Nokia 2.1 | Quick Hands-on Review

With the recent turn of events whereas HMD Global has taken charge in producing a range of smartphones carrying the Nokia brand since 2017, we’ve been seeing a lot of movement which I think is a good run so far for the former tech giant. Today, I’ll be talking about Nokia 2.1, its key features, pros and cons and what could possibly be my first go-to reason for anyone to snag this budget centered smart phone in 2018.


The Nokia 2.1 is basically a revamped version of the original Nokia 2 that was released sometime in 2017. It comes with a few added bonus features can appeal to many individuals but not all. The retail package itself is pretty similar to previous Nokia smartphones that had been released dating back from back in the Windows Phone era. Personally, I’m liking it, simply because it gives them their own unique unboxing experience, unlike the usual smart phone box you’d see with random brands.

Inside the box comes with the following and do take note, this is a budget centered smart phone.
  1. The unit itself
  2. Micro-USB cable for data transfer and charging
  3. Power brick
  4. Earphones
  5. Manuals
Pretty much all the essential items that would normally come with a smart phone, and for the price, it’s pretty good so far.
What I found rather interesting was the charging brick, it’s not the typical blockish white charger, instead, it still has the original form factor of a charger by Nokia which is great and easy to hold/ grip.
The earphones, on the other hand, isn’t my usual cup of tea. I personally prefer ear buds over the standard earphones simply because it helps block out any noise in the background when listening to tunes or if you’re working in a coffee shop and you don’t want any distractions.

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I’m sure there will be a few who’d say “err…still Micro-USB?”, yes, it’s a MicroUSB cable and not USB Type-C. To be honest, I’m not even that bothered as much simply because USB Type-C cables aren’t that vast yet here in the Philippines. Probably if you’re the type who uses all the high-end stuff, then that would matter, but if you’re still using the same old laptop or computer that has the standard USB ports, then this shouldn’t even be an issue.


The Nokia 2.1 is pretty reminiscent of any smart phone that was released a few years ago. It’s not the usual unibody design since the back is removable which also gives you access to the sim and Micro SD card slot.


I did like the Nokia trademark of using polycarbonate since this brand was one of the first to actually use this type of material although the supposed “chrome” sidings kind of gave it a cheap look simply because it’s just for aesthetic purposes. The device itself is pretty much plastic so no glass breaking issues here should you drop the device by accident on its back.
*It’s worth noting that the front houses what looks like 2 speaker grills. (to be continued)*
Under the hood, the Nokia 2.1 is powered by a very capable Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 which in my opinion is one of the best processors that was released a year ago since it is very power efficient and workable.
Alongside this comes with a stock Android 8.1.0 experience since the Nokia 2.1 is running the “Android Go” edition by Google this basically means, you’ll be getting timely updates practically the same time any update is released to the more expensive smartphones out there such as the Pixel phones by Google. As well as a toned down version of apps that are designed specifically for the this type of device.

In terms of photography, the Nokia 2.1 comes with an 8 MP rear camera with an LED flash and a 5 MP front facing camera. This type of camera configuration was more the “In” thing probably 2 years ago and in 2018, the supposed “norm” would probably be a 13 MP / 5 MP combo.

I did manage to snap a few photos just testing out the capabilities of the device, and although I kind of knew the outcome, it still managed to produce decent photos, especially with good lightning. In terms of low-light situations however, this is where the device may fall short, despite using the LED flash didn’t quite make that much of a difference.

Okay, let’s stick to reality, and if photography is your cup of tea, you’re not gonna be caught spending less than $200 on a smart phone and expect DSLR grade photography. This of course by no means states that the camera on the Nokia 2.1 is bad, you can still take good photos provided there’s decent lighting, but with my testing, there was always a need for decent lighting to get more out of the subject you’re trying to capture.
It comes with a few tricks such as beautification and manual mode, but the changes aren’t that noticeable so having them turned on or off won’t give that much difference.
If there’s anything that I’d like put a little stress into this device, is the amount of storage and RAM the internals is combo’d with. It only comes with a measly 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage (which only 4GB is usable).
This basically translates to limiting you to what you can do with this device. Sure, the device comes with an expandable storage and all, but why go to that extent when they would’ve just jacked up the internal storage to at least 16GB.
The Nokia 2.1 is currently retailing for Php 5,990 which, for the price seems reasonable, especially if you’re on a tight budget and you basically just need a daily driver.


The Nokia 2.1 is categorized as an entry-level smart phone that packs in a few notable features that can deliver a certain level of appreciation for the average consumer. With its relatively big screen, stock Android experience and a low price tag, for a daily driver this is a win. If you’re a power-user however, who’s constantly playing games I strongly recommend for you to look elsewhere, or perhaps go for it’s older siblings the Nokia 6.1 or 7.1 to give you that extra kick.


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