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Nokia 3 detailed review: Redefining the low-end (Daily Driver for 22 days)

Nokia 3 is the first Nokia Android Phone to hit markets globally after HMD released Nokia 6 only in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. Keeping in mind the interest generated by Nokia 3, we have really subjected it to our one of the most extensive hands-on coverage.

We review the Nokia 3 on the basis of more than 22 days of usage of the device as our daily driver, per NPU’s tradition. So, it may help you in deciding whether you should really go for Nokia 3 as your next, if you really wanted to own one and are still undecided.

Design:

Nokia 3 design oozes premium feel and impresses a lot with its great build quality. Good work there HMD!! It can be easily said to be the most beautiful and robust low-end smartphone on market currently.

It compares closely to the Lumia 925 in terms of design with its metallic frame and polycarbonate back, though it feels even more robust than Lumia 925. Check our unboxing video below in which we also talk about our impressions of the Nokia 3 design.

It feels great to hold in hand and the matte back coating gives it a stable feel while in use. Only grudge is that battery is non-removable and inserting SIM and SD cards may need you to focus a bit.

Display & Audio Quality (Movie Watching, Outdoors & viewing angles):

Nokia 3 comes with a 5.0” IPS LCD display with HD resolution (1280 x 720, 16:9). It has a laminated display with polarizers for better fingerprint resistance, outdoor readability and viewing angles.

So, for testing this display we benchmarked it against Nexus 5X, an older flagship and Lumia 640 XL, an older mid-ranger. You can watch the video for more but here are our observations.

  • Nokia 3 display is very bright and beats both Nexus 5X and Lumia 640 XL displays in brightness
  • It has very good color interpretation. Colors come out vibrant and blacks look deep even though it is a LCD display
  • Fingerprint resistance is a very nice feature of Nokia 3 display and we are impressed
  • Viewing angles are quite good and outdoor readability impressive
  • Video streaming is a joy on Nokia 3 display
  • This display though only 720p resolution feels like belonging to a mid-ranger and not to a low-end device.

Coming to the audio and music output quality, it is really loud for a smartphone. We have demoed music playback quality and volume output of Nokia 3 in our hands-on video (above).

Android 7.0 Nougat OS & native launcher:

Nokia 3 comes with Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box and runs pure unadulterated Android. Though HMD has a native launcher for Nokia 3 that makes few navigation options like going to all apps easier by just swipping up and down from bottom. The UI otherwise is typical Nougat UI and Google Assistant can be enabled just by going to settings. HMD has added two motion gestures to Nokia 3. These gestures allow one to silence the ringing phone by flipping it and mute it by picking.

Nokia Support app comes pre-installed on Nokia 3 and all you need to do is to open it and you will be prompted to install the updated version from Play Store. Check it all in the hands-on video below in detail.

In this hands-on video, we did a Nokia 3 UI navigation walk-through and also share some exclusive Nokia features like Motion gestures and Nokia Support app.

Nokia 3 Camera review:

Nokia 3 comes packed with 8MP cameras on both rear and front. Both cameras come with autofocus and have F/2 aperture. Nokia 3 Rear camera is accurate in rendering colors and has good resolved details but may need slightly more sharpening in some cases. Touch focus works well resulting in good macro capture and flash is powerful.

Coming to video capture while it is limited to 720p, you can capture acceptable quality video with Nokia 3 rear camera. While there is no OIS (which is usually the case on budget devices) the camera algorithm smoothens lots of movements indicating some software stabilization in background.

Nokia 3 front camera is nearly as good as the rear camera when it comes to imaging quality. You don’t have a front flash but otherwise, this F/2 aperture camera captures good images comparable to the rear camera in details and color accuracy. This is good news for selfie lovers.

Check our detailed Nokia 3 camera review with images and video samples by clicking here. You can however watch our Nokia 3 camera review video below.

Nokia 3 Performance testing (Gaming, Multitasking & Browsing):

Nokia 3 comes with Quad-core MTK 6737 processor clocked at 1.3Ghz and 2GB RAM. While that may not sound very impressive, it works just fine. We have posted two performance videos of Nokia 3 with many games, browser tabs and other apps open in the background and it handles all with elan.

