The Nokia 3.1 was a decent value option when it was released by HMD Global back in July, but it was missing some key features like a fingerprint sensor. It was also pretty small.
Now, HMD Global is back with a revamped version called the Nokia 3.1 Plus, and it addresses some of these complaints. The new phone jumps up from a tall 5.2-inch display to a 6-inch display, still at an 18:9 aspect ratio, and it adds a fingerprint sensor to the back without adding much to its sub-$200 price.
The Nokia 3.1 also moves up to a somewhat nicer and newer MediaTek processor, the Helio P22. It’s still paired with 2GB or 3GB of RAM, so this is still very much a budget phone when it comes to power, but it should be an improvement.
HMD Global is also advertising two days of battery life; even if the phone doesn’t make it that far, its larger 3,500mAh battery should be plenty. In some markets, the phone is adding NFC, too.
The phone’s flashiest update is the addition of a second camera on the back, allowing it to offer portrait mode effects. It’s questionable how good those will be from a phone this inexpensive, but it speaks to just how much of a commodity feature this has become.
Unfortunately, there are still some areas where the 3.1 Plus misses or cuts corners that its predecessor didn’t. The 3.1 Plus still lacks support for 5GHz Wi-Fi, which means you won’t be able to use newer (and faster) Wi-Fi networks. It also drops Gorilla Glass from the display in favor of non-branded “toughened glass,” which seems like a miss given that Gorilla Glass is pretty much the industry standard.
Like the 3.1, the 3.1 Plus uses Micro USB for charging, though that’s normal in this price range and not necessarily a bad thing if you already have a drawer stuffed with those cables. Storage is 16GB or 32GB, expandable by microSD. And there’s even a headphone jack. It’s also part of Android One, which means promised security and OS updates, so it should move from Oreo to Pie eventually and likely to whatever comes next as well.
The phone goes on sale in India this month, and it’s supposed to expand globally. Prices are listed at €159 (around $184 USD) for the 2GB / 16GB model and €179 (around $207 USD) for the 3GB / 32GB model. That’s not much more than the normal 3.1 sells for — it’s currently $159 USD on Amazon — and it’s worth it for the fingerprint sensor alone.
HMD Global has been making some solid phones under the Nokia brand for the low-end and midrange markets. But there’s plenty of competition out there, and phones like the 3.1 Plus have to contend with a lot of very nice and capable alternatives — particularly in India where this phone is launching.