Nokia 5.1 review

Fantastic design on a budget

Nokia 5.1 review
Image credit: TechRadar

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  • Launched with Android 8.0
  • Part of the Android One program
  • Clean, stable interface

Thanks to the fact the Nokia 5.1 runs Android One, the phone's interface has a clean look and feel, almost identical to that of a stock Android 8 smartphone.

Everything centers around your home screen, to the left of which is a Google screen, loaded up with news and other highlights. Swipe up from the bottom to pull up a list of your applications, and swipe down from the top for your notifications and some toggles for key settings.

Android One also means the Nokia 5.1 is guaranteed two major software updates and three years of security updates. While we would have liked this phone to have launched with Android 9 Pie, at least we know it’s going to be getting it, and Android Q too when that’s made official and the update is rolled out.

Getting apps onto the phone is a breeze thanks to the Google Play Store, and the whole UI experience.

Nokia 5.1 review

Image credit: TechRadar

Performance, storage and connections

  • MediaTek Helio P18 chipset
  • 2GB or 3GB of RAM variants available
  • 16GB or 32GB with microSD card expansion

In the UK, only the 16GB/2GB Nokia 5.1 is widely available and that’s the version we’ve been using. The internal storage limitation of this specific model is probably the biggest drawback of a phone that, otherwise, could be very easily recommended.

That means if you have lots of content - WhatsApp backups, apps, games, offline Spotify content for example, you’ll very quickly get a low storage warning.

For light users who just want a casual smartphone rather than a hub for all things work, play and life in general, 16GB of internal storage could well suffice.

Nokia 5.1 review

Image credit: TechRadar

For anybody with more demanding needs from their smartphone, either check if the 32GB version is available in your region or stump up a little extra and pick up the Moto G7 Play – a great alternative with inferior design, a similar interface and more internal storage.

As for the power under the hood, a MediaTek Helio P18 chipset delivers enough oomph for very light 2D and 3D gaming, comfortable UI scrolling, and moderate multitasking.

On Geekbench it achieved a multi-core score of 3,249, which is low (the Moto G7 Play for comparison scored 4,087), but it's about what we'd expect for the price.

Nokia 5.1 review

Image credit: TechRadar

If you’re running WhatsApp with YouTube in the background, and jump between apps while the phone’s still thinking, it can take a second to get from A to B, but nothing too alarming.

The other area where performance wanes on the 2GB of RAM version we tested is photo taking, viewing and editing. Once again, it’s nothing deal-breaking, just a slight struggle, pause, and resume.

The micro USB port is also a tell-tale sign that this phone is a budget device, but the inclusion of a headphone jack is welcome, as too are the dual SIM and microSD card slots being separate, so all can be used simultaneously.

Finally, the fingerprint scanner is coupled with Android’s Face Match for a couple of biometric security measures to get you into the Nokia 5.1. Both work quickly, with the rear-mounted fingerprint scanner being the more secure of the two unlocking mechanisms.

Basil Kronfli

Basil Kronfli is the Head of content at Make Honey and freelance technology journalist. He is an experienced writer and producer and is skilled in video production, and runs the technology YouTube channel TechEdit.