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These new Nokia phones are very good, and they’re very cheap

by Justin Herrick | June 1, 2018June 1, 2018 7:00 am PST

Make room for HMD Global’s latest budget-friendly products. The Nokia 5.1, Nokia 3.1, and Nokia 2.1 are official with modest specifications and stock Android to draw you in.

While these aren’t high-end by any stretch, the newbies show how far the mid-range and entry-level segments have come in recent years. The trio reminds us that you don’t have to spend $600 or more to get a decent mobile device.

All three belong to either Android One or Android Go, Google’s initiatives to make non-flagships better than ever. Based on their names, you can also tell these Nokia-branded phones aren’t significant upgrades over their predecessors. HMD Global instead took what’s current in 2018, made some tweaks, and kept their prices at a very welcoming level.

Made from a single block of 6000 series aluminum, the Nokia 5.1 should be as strong as it feels. Inside, though, it’s an average presentation.  The new Nokia 5 features a 5.5-inch Full HD+ display with 18:9 aspect ratio, a MediaTek Helio P18, up to 3GB of RAM, up to 32GB of storage, a microSD card slot, a 16MP rear camera, an 8MP front camera, a 2970mAh battery, a fingerprint scanner, and Android 8.1 Oreo.

HMD Global can’t throw everything and the kitchen sink into these phones, so you can tell where concessions were made.

The Nokia 3.1 is watered-down in most areas. Aside from having a smaller 5.2-inch HD+ display with 18:9 aspect ratio, it features a MediaTek 6750. HMG Global also included 13MP and 8MP cameras, but their lenses are reduced. The new Nokia 3, though, is still a decent buy with its all-metal design to give a premium vibe.

The newest member of the Android Go family is the Nokia 2.1, packing the bare necessities into a plastic build featuring stainless steel accents.

HMD Global gave this phone a 5.5-inch HD display, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 425, 1GB of memory, 8GB of storage with a microSD card slot, an 8MP rear camera, a 5MP front camera, a 4000mAh battery, and Android 8.1 Oreo (Go Edition).

Both the Nokia 5.1 and the Nokia 3.1 fall under Android One’s umbrella. That guarantees them system updates for two years and security updates for three years. Since they’ll come directly from Google, owners of these phones shouldn’t have to wait long for the latest version of Android to arrive.

The new Nokia 2, however, belongs to Android Go. Google created the special build for devices with low memory and storage, offering custom apps to run with basic functions available. With the help of HMD Global, Google’s initiatives have really gained solid footing lately.

HMD Global doesn’t intend on releasing them in every part of the world. The Nokia 2.1 will be alone in its trip to the United States while the Nokia 5.1 and the Nokia 3.1 get pushed in Europe. Rather than pushing all products in all regions, HMD Global is taking a methodical approach. It’s closely examining which regions should get a particular product to avoid oversaturation of its own brand.

When they’re released this summer, expect super-affordable prices. HMD Global says the Nokia 5.1 will have a “global average retail price” of $220. The Nokia 3.1, meanwhile, should come in at around £160. If you’re lucky enough to have the Nokia 2.1 sold in your region, it’ll be on sale for just $115.

By next year, HMD Global could have the confidence to release its flagship in the United States and other key regions. These low-cost mobile devices are wonderful for consumers, but we also want to see HMD Global take on the big names more seriously.


Justin Herrick

Justin is easily attracted to power buttons. His interest in technology started as a child in the 1990s with the original PlayStation, and two...

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