Nokia 1 Review; low cost not low quality


Let’s get one thing straight, the Nokia 1 is HMD’s most affordable android smartphone to date, sells for around KShs 10,000 hence, do not expect any flashy features from it. Despite its low price tag, the device still manages to offer a decent well rounded package as we will see in this review.


Most devices at this price range do not make any effort towards the design, they simply come in a black slab of plastic, but not Nokia. They have engineered a tough plastic back that is tough and doesn’t feel cheap. The rear comes with vibrant colours like orange or red plus white paint job on details such as the Nokia logo, the camera ring, volume button, power button and the outline around the display. In case you want a more classic color, black is available.

The back cover can be taken off to access the removable battery, dual SIMs and memory card.  Moreover, you can customize the device with rear panels called Xpress –on covers. Something neat we discovered on all the covers is a small dimple next to the loud speaker cut-out, this helps in raising the phone a bit when placed on flat surface (like on a table) so that audio (or ringtone) from the speaker is audible.

As far as handling the Nokia 1 is concerned, it easily fits in one hand thanks to the small 4.5 inch screen dimensions and the curved back that gracefully rests on the palm.


The 4.5 inch display comes with a resolution of 854 * 480. That resolution may sound low on paper but considering that the screen is also small, the pixels per inch translate to 218, a good enough clarity that makes texts and images decently sharp. The brightness is high enough for indoors and outdoors so long as the sun is not directly overhead. In addition, the screen is an IPS LCD, which means that viewing angles are great and colors are rendered with natural tones.

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The only gripe we have with the display is the lack of toughened glass, luckily, this can be remedied, you just need to invest in a screen protector.


This is the area that the device excels. Running the show is Android Go, based on 8.1 Oreo. The “Go” version of Android is like a lite variant, it is optimized to run on modest hardware specifications, use low data and battery life. This version fits perfectly with the Nokia 1, something that is evident on the smooth performance it displays.

The interface has Go optimized apps like Gmail Go, Google Go, Youtube Go and many others.  The stock interface comes uncluttered; something that makes it very clean and speedy. Google Play Store in the Nokia 1 highlights apps that follow the Go culture of keeping things light such as Maps Go, Facebook Lite, Messenger Lite and others. Yes, you can get the full-featured versions of these apps as well.


A quad core Mediatek 6737M powers the device along with 1GB RAM and 8GB internal storage that can be expanded via micro SD card. This set up comfortably handles the resolution and the optimized Android Go smoothly. Light gaming is also possible on the device, with popular games like Subway Surfers and Temple Run playing fluidly. As long as you do not overdo the multitasking and playing heavy titles, you will get a pleasant performance with the Nokia 1.


HMD kept the camera app simple but, they packed in some neat features such as a manual mode which is usually lacking in entry level devices.

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As far as image quality goes, the 5MP rear camera produces decent images in photos taken under bright lit scenarios. If you keep take snaps out in a sunny day, you will come out with nice photos with natural color reproduction. Videos can be recorded in HD (720p) which is enough for this price category. The 2MP selfie requires lots of light to produce decent photos as well but, you get a slight dip in sharpness.



Believe it or not, the Nokia 1 comes with 4G, yes, that’s very rare for devices in its class.  So, blazing fast internet is not going to be a worry especially this World Cup season. Call connectivity is good as well. You can easily hear the other person on the earpiece and also the loud speaker.


With a 2150 mAh battery, the Nokia 1 will take you past a whole day of usage. The battery life longevity is one of the strong points of this device. The remarkable endurance of past 6 hours of onscreen time can be attributed to the Android Go, the modest resolution, and the relatively big battery compared to the screen size.


If you are in the market for a 4G enabled device and you do not want to spend a fortune, Nokia 1 is the device for you. It will give you a pure Android experience in form of the smooth Go version plus great battery life as a bonus.


  • Available in vibrant colours and customizable Xpress-on covers.
  • Android Go offers smooth performance
  • 4G is supported, surprisingly
  • Great battery life
  • Very affordable
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  • Low light photos are not the best
  • The screen resolution could be better