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Nokia 3 Performance test: Browsing, Gaming & Multitasking hands-on

In this Nokia 3 Hands-on video, we have tested the general performance of the phone. We have conducted it in normal usage scenario, when you may be browsing, playing games and multitasking with many games and apps open in the background. A good smartphone with optimized OS  should be able to handle it all with ease without breaking a sweat.

So, how does Nokia 3 actually perform in our test? We would say satisfactorily. While it is always easy to find bugs/issues when a new product is released in market, Nokia 3 has hardly thrown tantrums. It works just fine. With 2 games, 5 browser tabs and 3-4 other apps open in the background 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 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 dissapointed. Gamers, better wait for Nokia 7, 8 and 9.

Other Nokia 3 hands-on videos:

We earlier posted hands-on unboxing, first setup, and impressions video of Nokia 3. In the second video, we showed you how to insert SIM and MicroSD cards. In the third hands-on video, we did a Nokia 3 UI navigation walk-through and also shared some exclusive Nokia features like Motion gestures and Nokia Support app.

Fourth Nokia 3 hands-on video, tells you how to activate System UI Tuner, a cool official Android experimental tool that allows one to tweak UI and add new features. In the 5th hands-on video, we demoed how to enter Reboot mode and Fastboot mode.


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]
  • DBS

    My experience with the Nokia 3 is quite different. The thing lagged like hell and often didn’t register touches properly (something that shows quite a few times in your video but for some reason or another you chose not to mention).

    It’s pretty clear the MediaTek processor isn’t capable to handle day-to-day use and, for a 170€ phone, it’s a pretty terrible buy. There are equally prices phones with much better performance.

    The camera is also a disaster. The post-processing is not bad but the UI is terrible, the lack of OIS shows and the low light is horrendous. Also, I don’t advise anyone to use “auto scene detector” as the camera isn’t that great at detecting the sort of scene you’re in.
    The best way to use the camera on the Nokia 3 is in the “auto” mode with HDR ALWAYS turned ON. The HDR on the Nokia 3 actually improves significantly the end result of the picture.

    Unfortunately, despite Nokia saying it’s “pure Android”, all the camera2api that Google introduced with Android 5.0 remain locked on the Nokia 3 which means you can’t use a better camera app to access manual settings like shutter speed, granular ISO values or anything of the sort. You’re stuck with the very poor manual controls on the Nokia 3 camera, which is pretty terrible, specially considering what real-Nokia offered on low end Lumias.
    HMD clearly doesn’t have a good imaging team assembled and, if they’re using Nokia’s, they clearly didn’t used their expertise on the Nokia 3. I’m awaiting the arrival of the Nokia 5 to see if the trend continues (I’m hopping the terrible camera performance on the Nokia 3 is a result of limitations on the SoC and nothing else).

    The only thing the Nokia 3 has going for it, and I have to be honest, is the build quality and the screen. Both are really really great. I’ve used flagship devices that felt less premium than the Nokia 3 feels. For example, Sony’s Xperia Z3 Compact and Z5 Compact, albeit overall far far far superior phones, both had worse build quality and screen quality. And that’s saying something.
    Unfortunately the rest, the processor, the camera and the software are all appalling. Those 170€ would be better spent on, for example, a 2016 Galaxy J3 or J5 which costs sensibly the same.

    I will say this though: I’m making this evaluation from the point of view of a consumer in Europe. So I will admit that my standards might be a lot higher than people in developing countries where this phone will likely sell more. As such, my appraisal of the Nokia 3 must be read in the context of an European consumer.

    • Kamal

      As you can see in the video itself “Lagged like hell and often didn’t register touches properly” look like serious exaggerations. And seriously European standards?? In price-sensitive markets like India you have even tougher competition among vendors which results in more and more features on offer even on budget devices.

      • DBS

        Well, I’m just reporting my experience with it and it was terrible. Serious exaggerations?

