Adrian Weckler on Nokia 7 Plus: 'In an age of unbelievable phone cameras, this is very good for a mid-tier model'
Nokia 7 Plus, €399, retail, Vodafone and Three
Last year, when I reviewed the Nokia 8 flagship phone, I was a little underwhelmed. No such mixed feelings accompany my experience of the Finnish company's new endeavour, the six-inch Nokia 7 Plus.
For what you're paying, this is probably the best large mid-tier phone on the market.
Its physical design (always an historical strong point with Nokia) is excellent, its specifications are bang up to date and its battery is close to the best on the market. It even has a headphone jack.
What's not to like?
The phone comes loaded with what feels like as close a version to stock Android as you get these days outside Google's own Pixel devices.
This is definitely one of the handset's advantages, even over rivals which cost €100 or €200 more. Because as anyone who has used stock Android before knows, it's simply a more trouble-free, fluid experience than virtually any extra layer added by established Android phone manufacturers such as Samsung, Sony or Huawei.
As a result, the Nokia 7 Plus feels quicker and more responsive than most Android phones I've tested in recent months.
One of the other strengths about this phone is its genuinely impressive long-life battery. This is around 50pc bigger than an iPhone 8 Plus's battery and it certainly feels like it. While not quite at the monster levels of flagship Huawei handsets (such as the incredible 4,000mAh batteries in the current P20 Pro or Mate 10 Pro models), it clocks in at a sterling 3,800mAh. Nokia calls this 'two days' battery life. It's not quite that, unless you really only check your phone occasionally. But it's certainly enough to get you past tea-time, even if you're constantly at it with social media, browsing or photos.
The handset has two rear cameras, which are vertically stacked. The main lens fronts a 12-megapixel wide-angle sensor and there's a 13-megapixel telezoom (2x) lens beside it. The wide-angle lens's aperture, at f1.75, lets in more light than other mid-tier phone cameras, while the telezoom lens is a reasonable f2.6.
In an age of unbelievable phone cameras, this is very good for a mid-tier model. The detail and colour are excellent from it. There are also some relatively advanced features at this price point, including slow-motion facility. Although watch out for the time-lapse, which plays back way too slowly (and creates a file far too big to be messaged or transferred).
It can also shoot video up to 4K resolution, but I've never understood why you'd want to do this on a phone, given the huge file sizes and storage requirements.
Speaking of storage, you get 64GB as standard on this, 16GB of which is taken up by 'system requirements'. It's a decent amount and should be enough for most people.
The Nokia 7 Plus's LCD screen is good, though obviously not as good as the Oled displays on top models like the iPhone X or Huawei P20 Pro.
One design feature I really like is the copper band around the unibody and surrounding the cameras. It's a very nice touch and suits the handset very well. Nokia seems to know this, as it includes a clear rubber case in the box, which means you don't have to completely cover up the handsome copper strip.
The Nokia 7 Plus is also considerably slimmer than I'd expect from a device at this price point, making it easy to hold in the hand.
It's not waterproof, like some of the flagship devices out there, but I had it out in the rain and it seemed to be fine.
There's a fingerprint reader on the Nokia 7 Plus, which sits just below the two cameras on the back of the device.
One quirk about the 7 Plus is its Bluetooth, which is erratic. It had difficulty pairing with my car's audio system (where no other phone has struggled before) and it has flat out refused to pair with my regular Bluetooth headphone set. (It does pair to a lesser-used Bluetooth headphone set I have, strangely.)
But that's the only quibble I've had. Otherwise, this is a first-class smartphone and worth every bit its retail price.
The device is available over the counter from some retailers and from mobile operators Vodafone and Three.