Nokia 3.1 review

The Nokia 3.1 is an affordable phone for those who want to buy outright, or pay very little for their contract.

From afar it seems the perfect mobile for this audience. It may not have high-end specs, but the Nokia 3.1 still looks smart enough and has the long-aspect display a phone needs to seem current.

It’s a bust, though. Terrible performance makes the Nokia 3.1 the phone equivalent of a migraine. We strongly recommend buying the superior Moto G7 Play or Vodafone Smart X9 instead, but if you’re still curious read on for a full account of the Nokia’s failings.

Key features

  • Basic specs and features
  • Compact build
  • Aluminum edges look good

The Nokia 3.1 seems well-positioned for someone who wants to buy their phone outright. It costs $159 / £149.99 / AU$248. The Moto G7 Play is one of its key rivals. Spoiler: the Moto is much better.

The Nokia 3.1’s features are stripped back to the basics. There’s no fingerprint scanner, a low-end MediaTek chipset, and just single cameras on its front and back.

Its main camera has a budget-favorite 13MP sensor, the front an 8MP one. All of these seem like sensible choices. 16GB of storage does not leave you with much room for apps, but the Nokia 3.1 is clearly not a phone made for enthusiasts.

Small size is one of the Nokia 3.1’s top benefits. It may have wider surrounds than some, but this is one of the few Androids whose size is comparable with the iPhone 8.

There are some nice surface-level touches too. Beveled aluminum gives the Nokia 3.1 a visual personality front-on. This is not a given in cheap phones. And while the 5.2-inch screen’s specs are not dazzling, image quality is good.

On paper the Nokia 3.1 makes perfect sense, but this does not translate to a satisfying experience in the real world.

Design

  • Mixed glass/aluminum/plastic build
  • Clever use of beveled aluminum
  • No fingerprint scanner

Years ago, we used to think of Nokia as the brand that made plastic ‘cool’. Its cheery colorful plastic phones were highly recognizable, even if they looked just like blocks of plastic.

In the last couple of years the Nokia range under HMD Global has taken to using beveled aluminum to get a distinctive look. The Nokia 3.1 has aluminum sides. They are, for the most part, black. But HMD Global cuts into the edges to give the phone’s front and back a bright silver outline.

It’s a great way to advertise the use of metal and avoids the ‘brick of black’ effect you’ll see in most entry-level phones.

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