It is not unnatural for any successful company, or a legendary one in the case of Nokia, to ride on its laurels and use it to take some kind of liberty while pricing its newer products. This is mostly fine and it helps certain companies in achieving a desirable status in the industry and among its peers.
With Nokia, things are a bit different. The Finnish company is trying hard to re-establish itself as a prominent phone maker and its recent success shows that this can be possible. It had an impressive 2017 especially in India. Nokia’s recently launched phones are pretty good and the future is looking promising. However, it has to be careful with its pricing (which has been mostly fine so far), but we are at a bit of unease with how Nokia 1 has been priced. At Rs 5,499, we are not really sure if the phone truly justifies the price.
To put Nokia 1’s price into perspective, we decided to compare it with the Redmi 5. Now, the two phones are not really competitors to each other and the Redmi 5 mostly destroys Nokia 1 on paper, but like Nokia 1, the Redmi 5 is one of the latest handsets in the market and doesn’t cost significantly higher at Rs 7,999.
It is an unusual comparison, but we promise it’s going to be interesting!
DESIGN and BUILD QUALITY
Nokia 1: It is a cute little phone in a nutshell. And the credit for its adorable appearance goes solely to the back cover, which is removable and can be replaced with different available colors.
The one we have lies somewhere between red and pink and it honestly looks fresh when most other devices are coming up with either metal or glass bodies. The build quality and the fit-n-finish are good too.
The phone feels good to hold and offers comfortable grip. Coming to the front though, it is passable at best with huge bezels and the mediocre display.
Redmi 5: If Nokia 1 is cute, Redmi 5 is a handsome lad in comparison. The Redmi 5’s typically contemporary design tends to look better than it is in the company of the Nokia 1. However, there are clear cost saving efforts – the frame is plastic which extends to the top and bottom parts of the bodywork. Rest of the back is aluminium. Overall, the phone looks good but there is a visible mismatch of colors between the plastic and the metal body parts. We are not sure if this is intentional. The phone feels good in hand, although, it is quite slippery.
Nokia 1: The most visible disappoint of this phone – display. Delivering 480 x 854 pixels on a screen measuring 4.5 inches is not really a wise decision. Add to this, the low pixel density of only 218 ppi makes the whole unit appears hugely outdated. In most situations, it is easy to see the pixels on the screen and it just doesn’t look good enough.
The funny thing is, even Apple has a non-HD screen in its much more expensive iPhone SE. But the only thing that will mostly disappoint you about the SE’s screen is its small size (4 inches). Otherwise, it is one of the most color-accurate screens around.
Coming back to the Nokia 1’s display, the compromise that is there with the screen comes across as a big contrast against the overall decent looks. It seems as if Nokia, with the eye-catching design, has tried to take the attention away from the unimpressive display. The only saving grace for the display is that the colors look natural.
Redmi 5: With 5.7 inches of screen, the Redmi 5 dwarfs the Nokia 1. But this isn’t really necessarily an advantage we are trying to convey. The Redmi 5 has an HD+ display (720p x 1,440p) with the pixel density of 282 ppi. As numbers, it doesn’t mean much, but in usability it means pixel-free viewing experience and overall better presentation of colors.
In other words, the viewing experience on the Nokia 1 is a bit crude while on the Redmi 5, it can be termed as polished.
Nokia 1: This is something HMD/Nokia made a big deal of during the launch of Nokia 1 in India. It is the company’s first smartphone with the Go Edition version of Google’s full-fledged Android operating system. The Android in question is Oreo.
In that regard, it would seem better than the Redmi 5 as Oreo is the latest Android OS. Additionally, the Go Edition is a lighter version of the standard OS tweaked to deliver smooth UI experience. All Google services like YouTube, Gmail, Google Assistant and Maps have their respective Go Edition versions pre-installed on the phone. This is appropriately meant for phones with much less powerful hardware – Nokia 1, for instance.
And that brings us to the processor. Nokia 1 comes with the MediaTek MT6737M quad-core processor clocked at 1.1 GHz. This is joined by 1 GB of RAM and 8 GB of internal storage. There is no option. We would expect it to easily handle the Oreo Go Edition.
Redmi 5: Running the Android Nougat 7.1.2, the Redmi 5 plays catch up to the Nokia 1. But this is only in terms of not having the latest OS. On top of Nougat, Xiaomi has provided its own custom UI called MIUI and it is at version 9.5 (which is the latest).
It clearly looks and performs different from the stock Oreo in the Nokia 1.
