Nokia 3 Review

Introduction


Nokia is back in town. A new company, HMD Global, has taken ownership of the popular brand and has big plans for the future, including a flagship _phone_ with top specs.

But even before that anticipated flagship, the new Nokia is back with a few affordable phones and we have its cheapest Android smartphone up for review: the Nokia 3.

Nokia 3 Review
Why is this _phone_ different than all the other cheap phones out there? For starters, Nokia commits to a clean, clutter-free Android user experience, and that’s important. The Nokia 3 runs on Android 7.0 Nougat, it features a sleek, recognizable design, 4G LTE connectivity and is priced to sell. But then, it also takes a few shortcuts that are hard to forgive, even on a dirt cheap phone: there is no fingerprint scanner, for instance.

We look at the Nokia 3 in detail to find out whether this new cheap Android phone can make a difference in a crowded space. Read on.

In the box:

  • Phone
  • Wall charger (5V, 1A)
  • microUSB Cable
  • Earbuds
  • SIM ejector tool
  • User manual

Design

It’s a looker.

Nokia 3 Review
Nokia 3 Review
Nokia 3 Review
Nokia 3 Review

If you had handed us a Nokia 3 a couple of years ago and never turned the screen on, we would have said that it looks just like another Nokia Windows Phone. It definitely carries that legacy look. That’s not a bad thing at all: quite the contrary, it lacks the rounded corners of most modern phones, and is instead much more rectangular. The frame is made out of metal and feels premium, while the back cover is plastic, but it blends well with the frame and looks good. As an added bonus, it does not get smudged with fingerprints easily.

Nokia 3 Review
Nokia 3 Review
The Nokia 3 is 0.33-inch (8.5mm) thick, but feels thinner and sleeker because of its rounded sides.

Up front, you have the Nokia logo discreetly located in the upper right corner, while in the bottom part are the three Android navigation capacitive keys. What’s missing is a backlight for those keys, plus there is no LED notification light.

The most notable missing feature, though, is a fingerprint scanner. It feels weird having a phone without a proper fingerprint reader in 2017, a feature that by now is available on many other cheap Android phones.

On the very bottom, you have a microUSB port for charging the Nokia 3. No USB-C here, but most other phones in this price range don’t have it either.

Finally, the Nokia 3 is also a dual SIM phone that also supports microSD cards. You have a two-slot tray for the SIM cards, and a separate one for microSD cards, all on the left side of the phone.

This phone is not water-protected in any special way, so keep that in mind.

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Front view | Side view
Nokia 3
Nokia 3
5.65 x 2.81 x 0.33 inches
143.4 x 71.4 x 8.48 mm
oz (0 g)

Nokia 3

Motorola Moto G5 Plus
Motorola Moto G5 Plus
5.91 x 2.91 x 0.38 inches
150.2 x 74 x 9.7 mm
5.47 oz (155 g)

Motorola Moto G5 Plus

Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)
5.33 x 2.61 x 0.31 inches
135.4 x 66.2 x 7.9 mm
4.87 oz (138 g)

Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)

Samsung Galaxy J5 (2016)
Samsung Galaxy J5 (2016)
5.74 x 2.85 x 0.32 inches
145.8 x 72.3 x 8.1 mm
5.57 oz (158 g)

Samsung Galaxy J5 (2016)




Display

I'm blue da ba dee da ba daa.

Nokia 3 Review

There is a 5-inch HD (720 x 1280 pixel) IPS LCD display on the Nokia 3.

The first thing you notice in the specs table is the low resolution, but that’s not our biggest gripe with this screen. The low resolution is noticeable: there is a slight pixelization, especially noticeable when you look at text, but what’s worse is that colors on the screen look very skewed and inaccurate. White appears very bluish, and colors are just all over the place, not balanced at all. This is one of the worst displays in terms of color reproduction that we have seen in a long while.

There are a few good things about it, though: 10-point multi-touch and proper oleophobic coating are two features that are well executed here and - believe it or not - are not standard on affordable phones just yet.

The screen gets bright, reaching peak brightness of 485 nits, but it is terribly reflective, which makes it harder to use outdoors. Software features like a blue light filter are not present (there are third party apps for that, though), and the minimum brightness goes only down to 20 nits, which is still way too bright for our eyes at night.

