After disappearing for a few years, Nokia phones have come back with a bang.
The company is now churning out impressive mid-range and cheap Android phones with impressive regularity. What’s more, it’s starting to really push the game forward, especially with phones like the new 9 PureView with five rear cameras.
So, should you buy a Nokia phone? And, if so, which one is the best fit for you? We’ll tell you all that, and more, in this dedicated guide.
Nokia 2 V – A startlingly cheap, but not-bad Verizon exclusive
Which is the Best Nokia Phone?
The battle for best Nokia phone is basically a two-horse race. The 9 PureView is the most expensive phone Nokia’s released since returning to the phones market, and costs a pretty hefty $649.
The other contender for the best Nokia title is the 7.1. Unlike the 9 PureView, it’s a thoroughly mid-range phone, but comes with an impressive selection of specifications for an extremely reasonable $299.
Best Nokia phone overall – The 9 PureView is, undoubtedly, the best phone Nokia makes at the moment, with top-drawer specs and a fantastic camera
Best cheap Nokia phone – It’s only available at Cricket, but the 3.1 Plus is hard to fault when it costs just $130
Best value Nokia phone – When it comes to value, as we’ve already mentioned, it’s hard to look past the 7.1
Scroll horizontally on mobile devices to see the whole table, below:
5 rear cameras might seem gimmicky, but the 9 PureView is a very decent phone.
A very impressive mid-range phone – definitely one to consider.
Another strong outing from Nokia in the low to mid-range area of the market.
Not the finest Finnish phone, but you can’t expect too much from a phone this cheap.
An unashamedly cheap phone, but a better compromise than the more expensive 3.1.
Yes – on the whole, Nokia phones are pretty good. They’ve honed their mid-range game, and now produce some of the best value phones on the market.
While the Finnish company’s phones are unlikely to have the latest iPhones or Samsung flagships running for the hills, they’re not really designed to. These phones are cheap, and very cheerful.
All of the Nokia phones on sale use a stock version of Android called Android One. This means a bloatware-free operating system, two years of bang-on-time operating system updates, and three years of security updates – so you’ll get all the latest features as soon as they’re available.
There have been issues surrounding data privacy with Nokia phones recently, but the company moved fast to rectify them. This shouldn’t necessarily put you off buying a Nokia phone, but it’s worth keeping in mind that these Nokia phones are produced by a relatively new company, HMD Global.
Nokia 9 PureView
The 9 PureView is Nokia’s most expensive phone, costing a not-inconsiderable $649. However, you do get a lot of hardware for your money – especially when it comes to the cameras. The PureView has a 20Mp front-facing camera, and – get this – five 12Mp rear cameras.
The 9 PureView takes a photo with all the cameras at the same time, and merges them to create one brilliant image. It’s a neat trick, and definitely helps with focusing and color reproduction. You also get a decent-sized 5.9-inch pOLED screen, a powerful Snapdragon 845 with a healthy 6GB of Ram, and even an in-display fingerprint sensor.
All told, it’s a very interesting, left-field alternative to a OnePlus 6T.
Impressive pOLED screen
Powerful processor and healthy Ram figure
Battery isn’t the biggest at 3,320 mAh
Only IP67 is waterproof-rated, despite not having a headphone jack
The Nokia 7.1, as we’ve already mentioned, is fantastic value for money. It might cost under $400, but thanks to an iPhone-esque notch, dual rear cameras, a 1080×2280 resolution display, and HDR10 support, you’ll probably fool some people into thinking your phone cost twice that.
It’s not all perfect, mind. The Snapdragon 636 isn’t really anything to write home about, and the 3,060 mAh battery isn’t too spectacular, either.
Still, for $349, the 7.1 is fantastic value for money, and is well worth considering if you’re looking for a phone that you don’t have to pay through the nose for.
The 6.1, like the 7.1 above, is another impressive cheap phone from Nokia. It costs around $220, and while it isn’t the most visually striking phone – its large top-and-bottom bezels aren’t exactly attractive – it’s still far better-looking than the price tag would suggest.
It has a pretty sizeable 5.5-inch LCD display, with a surprisingly high 1080×1920 pixel resolution. It uses a Snapdragon 630 processor, and has either 3 or 4GB of Ram depending on which storage size you go for – 32GB storage will get you 3GB, while 64GB storage will give you 4GB. The battery isn’t too remarkable at 3,000 mAh, but it should be enough to see you through a full day’s use.
The real cost-cutting on the 6.1 comes with the cameras and the materials. You get a single 16 Mp rear unit, and one 8 Mp front lens – unlike the dual rear cameras found on the 7.1. And, while Nokia boasts about the 6.1 being hewn from “a single solid block of aluminium”, it’s not as impressive as the glass finish on the 7.1.
Still, you can’t have it all, and these compromises aren’t too severe on a phone this cheap. The 6.1 remains a very impressive phone at a surprisingly low price.
Now we’re starting to get to the really cheap stuff. The Nokia 3.1 costs just $159 and, if we’re honest, it feels like it.
It uses a low-end MediaTek processor, and has a 720×1440 resolution 5.2-inch display. The battery, at 2,990 mAh, isn’t anything to write home about, either.
So, what does the 3.1 have going for it? The latest version of Android is nice but, with a phone this cheap, the lightweight Android Go operating system seems like it would be a better fit than full-on Android. It’s fairly compact, as well, being taller than an iPhone 8, but smaller than an 8 Plus.
While it is cheap, we think you’re probably better off going with the cheaper Nokia 2.1, or stretching a bit further for the 6.1. You could, however, go for a cheap LG or Samsung phone.
The Nokia 2 V is exclusively available on Verizon, and costs just $69. That’s not a typo.
This almost comically low price belies another impressive phone from Nokia, with its party piece being the large 4,000 mAh battery, which should help you get nearly two days’ battery life.
Unsurprisingly for a phone this cheap, you get a 5.5-inch low resolution 720×1280 pixel display. The cameras, an 8 Mp rear camera and a 5 Mp front camera, are equally unimpressive.
However, the 2 V does use Android Go – a version of Google’s operating system optimized for use on low-powered phones. You won’t get the full feature set, and your phone might not support all the apps in the Play Store, but it’s certainly better than using a device that stutters and slows to a halt because it doesn’t have the power to run full Android.
Android Go should make it run smoothly
Low resolution screen
Android Go means you don’t get access to full versions of some apps
While it would be harsh to describe Nokia’s phones as hit-and-miss, you definitely need to be a bit more discerning when it comes to buying a Finnish phone compared to buying a Samsung, for example.
The 9 PureView is an impressive bit of kit, but we think Nokia does its best work with the 7.1 and 6.1, with surprisingly impressive specs for their price tags. Stick with one of these, and you’ll get a good phone without breaking the bank.
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Tom Fogden is a writer for Tech.co with a range of experience in the world of tech publishing. Tom covers everything from cybersecurity, to social media and website builders when he's not reviewing the latest phones, gadgets, or occasionally even technology books.