Nokia 5.1 (2018) first look

Pros

Cons

Key Features

  • 5.5-inch FHD+ display
  • MediaTek CPU
  • 2GB RAM
  • 13MP camera
  • 2970mAh battery
  • Android One
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Nokia 5.1 (2018) first look: Important updates could make the new Nokia 5 a success

We haven’t even hit the halfway point in 2018 and HMD Global has already released an impressive eight phones under the Nokia name. This has included five models at MWC and the latest three releases: the Nokia 2.1, Nokia 3.1 and, the most interesting of the bunch, the Nokia 5.1.

Although we’re far from convinced about the naming strategy – why not just call it ‘the new Nokia 5’, for example? – this is a big update for the Nokia 5, elevating the phone enough that it could maybe give the excellent Moto G6 Play a run for its money.

In releasing so many phones at such a rate, Nokia has managed to address issues with previous devices. For instance, I wasn’t impressed with the performance and sharp designs of many of last year’s handsets, and those issues have pretty much been fixed here.

Nokia 5.1 vs Nokia 5: How do they compare?

Nokia 5.1 (2018) Nokia 5 (2017)
Processor MediaTek 2GHz Snapdragon 430
Display 5.5-inch, 18:9, FHD+ 5.2-inch 720p
Battery 2970mAh 3000mAh
Face Unlock No No
RAM 2/3GB 2/3GB
Storage 16/32GB 16GB
Dual-Sim Yes (in some countries) Yes (in some countries)
Expandable storage Yes Yes
Camera 16MP 13MP
Front camera 8MP 8MP

 

The Nokia 5.1 is a lot softer-looking than its predecessor, with curved edges and a lovely-feeling 6000 series aluminium body. For the 199 euros price, there’s very little else like it on the market.

On the front is a seriously impressive screen. Similar to the majority of flagships, it boasts an 18:9 display and a crisp FHD+ resolution – this is up from the 720p resolution used last year.

I had only a short time with the phone during the briefing session, but the 5.5-inch LCD panel was bright and colourful. It was just nice to see this wider aspect-ratio filtering down to the cheaper phones so quickly.

My big criticism of pretty much every low-end Nokia phone released last year was that performance-wise they were super-slow. This ruined the overall experience, despite the phones impressing in individual areas. After all, who wants a device that judders and hangs every time you open Facebook?

Nokia says that it has fixed these issues with the Nokia 5.1, and that the phone offers ‘40% more performance’ thanks to a MediaTek 2GHz processor accompanied by  either 2 or 3GB of RAM. I’ve never been a huge fan of MediaTek’s chips, which I’ve found prone to becoming hot and with erratic battery life. Hopefully, the Nokia 5.1’s performance will be better.

The software, too, should hopefully address performance issues as well. The Nokia 5.1 runs Android One, which here is free of the usual bloatware and skins you’d find on the likes of Samsung and LG phones. It will also receives updates from Google quicker, with Nokia guaranteeing two years of platform updates and three years of security patches.

There are no duplicate apps on Android One, only the usual array of Google’s own apps. Google Photos provides unlimited storage for your snaps and Play Music lets you upload your own songs for streaming.

nokia 5

Around the back is a 16-megapixel main camera, which sits above the fingerprint sensor, and there’s a wide-angle 8-megapixel shooter around the front.

The Nokia 5.1 includes a 2970mAh battery, but it’s disappointing to discover that micro-USB remains the charging method of choice. USB-C really should be universal by now. I didn’t have enough time to test either the camera or the battery life, so look out for the full review, which will include all the details.

First impressions

Coming in at 199 euros, which is roughly £175, the Nokia 5.1 sits right in-between the regular Moto G6 and the Moto G6 Play. Whether it can match either of those excellent devices remains to be seen. Nevertheless, there’s certainly plenty to like about Nokia’s latest.

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