I Spent A Day With Nokia's $150 Smartphone

Image: Nokia

So I agreed to review the $150 Nokia 1. I balso banned myself from using any other smartphones for an entire day. Even if a massive news story breaks while I'm out in the field. Even if the office is on fire.

After being spoilt by flagship phones for the past few years, it's difficult to tell how I'll go. Will it be fine, or am I going to go into a rage blackout? Let's see.


The Specs

Image: Gizmodo Australia

Before we dive into how my day went, here are the key specs:

  • 854x480 4.5-inch IPS display
  • MT6737M Quad Core CPU
  • 5MP rear, 2MP front cameras
  • 1GB RAM
  • 8GB + MicroSD storage
  • 2150 mAh battery

The Day

Image: Gizmodo Australia

7:00

Alright, here we go.

For a moment I scoured the edges of the device, looking for where I pop the sim card tray out. And then I remember - this is a Nokia 1 and I need to pop the back off.

As I shove my fingernails under the plastic backing, I feel like a girl of fifteen again.

After installing the SIM card, I go through the process of setting up the phone, which is much the same as setting up any Android - asking if I want to restore a backup from another phone or the cloud and logging into my Google account.

I finish the setup (you can choose a pattern, pin or password protection on the phone also) and play the waiting game on the apps that weren't already pre-installed.


08:00

I have a meeting outside of the CBD this morning, so I'm been working from home until it's time to go. Since I've been writing since the installation, I haven't had to check my phone much. But everything installed quickly and without issue.

But I'm a little apprehensive about how it's all going to go when I leave the house.


09:00

Ohh, a phone call!

Unsurprisingly, a phone took a call just fine. The sound was clear and crisp, so I couldn't pretend I didn't know what the PR on the other end of the line was saying.


10:00

It's time to take the Nokia out in the wild.

Though it was a bit slow to open the app, I'm able to book an Uber and track my driver on the map without any issues.

Frankly, the lag on the map doesn't seem any worse than what it is on literally every other phone I've ever used.

I also had no trouble dealing with my inbox in transit to my meeting. Happy days!


11:00

I'm in a meeting, so there's not much to report. My only gripe is that there isn't a built in notes app on the Nokia. But this is very much a 'me' thing.

I could easily jot things down in Outlook or bother to download Google Drive. I'm just a gal who likes a simple note app that I don't have to download myself.


12:00

As I'm waiting for my Uber into the city, I realise I haven't downloaded Messenger. It downloads on 4G quickly and I'm able to chat to people within a minute.

The only problem I have is with the small keyboard, but this is due to the phone size. I'm a serial typo villain when I'm writing on any phone.


13:00

I'm not a fan of companies having my biometric data, but I am missing using a thumbprint to unlock a phone, just in terms of speed and convenience.

I'm also finding that when I unlock the phone, there is sometimes a 3 -5 second lag before it lets me do anything. Annoying.


14:00

I'm impressed with how charged the battery still is six hours in. Now to be fair, I'm not putting it under a stress test. And I'm not using it every minute of the day.

But from a real world use perspective, it's doing great.

As a side note, the Nokia 1 uses MicroUSB rather than USB Type-C, so there's a lack of future proofing there. That being said, does a $150 phone really need to be future proofed to that extent?


15:00

I take some time to play around with the pre-installed Google apps. The Nokia 1 runs on Oreo Go, Google's OS system that's designed for less powerful devices.

Google apps like Chrome, Maps, Assistant and Gmail are Go optimised on the Nokia, and I found them to be quicker to respond and operate than the third-party apps I had installed.

It's impressive and I like that lower end phones are taken into consideration when it comes to development.


16:00

I'm spending the rest of the afternoon bench marking a couple of gaming laptops. I thought I would take a couple of pictures with the Nokia so you can see how the 5MP rear camera does.

I didn't edit these in anyway, but there are built in filters, as well as a couple of manual options that allow you to adjust the light, colour and contrast.

Image: Gizmodo Australia

And here's part of my desk:

Image: Gizmodo Australia

They're not exactly instagram-worthy, but they're a bit better than I expected.


18:00

It's Friday night and I'm meeting up with some friends.

My battery is down to about 15% and there is much discussion around what food to inhale for dinner. We have another friend meeting us, but we keep moving establishments due to crowds or not being sold on the menu. We're the worst.

With the low battery situation, I tell our mate-at-large to liaise with someone else in case the phone dies.

Why am I telling you this banal story? Because as I am to discover, I really didn't have to worry about the battery. At all.


20:00

I don't want to talk about how the last two hours has been, as I'll get too emotional. All you need to know is that I am yet to have dinner, and that Sydney on a Friday night is a nightmarescape of broken stomach-promises.

However, sitting in a [REDACTED] establishment for two hours with no food does give one plenty of time to play around with their phone.

I was pleased to discover that the Play Store actually highlights apps that run nicely on less powerful devices - such as Facebook and Messenger Lite. It is definitely worth a look. Unlike this restaurant.


22:00

I'm home and still hangry, but also surprised that the Nokia battery is still kicking along.

I wanted to test video anyway, and now seems like the perfect time. I am able to just squeeze in a few minutes of Netflix, which I honestly did not expect to work at all.

And look, while 480p max resolution isn't ideal, the functionality is definitely there. And if you're anything like me and don't tend to stream much on your phone, this may not be a factor into your buying decision anyway.

Speaking of streaming, this is what finally managed to kill the Nokia 1 for the day - 14 hours after I first turned it on.


Final Thoughts

Image: Gizmodo Australia

I clearly went into today with low expectations. And while that may have been an unfair starting point, I enjoyed being proven wrong and at times, delighted by the Nokia 1.

That being said, after an entire day using a $150 phone, I was ready to go back to something a little more powerful.

It was far slower than I'm used and with my job I rely heavily on being able to work fast and efficiently when I'm on the road - and the phone I'm using is an integral part of that.

But to be fair, my workload and lifestyle is not what the Nokia 1 is built for. I personally couldn't use it as my everyday phone, but I'm not the target market.

That being said, I've been on situations where I would have loved to have had a Nokia as a backup, especially with how well the battery did. In a pinch, it will do what you need it to.

At $150 the Nokia 1 certainly above a burner price point, but it is perfect for a young teen or someone who just wants to be able to do the basics on a smart phone.

My dad (who is in his 50s) would love it for its basic functionality, sturdy plastic build and ability to put it in his pocket without accidentally dialling everyone on his contact list.

Well played, Nokia.


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