As you will notice in the video, apps/games resume fast from background during multitasking and there are no crashes/lags/freezes. Nokia 3 is currently on Android 7.0 Nougat and with Android 7.1.1 update it should only get better. We have heard a lot about the infamous “Mediatek processor” in Nokia 3, but even after playing games for 30 mins or more we didn’t feel it getting hot. So, may be HMD managed to

We have heard a lot about the infamous “Mediatek processor” in Nokia 3, but even after playing games for 30 mins or more we didn’t feel it getting hot. So, may be HMD managed to optimise it well in Nokia 3.

Having said that Nokia 3 comes with its own limitations like any other budget smartphone. Don’t expect a flagship like gaming performance from it or you will be disappointed. Gamers, better wait for Nokia 7, 8 and 9.

Battery Life & Call quality:

Nokia 3 has very impressive battery life and I have been getting around 32 -36 hrs of battery life with heavy “blogger” usage of the device, which involves lots of browsing, apps testing and daily chores. It may be around 36-40 hrs for a moderate to heavy use and that is really very impressive considering it is a low-end Android smartphone.

Nokia 3 offers stellar call quality and the reception is usually very good. I didn’t face any issue like call drops etc and it holds well even during long conversations.

Conclusion:

Negatives

  • Many would have liked that processor to be different. MediaTek is infamous for slower driver updates forcing late release of OS updates. Hope they can change that impression with Nokia 3.
  • The battery is not removable and inserting SIM and SD cards can be bit tedious.
  • Camera autofocus is slow in locking on subjects. Will certainly need improvement.

Positives

  • Much better than expected design and premium build quality
  • Handles normal usage scenarios without breaking a sweat
  • Imaging quality satisfactory for a low-end smartphone
  • Awesome display in its price range with best-in-class color imterpretation, high brightness and outdoor readability
  • Loud audio output and good display makes it joy to use for video watching

Final words & Video review:

Nokia 3 is out there to redefine how you always felt about the low-end Android smartphones with its premium design, great display, excellent Battery life, and the latest Android experience out of the box. HMD has promised guaranteed two years of Android OS update and monthly security updates for all its Android smartphones. In fact, it has been the first to release July 2017 security update to Nokia 6 beating even Google.

This makes Nokia 3 a recommended buy from our side, if you are in for a budget smartphone that offers premium feel,  great display, stellar battery life and remains secure and supported.

Check our Nokia 3 video review below in case you want to watch it in action too with our full impressions.

Where to Buy:

Visit our dedicated post to check Best Price Deals & Buy links for Nokia 3 from all markets including US, UK, India, Europe.

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Review overview
Design - 9
Display - 9
Camera - 8
Value for Money - 9
Performance - 8
Battery Life - 9
Summary Nokia 3 is out there to redefine how you always felt about the low-end Android smartphones with its premium design, great display, excellent Battery life, and the latest Android experience out of the box.
8.67
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Nayan
Nayan has more than 10 years of experience of covering Technology and innovations. He is a big Nokia fan and Tech disruptions aficionado. He loves to review new cool gadgets and writing about Android, iOS, Gadgets and general Technology stuff. He has been associated with other well-known Tech sites WinCentral and GadgetOx since long. He currently sports a Lumia 950 XL and Nexus 5X. Other interests include listening to Nu-Metal Hits and Kick-Boxing. Write to him at Email: [email protected]
http://www.nokiapoweruser.com
  • johala02

    I dont know. There are other nice MediaTek devices with good build quality, similar or even better specs. Like Vernee Thor E that have been sold for $99 with 3GB RAM, fingerprint sensor and a fast charger (also got nougat 7.0). Or Redmi Note 4 with Snapdragon 625 for around $153.

    Yes Nokia are of course a iconic brand. But I am worried that their low budgets phones are overpriced compared to the competition.

    • Kamal

      There are hundreds of Android phone manufacturers out there but do you really think competing on the basis of specs for price will help in selling more. The top manufacturers have higher prices but they work on things like design, display, user experience, updates etc. That makes them different and helps in gaining trust of buyers.

  • Sushant Kadam

    What does Redmi make its mobiles from? So many features in that price? Nokia 3 will have to compete with that.

  • infinidim

    This is a really good and fair review. If the 5 & 6 can resolve the negatives and improve on the positives this really does look good for the future of HMD / Nokia. Also with the 7, 8 and 9 on the horizon HMD / Nokia will be a manufacturer to be reckoned with. 😎

    • Kamal

      Thanks 🙂

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