Nokia 1 Unboxing and Hands-On Review: Android Go Done Right?


A few weeks back, HMD Global Philippines paid a visit to Davao City to formally introduce its newest Android-powered Nokia smartphones to the people of the region. There we personally met the latest Nokia 7 Plus, Nokia 6, Nokia 8810 4G aka the Matrix Phone and others. You can check out this separate post to learn more about them.

Of those Nokia Android smartphones, I was recently sent a review unit of the Nokia 1. This is an entry level device powered by Google's Android Oreo Go Edition software which is specially created and optimized for smartphones with 1GB of RAM and below and 8GB internal storage right out of the box such as this one.

In this post, I would like to share you my unboxing of the device as well as my initial impressions of it in terms of design, features, and performance.

Box and Packaging

The Nokia 1's boxing is pretty straightforward showing you which Nokia device is on the inside with a quick view of its front face as pictured on the box, and most of all is that it is powered by an Android software. On the side of the box is a quick run down of the phone's key specs such as the display, RAM and storage size, and camera configurations.


What's in the box

Sliding the outer cardboard off from the main box will reveal you the Nokia 1 itself covered in a clear plastic without the battery preinstalled. The phone is available in either Dark Blue or Warm Red color variants right out of the box. I got the red one. One of the unique features of the smartphone is that the back plate is removable, which also means you can swap it with other colors or designs if you have other. In fact, HMD Global is also selling separate backplates for this phone called Xpress-On Covers giving users the option to express their mood and personality through their Nokia phones just like the olden days.


Alongside the Nokia 1 unit itself are the usual stuff such as the user's manual guide, USB-to-MicroUSB charging cable, a wall charger brick, and a pair of regular earphones.


In case you wonder what the default earphones look like in this one, here it is. It is still the same 3.5mm accessory but not an in-ear type one. In terms of length, it is a pretty long one, I am guessing a little over 1 meter long. I have already gotten used to in-ear earphones, so this kind is not really that comfortable to me anymore as it does not cover my ear holes completely and I can easily hear the outside noise. But for a start or if you do not have an extra earphones yet, this is still good one. 

The Nokia 1


Upfront the Nokia 1 sports a 4.5-inch IPS display with FWVGA or 854 x 480 resolution. As you can see in the images above, there are no capacitive buttons on the lower bezel despite its very noticeable thickness. Instead, the Back, Home, and Multitask buttons are found on-screen which takes quite a bit of display space. And while I do not have any problem with this kind of implementation at all, if I had to have one, I guess it would be that they don't go away even when watching YouTube videos in full screen mode. I may be doing it incorrectly, but so far I still can't figure out how to do real full-screen mode on its YouTube app.

Also on this front panel are the 2MP front camera together with the proximity sensor and earpiece while down at the lower bezel is where the microphone located. 


But what about the quality of the display? I wanna say they are pretty good even if it's only having 854x450 resolution, and to be honest I really expected something a little worse than what I realized. Maybe that's because of its IPS display, though not as good as an HD panel, the color reproduction is quite good and near-accurate. Viewing angle is still good on this one, something you can expect from an IPS-equipped display. The pixels are of course noticeable especially at first use, but eventually they won't bother you anymore.


The back cover is made of polycarbonate material. Yes it feels very plastic right off the bat, but it's in matte finish which means it is not that shiny and there's a bit of texture to it and it is not fingerprint and smudge hungry at all. I am just a little afraid it's going to have scratches soon. The placement of the Nokia branding relative to the 5MP camera and its LED flash is just a simple touch that's worth mentioning. Further down the back panel is where the speaker is situated.

Now this strangely placed speaker, is actually pretty loud. You just wanna make sure that the volume is not at full blast, turn it a couple of notches down so the sound won't get distorted. The speaker also works okay even when the phone is put down on its back. 


On the right side are the volume rocker as well as the power button that also doubles as a wake up and lock key, they are very easy to reach, thanks to its compact size. At the top is the 3.5mm audio port and then way down at the bottom is the microUSB port for charging the phone's 2150mAh battery pack. Aside from its thick bezels, I wanna say it is a simple yet well-designed device.

Other specs

Powering the Nokia 1 is a Mediatek MT6737 quad-core processor clocked at 1.1GHz, paired with 1GB of RAM and an onboard storage of 8GB. And it is worth noting that even the phone can handle up to two SIM cards at the same time, it also has a dedicated slot for microSD card giving users option to expand the storage up to another 128GB.

And speaking of the storage, the Android Ore Go only uses about 3GB upfront. So you have around 5GB of space at your disposal. That is really really small compared to today's standard app sizes, however, that is not going to be a problem for the most part simply because of two things. One, when you fire app Google Play Store, most of the apps you will see there are Android Go optimized and that includes the app's sizes in MB. Two, you can set up the microSD card to work as if it is the phone's internal storage, which means all files including apps can be stored there. Say if you slide in a 128GB microSD card, then you really have an extra 128GB of storage. This kind of storage feature is something many of us would like to see even in mid-range devices, and I am glad that HMD Global brings that one in Nokia 1.