        0:43 – 0:48 – 5 seconds to open a webpage. I wouldn’t call this “quite quick”.
        0:56 – Lag when opening a second tab (repeated on each opening of a new tab)
        1:04 – 3 seconds to respond between touching the icon on Chrome and the phone responds by opening the webpage. Again, response lag. Then the scrolling isn’t smooth at all of course.
        3:30 – Lag again.
        3:38 – Clicked on the Google Play Store icon. No response.
        3:40 – Clicked again on the Play Store icon.
        3:42 – The phone finally registered the tap when the guy in the video (not sure if it was you) were about to click a third time. If this isn’t lag and no response to touches…
        3:48 – Lag when returning home from the Play Store.
        4:49 – Again, 2 seconds between clicking the game icon and the app responding
        6:11 – Sending the game to the background causes a temporary black screen (I’m tempted to give this one a pass though since that might happen more because of the game itself).
        6:44 – Touched the multitasking key. Didn’t respond.
        6:46 – Touched the multitasking key. Now it responded.
        7:27 – Lag when slide to open Google Now.

        I don’t think I exaggerated at all. Now I should point out my experience was even worse. My testing was different though. For starters I disabled 98% of the built in Google-apps. Google Duo, Play Books, Play Games, Plau Movies, Play Newsstand, Keep, Photos were all disabled as none of them are used by those I had in mind when testing the phone.
        I also did what many would do and replaced the stock launcher with Nova.

        However, despite this, and even with the stock version of everything, the phone often froze and I had to lock it and unlock it again for it to become responsive again. The notification tray also liked to lag when pulled down. And I experienced non-responsiveness to touch often.
        (Heck, I returned the phone. I NEVER returned a phone before even when it wasn’t that great).

        And yes, when I say “European standards” is exactly because “In price-sensitive markets like India you have even tougher competition among vendors which results in more and more features on offer even on budget devices.”
        In Europe we don’t have that. Our “low-end” phones are normally what in other countries would be considered mid-rangers. Don’t forget we buy a sh*t ton of 1000€ phones.
        So, when evaluating the Nokia 3, I have to put it against phones in the same price-range which are often mid-rangers, not budget phones. It might be an unfair comparison (well, in abstract it IS unfair) but that’s how the market works. Here in Europe, for this kind of performance, we wouldn’t pay more than 100€. So at 170€, the Nokia 3 is pretty overpriced for all that it DOESN’T offer (and we have to be honest…it offers absolutely nothing apart from build quality). Over here the mentality is pretty much “I rather pay 900€ for a great phone than waste 200€ on something that will only frustrate me”.

        The Nokia 5 – which HMD apparently thinks is a mid-range phone – is what we in Europe consider a low end device. If that one doesn’t perform considerably better than the Nokia 3, then we (well, they) will be in trouble.
        Unlike what HMD wants people to believe, no one wants stock Android. And normal people don’t care for updates (most find them annoying). So I’m curious to try out the Nokia 5 to see exactly what in it does HMD think is not only worth 230€ but does it offer to convince people to buy it, other than the Nokia brand in them and the, likely, excellent build quality.

        • Kamal

          Most of the times what you took it as touched the key and it didn’t respond was due to not touching or registering touch properly and that happens at times when you make a video and also focus on making a point.

          I am there in this video and I really don’t think there is any big issue here as far as consistence response across UI is concerned. It is a low-end smartphone, so I personally don’t expect a lightning response. For that I will wait for Nokia 8 / Nokia 9. If Nokia 7 can give me that sort of immediate response I will be happy.

          • DBS

            Well, non-responsiveness registered often to me in the units I had. It could also happen that I had faulty units but if so, that doesn’t leave me any less concerned (it just shifts my concerns from the software to the quality control in production…which would be even weirder since I’ve never seen a lot of problems with build quality in Foxconn-made products).

            Well, the Nokia 9 better not have any issues at all, although at this point and seeing how HMD is simply not bothering at all with improving the software that Google releases, I’m extremely unlikely to spend a single euro on the Nokia 9 with stock Android (specially if no root path shows up for it). We’ll have to wait and see.

            I’m expecting the Nokia 7, 8 or 9 (or all three) at IFA in September (maybe presented on the 30th or 31st August if the keynotes happen as usual before the show opens) and we’ll see then what HMD will bring. By then the Nokia 5 and 6 should be out and reviewed.

        • D13H4RD2L1V3

          Did you say Nokia 5?

          I tried one. I’m getting the 6.

          It’s $189 over here and I would honestly buy it over the craptastic backup I have right now. Same specs but better software and better camera processing.

