Nokia 3 main features
- Slow performance
- Below average screen
While the Nokia 5 offered fairly decent value in the low to mid range the slightly smaller and cheaper Nokia 3 doesn’t quite reach the same standards and you may find yourself asking when does budget become cheap?
Read our full Nokia 3 review
HMD Global, the newly-formed group who resurrected the Nokia name on smartphones and coupled them with Android, fully intended this to be the cheapest in the first three of a new range of Nokia phones, not including the also-resurrected 3310 feature phone. Cheap is the first impression you get with this phone and not in a good way.
Yes, it’s a decent sized 5 inch screen and it sports the same sub-Full HD 720p resolution as it’s more expensive bigger brother, the Nokia 5, on a slightly smaller screen – technically giving it a slightly higher resolution.
It’s a pleasant enough screen and it’s particularly bright with good contrast so you’ll have no problems using it outdoors. It’s also Gorilla Glass 3 protected but on this model colours look a little washed out and inaccurate, and it’s not the best we have seen.
Slowly does it
It also has the same 1.4 GHz speed which we found to be a little underpowered in the 5.2″ Nokia 5 but it also has the less powerful Mali T720 processor which makes a considerable difference, though at least you are paying less for it.
For those who are not in the power user league and don’t spend the whole day on their phones, using them instead for a few calls and messages, a bit of surfing, a few snapshots here and there and so on, it’s perfectly fine. But it is a plodder and if you want to do anything in a hurry it noticeably struggles, particularly downloading apps and photos so anything more heavy duty is really going to find you wanting more power.
Large but lightweight
It’s a phone that looks larger than it actually is thanks to the blocky, squared off look so when you pick it up you will find that it’s surprisingly light. At just under 140 grams it’s unexpected and while that’s not a particularly bad thing, making it easier to handle especially if you’re on a long call, it probably adds to the budget feel of the phone.
In white it’s not so bad but in black, it really looks and feels like cheap plastic, even if it’s sturdy enough. That the control buttons below the screen do not illuminate only adds to the budget feeling. The colour matched metal frame goes some way to countering it, but it’s a million miles away from the more classy looking aluminium bodied Nokia 5.
8 Megapixel cameras
Both secondary and primary – that’s front and rear to you and me – cameras are also pretty basic at 8 megapixels each, and for whatever reason the front camera seems to perform better than the rear one. Both quickly lose any sense of quality as the light begins to drop and even in a reasonably lit room they tend to struggle.
The rear camera does include an LED flash which helps, but apart from autofocus and HDR, which you won’t use because it’s too slow, there’s little else in the way of additional features. It’s a capable outdoor snapshot camera but doesn’t stretch too far beyond that and you won’t be replacing your compact digital with this handset.
There isn’t much else to shout about either. You get an FM radio but the sound is poor, though call quality is fine it has to be said. GPS is included but it’s wildly inaccurate and often dropped its signal on the bright and clear day that we tried it, and the battery is not the largest you will ever see but should get you through the day without anything too powerful on board to tax it heavily.
This will probably sell because it has the Nokia badge, but it’s at times like this you realise it’s just a venture capital type of project leasing the brand name from its parent company. It could almost be any cheap Chinese handset.
Now don’t get me wrong, it’s cheap and cheerful enough for the casual user and it isn’t an out and out bad phone, but it’s slow and uninspiring too. A little extra gets you the Motorola Moto G5 which has a lot more going for it, including a classier more expensive look and solid feel with metal back panel, fingerprint sensor, larger removable battery with fast charging, 13 megapixel camera, better internals and not least a Full HD screen. It costs a little more but is a better phone overall than both the Nokia 3 and Nokia 5 which is even more expensive.
Don’t let nostalgia for Nokia override common sense. Buy the Motorola G5 instead.