sits well in the hand, and it feels big and a bit bulky. It’s definitely bigger than its predecessor, featuring the 5.5-inch screen, instead of the 5-inch screen.

The phone also received significant under the hood upgrades, and now features a Qualcomm Snapdragon 425. The battery remained the same 4000mAh, the same as the 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage. The phone runs Android 8.1 Oreo GO edition, which is a great thing considering the specs, because Android Go works well with low end hardware, and we tested it firsthand with the Nokia 1 in the review that you can check by clicking here.

The most surprising feature of this device are the dual stereo speakers on the front. The 2.1 is the first device from the 2018 lineup to feature a dual-speaker system, and in general stereo sound is a good (if not excellent) feature regardless the price point. I couldn’t test the speakers, or the camera, but in the short time spent with the 2.1 the device performed good. Keep in mind that I were mostly opening and closing system apps, so that’s not a real indicator of performance.

First impressions are positive and the 99 euros price tag that HMD announced for some markets could be the sweet spot. In fact, HMD solved one of the issues I had with the Nokia 1 by announcing the 2.1, and that was a small screen, and we additionally have a huge battery. The 8MP camera features autofocus, something the 1 (which is cheaper) doesn’t, so it does have potential to be a solid low end device. The sales of 2.1 starts in July.

Next up, the all new Nokia 3. The all new Nokia 3 was the star of tonight’s event, at least in my opinion. The last year’s Nokia 3 came with an interesting design, but underwhelming specs and performance, though the camera was quite good, actually. This year’s Nokia 3 enters the high class with its looks, and so does the spec sheet, while retaining the same price.

The 3.1 is slim and attractive-looking. The metal frame, and diamond-cut aluminium sides, as HMD brags in the marketing material, do leave a premium impression while holding the device, and with a relatively low mass of 138 grams. It’s a bit taller than its predecessor, but narrower, thanks to the 18:9 display ratio. and a bigger screen. A thing I don’t like is that the device is asymmetrical, or more precisely – the bottom bezel is bigger than the top bezel. Most people that won’t notice or simply won’t care, but for those that want (or need) symmetry in their phone (life), it could take a bit of time before you get used to it. Again, the feeling in the hand is top notch, just the bigger bottom bezel downgrades an overall attractive looking device. I do have to say that the white variant comes with white front bezels, which I’m not fond of to be honest.

Under the hood Nokia 3.1 also received a few upgrades and judging from the specs sheet you should notice it. I am delightful to see WiFi ac standard supported and Bluetooth 5.0. There are two memory options – 2GB+16GB and 3GB+32GB, with the MT6750N as the CPU, which should offer better performance compared to the old 3. Opening system apps went well, but for a deeper dive into everyday performance we will have to wait for the review unit.

From other specs, it’s worth to mention that the battery is increased to 2990mAh, the rear camera sits at 13 MP and has autofocus, with the front at 8MP and fixed focus. The Nokia 3.1 is shipping “as we speak” and should hit first markets in the coming weeks for €139 for the 2GB716GB version and €159 for the 3GB/32GB version. It runs Android 8.0 (thanks MediaTek, I guess), but it will surely receive Android 8.1, Android P and probably other (sub)version when ready.

Last but not the least, comes the new Nokia 5.1. The original Nokia 5 is probably my favourite Nokia phone from the 2017 lineup. It had the best ratio of value for money of any Nokia phone at that time and I easily recommended the device (because I use it myself) to a dozen of people that are happy with it.

The 5.1 comes in a familiar looking housing made of Aluminum 6000, blending the antenna lines with the body, but having more refined corners than its predecessor. It’s thinner and narrower than the original 5, and features a 5.5-inch FullHD+ display with 18:9 display ratio. I can already tell that the display is the unique selling point of the Nokia 5.1. It not only follows the trend of 2:1 side ratio, but also is in FullHD(+) resolution that gives 443 pixels per inch of screen density. More than enough for this price range.

Just like the original 5, the new 5 feels great in the hand. Not super-premium like the Nokia 6 with Aluminum 6000, but really solid. It’s narrower, which helps for holding the device and has the fingerprint moved on the back. HMD claims the new 5 is 40% faster than the previous 5, which performs everyday tasks quite well. The SoC of choice is MediaTeks MT6755S and it will come in 2 memory options: 2GB+16GB and 3GB+32GB.

Surprisingly, it doesn’t support Bluetooth 5.0 like the 3.1 but Bluetooth 4.2, and it doesn’t support WiFi ac standard like the 3.1 does. The primary camera seems to be improved and now features a 16MP sensor, with phase-detection auto focus, just like the original, while the front camera seems to be taking a step back with fixed focus (8MP as before), but a 0.6° wider field of view. Battery capacity remains the same at 3000mAh, with the old MicroUSB2.0 as the charging port.

The Nokia 5 retained the praised design, but comes with a mixed bag of specifications. In any case, it is an improvement on the paper compared to the old Nokia 5, while costing the same €189 for the 2GB/16GB version. More about the 5.1 we will tell in our full review once the phone arrives on market, and that should be in July.

Overall, Nokia Mobile upgraded they last year lower end lineup, and based on my first impressions, we can call it an upgrade. Each model got a specs bump, while retaining approximatelly the same price. I don’t mind seeing MediaTek’s processors if they deliver on updates, but seeing that the 3.1 and 5.1 come with Android 8.0, doesn’t put my hopes too high. The good things is that both 3.1and 5.1 are members of Android One program, which means unlimited cloud storage for photos, and security updates and OS upgrades for the next, at least, 2 years. Android P is also confirmed for the mentioned Android One devices.

If you’re wondering how was the launch event, I would say quite good. HMD had live acoustic music, drinks, food and the usual stuff. Moscow is a huge and beautiful city and I asked HMD regional executives why Moscow, and they said that it’s a loyal market with solid sales and a way to give back to the huge Russian community Nokia has (that was also said on stage by Pekka). I also recorded videos of the announced devices, but have to edit them first and do a voice-over because of the really loud music in the venue. To get a feel of the atmosphere there, check out the three videos included down below. All recorded with the 7 plus, and sorry for my shaky hands. OIS would be useful here.




As always, we invite you to leave your comments, thoughts and suggestions about the devices in the comment section below the article. 🙂

Update: Nokia Mobile wrongly stated on official site that the Nokia 3.1 supports Bluetooth 5.0 and WiFi ac. The truth is that the 3.1 comes with Bluetooth 4.2 and support for WiFi a/b/g/n, just like the Nokia 5.1.