Performance and Software - Android One
Unarguably the USP of this phone, the Android One branding. It’s something that every developer craves for. It wouldn’t be wrong to stereotype this phone to a Nexus phone, given the software quality. Android One is a boon for anyone that wants something close to stock Android, but doesn’t have the budget to buy the Pixel phone series.
Monthly updates are also another plus point with this phone, they are timely. My phone came with Android 8.1 Oreo with the April Security patch out of the box, but the phone downloaded 4 monthly security patches since then in a sequential order and it is currently running on the August Security Patch. There’s also an Android Pie final developer preview build, with a stable release set for early September. Given the upgrade policy that we have seen with the last year’s Nokia smartphones, Nokia phones will receive Android upgrades way faster than any other non-Google vendor (Okay, Essential Phone beat Nokia for the Android P update, but let’s see with the others)
After finishing setting up your phone, you would be looking at your launcher. This looks similar to the launcher found on the Pixel phones. It has a dock which can house a maximum of 5 app icons, or in general 5 folders. Then there’s an app drawer which is opened by pressing the up arrow above the dock or swiping up anywhere on the homescreen.
Have a look at the preinstalled apps. There’s no bloatware in this phone, unlike the Redmi Note 3, which not only came with the unnecessary Xiaomi apps which bombard notifications (that too uninstallable) but also with apps from other developers (eg. Facebook, Twitter, Swiftkey keyboard etc.).
Once you lock your phone, the lock screen would be visible. Again, it is the standard stock Android lock screen, the time and date at the centre, with the camera shortcut on the bottom-right and the voice-assist shortcut at the bottom left corner. Then there’s the fingerprint icon between these two, if you have enabled it, otherwise, it would be a standard lock screen.
Unlocking the phone when the screen is off doesn’t take much time. The screen unlocks instantly with the fingerprint scanner, like many flagship phones.
Now given that the screen size is quite huge, there might be troubles to reach the top of the screen, depending upon the position in which you are holding the phone). This is why the Nokia 7 plus provides an option of gestures. Particularly, swipe down to reveal notifications is the most helpful. Then there’s also a double-press power button to launch the camera gesture, along with other useful gestures.
Also there are the useful Google apps, like Google Photos for the gallery, Google Chrome for browsing. I wish there were two more apps pre-installed, a Calculator app and a Voice Recorder app, which would have completed the essentials suite.
Nokia 7 Plus is powered by the Snapdragon 660 processor. It has 8 Kryo cores, 4 of the 2.2 GHz and the other 4 at 1.8 GHz. There’s also Adreno 512 GPU used for powering intensive graphics tasks like gaming. Only one variant of this phone exists in India, with 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of internal storage. From this 64 GB, we will get 50 GB of usable space.
The phone feels smooth enough for daily usage. I didn’t see any visible lag in apps, until the July Security Update. With the July Security Update, apps like Chrome, Instagram, Facebook, and WhatsApp would hang occasionally for 2-5 seconds and then resume again. Same goes when typing on the keyboard, where the keys would appear frozen until 2-5 seconds later. This is still not fixed in the August security update, but with my time on the Android P final developer preview, this problem didn’t exist. So maybe in September, with the Android P release, this would go away.
GAMING AND BROWSING
Gaming performance is very good – if not great. I could play PUBG at Medium to High graphics with HD Resolution (HDR and Ultra HD aren’t supported on this phone). The colors were set to realistic. I also regularly played Clash of Clans, Real Cricket 18, Knife Hit, Asphalt 9 as well. I did not notice any visible frame drop in these games.
Apart from all these, I could open up to 17 Chrome tabs upon, without any of them reloading due to dormancy. All in all, the Snapdragon 660 paired with 4 GB of RAM should be okay for everyone for day-to-day usage.