Why I cherish this $70 smartphone

Less is indeed more, Overview #1

The smartphone I am talking about is called Nokia 1. Introduced almost a year ago at MWC by HMD Global, it is a low-end budget smartphone, with mediocre hardware running Android (go edition) software. It is amazing how this plucky little smartphone is able to accomplish all my smartphone tasks. I’ve been using it daily for almost 8 months and here’s my overview.

The rationale why I like this smartphone so much and why it ticks off most boxes for my smartphone needs

Hardware:

I adore compact small phones. Never been allured by the big screen phones. According to me, a smartphone is a utilitarian tool that needs to be ergonomic and designed for one handed use. Nokia 1, although made of plastic is fairly built and fits great in my hand. There’s also an option to customise the look of the device with the interchangeable colourful back covers.

Nokia 1 overview

At 218 PPI, the 4.5 inch 480p IPS LCD is average at best. You won’t be engulfed by it in any way. The colour quality of this panel is good enough to watch YouTube videos. Since I don’t consume that much video content on a small device, this display works for me.

The quad core 1.1 GHz MediaTek 6737 processor is powerful enough to run most basic apps. The apps run quite smoothly once they are loaded and I’ve played casual games and they run fine. You just have to be a little patient opening and while switching apps as it has only 1 GB of memory. So no multitasking as it hardly cache any application storage.

The front 2MP and a rear 5MP camera with flash take below average photos. If necessary one can take clear photos and viewable documents’ scans in a well-lit area. I don’t take photos that much so it isn’t a deal breaker.

Most people would definitely struggle with 8GB of internal storage but with this version of Android, the whole OS is much smaller in size, the applications are optimised to be lite-based hence they are smaller too. In addition, you can add an external SD card up to 128 GB which can be used as internal storage to download apps and not just the media files and documents.

This phone is a 4G dual-SIM VoLTE compatible. With 2150 mAh the phone gets 4–5 hour screen time with moderate use and it also gets amazing standby time. It has a 3.5 mm headphone jack and one can access FM radio by simply connecting the earphones which work as an antenna.

Software:

This matters to me a lot. The software has always been more important to me than the hardware. It’s the soul of any computing device. The reason I bought this over similarly priced devices (just over an year old smartphones with better hardware in all categories) is that I wanted a phone that gets up-to-date software with the latest security patches. And at this price point, there were no phones satisfying that particular needs.

[The budget Android phones in the past years have always been a compromise as most Android phones would ship with an older version of software and no future prospects of getting the latest update or the security patches.]

via Android https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wDAc83ILXG4

The OS running on Nokia 1 is called Android Oreo 8.1 (Go Edition). It is envisioned as a lighter version of Android Oreo. The goal of it is to provide a fast and smooth Android experience on the entry-level smartphones that usually comes with low-end hardware. This phone will get guaranteed monthly security patches (currently has the January 5, 2019 patch) and will be updated to newest version, Android Pie (Go edition) in early Q2 2019.

Application:

The hardware and the software doesn’t matter at all if we don’t employ the potential of an application running on them. The phone comes with pre-installed apps called Go Apps (Google Go, Gmail Go, YouTube Go et cetera).

Pre-installed Google Apps optimised for ‘Go Edition’ smartphone

These are lite version of the standard apps and use much less data in term of overall size and in data usage and collection. They work just as well as standard one and for most individuals it gets the job done. Plus one would appreciate few features just catered for the Go apps i.e. data saver for Files, YouTube, Chrome and Google Go, build in spam filter for Phone and Messages, security protection in Google Play Store et cetera.

Google Go, Files Go, YouTube Go, Maps Go

You can also install the full version applications on this device. It would just be a little laggy as the phone is not optimised for larger and much powerful apps. I have installed many standard apps like Outlook, OneDrive, OneNote and Microsoft Launcher. Few causal games such as Elevate and Lumosity and many more. All apps seem to run just as fluid as mid range phones.

Microsoft Launcher, OneNote, Pocket Casts, Pocket

Conclusion

Even though the phone is not running on powerful hardware and is not on the fully-fledged Operating System, using it is actually quite similar to the regular ones. One can easily be accustomed to the patience needed to operate in terms of performance and application usage. Using it over seven months I haven’t been annoyed once. One just has to respect the price point using this.

[If an above average smartphone is like a #00 Phillips iFixit screwdriver with an ergonomic aluminium handle, a magnetic tip, the Nokia 1 is like a mass manufactured plastic #00 Phillips screwdriver. You will never be wowed by it. It just gets the job done. Nothing fancy.]

And since I spend most of my screen time (over 10 hours) on my laptop, phones for me have always been secondary in nature. For me, it is often used as an extension when I am out an about, when the main device is not near me or when I am on the move doing chores. I am definitely a minority here as I do not rely upon the smartphone that heavily.

Unlike me, if you don’t require the need to get a laptop or a tablet and only use your smartphone as your main device, you should definitely own a decent phone that can last you 2–4 years. One that is well-built and equipped with the modern hardware that ensures latest software features.

Food for thought

And don’t you think it is amazing that a phone costing so little can be so rewarding, especially to a first-time smartphone user? Imagine people in the emerging markets able to access the internet for the first-time, enrich their lives using technology. A smartphone, a must-have utility in the modern era can now be accessible to millions. I have to applaud Google and Android. They have done a remarkable job.

Nowadays the high-end flagship smartphone isn’t as ground-breaking that it once used to. The smartphone market has peaked and companies are just selling gimmicks as features to justify these absurd price. Most people have seen the “magic” of a smartphone and have visualised and comprehended its future capabilities. The good thing is technologies from the vanguard product (better processors, overall hardware) will always trickle down and my notion is you might not be missing out on the latest and the greatest as long as you have a software up-to-date smartphone.

Thanks for reading. Have a great day. 🙂

‘Overview’ is the series where we review all aspects technology and converse how it impacts us in over day to day life.