Nokia 3, 5 & 6



WITH THE EX­CEP­TION of our youngest read­ers, it’s prob­a­bly safe to say that most of you will have owned a Nokia hand­set at one point in your life — the Fin­nish brand was syn­ony­mous with mo­bile phones through­out the ‘90s and most of the ‘00s. That all changed with the ar­rival of the iPhone, how­ever, and af­ter the colos­sal fail­ure of Mi­cro­soft’s ac­qui­si­tion of the com­pany in 2014, it ap­peared that Nokia’s time in the phone busi­ness was well and truly over.

How­ever, while the phone arm of the orig­i­nal Nokia cor­po­ra­tion may no longer ex­ist, the brand does live on through HMD Global, a Fin­land-based com­pany made up of key staff from Nokia’s past, and founded by 17-year Nokia vet­eran Arto Num­mela. Now, with the Win­dows Phone plat­form thank­fully in its rearview, Nokia has kicked off its re­turn with three sep­a­rate hand­sets for the bud­get mar­ket, each run­ning a stock ver­sion of An­droid. [Ed’s note: The com­pany’s skipped the Nokia 4, as the pro­nun­ci­a­tion of ‘four’ in Man­darin and Can­tonese sounds like the word ‘death’.]

Beau­ti­fully crafted and hit­ting some im­pres­sively-af­ford­able price points, will these phones live up to your fond Nokia mem­o­ries?


We wanted to like the Nokia 3 so badly when we opened its box. The most bud­get of the three new bud­get brothers from Nokia looks and feels like a phone well out­side its price range. Apart from rest­ing a lit­tle too lightly in the hand, the over­all feel of the hand­set is de­cep­tively pre­mium. The squared sil­hou­ette with rounded alu­minium edges is strik­ing and even the matte poly­car­bon­ate back is sur­pris­ingly un-tacky. Un­for­tu­nately, most of the praise stops there.

While we un­der­stand that $249 is a low price for a smart­phone, you can grab the (al­beit uglier) Mo­torola Moto G5 for the same price and it im­proves on al­most ev­ery as­pect of the Nokia 3, of­ten con­sid­er­ably. In fact, based on our bench­mark­ing, Mo­torola’s pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion of bud­get phone, the Moto G4 Play, edged out the Nokia 3 on ev­ery CPU and bat­tery-life bench­mark we ran, and only lagged be­hind in the GPU tests by a small mar­gin. Although the Nokia comes with a stock An­droid OS (7.0), it runs a lit­tle slug­gishly from the get-go, even with the sim­pler Google Suite apps. This doesn’t bode well for users that hope to have a speedy phone in a few months time.

Sadly, de­spite the weaker pro­ces­sor and 720p dis­play res­o­lu­tion, the bat­tery life doesn’t stack up against other phones in the bud­get range — this is usu­ally one of the ma­jor boons of bud­get and mid-range de­vices that don’t need ex­ces­sive pro­cess­ing power. The cam­era is ser­vice­able but noth­ing flash, the ab­sence of a fin­ger­print scan­ner is dis­ap­point­ing, and the dis­play is a lit­tle dull.

The phone is fine for the price, but it’s dif­fi­cult to rec­om­mend the Nokia 3 over its com­pe­ti­tion, in par­tic­u­lar the Moto G5, un­less you’re re­ally keen on its aes­thetic. If you’re will­ing to spend a lit­tle more, the next model up in the se­ries, the Nokia 5, may be worth the ex­tra dosh, or the Moto G5 Plus.


Sit­ting squarely in the mid­dle of the new range, the dan­ger­ous temp­ta­tion with the Nokia 5 is to ei­ther drop down to the cheaper op­tion, or spend a lit­tle more to get some­thing

flashier. And just on its looks alone, the 5 makes a strong case that you should drop that ex­tra $70 and opt for the far-more stylish 6. While both hand­sets ben­e­fit from an alu­minium uni­body frame, the 5’s rounded edges and thick bezel make it a very sim­ple, plain af­fair. When you look at the specs, you might think you’d be bet­ter off sav­ing some money and opt­ing for the en­try-level 3.

Nokia’s in­ten­tional plain ethos means you get a bare-bones An­droid op­er­at­ing sys­tem, com­mon across all three units. HMD Global, the man­u­fac­turer, has said it’s to en­sure the phones run to the best of their abil­i­ties, and have com­mit­ted to pro­vid­ing day-one up­dates for the next two years. It makes sense to keep the OS as stream­lined as pos­si­ble, as the in­ter­nals have been sourced and built to be lean — and, we sus­pect, to hit that at­trac­tive price point. Un­clut­tered by any ad­di­tional firmware, the OS runs smoothly, though it def­i­nitely lags when flick­ing be­tween apps and, as we noted else­where, means it’s lack­ing a cer­tain per­son­al­ity.

