Review: Nokia 3.1

Nokia 6 might be, or it was HMD Global’s most popular phone, but Nokia 3 was selling like crazy all around the world. It wasn’t the fastest phone on the market, but you’d get the trusty companion with a pretty good camera for the price. Its hardware cried for the upgrade, and that happened at the #BringItOn #ChargedUp event held in Moscow, Russia at the end of May 2018. Nokia 3 got a newly designed body and much-needed hardware upgrade. Some improvements came nicely, others could be further developed, but let start with basic specs and box content.

Basic specs of the Nokia 3.1:

  • Screen:
  • Dimensions: 146.25 x 68.65 x 8.7mm
  • Weight: 138.3g
  • Processor: MT6750N Octa Core 1.5GHz
  • GPU: Mali T680 GPU
  • Memory: 2/16 GB, 3/32 GB,
  • Internal memory: 16 GB / 32GB, MicroSD up to 128GB
  • Main camera: 13 MP AF f/2 with led flash
  • FF Camera: 8 MP FF f/2 84.6 FoV
  • Connectivity: WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n, BT 4.2, GPS/AGPS+GLONASS+Beidou, FM Radio support, microUSB
  • Sensors: Ambient light sensor, Proximity sensor, Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Magnetometer
  • Battery: 2990 mAh
  • Colors: Blue/Copper, Black/Chrome, White/Iron
  • OS: Android 8.0 Oreo (Android One)
  • Price: €150

Nice design
Great display
Nice form factor

BT doesn’t work well
Camera is mediocre
16 GB of internal memory



The box of the Nokia 3.1 looks the same as the box of a more powerful Nokia 5.1, and the contents are almost the same. Inside you’ll find a wall charger with USB plug, USB to micro USB cable for charging and occasional data transferring, basic WH-108 earphones, and user manuals.



The design and ergonomy

The design of Nokia 3.1 is a huge improvement compared to the old one, even though certain body features remained. New Nokia 3 maybe doesn’t feel as robust as the original one, but it sure looks beautiful. It is light in comparison to its predecessor, but it feels so nice in hand and comfortable to hold because of rounded edges. Nokia Mobile applied its dual coloring to its aluminum frame, and the test model in blue and copper looks stunning. The front of the device is protected with 2.5D Gorilla (3) glass, while the thin polycarbonate cover is glued to its back. The device still has that iconic Nokia Fabula design, with all the unnecessary bits removed from the body.

The front is fully black and hides the 5.2-inch HD+ display that has the polarisation filter. Above we have the wide speaker grill with a noise-canceling microphone. On its left, proximity and ambient light sensor are positioned, and 8 MP front-facing camera. Bezels above and below the screen are not symmetrical, and the phone does have an unusually large chin. I kind of hoped that Nokia Mobile would place capacitive control buttons there, but they would be hard to use that low, and the on-screen buttons are a much better solution, and cheaper too. Aluminum frame is rounded a bit and has a mat finish. On the right side, you’ll find the volume rocker and power buttons that are firmly placed in the cutout with a nicely defined click. On the left side, you’ll find microSD and two nano SIM doors that you open with the pin key provided in the box. The top of the device holds the 3.5 mm port and two antenna stripes, which can also be found at the bottom together with the micro USB port, another microphone to its left and single speaker grill to its right.

The back is also simplified, but with nicely done Nokia logo and camera module in contrasting copper color. Above the camera, the third microphone is situated. At the bottom of the back polycarbonate cover, there is android one logo printed together with a model number (TA-1063) and standard text that says Nokia 3.1 is designed by HMD Global and some other things.


The screen

One of the biggest improvements of the new Nokia 3 is definitely its screen. The 5.2-inch, HD+ (1440×720), IPS screen now comes in a new, more desirable 18:9 ratio. The screen outdoor visibility is great, and you’ll be able to use the phone in bright sunlight since it has a polarisation filter. Nokia 3.1 doesn’t have a fingerprint reader to unlock the screen, but the double tap to unlock is a sure nice addition and solves that shortcoming. The screen color representation is way better than on the old Nokia 3, and whites are now much better, as are the blacks. The 18:9 ratio was a bit strange to use for a first few days, but I got used to it quickly. The phone does look slick because of a bit narrower screen, but you’ll be able to easily read Nokiamob pages on it, and fit it in most of the car mounts (even old one for S60v3 phones could hold it).

Another thing that got improved is the processing power. Nokia 3.1 uses MT6755 octa-core processor from MediaTek, which is clocked up to 1.5 GHz. Four cores are running to the advertised speed, and the other four are running at 1GHz. The device is evidently faster, and you’ll notice that if you upgrade from an old 3. But, it is not faster than the Nokia 6 (2017) that has a Snapdragon 430. Anyway, everything runs nicely, and it is power efficient. You can play Subway Surfer without the device getting hot, watch movies, but it does stutter sometimes when watching videos in HD quality on web portals. The Mali T680 GPU does a great job for the price, but more difficult tasks aren’t his specialty.

This device has 2 GB of RAM which is enough for the price range, but 16GB of internal memory could pose a problem after a few months of use. You shouldn’t install some data-hungry apps on it since 8 GB of storage that you get upon the start will be easily filled up. You should invest in a good MicroSD card (up to 128 GB can be housed) where you’ll store photos, videos or music. Or you should go for 3/32 GB version of the 3.1 which should be available at selected markets.


