“The Nokia 1 is the most affordable smartphone from the HMD-owned brand’s stable”

There was a time when Android-powered Nokia smartphones seemed like a distant dream. Under the aegis of HMD Global however, the iconic brand has launched a slew of Android smartphones in its second coming. And now it seems that the company is taking this association to the next level by committing to the Android One initiative. The new bunch of phones it announced at MWC yesterday are powered by Android One, while it’s most affordable smartphone – the Nokia 1 – runs Android Oreo (Go edition). For those unaware, Google is aiming to offer a smooth experience even on low-end hardware with the Android Oreo (Go edition) platform. That ideology isn’t much different from the first set of Android One devices that launched in India back in September 2014, a move which didn’t work as well as expected. So will the search titan succeed with its second attempt? That’s something that only time will tell, but we can definitely tell you what the Nokia 1 brings to the table for its asking price of $85.

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The Nokia 1 is a quintessentially an entry-level smartphone, and that becomes apparent as soon as you hold it. The device is encased in a polycarbonate body with a glossy back panel. While the two-tone finish and hues like red and blue are quite attractive, the build quality doesn’t inspire much confidence. Interestingly however, the company is bringing back the concept of swappable covers it started with feature phones (and later with smartphones too) by offering Xpress-on covers for the Nokia 1, which will be available to purchase separately.

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Thanks to its 4.5-inch display, the phone nestles into the hand quite well, and using it single-handedly is a delight in the age of phablets. That said, the screen quality is just passable as it bears a resolution of 854 x 480 pixels. The placement of ports and buttons sticks to the norms, and the device also boasts IP52 ingress protection for protection against liquid splashes.

Powering the Nokia 1 is a 1.1GHz MediaTek 6737M quad-core processor, which is accompanied by a gigabyte of RAM. Android Go is optimised to run on smartphones with as low as 512MB RAM, so one can expect a device with twice that to offer a smooth experience. During our time with the smartphone however, the handset seemed a tad laggy even while performing basic tasks like navigating between screens and opening apps. However, do keep in mind that this was a demo unit we played with, and might not be running the finished version of the OS. Things should hopefully get better by the time of commercial launch.

The benefit of Android 8.1 Oreo (Go edition) is that the phone ships with the latest iteration of Google’s mobile operating system… something which many low-cost smartphones can’t boast of. The interface is completely stock, and the device also comes with lightweight apps that conserve data usage.

For storage, the Nokia 1 offers 8GB of memory onboard, out of which around 5GB is available to the end user. The smartphone also accepts microSD cards of up to 128GB.

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The Nokia 1 offers a basic imaging experience as well, with a 5-megapixel primary camera at the back. There’s a 2MP shooter at the front for selfies. The camera app is minimalistic, and the image quality is fine for casual purposes.

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Equipped with a 2,150mAh battery, the HMD-owned brand claims that the Nokia 1 can deliver up to 15 days of standby time.

The Nokia 1 is aimed at emerging markets, including India where users are shifting from feature phones to smartphones. Expected to launch in the month of April with an approximate price tag of Rs 5,500, the device could turn out be a good option. However, considering the fact that one can get full-fledged Android smartphones with better hardware, such as the Xiaomi Redmi 5A (review) for example, at similar (or even lower) price points, it remains to be seen how HMD Global and Google set the Nokia 1 apart.