The first thing one notices on unboxing the Nokia 5.1 Plus is the sheen of the phone, which makes it look above and beyond the price it commands. If you have seen the Nokia 6.1 Plus, its sibling from a segment above, there isn’t a lot to tell the two apart, save the wider notch on the 5.1 Plus and the absence of a silver lining around the lens and the flash assembly on the back. Yes, the Nokia 5.1 Plus gets a glass back, a rarity in the budget segment.
HMD Global-owned Nokia is flooding the budget and mid-range segment with a variety of options that are seeing quick iterations. The Android One programme is no doubt a fillip, as users are guaranteed clean and smooth software along with regular updates and security patches. The 5.1 Plus is the company’s recent addition to its budget line-up.
The wide notch was the only turn-off about the display, in my opinion. It looks unnecessarily spread out and there’s no option to hide it, so I couldn’t do much but get used to its presence. The buttons are on the right and well-spaced out. The bottom gets a thin bezel to house the Nokia branding and the back is smooth and sleek, home to the camera and lens assembly along with the Android One and Nokia branding.
Switch the phone on and the 5.8-inch HD+ display, which has a resolution of 750 x 1520, betrays the Nokia 5.1 Plus’ budget credentials, but ever so slightly. It isn’t as vibrant or sharp as the display on the phone’s bigger siblings, and dark colours appear slightly more dull and muted, but it doesn’t present too much to complain about. The time display on the extreme left of the notch does look slightly odd and cramped, however.
Android One, as expected, is as smooth as it can get. It runs Android 8.1 out of the box, but expect an update to Android Pie soon. The stock Android features are all there and work well. The absence of bloatware makes the phone easy to set up and use, and keeps memory free for other apps.
The Nokia 5.1 Plus has a 3 GB RAM and 32 GB internal memory, which is expandable if you sacrifice the dual-SIM usage. It is powered by a Mediatek Helio P60 processor, another point that betrays its budget credentials. However, performance is largely hiccough-free when it’s put through regular use like calls, Whats-app, Gmail, internet browsing. I even tried some moderate gaming on it and it did well, apart from the back of the phone heating up fast. Sure, it can’t take PUBG or Asphalt Airborne for too long, but at its price and features, it isn’t supposed to.
Battery life is also along expected lines, with the 3,060 mAh unit putting in a day’s shift on full charge. However, this is with regular use and gaming or video capture drains it faster.
The camera set-up on the rear is 13 MP + 5 MP, with the latter for portrait shots. The camera performance is good outdoors during the day. But indoors, under artificial light and low light conditions, the quality drops some notches. Pictures appear pastel-like and the colors are also dull, with noise creeping in and objects getting dull edges. The portrait mode is present, but looks a little forced and the edges of the subject also get blurred. Video capture at 1080p is good for a budget phone and playback is smooth too, ably assisted by a fairly loud speaker. With a slightly better camera, this phone could’ve been a lot better.
The Nokia 5.1 Plus is a good budget option to choose from. But it comes into a segment ruled by Xiaomi and with Honor fast catching up. – The Hindu Business Line