Display measurements and quality

Maximum brightness (nits)Higher is better Minimum brightness (nits)Lower is better Contrast Higher is better Color temperature (Kelvins) Gamma Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Nokia 3 485
(Good)
20
(Poor)
1:2175
(Excellent)
8961
(Poor)
2.09
7.31
(Average)
8.5
(Poor)
Motorola Moto G5 Plus 581
(Excellent)
6
(Good)
1:1274
(Excellent)
7989
(Average)
2.21
6.07
(Average)
6.79
(Average)
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) 440
(Good)
1
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
6826
(Excellent)
2.01
2.4
(Good)
6.49
(Average)
Samsung Galaxy J5 (2016) 300
(Average)
3
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
6746
(Excellent)
1.98
3.35
(Good)
6.41
(Average)
View all

The CIE 1931 xy color gamut chart represents the set (area) of colors that a display can reproduce, with the sRGB colorspace (the highlighted triangle) serving as reference. The chart also provides a visual representation of a display's color accuracy. The small squares across the boundaries of the triangle are the reference points for the various colors, while the small dots are the actual measurements. Ideally, each dot should be positioned on top of its respective square. The 'x: CIE31' and 'y: CIE31' values in the table below the chart indicate the position of each measurement on the chart. 'Y' shows the luminance (in nits) of each measured color, while 'Target Y' is the desired luminance level for that color. Finally, 'ΔE 2000' is the Delta E value of the measured color. Delta E values of below 2 are ideal.

These measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Color accuracy chart gives an idea of how close a display's measured colors are to their referential values. The first line holds the measured (actual) colors, while the second line holds the reference (target) colors. The closer the actual colors are to the target ones, the better.

These measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Grayscale accuracy chart shows whether a display has a correct white balance (balance between red, green and blue) across different levels of grey (from dark to bright). The closer the Actual colors are to the Target ones, the better.

These measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

View all


Nokia 3 Review

Introduction


Nokia is back in town. A new company, HMD Global, has taken ownership of the popular brand and has big plans for the future, including a flagship phone with top specs.

But even before that anticipated flagship, the new Nokia is back with a few affordable phones and we have its cheapest Android smartphone up for review: the Nokia 3.

Nokia 3 Review
Why is this phone different than all the other cheap phones out there? For starters, Nokia commits to a clean, clutter-free Android user experience, and that’s important. The Nokia 3 runs on Android 7.0 Nougat, it features a sleek, recognizable design, 4G LTE connectivity and is priced to sell. But then, it also takes a few shortcuts that are hard to forgive, even on a dirt cheap phone: there is no fingerprint scanner, for instance.

We look at the Nokia 3 in detail to find out whether this new cheap Android phone can make a difference in a crowded space. Read on.

In the box:

  • Phone
  • Wall charger (5V, 1A)
  • microUSB Cable
  • Earbuds
  • SIM ejector tool
  • User manual

Design

It’s a looker.

Nokia 3 Review
Nokia 3 Review
Nokia 3 Review
Nokia 3 Review

If you had handed us a Nokia 3 a couple of years ago and never turned the screen on, we would have said that it looks just like another Nokia Windows Phone. It definitely carries that legacy look. That’s not a bad thing at all: quite the contrary, it lacks the rounded corners of most modern phones, and is instead much more rectangular. The frame is made out of metal and feels premium, while the back cover is plastic, but it blends well with the frame and looks good. As an added bonus, it does not get smudged with fingerprints easily.

Nokia 3 Review
Nokia 3 Review
The Nokia 3 is 0.33-inch (8.5mm) thick, but feels thinner and sleeker because of its rounded sides.

Up front, you have the Nokia logo discreetly located in the upper right corner, while in the bottom part are the three Android navigation capacitive keys. What’s missing is a backlight for those keys, plus there is no LED notification light.

The most notable missing feature, though, is a fingerprint scanner. It feels weird having a phone without a proper fingerprint reader in 2017, a feature that by now is available on many other cheap Android phones.

On the very bottom, you have a microUSB port for charging the Nokia 3. No USB-C here, but most other phones in this price range don’t have it either.

Finally, the Nokia 3 is also a dual SIM phone that also supports microSD cards. You have a two-slot tray for the SIM cards, and a separate one for microSD cards, all on the left side of the phone.