Use as internal storage: For storing anything on this device only, including apps and photos. Requires formatting that prevents it from working with other devices.

Android 8.1 Oreo (Go Edition)

And as mentioned above, the Nokia 1 is running on the latest and super lightweight Android Oreo Go Edition that was initially launched about a year a go. The main features and goals of this platform is to bring the latest Android experience to budget-centric smartphones and to the emerging market as well as help users maximize their data usage through the help of built-in data saver management functions inside the OS and other Google-owned apps like Chrome, Gmail, and YouTube.

With Nokia 1, these features are experienced as soon as you power up the device. On the home screen, you will immediately see this Google Go hub which comes pre-installed with apps like Google Go, YouTube Go, Gmail Go, Assistant Go, and Maps Go. As the names suggest, these apps are Android Oreo Go-platform optimized.


One of the things I like about these apps is the data cost preview on YouTube Go that is shown before you are able to play or download a YouTube video. You are given three options to select how would you like to watch a clip and how much data it would cost you. In addition to that, the preview also shows you how much storage space you have left in your device. It's no doubt that this is a very helpful feature especially to those users who are constantly monitoring or budgeting their data usage on their devices. This will definitely save them tons of data and money in the process.

However, Google cannot achieve these features or the YouTube Go (and on the other Go apps) without sacrificing some of the functions. For example, on YouTube Go app, we cannot see how much views videos have received, there is no way we can subscribe to the uploader, even read or add comments. I am not sure about you, but I guess those are the sacrifices we can live with since we don't really care about them all the time. The main goal here is to have access to these videos and watch them while saving as much data as possible and without compromising the experience too much.

You can also expect the same things from the other Go apps, only retaining the most important functions of each applications.


Another thing we can appreciate with the Google Go hub is the ability to access most popular social sites without the need to download the apps themselves into the phone, thus, saving us tons of space as well. From there you can use Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If you are not comfortable with that set up, you may still download "lite" versions of these apps from Google Play. And speaking of Google Play, you also get to see list of Android Go-compatible apps that you may download.


Camera

Its 5MP rear camera that comes with LED flash produces not-so-Instagram-worthy photos. If you don't have other camera with you while you need to capture a moment, this will definitely be able to do the job for you. While we really cannot expect too much from this device's camera it still takes quite good photos for a 5MP configuration especially in well-lit environment.







Aside from the default "photo mode", other modes like Panorama, Manual (basic), and Beauty are available with this phone that you can play around.

One thing that users need to keep in mind when taking photos is to don't move the phone immediately after taking the shot, or else there will be some sort of ghosting in the images. Sometimes if the move was too quick, the image would be completely messed up. Around 1 second of stillness after clicking the shutter will do. 

Performance

For the most part, the Nokia 1 is a functional smartphone. It can perform most of the tasks I throw into it without any problem at all. However, just like many other entry level smartphones, there are some instances that the phone does not operate as fast as it normally would, or do not respond at all.This usually happens when there are multiple apps still running in the background.

As for its battery life, thanks to its screen size and configurations, the Nokia 1 usually lasts me the whole day depending on my usage. Charging the 2150mAh battery pack takes about more than 3 hours to complete from zero percent. Not that good, but we really cannot complain.

Final thoughts

The Nokia 1 is not built for everybody, but still probably one of the best smartphones we can get under the Php5K-mark especially if your focus is to get a nicely-looking device for a very affordable price. Not only that, if your main goal as well is to save money on data consumption, this one is definitely on top of the list, mainly because it is powered by Android Oreo Go Edition.

However, if the camera performance is what you are after, this may not be the perfect budget-friendly device for you.You may try shopping somewhere else for that matter.

But as a back up or secondary phone or a gift to a younger user, this will be a perfect choice I'm guessing. 



Likes
- Design and dimensions
- Data saving features
- Removable battery pack
- Interchangeable back covers
- MicroSD support and ability to store files and apps to it
- Well optimized OS and apps
- Loud speaker
- Pricing
- It's a Nokia phone, an Android Nokia phone

Dislikes
- Charging time
- Low display resolution
- Thick bezels

- Software tends to lag at times
- No LED light notification


 Nokia 1 specs:
  • 4.5" FWVGA IPS Display
  • 854 x 480 resolution
  • 1.1GHz quad-core Mediatek MT6737 processor 
  • 1GB RAM
  • 8GB internal storage
  • Supports microSD card up to 128GB
  • 5MP rear camera with LED flash
  • 2MP front camera
  • Android 8.1 Oreo (Go Edition)
  • WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS
  • 4G LTE
  • Dual SIM (non-hybrid)
  • FM Radio
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Warm Red, Dark Blue
  • 2150mAh battery (removable)
  • Php4,290
The Nokia 1 is now available in the Philippines for purchase for a suggested retail price of Php4,290. 

UPDATE: Its official SRP is now down to just Php3,990. 

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