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Nokia 1 Review - Android (Go edition) in a small form factor

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In a market full of above 5.5-inch smartphones, the Nokia 1 Go Edition's smaller form factor refreshing. It also highlights the lightweight version of Oreo OS, the (Go edition).
Nokia 1 Review - Android (Go edition) in a small form factor
Meet Nokia 1

Nokia 1 Specs

Display: 4.5-inch IPS screen w/ FWVGA 960 x 540 resolution at 218 ppi
CPU: 1.1GHz 64-bit MT6737M quad-core processor
GPU: Mali-T720 MP1
RAM: 1GB
ROM: 8GB expandable via microSD card slot up to 128GB
Back Camera: 5MP f/2.4 w/ LED flash
Selfie Camera: 2MP f/2.4
Battery: 2,150mAh
OS: Android 8.0 Oreo (Go edition) 
Connectivity: WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, 4G LTE, Bluetooth 4.2 w/ A2DP, FM Radio, GPS, A-GPS, dual SIM (hybrid)
Sensors: Accelerometer, light, proximity, sound
Others: Colors: warm red, dark blue
Dimensions: 133.6 x 67.8 x 9.5 mm
Weight: 131 g
Price: PHP 4,290

Disclaimer: This unit was loaned to us by HMD Global for our honest take.

Unboxing/Accessories

Nokia 1 accessories
Nokia 1 accessories

The Nokia 1 came in a pretty basic yet sleek box. We like the call back to the Nokia's signature hand holding logo. Inside the box, it has the unit, a wall adapter, micro USB cord, earphones, the battery and some documents.

Build Quality/Design

The back cover has a cool matte finish
The back cover has a cool matte finish

The Nokia 1's build is great in terms of entry-level devices is great. It is made out of tough plastic that is light yet feels durable. The back cover has a beautiful matte finish that fills good in the hands.

Nokia-level build!

One of the features of the Nokia 1 is the interchangeable back covers that has many colors. This is a call back to the first Nokia feature phones that  we all customized to our heart's content.
3.5 mm headphone jack on top
3.5 mm headphone jack on top
Micro USB
Micro USB
Power button/volume rocker
Power button/volume rocker

All of the buttons are found at the right side of the device.The power and volume buttons has rather mushy feel when you press it. However, it is not a big deal as they function well. 

There is a 3.5 mm headphone port at the top of the device while the micro USB port for charging is found at the bottom. The speaker is found at the bottom right at the back of the device.

Overall, the build and design is a bit outdated but for an entry level device it is decent. The addition of replaceable back covers deserves some appreciation as well.

Display Quality

4.5-inch display
4.5-inch display

The Nokia 1 has a 4.5-inch IPS display. You heard that right. A smartphone under 5 inches in 2018. It runs at a whopping 960 x 540 FWVGA resolution at 218 ppi pixel density. There is a certain nostalgia that was brought back by the smaller display. It brought back the memories of my very first smartphone from a few years back.

After the nostalgia wears off, we finally analyzed the display itself. At this size, the FWVGA resolution looks good. You can watch YouTube videos here and you won't notice the low resolution it has. The screen has a bluish tint to it as well so color reproduction is a bit inaccurate.

The brightness of the screen is one of its weaker points. Using this outside on a sunny day is a challenge as the screen is barely visible. But, indoors the display is very usable. I had no problem adjusting to the smaller screen which is a surprise since I have what you call Fat-thumb syndrome. I didn't have a hard time typing as the touchscreen is responsive and accurate.

It has 5 points of touch so it is responsive for typing and swiping.

Audio Quality

Speaker at the back
Speaker at the back

The small speaker is one of the things that can be improved upon. The Nokia 1 has a small speaker found at the back of the device. If you place it on a table on its back, the sound can be easily muffled. The max volume is also soft compared to other entry level that I tried.

For wired earphones, the audio quality is somewhere in the middle as well. It is usable for basic YouTube and music listening activities but for audio purist you can pass up on this one. This is expected and passable since it is an entry level device.

For calls, it is great. One thing I can give the Nokia 1 props is that it got the basic phone functions down. It can also be used to record voice on video. Kudos!