This phone is not water-protected in any special way, so keep that in mind.

Front view | Side view
Nokia 3
Nokia 3
5.65 x 2.81 x 0.33 inches
143.4 x 71.4 x 8.48 mm
oz (0 g)

Nokia 3

Motorola Moto G5 Plus
Motorola Moto G5 Plus
5.91 x 2.91 x 0.38 inches
150.2 x 74 x 9.7 mm
5.47 oz (155 g)

Motorola Moto G5 Plus

Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)
5.33 x 2.61 x 0.31 inches
135.4 x 66.2 x 7.9 mm
4.87 oz (138 g)

Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)

Samsung Galaxy J5 (2016)
Samsung Galaxy J5 (2016)
5.74 x 2.85 x 0.32 inches
145.8 x 72.3 x 8.1 mm
5.57 oz (158 g)

Samsung Galaxy J5 (2016)




Display

I'm blue da ba dee da ba daa.

Nokia 3 Review

There is a 5-inch HD (720 x 1280 pixel) IPS LCD display on the Nokia 3.

The first thing you notice in the specs table is the low resolution, but that’s not our biggest gripe with this screen. The low resolution is noticeable: there is a slight pixelization, especially noticeable when you look at text, but what’s worse is that colors on the screen look very skewed and inaccurate. White appears very bluish, and colors are just all over the place, not balanced at all. This is one of the worst displays in terms of color reproduction that we have seen in a long while.

There are a few good things about it, though: 10-point multi-touch and proper oleophobic coating are two features that are well executed here and - believe it or not - are not standard on affordable phones just yet.

The screen gets bright, reaching peak brightness of 485 nits, but it is terribly reflective, which makes it harder to use outdoors. Software features like a blue light filter are not present (there are third party apps for that, though), and the minimum brightness goes only down to 20 nits, which is still way too bright for our eyes at night.

Display measurements and quality

Maximum brightness (nits)Higher is better Minimum brightness (nits)Lower is better Contrast Higher is better Color temperature (Kelvins) Gamma Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Nokia 3 485
(Good)
20
(Poor)
1:2175
(Excellent)
8961
(Poor)
2.09
7.31
(Average)
8.5
(Poor)
Motorola Moto G5 Plus 581
(Excellent)
6
(Good)
1:1274
(Excellent)
7989
(Average)
2.21
6.07
(Average)
6.79
(Average)
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) 440
(Good)
1
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
6826
(Excellent)
2.01
2.4
(Good)
6.49
(Average)
Samsung Galaxy J5 (2016) 300
(Average)
3
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
6746
(Excellent)
1.98
3.35
(Good)
6.41
(Average)
View all

The CIE 1931 xy color gamut chart represents the set (area) of colors that a display can reproduce, with the sRGB colorspace (the highlighted triangle) serving as reference. The chart also provides a visual representation of a display's color accuracy. The small squares across the boundaries of the triangle are the reference points for the various colors, while the small dots are the actual measurements. Ideally, each dot should be positioned on top of its respective square. The 'x: CIE31' and 'y: CIE31' values in the table below the chart indicate the position of each measurement on the chart. 'Y' shows the luminance (in nits) of each measured color, while 'Target Y' is the desired luminance level for that color. Finally, 'ΔE 2000' is the Delta E value of the measured color. Delta E values of below 2 are ideal.

These measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Color accuracy chart gives an idea of how close a display's measured colors are to their referential values. The first line holds the measured (actual) colors, while the second line holds the reference (target) colors. The closer the actual colors are to the target ones, the better.

These measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Grayscale accuracy chart shows whether a display has a correct white balance (balance between red, green and blue) across different levels of grey (from dark to bright). The closer the Actual colors are to the Target ones, the better.

These measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

View all


Interface and Functionality

Android 7.0 Nougat. Clean, clutter-free. Also, stuttery.

Nokia 3 Review

The Nokia 3 is as clean of an Android experience as they get: there is no bloatware, but not much to get excited about either.

We like the fact that there are no duplicate apps: Google apps are taking over on this phone. As a gallery, you have the excellent Google Photos; for calendar you have Google’s great Calendar app; the default browser is Chrome and the email client is Gmail.

There is also an FM Radio receiver that you can use when you plug in headphones or an external speaker to the phone.

