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Nokia 3 in-depth Review – Display, Camera and Performance

Nokia 3 in-depth review:

Nokia 3 is released in Q1 2017, it is developed by HMD Global – the owner of Nokia brand name.

The budget-range Nokia 3 smartphone is very reliable and durable, it lives up to the brand name of Nokia. Currently, it is the cheapest offering by the company having ‘Android’ as its operating system.

Let’s see if Nokia is going in the right direction with the new fundamental changes when compared to older Nokia devices which were run by Windows before its rejuvenation. Here in this detailed review we are going to tell you what this device is capable of.

Key specifications & features

  • 5-inch IPS 720p display
  • 8MP front-facing camera
  • 8MP rear-facing camera
  • MediaTek Quad-Core CPU
  • 2GB RAM
  • 16GB storage (expandable upto 256GB)
  • Android 7.0
  • 2,630 mAh battery
  • 4G LTE

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Design

Starting with the design and overall build of the device.

The Nokia 3 is mostly using polycarbonate and it does it well. It is an an overall pretty sturdy and well-built phone. High quality plastic has plenty of benefits – better shock absorption and overall durability for one. Don’t forget the plastic doesn’t heats up your device like aluminium ones.

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The Nokia 3’s back side is covered up by a pretty light and soft layer, which has a great silky-smooth feel to it and it feels that it can take daily use abuse without any problem.

Nokia 3 rear panel is not removable, we know it feels like it is, so do not try to open it. Because of its non-removable rear and use of high quality materials, it gives the Nokia 3 a very solid feel.

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The frame of the Nokia 3 is built with aluminium and on the front the display is protected by 2.5D curved Gorilla Glass which gives this device beautiful looks and the device feels really even from the front.

The Glass on the display is not that rigid or smooth it feels perfect to touch and it doesn’t take scratch easily.

Plus, the display is all stretched to the right and left, so there are very less side bezels on Nokia 3 which in fact gives the device more of a premium feel while looking and using as it easily fits your hands.

The Nokia 3 is relatively compact device for its screen sizer and segment, measuring at just 143.4 x 71.4 x 8.5mm.

As far as controls go, the button layout is pretty standard. A volume rocker and power button sit alone on the right bezel, positioned pretty high up. We found it to work pretty well for the most part on a 5-inch display phone but having large hands would definitely help.

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Nokia 3’s SIM card and microSD card slots

On the left side, there are two card compartments. The upper one is for SIM cards – one or two nano SIM chips. The one below that is a dedicated microSD card tray, for up to 256 GB of additional storage – to add more store to the device which have 16 GB of internal storage.

And yes, Nokia 3 does not have any hybrid slot thing it is a great step against all the manufacturers out there opting for hybrid solutions, even on significantly bigger devices. So good work there by the company as they are giving us 2-SIM slots in addition to a microSD card slot which is a big win for customers in such thin device.

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Nokia 3 dedicated microSD card tray

As for the top bezels, you get a 3.5mm audio jack above the earpiece. Next to it is a secondary noise-canceling mic which is a uncommon feature in the budget segment.

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Nokia 3’s 3.5mm headphone jack on top

On the bottom there is a micro USB connector that sits in the middle, partnered by a single speaker. With simple and beautiful speaker grille design.

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Nokia 3’s bottom with Mic, Micro USB port, and Loudspeaker

Navigation is handled by three usual capacitive buttons below the display. The buttons are not backlit and can’t be remapped, you have to make yourself comfortable with the arrangement. Which are mapped as – the left one is ‘Back’ key, middle one is ‘Home’ key  and the right one works as an ‘App Switcher’ key. The capacitive keys are perfectly responsive, keys works smoothly without any miss or delay.

Speakers

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The loudspeaker on the bottom of the Nokia 3 is surprisingly loud and it gives very clear output when you compare it to other smartphone from similar price range. You can definitely count on the little speaker in a noisy environment, especially if you opt for a higher-pitched ringtone.

The earpiece above the screen on the Nokia 3 produces clear and decent sound, these is not that much to talk about it, all we can say is that it gets its work donne without any problem, and the inclusion of noise-cancellation microphone on the Nokia 3 improves the calling experience even more.


