Interface and software

  • Runs Android Oreo
  • A clean interface with no bloat

One of the most surprising things about the new wave of Nokia phones is that they come with pure Android; the company has embraced Google's Android One initiative to deliver handsets that boast a 'vanilla' UI that looks a lot like the one seen on the Pixel line of devices.

You won't find any bloatware here; the Nokia 7 Plus comes with Google's suite of apps – such as Gmail, Google Play Music and Google Drive – and that's about it. If you're sick of having to use two different app stores to keep your device up to date (we're looking at you, Samsung) then you may find Nokia's hands-off approach suitably refreshing.

Sitting on top of Android Oreo – the latest iteration of Google's world-leading mobile OS – the Android One UI is almost identical to 'stock' Android seen on Google's Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL phones.

Everything's nice and clean from a design perspective, and full support for Google Assistant is baked right in; this AI helper performs a wide range of roles and can be summoned by holding down the 'Home' button at the bottom of the display. You can also swipe right from your main home screen to reveal the main Google hub, where appointments, news articles and weather reports are relayed.

Because it's part of the Android One programme, the Nokia 7 Plus is assured software updates for the next two years from launch. Furthermore, because Nokia doesn't add its own UI skin to Google's core OS, updates should roll out much faster than on devices from companies like Samsung, Sony and HTC – all of which make changes to the interface to differentiate themselves from the competition.

This always takes time and often the latest Android updates don't reach the phones of these manufacturers until months after the original release.

Movies, music and gaming

  • 18:9 screen is great for media
  • Mono speaker lacks bass
  • Gaming performance is middling

The industry-wide shift to 18:9 aspect ratio displays is great news for those of us who digest a lot of media content on our handsets, as bigger, wider displays are generally better for viewing movies and playing games.

The display on the Nokia 7 Plus is no exception, and while an AMOLED panel would have delivered deeper blacks and more vibrant hues, the IPS LCD seen here is no slouch when it comes to image quality.

When it comes to audio, the fact that the Nokia 7 Plus has a 3.5mm headphone socket will (literally) be music to the ears of many.

Wireless headphones may be all the rage right now but wired connections continue to offer an advantage in terms of audio quality and convenience – sure, the cable does get in the way sometimes but on the upside, you never have to worry about charging them.

Sadly, the phone's mono speaker isn't really all that impressive, despite being quite loud. It lacks bass and is easily muffled by your hand when holding the device in landscape mode.

Gaming on the Nokia 7 Plus is something of a mixed bag; the lack of processing grunt does mean that certain titles are quite jerky at times. PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds defaults to the 'mid' mode when booting up – which means you lose some graphical detail – but even then, there are moments when the stutter-prone frame rate gets in the way of your enjoyment.

However, Tekken – another very recent 3D title, albeit one which is slightly less demanding in term of mechanics – runs without any problems whatsoever.

Performance and benchmarks

  • Snapdragon 660 chipset and 4GB of RAM
  • Performance is generally smooth
  • Benchmark results are mid-range, as you'd expect

Its stablemate the Nokia 8 Sirocco may be packing the Snapdragon 835 chipset, but the Nokia 7 Plus costs less, so it stands to reason that it doesn't benefit from the same raw power. Instead, we have the Snapdragon 660 calling the shots, aided by 4GB of RAM.

While the 660 might not be a cutting-edge piece of silicon, it's still more than adequate for most users. In fact, thanks to the absence of bloatware and no custom skin, the Nokia 7 Plus felt faster and more responsive than the Galaxy S9 Plus – in some situations, at least.

Navigating the UI is definitely a quicker process on Nokia's handset, but there are moments when things start to stutter – usually when processor-intensive background tasks are taking place.

In terms of benchmarks, the Nokia 7 Plus scores 134,459 in AnTuTu Benchmark. For comparison's sake, the Huawei P9 scores 125,332 and the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge 154,394. In the Geekbench test, it registered a multi-core score of 5,247.

These results underline that this isn't a front-runner when it comes to raw power; what we've got here is about on par with a flagship device from a few years ago, at least in pure stats.