• The Nokia 3.1 Plus, complete with huge Nokia and Cricket logos. [credit:
    HMD ]

If you’re looking for a bargain on a smartphone, HMD’s Nokia lineup is one of the best and most unique in the industry. For 2019, the Finnish smartphone company says a North American expansion will be a big focus, and today, for the first time, it’s announcing carrier deals for a few low-end models. Cricket is getting the Nokia 3.1 Plus, Verizon is getting the Nokia 2.1, and in Canada, Rogers will begin to carry an undisclosed Nokia phone.

Cricket Wireless, an AT&T MVNO, is getting the Nokia 3.1 Plus (pictured above), which is definitely the most impressive of the two phones. For just a $160, you get a fairly modern-looking smartphone design. The 3.1 Plus comes with a 6-inch, 1440×720, 18:9 LCD, a rear fingerprint reader, a dual rear camera system, and Android 9 Pie with two years of updates.

This is the first time the Nokia 3.1 Plus has come to the US, and interestingly, the trip to America also required a swap in the SoC. The international version uses a MediaTek Helio P22 SoC, but the American version switches to a Qualcomm Snapdragon 439 SoC. Both chips have eight 2GHz ARM Cortex A53 CPUs and are built on a 12nm manufacturing process, so there should not be a huge difference. Why bother making the switch, though? You’ve got to wonder if a move like this is driven by Qualcomm’s allegedly unfair patent licensing.

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