Battery

The Nokia 3 is backed by a 2630 mAh battery, which is definitely  not that big when compared to other similarly priced offerings from its competitors like the Xiaomi Redmi 4 and Moto E4 Plus.

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By using the smartphone we can say that Nokia 3 actually appears to handle itself pretty well, as you can see from the numbers above, during calls it offered 10-hours of talktime, and phone performed well while web browsing too, giving us similar 10-hours of backup. Even the video playback is very good with Google’s Photos app giving video playback of around 8-hours.

If you’re only using the basics of Whatsapp, limited emails and some calls throughout the day, then you will easily get a day of use out of Nokia 3. Just keep the screen brightness down.

Nokia 3 comes with a proper 5V at 2A charger, 2A is the maximum rate at which you can refill the 2630 mAh battery pack. The charger can get Nokia 3’s battery from about 3-percent charge to just 50-percent in about 50 minutes. Which is really slow charge for a battery pack of this size. We are saying Nokia 3 lacks quick-charge technology which will allow it to charge much faster to we don’t have to worry about battery backup that much.


Display

Coming to the display, the Nokia 3 has a perfectly sized 5-inch HD 720p IPS LCD polarized display, with 293 PPI display density, which is pretty standard for budget smartphones nowadays.

Surprisingly, the panel on the Nokia 3 is good and balanced in terms of brightness, sharpness, contrast and viewing angles. Keeping in mind the less than $200 price tag of the device.

The Nokia 3’s display is plenty bright, topping out at around 470 nits, it is brighter than most of its competitors while maintaining a good contrast ratio with very minimal (unnoticeable) amount of bleed on pure black. Its contrast ratio tops in its price range and you will love it, when compared to other LCD display smartphones it really beats them all. What more do you want at this price?

However we must say this display isn’t perfect too, as the colour accuracy is not that good as it should be. The colours are okay but there is requirement to improve colour accuracy in the display. Sadly, most of the displays in this price range shows inaccurate colours, and they should focus on this part of display too. However, the Nokia 3’s display produces better colours when compared to Xiaomi, Micromax and Motorala’s similarly priced offerings.

And there are colour options for those who have colour blindness, and turning on these options does affect slightly noticeable amount of performance.

In short, it has 5-inch 720p display which makes it easy to use, it is bright, sharp, has good contrast, and produces sharp images.


Software

Nokia has chosen to go with the stock like Android 7 Nougat interface on its new smartphones, including the Nokia 3 and that means it has a clutter-free on-screen experience, without any clunky overlays or pre-installed bloatware.

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It also means you should get prompt security and software updates, which is always good to know. The Nokia 3 model we have has Android 7.0 in it, and there is another model with Android 7.1.1 which is even better. The one we have is also expected to get the new version soon.

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General performance is pretty snappy, with the stock Android interface running smoothly. It doesn’t offer much customization options from the default launcher, which is itself pretty clean, sorted and bluish which looks beautiful.

Lock-screen offers standard Android Nougat cards for providing information. Home screen gives us offer to create folders to manage installed applications. The phone runs smoothly and manages its 2GB RAM and resources very well as it does not have any unnecessary bloatware.

The app drawer on Nokia 3 is slide-up vertical one, and top row shows user’s most used applications for ease.

Everything about the software is smooth, clean, beautiful and lag free. Above all Nokia promised that the Nokia 3, 5 and 6 will be getting Android O update so you no need to worry about the upcoming iteration of the OS.


Performance

Nokia 3 performs well in simple day to day tasks, it can easily handle WhatsApp, mails, Facebook, Notes and all your other simple and useful apps easily.

Powered by MediaTek ‘MTK 6737’ Quad-Core processor clocked at 1.3 Ghz along with 2 GB of RAM, and with stock like Android Nougat on the software end – the Nokia 3 gives smooth navigation throughout the phone, while doing messaging, calls, web-browsing, watching videos and other daily stuff the smartphone gives us clutter-free experience.

However, the phone is not made to play heavy graphics intensive games, although you can play many popular games like Candy Crush, Clash of Clans, Angry Birds, Subway Surfer, and Mini Racing Adventures, smoothly without any lag – means the games that does not have 3D and other heavy stuff to compute. Nokia 3 has Mali T720 GPU for its graphical tasks and it is fulfills its purpose of playing games and rendering other things in the smartphone. But we repeat that ‘this smartphone is not made for gaming.’

