Without a doubt, the Nokia 7.1 is one of the best handsets in the mid-range smartphone space. The overall user experience is a joy, thanks to things like the premium design, great software, and reliable performance. Add that together with exceptional battery life, an HDR-capable display, and NFC support for Google Pay, and then end result is one that's well worth your dollars.
Sony Xperia 10
For the same price as the Nokia 7.1, you can also get the Xperia 10. The Xperia 10 is one of the first phones to ship with a 21:9 display, making it super tall and narrow. This is great for supported video content and seeing more on the screen at once. Other highlights include a sturdy design, the latest version of Android 9 Pie, NFC for Google Pay, and a headphone jack.
Sony Xperia 10
We think you'll be pleased no matter which of these phones you pick up, but for most folks, we'd recommend the Nokia 7.1 over the Xperia 10. The Nokia 7.1's screen is much easier to use than the super tall one on the Xperia 10, and on top of that, it's also more colorful and vibrant thanks to its HDR10 support. The Nokia 7.1's design is also subjectively nicer, the battery last longer, and Android One guarantees software updates and security patches down the road.
A battle of displays and software
When I initially reviewed the Nokia 7.1 in November 2018, I called in "one of the best smartphone values available in the U.S." I still completely stand by that statement.
The Nokia 7.1 stands out so much because it really does get almost everything right with no glaring issues. From a hardware perspective, it's better than you'd expect for $350. The aluminum frame, glass back, and overall fit and finish is fantastic. This is a phone that looks and feels like it should cost hundreds of dollars more. That's not to say the Xperia 10's design is bad (the polycarbonate build is actually quite good), but I prefer what Nokia brings to the table.
Another clear win for the Nokia 7.1 is its software package. The phone is currently running Android 9 Pie, and since it's part of the Android One program, it's guaranteed to receive software updates and security patches for a while to come. That level of post-purchase support is still pretty uncommon in this price range and is a huge benefit for the phone. The Xperia 10 also has Android Pie, and while Sony's track record for software updates is better than some OEMs, you don't have that guarantee that you get with Android One.
|Header Cell - Column 0||Nokia 7.1||Xperia 10|
|Operating System||Android 9 Pie|
|Android 9 Pie|
1080 x 2280
1080 x 2502
|Processor||Snapdragon 636||Snapdragon 636|
Expandable up to 400GB
Expandable up to 512GB
|Battery||3,060 mAh||3,000 mah|
|Rear Camera 1||12MP|
|Rear Camera 2||5MP|
Internally, the Nokia 7.1 and Xperia 10 have a lot in common. They use the same processor, both have 4GB of RAM, and share 64GB of storage that can be expanded using a microSD card.
The thing that really sets these two phones apart is their screens.
On the Nokia 7.1, you have a pretty common 5.84-inch LCD display with a 19:9 aspect ratio. The phone is fairly easy to use with one hand, the notch isn't too distracting, and surprisingly supports HDR10. In addition to allowing native HDR videos to play in their vibrant, colorful beauty, the Nokia 7.1 can actually convert SDR videos into HDR in real-time. It's a pretty cool feature and really does help content pop unlike anything else.
The Xperia 10 doesn't have any fancy HDR support, but it still looks pretty good. The quality of the display is actually great for this price, but where the potential deal-breaker lies is with the 21:9 aspect ratio. This makes the Xperia 10 unnaturally tall and narrow, and while this is great for 21:9 video content and fitting more info on the screen at once, it also makes it quite difficult to use at times. Some people may really like the uniqueness of the screen, but for others, it could be reason alone to go for the Nokia 7.1 instead.
A mid-range phone that feels like a flagship
What's not to like about the Nokia 7.1? At first glance, it's a thing of beauty thanks to the shiny glass back, sturdy aluminum frame, and HDR10 display. As you start using the phone, it quickly holds your attention with excellent battery life, a truly great software package, and so much more. It's really amazing the phone costs as little as it does.
The tallest display you'll find in this price range
Although it may not be quite as great of an overall experience compared to the Nokia 7.1, the Xperia 10 still brings a lot to the table for its asking price. The display will either make or break the experience for you depending on if you can get used to a 21:9 screen for daily use. If you can, you'll be treated to a pretty solid handset that really does have a lot to like.
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