The Nokia 7 Plus represents a lot of firsts for HMD Global: it is the first phone from the manufacturer to feature an 18:9 panel, the first to offer the Snapdragon 660 chipset in India, and the first mid-ranger from the manufacturer to make its way to global markets.
There's clearly a lot of excitement around the Nokia 7 Plus, and for good reason. The phone is one of the best devices available today for $400, and the camera is particularly good.
The Redmi Note 5 Pro is no slouch either. The phone is notable for being the first in the world to feature the Snapdragon 636, and it is similarly feature-rich in other areas as well. Best of all, it is an absolute bargain for ₹13,999 ($210).
The Nokia 7 Plus is all about delivering a clean and uncluttered user interface by way of Android One, and the Redmi Note 5 Pro focuses on customizability with the latest iteration of MIUI.
With the Nokia 7 Plus costing nearly twice as much as the Redmi Note 5 Pro, it's time to find out if it's twice as good.
Nokia 7 Plus vs. Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro: Specs
|Category||Nokia 7 Plus||Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro|
|Operating System||Android 8.1 Oreo
|MIUI 9.2 based on Android 7.1.1 Nougat|
|Display||6.0-inch 18:9 IPS LCD 2160 x 1080
Gorilla Glass 3
403ppi pixel density
|5.99-inch 18:9 FHD+ (2160x1080) IPS LCD panel
403ppi pixel density
|Chipset||Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 660
Four Kryo 260 cores up to 2.20GHz
Four Kryo 260 cores at 1.80GHz
|Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 636
Eight Kryo 260 cores up to 1.8GHz
|GPU||Adreno 512||Adreno 509|
|RAM||4GB LPDDR4||4GB/6GB LPDDR4X|
|Storage||64GB eMMC 5.1||64GB/64GB eMMC 5.1|
|Expandable||Yes (up to 256GB)||Yes (up to 128GB)|
Quick Charge 3.0 (9V/2A)
|Rear Camera||12MP (f/1.75, 1.4um) + 12MP (f/2.6, 1.0um)
Dual Pixel Autofocus
EIS, Carl Zeiss optics
|12MP (1.25um pixels, f/2.2) + 5MP (1.12um pixels, f/2.0)
PDAF, LED flash
1080p video recording
|Front Camera||16MP||20MP with Selfie light
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 802.11 ac, FM radio
NFC, LTE with VoLTE, Bluetooth 5.0
|LTE with VoLTE
Wi-Fi 802.11 ac, Bluetooth 5.0, GPS, GLONASS
Micro-USB, 3.5mm audio jack, IR blaster
|Security||One-touch fingerprint sensor (back)||One-touch fingerprint sensor (back)|
|SIM||Dual Nano SIM (hybrid)||Dual Nano SIM (hybrid)|
|Dimensions||158.4 x 75.6 x 8mm||158.6 × 75.4 × 8.05mm|
|Colors||Black/Copper, White/Copper||Gold, Blue, Black, Rose Gold|
|Price||₹25,999 ($400)||₹13,999 ($210)|
What the Nokia 7 Plus does better
The Nokia 7 Plus has an interesting design aesthetic that sees copper accents around the screen, mid-frame, and the camera sensor at the back. The accents give the phone a lot of visual flair, and the ceramic coating over the metal back makes it easier to hold the phone.
The design looks cohesive, and the Nokia 7 Plus is one of the sturdiest phones on the market today. Meanwhile, the rear camera module on the Redmi Note 5 Pro sticks like a sore thumb, and it almost feels like an afterthought. The camera itself is pretty great for a budget phone, but Xiaomi should have worked on integrating the camera module better into the design of the phone (the same camera arrangement looks much better on the Mi Mix 2S).
Then there's the camera — the Nokia 7 Plus has one of the best cameras in its category. It edges out the camera on the OnePlus 5T, and is more than a match for the Redmi Note 5 Pro.
Nokia 7 Plus on the left, Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro on the right
Both phones take great photos in daylight conditions, but the images from the Nokia 7 Plus have wider dynamic range. The Redmi Note 5 Pro isn't able to hold its own in low-light conditions though, as there's considerable noise and lack of detail.
Another area where the Nokia 7 Plus takes the lead is the software. With Android 8.1 Oreo under the hood along with the April 1, 2018 security patch, the phone will be in the first wave of devices to receive updates — and will continue to do so for the next three years.
As for Xiaomi's handset, it's been two months since the Redmi Note 5 Pro went on sale, and the device is still on Android 7.1.1 Nougat. An Oreo build is said to be in the works, but there's no official word on when it will be ready to roll out.
Nokia 7 Plus has more visual flair, beefier specs, and a much better camera.
And as good a budget phone as the Redmi Note 5 Pro is, you still can't walk into a store and pick it up. Xiaomi is doing a disservice to its customers by continuing to rely on the flash sales model. Two months after the Redmi Note 5 Pro made its debut in India, there's no easy way to get your hands on the phone.
Sure, there's considerable demand for the phone, but Xiaomi is no longer an underdog in India's handset market — it is leading the pack. It will, therefore, be judged in that context, and the fact that it still can't make enough phones to meet the demand suggests Xiaomi has a long way to go in this area.
What the Redmi Note 5 Pro does better
The Redmi Note 5 Pro is the undisputed battery champion in this category. While the Nokia 7 Plus also delivers two days' worth of usage, it isn't quite as good as what you get on the Redmi Note 5 Pro.
The Redmi Note 5 Pro continues to be a battery monster.
The 4000mAh battery combined with MIUI's optimizations means you'll routinely get screen-on-time of over nine hours consistently.
The one issue I have with the battery is that fast charging is limited to 5V/2A, and the charging port is still MicroUSB.
Which should you buy? Nokia 7 Plus
Even though Xiaomi is now India's largest handset brand, all of its momentum comes from the budget segment, where it currently has eight phones on sale. The Mi Mix 2, meanwhile, doesn't see nearly as much attention, and it's unlikely the brand will be able to break into the premium category given its association as a budget manufacturer.
Nokia doesn't have any such issues: even before its resurgence under Android, it was considered a high-end brand, with its phones known for their durability and evocative designs. Under HMD's stewardship, Nokia is winning on both fronts — its phones continue to be gorgeous, and Android One ensures its devices will be the first to receive updates.
Yes, the Nokia 7 Plus costs almost double that of the Redmi Note 5 Pro, but that price is entirely justifiable just for the camera quality and the clean user interface. The fact that you can actually go to Amazon India or head into a store and get your hands on it instead of waiting for a flash sale is a bonus.
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