Battery

PC Mark score
PC Mark score

The Nokia 1 Go's battery didn't go well on our battery benchmark clocking in at just 6 hours and 23 minutes. In real life usage, it can easily go to 7 hours. For a phone with a small display, small resolution, and lightweight apps, it could have been better.

Being an Android Go entry level device, the specs are kind of limited for resource heavy tasks. However, you can expect it to go under 5 hours with constant 4G LTE on. Therefore, the battery life won't be drained as much since you are doing less things on it as well. The smaller screen also help conserve some battery.

The charging time takes around 2 hours from 10 to 100 percent which is fairly decent.

Camera

5MP
5MP

The Nokia 1 has a 5MP sensor with LED flash.

Shooting with the Nokia 1 is pretty easy thanks to the smaller size of the device. The camera suite is pretty straightforward too with HDR, panorama mode, Beautify mode and a limited manual mode. The manual mode just let's you adjust white balance and exposure.

The lack of autofocus is a bit of a bummer as well. But, as a point and shoot camera, it can work well. 

The cameras performed well enough for the Nokia 1. Given that there is good lighting present, the 5MP main camera can produce good quality photos. However, lowlight scenarios are a different story. The sensor struggles to produce decent shots at night or under lowlight. There is a lot of noise produced at these situations.

Rear Camera Samples

Daylight HDR
Daylight HDR
Daylight 2
Daylight 2
Indoor 1
Indoor 1
Indoor dim 1
Indoor dim 1
Indoor dim 2
Indoor dim 2
Lowlight
Lowlight

The selfie camera has a 2MP sensor.
2MP
2MP

To tell you honestly, the 2MP sensor is kind of underwhelming. It struggles to take indoor photos even with ample lighting. Under daylight, it's good but anything darker than that is a struggle. Maybe a 5MP sensor for the next iteration can be an improvement. A 2MP sensor for an entry level phone is common but should no be the norm.

Selfie Camera Samples

Selfie daylight
Selfie daylight
Dim selfie
Dim selfie
Lowlight selfie
Lowlight selfie

Performance

The Nokia 1 Go Edition performed very well as an everyday back up phone. I used it mainly for calls, text messaging, web browsing and music listening. Google's integration of the Go Versions of their apps including Google Go, Gmail Go, YouTube Go and Maps Go is a plus since it functions very well as it is optimized for Android Go devices.

The performance is fairly snappy given that what I did were pretty basic daily tasks only. I did try to game with some lite games such as Candy Crush and it worked pretty well. However, more intensive games are not recommendable since the device's 1GB of RAM will hold you back.
Android (Go edition) UI

The Android experience is pretty much stock here. It runs with Android (Go edition) out of the box and it doesn't have any bloatwares installed. It is a clean as you can get in terms of stock Android devices. Updates are frequent which is really promising for the Android Go experience.

We can expect this handset to be updated to Android Pie (Go edition) soon.

There are no face recognition and fingerprint scanner as well so you will be relying on the more traditional security features such as PIN code, passwords and Pattern. This is no problem as the device can be as secured with those three methods as well.

The rest of the phone works great. The telephony experience is good with both sides hearing each other clearly. Signal reception depends on the area and network used but overall good. The GPS works accurately with Maps.

Pros - Stock Android experience, frequent updates, great build, good basic performance, LTE connectivity
Cons - Dim display, speakers are quiet, 1GB RAM limits performance on other apps, 2MP selfie camera could be improved, no LED notification light

Verdict

The Nokia 1 Go Edition is great refreshing device. The size of it alone will give you a nostalgia trip from the start of the smartphone era. For an entry level phone, I can recommend it as a back up phone. It performs fairly well with proper resource management. It also has the essentials for this era like cameras, GPS, and 4G LTE.

Those good aspect also comes with some things that need improving. 1GB RAM can be easily expanded without much increase in cost. The 2MP camera's performance can be improved upon. The display can be a bit brighter as well.

But for PHP 4,290, we expected a bit more out of it. There are other phones with higher specs and better cameras than this one.

Build/Design - 4.25
Display - 3.75
Audio - 4
Battery - 3.75
Camera - 3.75
Performance - 4
Average - 4.25/5
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