Nokia is back! And how! Almost a decade ago, Nokia was the undisputed leader of the smartphone market. But with the advent of Apple and Android smartphones, Nokia slowly became irrelevant and died out, selling its smartphone division to Microsoft. Nokia is now trying to reinvent itself and is using Android as its comeback vehicle. The Nokia 3 is one of the first Android smartphones to be launched by Nokia mobiles.
It is a midrange device and it’s the one with the lowest specifications among the three devices launched. It comes packed with a 5.0” HD screen, Dual SIM support and an almost-stock flavor of Android. It will remain to be seen if the Nokia name can still command the sort of loyalty it did almost a decade ago. The Nokia 3 is available at a price of around Rs. 10,000/- in India. Let us take a closer look at this phone in this review.
The Nokia 3 sports the usual smart phone form-factor, which is just a rectangular slab made of metal or plastic. The back of the Nokia 3 is made of soft-touch polycarbonate plastic which is not removable. The phone is surrounded by a metal frame on all the sides. The back carries the Nokia branding in glossy letters which stand out on the matte background. There is a pill-shaped cut-out for the camera and the flash. The 8.0-megapixel camera sits atop the LED flash in the pill-shaped island which is glossy and again, stands out in the matte background. The front side of the Nokia 3 is dominated by a 5.0” IPS LCD HD display which sports a resolution of 1280 x 720, giving it a pixel density of 294 PPI.
The earpiece sits at the top of the display and is flanked by the proximity and ambient light sensors and the 8.0-megapixel selfie camera. The other side of the earpiece is taken up by Nokia branding. Below the display is the three, standard capacitive Android navigation buttons. Sadly, these are not backlit.
The power button and the volume rocker sit on the right edge of the phone while the memory card tray and the Dual SIM tray are located on the left edge of the phone. The micro-USB charging port and the primary microphone are located on the bottom edge of the phone along with the single loudspeaker. The 3.5mm headphone jack and the secondary noise-cancelling microphone are located on the top edge. The build quality is quite sturdy and typical Nokia. The Nokia 3 stands up rather well to the scrutiny of its design review.
The 5.0” LCD display on the Nokia 3 is an IPS-grade LCD screen. It sports an HD resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels with a pixel density of 294 PPI. The display is bright and colourful. The brightness tops out at 477 nits, which is plenty bright for day-to-day usage. The featured ‘Adaptive Brightness’ is a bit sluggish to respond to changes in light. The screen on the Nokia 3 has a contrast ratio of 1351 which is among the highest in the phones available in this price range. The colours are well-saturated, though not very accurate.
The display has a distinctive greenish-blue tint to it. It scores an average deltaE of 9, with a maximum of 15.1, with full brightness. It scores a middling 2.871 in the ‘Sunlight Contrast Ratio’ benchmark. Overall, the display is nothing to write home about, but neither is it bad. It is just an average display which justifies its inclusion on this phone.
The camera was always a strong point of Nokia’s phones. Not so much here. The Nokia 3 sports a pair of 8.0-megapixel, autofocus f/2.0 shooters. Both these cameras have larger 1.12 µm sized pixels. One of these is a primary camera located on the back side of the phone and it is supported by a LED flash. The other one is a selfie camera with a wide 84° FOV. While these specifications look good on paper, the image quality of the Nokia 3 isn't very good. In fact, it is kind of disappointing. The 8.0-megapixel sensor captures a good amount of detail. That is the only good point of the camera. There’s the constant issue of corner softness where the corners of the image are all soft and sometimes smudged. The noise is also an issue, especially in uniform, single-colour areas. The autofocus on this camera is very inconsistent and often misses the subject.
The exposure controls are so sensitive that the shots either come out under-exposed or over-exposed. This is especially an issue in harsh light conditions. It can capture videos at 720P resolution at 30fps. But real-world usage shows the frame-rate dropping as low as 18 fps. The same goes for the 8.0-megapixel selfie camera. Though it looks great on paper and captures a good amount of details, the autofocus issue makes it a less-than-ideal selfie camera. Though the Nokia 3 sports a pair of high megapixel cameras, they certainly have inconsistency issues which prevent them from being useful in day-to-day shooting and do not make for a very exciting camera package.
The Nokia 3 runs Android 7.0 Nougat right out of the box and is powered by a MediaTek MT6737 quad-core processor running at 1.4GHz which is supported by a single-core Mali-T720MP1 GPU. It features 2GB RAM and 16GB of built-in storage. The storage can be further expanded up to 256GB through the dedicated microSD card slot. The Nokia 3 doesn’t impress with its performance. The UI lags and stutters quite a bit, with animations often slowing down. There are occasional freezes as the CPU tries to keep up with heavy lifting like loading and scrolling heavy web pages, sometimes even while browsing and searching the Play Store. Fortunately, it seems that these all appear to be optimization issues which can be resolved to a greater extent via future updates.
In the GeekBench 4, which is a pure CPU benchmark, the Nokia 3 scores a dismal 1487 in multi-core test and an equally dismal 557 in single-core test. Compare these to the Redmi Note 4 which has scores of 4456 and 1546 in multicore and single-core test respectively. This is a phone which is in the same price-range as the Nokia 3. AnTuTu is a more compound benchmark which takes into account things like RAM, processor speed, and storage speed. The GPU also plays a part in the score. Since the Nokia 3’s GPU has a single core to work with, it really drags down this phone’s performance to score a low 28441. To put things in perspective, the Redmi Note 4 scores 85162 in the same test. In the GFX 3.0 Manhattan benchmark, the Nokia 3 scored a 2.2 in the 1080p offscreen test and 4.5 in the onscreen test; which is second from the last in all the phones in its price range. The Nokia 3’s Basemark X and Basemark X (Medium) scores are 2210 and 4511 respectively. In the Basemark OS II and the Basemark OS 2.0, its scores are 620 and 568 respectively. As seen from the benchmark tests, the Nokia 3 is not a great performer by any standards. But the good news is that almost all these issues can be rectified with software optimizations delivered through future updates. Casual games are playable. But anything that requires processing power struggles due to the older chipset and the single-core CPU.
The audio output of the Nokia 3 is mediocre. It produces a nice clean output and delivers above average loudness when connected with an active external amplifier. But plugging in the earphones degrades the performance across the board and is nothing worth writing home about. All-in-all, the performance review of the Nokia is consistent in its inconsistencies and disappointing, to say the least.
INSIDE THE BOX:
· Nokia 3 Handset
· Charging Adapter
· USB Cable
· SIM Ejector Tool
· User Manuals and Warranty Card
ü 5.0” LCD multi-touch display.
ü Big 2630 mAh Li-Ion non-removable battery.
ü Dedicated memory expansion slot.
ü Runs on Android 7.0 Nougat.
û Underwhelming audio performance.
û Lacks proper software optimization.
û Lags and stutters in daily usage.
Nokia has a high nostalgia value and the Nokia 3 is no doubt looking to cash in on that to drive its sales. It features a great build quality and runs the latest version of Android right out of the box. But, as is obvious in this review, it suffers in the camera, audio and the performance departments. Fortunately, most of these setbacks are a result of improper optimization of software which is easily rectifiable through future software updates. But as things currently stand, only the die-hard Nokia fans and loyalists will even think about spending money on this phone.
· Performance: 3 Stars.
· Value for Money: 3 Stars.