★★★★★ £130 • From­phoneware­

Computer Shopper - - RANTS & RAVES -


Nokia’s first bud­get An­droid phone is a de­cent first ef­fort, but a hand­ful of nig­gles hold it back

IN 2014, NOKIA left the smart­phone arena. Af­ter years of pro­duc­ing great phones, the once-dom­i­nant mo­bile firm had let it all slip through its fin­gers, sell­ing up to Mi­crosoft af­ter a dis­as­trous few years as the only big firm mak­ing Win­dow Phone hand­sets.

Now, how­ever, Nokia is back. Not only is there the Nokia 3310 re­make (Shop­per 355) on the fea­ture phone side, but there’s also a new range of true smart­phones, pow­ered by An­droid. The sim­ply named Nokia 3 is the cheap­est of th­ese de­vices, com­ing be­low the only slightly pricier Nokia 5 and Nokia 6.

Aimed at those less able to jus­tify spend­ing top dol­lar on a smart­phone, its spec­i­fi­ca­tions are hardly in­dus­try-lead­ing. There’s a 5in, 720p IPS dis­play, 16GB of in­ter­nal stor­age, a quad-core processor paired with 2GB of RAM, 8-megapixel front and rear cam­eras and sup­port for ex­pand­able stor­age up to an ad­di­tional 128GB via mi­croSD.

The Nokia 3 is cheap, at £130, and un­der­cuts much of the com­pe­ti­tion from other big brands. Mo­torola’s Moto G5 (Shop­per 353), for in­stance, costs £165; Sam­sung’s Galaxy J5 is £169. There’s also our cur­rent favourite to con­tend with: Len­ovo’s long-last­ing P2 (Shop­per 352), at a pricier £180 or so. Its clos­est com­pe­ti­tion prob­a­bly comes from the 2016 Moto G4 (Shop­per 353), which you can pick up for £140 th­ese days.


De­spite the three-year ab­sence, the 3 is very much a Nokia de­sign. In fact, the Nokia 3 adopts a sim­i­lar look and feel to the Lu­mia phones of old, with metal edg­ing sur­round­ing a matt-fin­ish poly­car­bon­ate rear panel and a hand­some screen up front. Nokia’s logo is sub­tly etched into the back, be­neath the soli­tary rear camera at the top.

It’s also nice and pock­etable, weigh­ing a dinky 140g and mea­sur­ing a slim 7.5mm. Throw in a 3.5mm head­phone jack and mi­croSD slot, and you have a hand­set that’s both at­trac­tive and prac­ti­cal. Don’t ex­pect USB Type-C and fast-charg­ing, though, nor any kind of dust- or wa­ter-re­sis­tance.

The Nokia 3’s 5in dis­play is unin­spir­ing at first. It’s only 720p, a far cry from the Full HD of­fer­ings on the Moto G5 and G4. You’ll only see the dif­fer­ence if you look closely, though, and in most ar­eas it’s a fine dis­play. A con­trast ra­tio of 1,119:1 en­sures the on­screen im­age is punchy, and it’s read­able in bright sun­light, too, thanks to a max­i­mum bright­ness of 473cd/m2, a po­lar­is­ing layer to cut glare and the fact that the glass is fully lam­i­nated to the LCD be­neath.

Its colour per­for­mance is what drags it down. Spend five min­utes with it and you’ll spot some off-look­ing colours, with reds in par­tic­u­lar look­ing aw­fully muddy. A high delta-E mea­sure­ment of 4.04 (scores of be­tween 0 and 2 are ideal) af­firms this, and the end re­sult is a screen with strangelook­ing colours across the board.


The core com­po­nents aren’t par­tic­u­larly im­pres­sive, ei­ther, with a quad-core 1.4GHz Me­di­aTek MT6737 processor paired with just 2GB of RAM. Per­for­mance in the Geekbench bench­marks wasn’t im­pres­sive – its mul­ti­core score of 1,559 is well be­low its sim­i­larly priced com­peti­tors, and its sin­gle-core score of 563 is only av­er­age at best. Even the age­ing Moto G4 out­paces it.

In prac­tice, nav­i­gat­ing apps and menus wasn’t tax­ing, but pan­ning and zoom­ing around Google Maps was slug­gish at times.

Like­wise, gam­ing per­for­mance isn’t up to much. While sim­ple games such as Threes! posed no prob­lem, more ac­tion-heavy ti­tles will pro­vide a stiff chal­lenge. In the GFXBench Man­hat­tan 3 test, the Nokia 3 re­turned an av­er­age frame rate of 2fps – the same as the Galaxy J5 and be­hind the Moto G4.

Bat­tery life isn’t too bad, but as is the case with gen­eral speed, the Nokia 3 still trails be­hind. Last­ing 10h 40m in our con­tin­u­ous video play­back test, it will sur­vive a day on a sin­gle charge pro­vided you’re a lit­tle con­ser­va­tive, but again it’s worth spend­ing a touch more to get bet­ter longevity.

Bud­get smart­phones typ­i­cally fall flat when it comes to the camera, and the Nokia 3 is no ex­cep­tion. The 8-megapixel, f/2.0 rear camera has very lit­tle go­ing for it: there’s no laser or phasede­tec­tion aut­o­fo­cus, no im­age sta­bil­i­sa­tion, and video can only be shot at 720p.

Per­for­mance is as you might ex­pect. Low-light shots are bland, lack­ing both vi­brancy and de­tail, with some very washe­d­out im­ages. Shots in good light didn’t fare much bet­ter, with over­ex­posed high­lights and a gen­eral lack of de­tail through­out. It’s typ­i­cal bud­get smart­phone fare, but as Mo­torola has proved over the past few years, you shouldn’t have to put up with that.


Nokia’s first stab at a bud­get An­droid smart­phone is de­cent enough, but it doesn’t bring any­thing note­wor­thy to the ta­ble. It’s a looker, sure, and its dis­play is pass­able in cer­tain re­gards, but else­where it’s dis­ap­point­ing. Per­for­mance is be­low par, bat­tery life is rel­a­tively short and the camera isn’t up to scratch.

Ad­mit­tedly, there isn’t much di­rect com­pe­ti­tion at £130, aside per­haps from the 2016 Moto G4. But, as long as you don’t mind buy­ing a gen­er­a­tion-old phone, the Moto is the bet­ter choice. It has a big­ger, higher-res­o­lu­tion screen, faster per­for­mance, a bet­ter camera and su­pe­rior bat­tery life.

Nathan Spendelow

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