Review: Nokia 7.1 and Oppo R17 Pro

Oppo phone

After a new phone for the festive season but can't afford those eyewateringly high flagship prices? We've had a play with two new phones out this month that fall at each end of the mid-range spectrum. Of course, you'll still need a wad of hundred-dollar bills, but at least you might come away with some change.

Nokia 7.1

Nokia phones can make even the most hardened of hearts feel nostalgic, but there's nothing old fashioned about the devices it now makes. Spark's ongoing partnership with Finnish firm HMD Global (which revived the Nokia brand) means we can now get our hands on the Nokia 7.1. It's the latest in the range and there's actually plenty to like about it.

Upsides

It's an Android One phone, which means stock Android and no horrid bloatware. It'll get three years of monthly security patches and two years of OS updates.

Nokiaphone

The LCD screen is 5.84 inches with a 19:9 aspect ratio, which makes it easy to hold and use in my hand.

I've also been impressed at how good it is to watch movies on. The screen supports HDR10 which means wide colour support and stronger contrast when watching HDR-supported content. It also automatically concerts standard definition content into HDR.

Camera-wise it's not too shabby either. It's a dual set-up with 12MP main sensor with f/1.8 aperture and Zeiss optics. The 5MP secondary sensor is for depth sensing. The phone performs well in most lighting conditions.

Downsides

The battery life is only okay.  The device isn't waterproof and there's no wireless charging. The design is also fairly ordinary and there's no in-screen fingerprint scanner. Although it's nice to see the aluminium edges are curved, which gives it a classier look.

Cost

It's available from Spark for $599 outright or on a plan and comes in a gloss steel colour.

Oppo phone

OPPO R17 Pro
 

Another contender for the mid-tier crown is the latest device from Chinese manufacturer Oppo.  It's twice the price of the Nokia 7.1, but slightly flashier in the features department.

Upsides

It's very pretty to look at with nicely curved edges.

It features a triple-camera setup. The camera has a variable aperture 12MP lens, similar to the Samsung Galaxy S9 and a second 20MP lens to allow for portrait mode shots and zoom. There's a smart aperture mode which changes aperture automatically according to light conditions and it also uses AI tech to get the best results in low light.

There's also a third 3D capable camera which measures the distance between the photographer and the subject. It also allows you to you use the phone as a game console and connect it to your TV.

Like the Find X which was also recently launched, it's capable of charging up to 40 percent in just 10 minutes.

There's also an in-screen fingerprint reader.

Downsides

Again, no wireless charging despite the glass back and no official waterproof rating either.

With the built-in AI it does allow for good night shots, but you need to keep still as the night more takes in long exposure and any wiggling ends up a in blur.

The beauty mode software that comes with the 25MP selfie camera is over the top.

The Android skin is based on Oreo 8.1 but full of changes. There's no app drawer and apps are spread across multiple screens.

Cost

At the higher end of midrange. It's available from retailers and 2degrees with a recommended retail price of $999.

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