REAL WORLD PERFORMANCE and BATTERY USAGE
Nokia 1: The reality is turning out to be different than our expectation. The navigation is not smooth. At best, we would be forced to call it heavy if not entirely laggy. Navigating through the Home pages and in the App Drawer, the movement happens with a consistent feel of heaviness. Many times, the transitions between the screens and the menus are jerky.
All this is more pronounced when using social media apps like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Scrolling a page on any of these apps is far from satisfying. At no point so far have we felt any noticeable advantage of the Oreo Go Edition. Furthermore, this experience continues with the Go Edition apps like the Gmail Go, for example.
We are disappointed with the way UI has been responding as we expected the Go Edition software to be well-optimized with the hardware. Let us make it clear that we understand the segment Nokia 1 belongs to and the kind of performance expectations we are supposed to have from such a device. Having said that, Nokia has been making a big deal of the Nokia 1 + Oreo Go Edition since day one and it’s just that the phone hasn’t been able to stand up to the hype so far.
As for gaming, clearly, Nokia 1 is only good for running games like Subway Surfers and such. Its Mali-T720 GPU is as mediocre as its processor. Also, even a game like Subway Surfers delivers laggy experience along with pixelated graphics. Basically, avoid gaming on Nokia 1 as much as possible.
Redmi 5: This phone comes with Snapdragon 450 octa-core processor clocked at 1.8 GHz. It is further combined with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of internal storage (3 GB RAM/32 GB storage variant also available). Topping this off is the Adreno 506 GPU.
Looking at its real world performance in isolation, the Redmi 5 is quite acceptable and satisfying most of the times. The normal navigation on the Home screen and in various menus is smooth enough and doesn’t leave much room to complain. It is not devoid of stutters, not by far. They occur regularly, but there is an overall smoothness in the responses and the whole operation which prevents the experience from getting too irritating.
However, surfing social media apps reveals the limitations of the processor quite easily with consistent stutters while scrolling a page and opening or closing an image (inside an app). But like we said, the overall experience is smooth and acceptable enough.
Coming to the gaming, the Redmi 5 shines when playing a light game like the Subway Surfers. It has no issues coping with the framerate and the graphics. Playing such a game is simply a pleasure. At the same time, playing a graphic-heavy game like the car racing Asphalt 8 tends to choke the processor and the GPU a lot. We regularly experienced 2-3 seconds of lags while moving from one menu to another inside the game. At times, the lags were long enough to mislead us into believing that the game has completely hung.
Ironically, we did not experience any of this during gameplay. The in-game experience was surprisingly good and the game did not seem to have any trouble reproducing the framerates and graphics.
As far as battery usage is concerned, Nokia 1 comes with a 2,150 mAh battery which seems good enough for this phone. On the other hand, the Redmi 5 is appropriately equipped with a larger 3,300 mAh battery. On the Nokia 1, we spent around an hour playing Subway Surfers and the phone consumed 13% battery. Compared to this, the Redmi 5 used up only 8% of its battery while playing the Asphalt 8 for the same amount of time. Please remember that the Redmi 5 consumed less amount of battery in the same amount of time while running a graphic-heavy game compared to the Nokia 1 which ran a much lighter game.
Nokia 1: The Nokia 1 comes with a very simple camera setup – a 5 MP camera at the back and a 2 MP unit at the front. The rear camera is accompanied by an LED flash. Pictures from the main camera are average at best and not really disappointing considering the overall camera specifications. Below are a few examples:
Redmi 5: The Redmi 5 comes with more up-to-date specifications for capturing various actions on-screen. There is a 12 MP main camera at the back with an aperture of f2.2 and an LED flash while the front has a 5 MP snapper. The quality isn’t remarkable, but certainly better than what Nokia 1 can manage. Here are a few examples:
To remind our readers again, Nokia 1 and the Redmi 5 are not a direct match. The price difference may not be too much and both come between Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000 range, but we were compelled to compare both these phones because we found it difficult to justify the Rs 5,499 price tag of Nokia 1. Now, we are convinced it should be priced at least a grand lower.
Nokia 1 is a pretty basic handset at best which sadly offers uninspiring performance even with the Go Edition Android Oreo. This phone is for people who mostly use their phone for whatsapp communication at best and basic social media browsing. If you wish to do anything more, the Redmi 5 is a better handset in every way you look at it. Yes, it is Rs 2,500 more expensive at Rs 7,999, but it is worth the extra money.