Nokia 5.1 Plus Hands-On and Initial Impressions

In case you missed my Nokia 6.1 Plus hands-on and first impressions, you can check out the post via this link. Now since HMD Global Philippines officially launched two new upcoming smartphones - the Nokia 6.1 Plus and Nokia 5.1 Plus - that means I also had a quick time to play around with the 5.1 Plus version at the event in Bacolod City last week. That said, here is my hands-on and initial impressions of  the device.

I have to mention though this early that the Nokia 5.1 Plus device we had at the event was a prototype and not the final or retail version yet. So the performance, especially in the camera side, was not at its perfect condition yet.

But I was told that the Philippines will still get the retail version of the device when it formally releases here later this month and in the second week of November. More on the pricing and availability below.

Left: Nokia 5.1 Plus. RIGHT: Nokia 6.1 Plus both in Glossy Midnight Blue

Design and Build

One of the similarities between this and its bigger 6.1 Plus brother, is the front and back panels are made of glass that make the devices look and feel premium to the hands. However, instead of aluminum metal, the sandwiched frame on the Nokia 5.1 Plus is made of polycarbonate material. But I don't think that's a bad idea though, the overall feel of the Nokia 5.1 Plus is still pretty solid. Both front and back glasses sport 2.5D curved glasses, which again is another nice touch that HMD put on the device.

The Nokia 5.1 Plus will be coming to the Philippines in all three color options - Glossy White, Glossy Black, and Glossy Midnight Blue.

Comparison: Nokia 5.1 Plus vs Nokia 6.1 Plus

Display and Resolution

Being the more affordable between the two, the Nokia 5.1 Plus still has the same 5.8-inch screen but the display resolution is only at HD+. It also has the same 19:9 aspect ratio and a notch that is more than twice as wide as the one found on the 6.1 Plus. Unfortunately, there is no way to hide the notch like we can on the other Android smartphones such as from Huawei. Well at least for now, HMD Global or Google can simply rollout a software update to enable this feature in the future.

We don't have capacitive buttons on the lower bezel, only a Nokia branding is found there. All the Back, Home, and Multitask buttons are implemented on-screen.

When it comes to the display quality, I placed them side by side to see how much of a difference I could notice. And I was actually surprised to know that, even though the images and texts on the 6.1 Plus are a lot sharper and more vivid, the 5.1 Plus' display still manages to provide a good viewing experience.

As for  its buttons and ports, pretty much, the arrangement is almost the same as with its bigger sibling. On this side of the phone is where we can find the lock/power key and the volume rocker. Very clickey and easy to use and reach even when in the pocket. 

Up top is where the 3.5mm audiojack port and noise cancelling mic are located. You can also see from this angle how much bump the rear cameras has on the back as well as the glass curvature both on the front and rear sides of the panels.

On the right is the dual SIM tray. It can accommodate two 4G LTE nano SIM cards at the same time or a microSD card on the SIM 2 slot up to 400GB.

Down at the very bottom of the Nokia 5.1 Plus are the two-hole speaker, microphone, and the USB Type-C port which is a very welcome addition. The Nokia 6.1 Plus has the same port too. It is very nice to know that HMD Global decided to put Type-C port on these midrange devices, as it is still very rare to see a midrange smartphone sports this kind of tech even to this date.

And then on its back are the dual rear camera together with dual-tone LED flash, fingerprint scanner, and the Nokia and Android One branding.


There is really not much to talk about this phone's camera capabilities and qualities at this point since I did not spend much time using this device and its cameras as much I did with the 6.1 Plus simply because we only had a prototype version. And the camera was not really working well, at times it would shut down on us and would not continue to work until I relaunched again.

But in terms of technical specs, it also has dual camera set up on the back that are pegged at 13MP for the primary and 5MP for the secondary shooter. The 5MP camera is for depth sensing functionality allowing us users to capture better portrait images where we can blur the background or apply Bokeh effect real time. I am assuming that we can also adjust the intensity of the blur and the focus on the image even after the photo is taken which is the case with the Nokia 6.1 Plus variant.

On the front side is an 8MP with f2.2 aperture and fixed focus lens.

Both front and rear cameras have electronic image stabilization or EIS. Through this feature it helps our photos and video avoid being shakey and blurry. To give you a quick gesture on what to expect from the camera of this device in terms of stabilization, audio, and photo quality performance, as well as how the unique "Bothie" works, you can check out my video demo of it on my YouTube channel here using the 6.1 Plus version.

And speaking of Bothie, yes it is a unique feature only found on many Nokia devices. What it basically does is it allows users to capture photos and record videos using "both" the rear and front cameras all at the same time. Not only that, users can also do livestreaming using this particular feature to either Facebook or YouTube. At time of posting though, livestreaming functionality to Instagram is not available. Maybe it will be sometime in the future, but we really cannot say for now.


The Nokia 5.1 Plus will be running on now-getting-older Android 8.1 Oreo right out of the box. However, the Android 9 Pie update is now on the way. So don't worry about that.

Next is, this smartphone is also under the Android One program by Google. This means both the hardware and software configurations of this device are approved and optimized by Google. This also means a stock version of Android OS, no bloatware and manufacturer's skin, no unnecessary apps pre-installed.

And one major thing about the Android One is the monthly software and security updates is guaranteed for the next three years upon launch. Two lettered Android OS updates is also guaranteed to arrive on this phone. That means, the Android Pie and next year's Anroid Q will be rolled out to this device as well in the future.

So apart from being the very first devices to get the new Android flavors in the next two years, users can also expect this device to have the most optimized, safest, and smoothest Android software around.

Nokia 5.1 Plus specs
  • 5.8-inch HD+ display
  • 19:9 aspect ratio
  • 2.5D curved glass (front and back)
  • 1.8GHz octa-core Helio P60 processor
  • 3GB RAM
  • 32GB internal storage
  • Supports microSD card (uses SIM 2) up to 400GB
  • 13MP + 5MP dual rear camera with electronic video stabilization and PDAF
  • 8MP front camera with f/2.2 aperture
  • Android 8.1 Oreo (Android Pie ready)
  • WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, GLONASS
  • Dual SIM
  • 4G LTE
  • FM Radio
  • USB Type C
  • 3.5mm audiojack
  • Fingerprint Scanner
  • Glossy Midnight Blue, Glossy Black, Glossy White
  • 3060mAh battery

Pricing and Availability

The Nokia 5.1 Plus is officially priced at Php12,990 and will come in all three colors - Glossy Midnight Blue, Glossy Black, and Glossy White.

 It will be initially available through ArgoMall and MemoXpress online for the same price starting on October 29. And then beginning November 12, will be released in physical stores nationwide.
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