Nokia 5.1 Plus review: Doesn't make a strong case

| Gadgets Now | Oct 26, 2018, 07:43PM IST
Nokia 5.1 Plus review: Doesn't make a strong case
Critic Rating3/5
User Rating4/5

Top Features

* Good design
* Sturdy build
* Reliable battery

In the marketing world, there is a phenomena called TOMA, or better known as Top-of-mind-awareness. TOMA holds a lot of relevance in the Indian budget smartphone markets where brands are jostling to find that special place in consumers’ minds. Xiaomi, Honor, Samsung and to a certain extent now Asus and Realme are there or almost there. Nokia in the last one year or so has tried exceptionally hard to find a coveted spot with a few smartphones. It’s challenging because most smartphone brands offer devices that boast of almost same specifications and the price difference is also marginal. It’s a conundrum because it’s easy and yet difficult for consumers to make a choice.

In such a scenario, HMD Global recently launched a contender for this category called the Nokia 5.1 Plus at Rs 10,999. It ideally should be the successor to the Nokia 5.1, but is priced lesser than that as the 5.1 costs Rs 11,804. Confusing right?

We tested the device for to see whether it has what it takes to be your next buy in the sub-Rs 11,000 price category, and here is what we found:

Design

Among all the things that Nokia 5.1 Plus has to offer, the design is certainly one of the strengths of the device.

It offers a high-gloss body with 2.5D curved glass on both back and front, making the handset look much more premium that other devices in this price bracket.

The notch on the display is bigger than that of the Nokia 6.1 Plus and includes a speaker and a front-facing camera. There’s also a small chin below the screen, sporting Nokia branding.

Turn the device around and you’ll spot the the dual cameras placed vertically in the centre -- in a slightly protruding setup -- with a fingerprint sensor tucked underneath it. Like all other Nokia branded handsets, at the bottom, you will find 'Android One’ branding.

The handset houses the volume rocker and power button on the right while the SIM card tray is on the left. The top of smartphone has the 3.5mm jack and the bottom edge comes with a speaker grille, along with a USB Type-C.

Unlike the Nokia 6.1 Plus, the sides also come with a high-gloss finish. Overall, the design of the device certainly has a better built than others and is a really good-looking smartphone under-Rs 11,000 price bracket.

Display

Even though HMD may have set new benchmarks with the design for this price bracket, display is where it falters. The Nokia 5.1 Plus offers a 5.86-inch display with a 19:9 aspect ratio but with a HD+ resolution which is 720x1520p.

Other similarly priced handsets such as the Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1 and the Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro offer full HD+ displays. But nevertheless, the colour reproduction is quite satisfactory.

Being an Android One smartphone, there are not may customisations or additional features that Nokia offers in display. You get the basic Adaptive brightness, Ambient display and Tap to wake features. The display won’t dazzle but doesn’t really disappoint you either and perhaps sets the tone for what’s coming up next.

Performance

In terms of hardware, the Nokia 5.1 Plus comes powered by octa-core MediaTek Helio P60 processor paired with 3GB RAM. It offers 32GB internal storage with support for up to 400GB.

For those unaware, this is the same chipset that Oppo has been using for its handsets that are at least Rs 5,000-Rs 8,000 more expensive than the Nokia 5.1 Plus. The MediaTek Helio P60 is the best processor from MediaTek, but at this price, other handset makers have been able to offer Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 processor, making it lose another point in the match.

The processor and RAM combo may make the handset operate slowly over time, but during our testing, we did not encounter any lag problems. However, there was a little noticeable heating. Daily tasks such as navigation, app switching, long hours of video playback were handled smoothly most of the times.

Like all the Nokia handsets, the 5.1 Plus too is a part of Google’s Android One initiative so you get a bloat-free handset with basic Google-branded apps. It runs on Android 8.1 Oreo out-of-the-box, but is expected to get the update for the latest OS version 9.0 Pie.

Since there are no flashy new features or unwanted apps out of the box, the space taken by the OS version on the handset is also lesser than others. Around 10GB is reserved for the OS out of 32GB, leaving you approximately 22GB.

Camera

The Nokia 5.1 Plus has a dual rear cameras featuring a 13-megapixel primary sensor of aperture f/2.0 and a secondary depth sensor camera of 5-megapixel for capturing Bokeh effect images. On the front, users get an 8-megapixel fixed focus camera of aperture f/2.2. The camera specs are pretty standard for the price of the device and so is the camera performance. There is a noticeable shutter lag that may annoy some users.

While the objects captured in natural lighting are acceptable, the low-light shots leave a lot to be desired. The Bokeh effect was sometimes unable to make out the difference between the foreground and the background. Other times, we were able to get a clear shot with the depth effect.


The 8MP front camera with aperture f/2.0 and is also not something that will impress you if you are among those who like to have a strong selfie game.


Battery
Backed by a 3,060mAh battery, the Nokia 5.1 Plus will easily last you a day for average use. This involves routine tasks, as well as GPS tracking, watching Netflix content and more. For a heavy-duty user, it may not last that long. The handset lacks fast charge support and will take easily approximately 2 hours for full charge.


Verdict
The Nokia 5.1 Plus is certainly the best looking smartphone for a price of Rs 10,999. Over that, it offers stock Android experience and a promise of timely updates in terms of security patches courtesy Google's Android One programme.


However, the distinctly average camera and the MediaTek processor, makes it hard for us to recommend the handset, especially given that the competition offers such specs at almost similar prices. Nokia needs more than this to crack the TOMA code in the hypercompetitive Indian smartphone market.

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Vaheeda Sidhik

Excellent device. Great value for money

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manvendra awasthi

1.0 Rated Nokia 5.1 Plus (Nokia X5) as poor.

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