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Mini Racing Adventures runs smoothly on Nokia 3

Benchmark scores

Nokia 3 scored 556 Single-Core score and 1536 Multi-Core Score on Geekbench Benchmark Score. Which isn’t that powerful but sufficient enough to run your phone smoothly because of good optimizations- as expected from any budget device.

On Antutu benchmark Nokia 3 scored 27817 overall score, with 3D score of 2314, UX of 12463, CPU score of 9416 and on the last it scored 3624 on RAM.

 

AnTuTu benchmark writes “game performance is mid-level” on GPU score, and “Middle-End, Satisfy your daily use” on CPU score.


Cameras

Chances are if you’re looking at the Nokia 3 you’re not looking forgoing to want a top-of-the-range camera phone – and that’s just as well.

Both the rear and front cameras are 8-megapixel sensors. Both cameras are sort of average and sometimes the camera on the Nokia 3 feels frustrating.

First of all it’s not very fast at booting up, and also takes some time to shoot once you’ve pressed the button, so it’s easy to miss those fleeting opportunities that can often make for great images.

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Nokia 3’s rear camera with LED flash

In good lighting, the Nokia 3’s rear camera takes some sharp images, it has 8MP Auto-Focus, 1.12um, f/2. For an 8-megapixel sensor that is missing many high-tech features (like 4K video recording or optical image stabilization) most modern smartphones have, it takes very good images.

Partnering the rear camera the Nokia 3 has a powerful LED flash for darker shots, which you’ll probably need as the low-light image quality from this phone isn’t very great but it is not bad too – it’s acceptable for a budget phone.

We found video recording to be fairly stable considering the lack of any stabilization tech, but you can only record in low-resolution of 720p.

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Nokia 3’s front camera alongside calling speaker.

The front camera is also similar to the rear one in terms of performance, it has an 8MP sensor with Auto-Focus, 1.12um, f/2, having a field of view of 84 degrees and it is acceptable if you just plan to take the simple image of your face or use it for video calling, we can say it gets its work done.

The camera app is simple and easy to use, is does not have any ‘pro’ mode or any filters options, Nokia 3’s camera app is plainly just press and shoot.

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Nokia 3 Camera app interface

Camera Samples

Rear camera sample (light):

Rear camera samples (low-light):

Rear camera samples (flash):

 

Front camera samples:


Connectivity & sensors

The Nokia 3 has all the connectivity options that one would would expect in the budget segment, it has NFC for sharing, it supports USB OTG via Micro-USB port, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, 4G LTE connectivity, and 3.5mm headphone jack.

Bandwidth support:

Network speed- LTE Cat. 4, 150Mbps DL/50Mbps UL

It supports GSM: 850/900/1800/1900, WCDMA: Band 1, 2, 5, 8, LTE: Band 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 20, 28, 38, 40.

Sensors in the Nokia 3 includes Accelerometer (G-sensor), ambient light sensor, e-compass, gyroscope, proximity sensor. All the mentioned sensors on the device works fine, we didn’t had any issue whatsoever.


Verdict

The Nokia 3 is aimed at first-time smartphone buyers, and anyone who wants to spend the least amount possible on their phone but still have access to all their basic apps (like mail, messaging, WhatsApp, Twitter, some games and music), along with the features you’d expect to see at this price point.

Plus if you love the solid design, and want a good premium looking phone without paying large sum of money, you may want to go for the Nokia 3 – but you’ll also get a slightly more premium look and performance for only a little extra cash with the Nokia 5.

If you’re able to spend a little bit extra, there are several alternative phones we’d like you to see over the Nokia 3 smartphone, but at its price it is a well built and good looking phone – these’s no doubt in that. Additionally, Nokia 3 provides everything a normal smartphone user needs. It has clean lag free interface, latest Android 7.0 OS, perfectly dimensions, an overall great display at this price range, lastly it offers decent cameras.

The Nokia 5, Moto G5 are likely in your reach, and all offer a better camera and better performance, and don’t cost all that much more.

Everything works on the Nokia 3, but its slow performance with some heavy tasks make this smartphone a let down in one key area but at this price we can’t complain about this, considering the overall build and software of the Nokia 3. We are very satisfied with this smartphone.


 

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