Nokia 3.1 hardware

Nowadays we rarely use our phones for calls, but I did and the call quality is OK. I could hear caller nicely in the crowded area, and the feedback was the same. Speaker could be of more quality but I’m maybe asking too much. The loudspeaker is not the loudest one, but it will serve you well for calls and the phone ringing. When listening to music, you won’t feel the lower tones, but there are plenty of mid and high tones there. Anyway, listening to the music from your loudspeakers isn’t even cool so rather invest in some JBL or other BT speaker.

Nokia 3.1 does have many sensors included, which is cool for the low-end device. You’ll find an accelerometer, gyroscope (great for AR gaming), proximity meter, magnetometer, compass, GPS, and ambient light meter. There is also support for LTE, WiFi a/b/g/n, and BT 4.2. I must say I experienced difficulties with BT when listening to music in my car and having Mi Band 3 connected simultaneously. The music transmission wasn’t good at all, and songs were skipping during transmission when the device was connected with Mi Band. I tested other Nokia phones and didn’t experience that problem, so there must be some bug in the software (that can be easily solved with future updates, I hope).

This device is a member of the Android One club which will guarantee you the monthly security updates for three years, a new version of the Android OS for the next two years, and a stock Android experience. Clean Android is cool, but not so cool thing about it is when it takes more than half of storage. Nokia 3.1 comes with Android Oreo 8.0.0 and should be upgraded to Android Pie at the end of 2018. Stock Android experience is the same for all Nokia and other devices from this software alliance. The only non-native app that Nokia 3.1 got preinstalled was Nokia Support and Nokia Camera app. Oreo is running smoothly, but it can stutter if you have many apps opened in the back. Remember that we got the 2GB version of the device, but the RAM management balanced it perfectly. The best thing about Android One in Nokia 3.1 is unlimited high-quality photos storage with Google Photos which will take care of insufficient internal memory.


The camera

Original Nokia 3 has a great camera for the price, but not just the main one, the front one too. Nokia 3.1 got even better sensors and camera lenses, but the software didn’t follow that improvement. Don’t get me wrong, if the lighting conditions are good, you’ll get a nice photo. It will serve you well in documenting everyday things, but you’ll have to start using Snapseed or some other photo editor to get the best out of Nokia 3.1 photos. Color representation can be good, but the camera over sharpens the photos, it lacks details, and dynamic range is not so special neither. All those things can be simply fixed by the Snapseed app, so I would say that the camera software update is needed. Night shots or low light shots can turn out well but will always be a bit noisy, since f/2.0 aperture can’t get that much light in for a great low light shot. While I didn’t have problems with focusing during the day, during the night the device was having trouble focusing, without the LED flash though. When you are using flash, there won’t be any problems with focusing.

Nokia 3.1 got the new camera app with new UI for all the Nokia smartphones, and some nice tricks like Google motion (something Nokia Lumia users had a few years ago), or Google lenses, and a few neat AR masks. New camera app makes it easy for you to shoot photos in Photo mode, or swipe between very simple manual mode, video, time lapses or even slow motion.


Check out the photos taken with the Nokia 3.1 camera. Check the photos in full resolution on our Flickr account.

Front facing camera is decent enough for selfies, but again, during the day. You can use the screen as flash which will be handy for taking selfies during the night.


Videos can be filmed in 1080p which is nice for a rather cheap device. They are not digitally stabilized, so you’ll have to have a steady hands, which is something I don’t have. Anyway, videos suffer from the same issues as photos. They turn out great during daylight, or in well-lit spaces, but a low light or night videos are grainy, and the camera is having trouble focusing. My advice would be not to walk while filming since Nokia 3.1 camera is not digitally stabilized, so videos will look like crap as you can see below. Sound recording is great. By the way, videos are recorded in 3gp format?.

Here are a few videos filmed with the Nokia 3.1.






Battery capacity increased in Nokia 3.1 if compared to the original Nokia 3. Its 2990 mAh will be enough to keep the device alive for a day if you are using it moderately. If you are going to surf a lot, take many photos, watch YouTube videos, and play few rounds of your favorite game, you’ll have to recharge the device in the afternoon to keep the Friday a fun day. MediaTek processor in Nokia 3.1 does support the quick charging, but Nokia 3.1 doesn’t charge quickly at all. Provided wall plug isn’t capable of quick charging, and it will take you to charge the 3.1 battery little less than 2 hours. That is pretty much standard for this price range, and since many folks usually charge their phones overnight, slow charging shouldn’t be a problem.


Final thoughts

Nokia 3.1 is a nice, and I must say, much-needed improvement of the old Nokia 3. The device comes in new color options, which is a nice addition to its sleek, and a rather light body. The best part about the device, next to the stronger processor, is the 18:9 HD+ display, which easily puts Nokia 3.1 above its price range. If you are thinking of changing your old Nokia 3 for this one, I’m recommending it since you’ll feel the improvements right out of the box.

The camera could be better since 13MP sensor with 1.12um pixels can surely make better day and low light shots. But, for the price of €150, you won’t find a better shooter than this and future software updates could bring improvements.

Nokia 3.1 is an attractive little smartphone that you could definitely fall in love with. HMD Global does have a good horse to win the race in the lower price range group of devices.