In real-life use, using Facebook on this phone is frustrating. We have seen Facebook bugs and performance issues on multiple Android phones recently, but here the app simply freezes upon opening photo galleries and scrolling the news feed is particularly stuttery.

The keyboard is the stock Android one, but it has a long vibration with every click that does more to frustrate than to help you with typing.

Processor, Performance and Memory

Not powerful enough.

One of the areas, where it really shows that the Nokia 3 is an affordable phone is performance. The phone runs on a MediaTek MT6737 entry-level 28nm quad-core chip, and it’s got 2GB of RAM. And this combination is just not good enough in the daily grind.

Navigating around the home screen and first-party apps actually happens fairly smoothly, but once you get to use third-party apps, you notice the phone slowing down significantly.

The other shortcut that Nokia takes with the 3 is storage. You only have 16GB of storage on board, which is definitely on the low side. Of those 16 gigs, more than 9 gigs are used by the system, so you only have around 7GB for your apps, photos, videos and music. Luckily, you do have a microSD card option and we recommend you use it to get some extra storage.

Performance benchmarks

AnTuTu
Higher is better
Nokia 3 27838
Motorola Moto G5 Plus 63191
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) 45938
Samsung Galaxy J5 (2016) 28513
JetStream
Higher is better
Nokia 3 13.626
Motorola Moto G5 Plus 29.879
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) 23.803
Samsung Galaxy J5 (2016) 17.261
GFXBench T-Rex HD on-screen
Higher is better
Nokia 3 10
Motorola Moto G5 Plus 23
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) 19
Samsung Galaxy J5 (2016) 9.33
GFXBench Manhattan on-screen
Higher is better
Nokia 3 3.2
Motorola Moto G5 Plus 6.9
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) 7.3
Samsung Galaxy J5 (2016) 3.9
Basemark OS II
Higher is better
Nokia 3 548
Motorola Moto G5 Plus 375
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) 993
Samsung Galaxy J5 (2016) 555.66
Geekbench 4 single-core
Higher is better
Nokia 3 533
Motorola Moto G5 Plus 783
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) 674.33
Geekbench 4 multi-core
Higher is better
Nokia 3 1417
Motorola Moto G5 Plus 3586
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) 3224
View all

Internet and Connectivity

A dual SIM phone with 4G LTE connectivity.

The Nokia 3 ships with Google’s mobile Chrome on board as its default and only browser.

Google Chrome is on board - Nokia 3 Review
Google Chrome is on board - Nokia 3 Review

Google Chrome is on board

Chrome, however, seems to be a bit too resource-heavy for this phone as it stutters, especially when you have more than one page open.

The phone also supports 4G LTE connectivity with the following bands on board: FDD-LTE bands 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 20, 28 and TDD-LTE bands 38 and 40. Unlike its more powerful sibling, the Nokia 6, this here Nokia 3 is not officially sold in the United States, and if it ever gets sold in the US it will need a new set of LTE bands with proper coverage.

Then, the Nokia 3 is also a Dual SIM phone, something important for many people. In terms of other connectivity options, you also have Wi-Fi b/g/n, Bluetooth and NFC.

Camera

Slow camera that captures very decent looking photos, but comes crashing down in video.

Nokia 3 Review
Camera interface - Nokia 3 Review
Camera interface - Nokia 3 Review

Camera interface


The phone comes equipped with an 8-megapixel main camera with f/2.0 aperture, and up front you have another 8-megapixel shooter.

You can double click on the power/lock key to get directly to the camera app, which is a useful shortcut. The camera app itself looks decidedly outdated, slow and with some weird buttons. At first, we even had trouble figuring out how to record a video in it! First, you have two camera shutter keys next to each other. The smaller one actually does not act as a shutter: it shows you the two other shooting modes: beautify and panorama. Tap on the video button below and you see a weird and large 1x, 2x, and 3x buttons. Those are to speed up the video, but this is a niche setting that should not be right there in the main window, as it does more to confuse than to help.

Image Quality

So how do images turn out?

First, this camera is slow to focus and you will miss a lot of moments with it. If you get focus, images are actually good for this class of a phone (but far from great): colors look fine, and while some fine detail is missing and you get some burned highlights, overall the quality is definitely good. You also have the option to tap to focus or change the exposure, but we don’t recommend trying this as it completely messes up exposure and color.