On the out­side and in, the 5 shares a lot with the 6. There’s a welcome fin­ger­print sen­sor on the lower part of the bezel, a 13MP rear cam­era that pro­duces fair images in bright sun­light. Be­hind the bright and clear 5.2-inch screen is the same, slightly wheez­ing pro­ces­sor. You only get 2GB of RAM here, which hurts. There’s also just that mo­men­tary pause, an oc­ca­sional stut­ter that’s ini­tially wor­ry­ing and in­fu­ri­at­ing — es­pe­cially when wak­ing the phone from its sleep state — though you’ll soon live with it. Our bench­mark­ing tests re­veal this is ca­pa­ble for ev­ery­day tasks, like bank­ing and a few photos. It’s about what we’d ex­pect for the price, and if you’re new to smart­phones, this could well be your per­fect in­tro­duc­tion. There’s noth­ing com­pli­cated, and you get the lux­ury of a fin­ger­print scan­ner.

On­board stor­age is tech­ni­cally 16GB, but a dis­pleas­ing 7.22GB of that is used by the sys­tem. You can add up to a 128GB mi­croSD card to help — which we’d highly rec­om­mend — but our ul­ti­mate rec­om­men­da­tion here is to go for the Nokia 6.


Apart from its rather stylish de­sign, with its smooth back, sat­is­fy­ingly sharp edges and me­tal uni­body, the Nokia 6 of­fers a fairly stan­dard An­droid phone ex­pe­ri­ence. Logo and boot-up screen aside, you’d be hard-pressed to know from use that this is in­deed a Nokia phone, with it run­ning an al­most com­pletely stock ver­sion of An­droid 7.0 Nougat and avoiding any bells or whis­tles in the process.

While many phone en­thu­si­asts are quick to be­stow praise upon the virtues of Google’s “Pure An­droid” de­scrip­tor, there’s some­thing to be said about the ex­tra per­son­al­i­sa­tion op­tions and touches that a cus­tomised phone UI can add to a user’s phone ex­pe­ri­ence. Take this stuff away and a de­vice lacks char­ac­ter and per­son­al­ity, some­thing that the Nokia of old had in abun­dance dur­ing its hey­day. This stripped-down ap­proach leaves the Nokia 6 feel­ing ser­vice­able, if en­tirely un­re­mark­able. Hell, we’d even set­tle for a pre-in­stalled ver­sion of Snake if it meant get­ting a bit of that old Nokia charm back. Ad­mit­tedly, you could al­ways opt to in­stall Nokia’s own Z Launcher from a few years back, which is still avail­able on the Google Play Store — it won’t make the phone’s bare­bones set­tings any deeper, but it will give the hand­set an un­de­ni­able Nokia feel.

De­spite an all-round lack in per­son­al­ity out of the box, the Nokia 6 has a de­cent, al­beit slow cam­era that uses aut­o­fo­cus to take some rea­son­ably good pic­tures. We were also im­pressed by the sharp­ness, clar­ity and colour re­pro­duc­tion of its 5.5-inch 1080p dis­play, some­thing that few phones can boast within this price range. Don’t ex­pect much in terms of per­for­mance, how­ever, with its dated Snap­dragon 430 pro­ces­sor and Adreno 505 GPU de­liv­er­ing some mid­dling Geek­bench 4 scores, re­turn­ing a sin­gle-core score of 638 and a multi-core score of 2,697 — not even its 3GB of RAM could do much to as­suage that re­sult.

That said, the type of user that the Nokia 6 is aimed at prob­a­bly isn’t all that con­cerned about per­for­mance, and the phone does have its share of pos­i­tives that will make it de­sir­able to the value-minded in­di­vid­ual. We like that its 32GB of on­board stor­age can be ex­panded by an ex­tra 256GB via the phone’s mi­croSD slot, and its front-fac­ing fin­ger­print scan­ner is fast and re­li­able, giv­ing the de­vice even more of a flag­ship feel in the hand.

The Nokia 6 is nicely priced with an even nicer de­sign, we just hope the up­com­ing Nokia 8 flag­ship does more to dis­tin­guish it­self from the pack.

NOKIA 3 $249 31/ 2 NOKIA 5 $329 CRIT­I­CAL SPECS An­droid 7.1.1; 5.2-inch IPS LCD dis­play @ 720p (282ppi); Snap­dragon 430; Adreno 505; 3GB RAM; 32GB in­ter­nal stor­age (mi­croSD card up to 256GB); 16MP rear, 8MP front cam­era; 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi; mi­croUSB 2.0 port; 3,000mAh bat­tery; 149.7 x 72.5 x 8mm; 160g CRIT­I­CAL SPECS An­droid 7.0; 5.0-inch IPS LCD dis­play @ 720p (294ppi); Me­di­atek MT6737 quad-core; Mali-T720MP1; 2GB RAM; 16GB in­ter­nal stor­age (mi­croSD card up to 128GB); 8MP rear, 8MP front cam­era; 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi; mi­croUSB 2.0 port; 2,630mAh bat­tery; 143.4 x 71.4 x 8.5mm; 140g 21/ 2

31/ 2 NOKIA 6 $399 CRIT­I­CAL SPECS An­droid 7.1.1; 5.5-inch IPS LCD dis­play @ 1080p (403ppi); MSM8937 Snap­dragon 430 octa-core; Adreno 505; 3GB RAM; 32GB in­ter­nal stor­age (mi­croSD card up to 256GB); 16MP rear, 8MP front cam­era; 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi; mi­croUSB 2.0 port; 3,000mAh bat­tery; 154 x 75.8 x 7.9 mm; 169g

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