          It’s not that I am a stock Android fanboy, but the software on my backup just plain sucks. You can’t disable built-in apps, you can’t even mute the notifications for them, the GPS usually requires a reboot to work and the volume controls are a mess. The camera is also messed up, being similar in quality to the Nokia 3 you mentioned, with WORSE HDR processing since all it does is make crap overly bright.

          From my brief time, I would much rather have the Nokia 5. It’s built better, performs better, doesn’t make me pull my hair over software that is broken on even the core basics and has a camera that’s actually capable.

          That said, don’t expect super great stuff out of the camera. It’s good for a budget device over in our neck of the woods but this ain’t a PureView, which I honestly expected due to the price. It locks focus quickly and takes good but unremarkable pictures, although they did come off better than the aforementioned backup. Microsoft apparently didn’t sell that portion to HMD, so that’s a shame. I’m hoping the flagship packs some impressive optics. Maybe Zeiss will return as a partner since Microsoft isn’t making phones anymore? (At least for now)

          It’s a toss-up between the J5 Prime and the 5 over here and quite honestly, I would pick the 5. The J5 Prime is a very solid budget offering, but I’m honestly a sucker for clean software, but I understand that you aren’t, hence why the J5 exists. Choice is wonderful.

          • DBS

            My comment is about the Nokia 3. That experience is regarding the Nokia 3, not the Nokia 5 which I haven’t yet tried.

            As for you getting the Nokia 6 over the 5, they’re pretty much the same. The 6 only has 3mp extra in the camera, is even larger and has an extra GB or RAM.
            I don’t know what is your backup phone so I can’t judge it but it’s the first time I’ve heard of an Android phone where you can’t at least disable built-in apps.

            Now, “From my brief time, I would much rather have the Nokia 5.” than your current backup phone, right?
            I’m assuming so. And yes, it’s probably better considering your report. But that doesn’t make the Nokia 3 worth 170€ and likely not the Nokia 5 worth 230€. I don’t want to rush judgement on the Nokia 5 before I actually can use it for a while (I’ve briefly used one because Nokia gave Nokia 5’s to their employees as the new company phone).

            “Microsoft apparently didn’t sell that portion to HMD, so that’s a shame.”

            Microsoft doesn’t own the PureView technology. They just bought the brand (and I’m not sure if they sold the brand or not to HMD). The technology behind PureView has never left Nokia so if HMD isn’t using it it’s only because HMD deliberately doesn’t want to use it.
            Now, I wasn’t expecting PureView tech on the Nokia 3, 5 or 6. They are all low end devices and the snapdragon 430 (which is now already outdated) has quite a few limitations. However I never expected the camera software to be so bad, in the sense that:
            1 – camera2api is all locked. For some reason, it’s “stock Android” except where the camera is concerned.
            2 – The camera UI is absolutely terrible. Manual controls are a joke, everything is hidden behind menus that take you out of the composition window etc. I expected more from a Nokia-branded phone.

            You know what the camera on the Nokia 3 (and probably the Nokia 5 and 6) reminds me of? Xperia cameras. I’m having a terrible terrible sense of déjà vu with these cameras. And you know how frustrated I am with Sony’s Xperia cameras (yet I keep hoping that “they’ll get it right this time” at every new phone launch…I can’t avoid hoping the XZ1 Compact or Z6 Compact or whatever they call it finally brings a decent camera).
            I was enormously disappointed by the camera on the Nokia 3 but I still hope that the one on the Nokia 5 will be better and I REALLY hope that they considerably step up their game on the flagship (though I’m not hopeful).

            “I’m honestly a sucker for clean software, but I understand that you aren’t, hence why the J5 exists. Choice is wonderful.”

            That’s the thing…although I am still pretty happy with the S7 (and I’ve not seen a single new flagship that makes me want to replace it with) I still don’t like Samsung. But it’s rather sad when you know what Nokia stood for (being different, being able to make it yours) and seeing HMD go with stock Android which is the purest form of negation of everything Nokia stood for.
            They confuse bloatware with features and they offer the most bland version of Android possible. Nothing, absolutely nothing, about stock Android is what Nokia stood for. Just look at their work on Windows Phone (the amount of innovation they brought to an OS that was bound to go nowhere) and compare it to what they are (or rather, aren’t) doing on Android.
            Worst of all if, like me, you know the amount of things they never did on WP because the OS didn’t allow them to do and now that they can, they’re not doing.