The front camera is decent, but nothing to write home about. It’s hard to nail focus with it. When you do, though, you get fairly good results.


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Camera speed

Taking a pic (sec)Lower is better Taking an HDR pic (sec)Lower is better CamSpeed score Higher is better CamSpeed score with flash Higher is better
Nokia 3 1.6
3.7
713
613
Motorola Moto G5 Plus 1.8
2.6
1118
669
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) 2
2.7
365
210
Samsung Galaxy J5 (2016) 3.1
No data
482
266
View all

But then, the Nokia 3 can only record video at up to 720p HD resolution. Even cheap phones these days record 1080p, so this is frustrating. The video quality is plain poor: it lacks detail terribly, and it looks like these videos were taken on a phone from a decade ago, focus is very slow, and colors do not look great. Sound recorded on the on-board mic also sounds noticeably tinny.



Sound quality and Media


There is a single loudspeaker located at the bottom of the phone. It’s in that exact spot where you hold the phone and when you cover it just slightly with your hand it gets muffled easily.

Sound quality via the loudspeaker is disappointing: it’s not sufficiently loud and the quality is sub-par. The speaker sounds very tinny, even compared to the already low expectations we have from a smartphone. We should also note that there is an audio jack up top, in case you were wondering.

You have the Google Photos app for your photos and videos, and it’s a great app to have: with a clutter-free interface and with some basic editing options. You can also easily back up your photos and videos to the cloud.

Audio output

Headphones output power (Volts)
Higher is better
Nokia 3 0.35
Motorola Moto G5 Plus 1.015
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) 0.52
Samsung Galaxy J5 (2016) 0.49
Loudspeaker loudness (dB)
Higher is better
Nokia 3 76
Motorola Moto G5 Plus 77.6
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) 77
Samsung Galaxy J5 (2016) 77
View all


Nokia 3 Review
Call Quality


Call quality on the Nokia 3 is mostly fine unless you are looking for perfect clarity. You can understand your callers, although they do sound slightly muffled, and your callers can understand and hear you properly.

Battery life

It will get you through the day, but not more.

Nokia 3 Review

The Nokia 3 features a 2650 mAh battery.

We put it through our custom battery test that all phones in our office go through and we got a very good score of 7 hours and 47 minutes. This is a bit more than the iPhone 7 and a bit less than the Galaxy S8, which is not a bad place to be.

In real-life experience, we average around a day and a half off the charger, with more intense use killing the battery in a day.

What’s not so great is recharge time: this phone is slow to charge. Using the 5-watt charger in the box, it took us an excruciatingly long 3 hours to fully refill the battery.

Battery Benchmarks

Battery life (hours)
Higher is better
Nokia 3 7h 47 min (Good)
Motorola Moto G5 Plus 10h 26 min (Excellent)
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) 11h 4 min (Excellent)
Samsung Galaxy J5 (2016) 8h 41 min (Excellent)
Charging time (minutes)
Lower is better
Nokia 3 181
Motorola Moto G5 Plus 106
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) 112
Samsung Galaxy J5 (2016) 153
View all

Price, Alternatives and Conclusion


Nokia 3 Review

At launch, the Nokia 3 sells for a price of less than €140 in Europe (the equivalent of $160), and at the time of this writing is not yet officially sold in the United States. This is one of the cheapest phones around, but that does not mean that there aren’t any alternatives. Quite the opposite.

For just slightly more, you can get the more refined Galaxy A3 (2017): it shines with its brilliant design, water-protected body, better quality camera and Samsung's unique software interface.

Next up, you have last year’s Moto G4 that is still selling well: it is a similarly clean experience, but it’s got the better camera of these two.

And then, if you can get it where you live, the Xiaomi Redmi 4 Prime is tremendous value for the money. The phone has extraordinary battery life, much better performance thanks to the Snapdragon 625 chip inside and a superior camera.

At the end of the day, the Nokia 3 is a well-designed phone that catches the eye, but this impression turns out to be only superficial. Using the phone reveals many shortcomings: the stuttery, underpowered performance, the camera that is completely inept in video and one terribly imbalanced display. If you are on the hunt for that perfect cheap phone… well, who knows if it even exists, but we know that it most likely is not the Nokia 3.