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Nokia 7 Plus review (hands-on): Nokia’s new mid-ranger has a hint of luxury

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The battle to be the best budget smartphone has been heating up of late and Nokia is the latest manufacturer to wade in at Mobile World Congress 2018 with the Nokia 7 Plus.

In Barcelona this year, Nokia has launched a veritable army of smartphones but this is the one, for me, that looks the most interesting. It has a big 6in 18:9 display, looks handsome as can be and, yet, doesn’t cost the Earth.

READ NEXT: Nokia 8 Sirocco hands-on – a beautifully made phone that lacks a little substance

Nokia 7 Plus review: Specifications, price and release date

Display

6in 18:9 FHD+ (2,160 x 1,080)

Processor

Octa-core 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 660

RAM

4GB

Storage

64GB, expandable via microSD

Rear cameras

Twin cameras, one wide-angel, one telephoto

Price

€399

Release date

April 2018

Nokia 7 Plus review: Design, key features and first impressions

It’s always good to see a reasonably priced phone that looks great and the Nokia 7 Plus is one of the nicest I’ve seen recently. Effectively, it’s the Nokia 8 Sirocco but built to a budget: and, although the anodised copper trim and white look great in the pictures here, they don’t tell the full story.

You might assume, for instance, that the Nokia 7 Plus is made from plastic but that’s not the case. There’s glass on the front, of course, but the rest of the chassis, including the rear panel, is aluminium and in this case, it’s coated with fancy “ceramic feel” paint that – as Nokia was keen to reiterate several times during its press conference – has been applied in six coats.

I’d hope that means the finish won’t wear off too easily, though we’ll only know how robust it is with time. For now, what we do know is that it feels very nice in the hand, lending the phone a premium feel that belies its mid-range pricing and it’s good to see a manufacturer opting for a slightly different look and finish to the rest of the pack.

As for the rest of the phone there’s a fairly standard layout. The 18:9 screen fills most of the front of the phone with only very slim bezels at the top and bottom. At the rear, it has twin f/1.7 cameras, one stacked on top of the other just like the Nokia 8 Sirocco – although without the Leica branding this time – plus a circular fingerprint reader just below.

The camera setup here is pretty standard, with one camera providing a telephoto view of your scene, while the other captures photos with a regular, wide-angle view.

On the bottom edge is a USB Type-C charging port next to a single speaker grille, the right edge plays host to the volume and power buttons, the SIM tray and microSD storage expansion slot are on the phone’s left side, while on top is a 3.5mm headphone jack. With so many manufacturers abandoning this feature recently it’s good to see Nokia doggedly holding on.

From a design perspective, there’s plenty to like about the Nokia 7 Plus, then. Where the phone starts to lose its lustre is inside. The phone is powered, not by the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 chip or even last year’s Snapdragon 835 but by an octa-core Snapdragon 660 which runs at 2.2GHz and, backed up here by 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage.

To be fair, it is the most powerful of Qualcomm’s “high-tier” 600-series mobile processors and should be enough to maintain snappy performance in most circumstances. It certainly felt responsive in the short time we had with the phone.

However, it lacks the features of the “premium-tier” Qualcomm processors mentioned above. In particular, you don’t get Gigabit-class 4G support; instead, you’re limited to 600Mbits/sec downloads and 150Mbits/sec uploads.

The ISP (image signal processor) isn’t the latest and greatest, either, so while the Nokia 7 Plus’ dual camera setup is impressive, it probably won’t be able to match the Nokia 8 Sirocco and other top-end phones for image quality. With the latest Snapdragon 845 phones able to capture 12 images in a fraction of a section and combine them for ultra-clean, noise-free images, the Nokia 7 Plus’ 660 is likely to lag a little bit behind.

Finally, since the 660 chip has eight identical Kryo 260 cores all running at 2.2GHz, where other chips split tasks between high-power and low-power cores, there’s a danger that battery life will be weaker, too. Nokia, however, is optimistically claiming that the phone’s 3,800mAh battery will still be able to deliver two-days of usage before you’ll need to charge it.

Nokia 7 Plus review: Early verdict

It’s impossible not to be impressed with the Nokia 7 Plus. It looks great, packs a decent selection of high-end features in and doesn’t cost too much.

With a twin camera setup and Nokia claiming two-day battery life, it could be the mid-priced smartphone to beat in 2018, although there is a lot of competition at around this price point.

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