Nokia 3.1 Plus review

An incremental upgrade to the predecessor with a weird price tag

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Our Verdict

The Nokia 3.1 Plus is excellent for watching movies or YouTube. It's loaded up with Android One for a clean-looking interface, and with great battery life on offer as well there's a lot to love here. It’s far from perfect though.

For

  • Great screen for the price
  • Android One UI is smooth
  • Excellent battery life

Against

  • Micro USB port feels dated
  • Only 16GB/32GB storage
  • Mono speaker

The Nokia 3.1 Plus and its ample six inches of screen costs less than you'd expect, making it one of the biggest-screened low-cost phones around. 

With a metal body and dual cameras, not to mention Android One – a future-proofed, stock take on Google's operating system – the headline specs look great for the price. 

But with a chipset from MediaTek, a less well-known manufacturer than Qualcomm, not to mention a 720p screen, compared to the Full HD resolution some of the competition packs, has Nokia cut back in the right places? 

Price and availability

  • Confirmed for UK and India
  • Likely to start at £170 (around $220, AU$300)

Phones produced by HMD Global under the 'new' Nokia branding have proved popular across Europe and in India, with a great portfolio of well-designed phones running Android One across price points. 

The Nokia 3.1 Plus slots into the lineup above the Nokia 3.1 and below the Nokia 6.1, costing £170 ($220, AU$300). 

For that kind of cash, you could pick up a Moto G6 Play for example, but packing a bigger screen and an all-metal body, Nokia’s latest phone is definitely competitive. 

While it's available in India (and in the UK soon), as well as European markets, no US or Australian release has been confirmed - although HMD has announced that it will be bringing handsets to the States soon. 

Key features

  • Metal body
  • HD 18:9 display
  • Large 3,500mAh battery

Nokia has loaded up the 3.1 Plus with a metal body, big screen and a huge 3,500mAh that should keep it going well into a second day.

Its metal body adds a premium weighting given the phone's price, and while generally speaking, it's well kitted out with elements like a dual-camera and a fingerprint scanner, the micro USB port is a telltale indicator this is a low-end midrange offering.  

The 720 x 1440 screen is 6 inches and sports an 18:9 aspect ratio, ideally optimized for widescreen videos. Powered by Android 8.1, the Android Pie update is imminent, as illustrated by Nokia's recently announced Android Pie update schedule.

With either 16 or 32GB storage, the presence of a microSD card slot is welcome. Meanwhile, the MediaTek chipset within is distinctly midrange.

The phone's final highlight has to be the capacious 3,500mAh battery. We don't usually see such big batteries in phones that aren't top-enders, and paired with the moderate power demands of a midrange processor, on paper at least, battery performance is looking promising for the 3.1 Plus. 

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Design

  • Matte metal body with plastic accent
  • Mono speaker and micro USB port
  • Headphone port at the top

The Nokia 3.1 Plus is available in dark grey, black and blue, and looks good, if a little uninspired. It isn’t the sleekest phone to look at, and it isn’t the sleekest-feeling in the hand, but it still manages to feel solid without being too cumbersome.

The back, bottom and sides of the handset are matte metal, and on the top is a plastic strip housing the antennas. It doesn’t feel slippery, and the cold, stark metal has an air of premium about it. 

Having said that, you know that unpleasant tingling sensation you get down your spine when you a scratch a chalkboard (if you remember chalkboards)? That’s what it feels like when you scratch the Nokia 3.1’s metal body with your fingernail. It’s gut-wrenching, so you’ll probably want to avoid doing it.

So while this is a phone that definitely doesn’t feel cheap, the in-hand feel isn’t as pleasant as that of the cheaper Honor 9 Lite or Moto G6 Play, for example.

The mono speaker and micro USB port are at the bottom of the 3.1 Plus, while the volume rocker and power buttons are on the right-hand side and there’s a headphone jack at the top. Around the back there’s a fingerprint scanner, which sits below the bump housing the dual camera array.

Display

  • 720 x 1440 resolution
  • 6-inch with IPS technology
  • Blue light filter in settings

Measuring six inches and with a resolution of 720 x 1440, the Nokia 3.1 Plus’s screen is nice and large, and as sharp as we’d expect it to be for the price. 

The 18:9 aspect ratio means the phone is well optimized for widescreen videos, looks current and has smaller bezels than older, 16:9 phones in the price range, like a refurbished iPhone 6, or a new Nokia 6 or Samsung Galaxy J6 (2017).

IPS screens like those on the Nokia 3.1 Plus generally deliver super-pure whites, but less punch, pop and richness than OLEDs, so it’s little surprise that this cost-effective six-incher is a bit less bright and a bit more muted than more premium smartphones. Vibrancy isn’t particularly punchy and images look a touch flatter than we’d like, though viewing angles are still impressive.

Display settings are limited to the basics found in stock Android – auto brightness, text size and so on – with none of the more granular controls, like color tone, as found on the Honor 10 Lite

That said, Night Light is bound up with Android 8.1, so this means the Nokia 3.1 Plus can still filter potentially harmful blue light to help you get a good night’s sleep.