Nokia 3.1 Plus review

Two cameras, big battery, middling internals, decent value.

Camera

  • Dual 13+5MP camera
  • 8MP selfie camera
  • Mediocre performance

The Nokia 3.1 Plus sports a dual rear camera setup, with a 13MP primary camera with an f/2.0 aperture, and a 5MP secondary camera with an f/2.4 aperture. The front-facing camera is an 8MP shooter with f/2.2 aperture. 

As with most mid-range smartphones, the ample pixel count means that when lighting is plentiful, detail is respectable, and shots taken in daylight or studio conditions make for decent Instagram or Facebook fodder as a result. Even in good light though, dark and light areas are often overly contrasted, losing nuances that can make a shot look exceptional. 

As for low light, you’ll need a very, very steady hand to shoot anything that passes as a usable photo – an even then, images will exhibit muddy dark areas and softened detail.

There are however plenty of shooting modes, from semi-manual, which gives you control over focus, white balance and exposure, through to a bokeh mode that blurs the background nicely – it works better than similar modes on most phones in the price range, but its results are lower in detail than photos shot in automatic mode. 

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The front camera is a similar story –  8MP is ample resolution for decent shots in good light, but the second the lights go down, so does quality.

As for video, the camera crops in very aggressively, so if you want to get a group of people in the frame you’ll likely need to step right back if there’s room. 

Given the lack of OIS, image quality is reliant on a steady hand and electronic image stabilisation. With all this cropping and processing therefore, even in good light, videos captured on the Nokia 3.1 Plus are less impressive than photos, looking a bit frazzled, especially in darker areas. Drop the lights, and things go from mediocre to bad.

Verdict

The Nokia 3.1 Plus is an excellent phone for watching movies and YouTube. It’s also loaded up with Android One for a a clean-looking interface, and with great battery life as well there's a lot to love here. 

It’s far from perfect though –  it isn’t as elegant a some of the competition, and the camera is sometimes good, though never really great. Given its price, however, it still does a decent job, and could be an ideal smartphone for anyone who wants a big screen matched with a big battery, at an affordable price.

Who is it for?

Teens or adults who want to watch a lot of content on their phone without breaking the bank. The big screen also makes it a great option for those with slightly impaired vision –  just jump into the settings and turn up the text size – while the great battery life means frequent travellers would be well served by the Nokia 3.1 Plus.

Should you buy it?

If you’re on a budget, think 32GB storage will be enough for you, and want a great screen experience for the price, absolutely. If you’re an app hoarder or gamer though, we’d suggest you pick up a phone with a bit more internal storage, like the Honor 10 Lite.

Competition

Honor 10 Lite

The Honor 10 Lite looks and feels better than the Nokia 3.1 Plus, and, if you can handle its notch, gives you a bigger screen and double the storage. Those extras are going to cost you around 15% more though, while its battery doesn’t last as long and its UI isn’t quite as clean.

Read our Honor 10 review

Moto G6 Play

The Moto G6 Play can be picked up for a little less than the Nokia 3.1 – and, packing the same amount of storage, a bigger battery and similar screen credentials, it’s a serious contender. While its single camera isn’t quite as versatile, it’s better for out and out image quality, and probably its main selling point over the Nokia 3.1 Plus.

Read our Moto G6 Play review

Sony Xperia XA1

For a smaller, more pocketable alternative packing a 5-inch, 16:9 screen, the Sony Xperia XA1 is a great contender. Despite being a bit long in the tooth, having launched last year, it packs the same amount of storage, and a similar amount of power. While battery performance isn’t as good, it does have a USB-C charging port, as opposed to the last-gen micro USB port on the Nokia 3.1 Plus.

Read our Sony Xperia XA1 review