Nokia 3 review: An eye-catching entry level phone
If there's one thing to write home about the Nokia 3, it's the design that exudes a premium feel. At first touch, you wouldn't feel you were holding an entry-level device, with its matte back and glossy, curved-glass front. But does the Nokia 3 hold its own among the slew of other budget Android smartphones in the market today? Let's find out.
When you first unbox the Nokia 3, you'll be greeted by an unassuming but solidly built smartphone. Its metal edges give it a premium feel, complemented by its matte polycarbonate back that, although plastic, still looks stunning.
A squarish design with rounded corners nods back to Nokia's historic Lumia design philosophy, but it stops there. There are no brilliant hues and glossy plastic. The review unit I got was the matte black one, but there are other color options, including tempered blue, silver white, and copper white.
Nokia paid attention to the details with the Nokia 3, too, featuring power and volume buttons on the right side that are painted black but have stainless edges. It's a small detail that has a very big effect on the design. The buttons are barely noticeable when viewed head-on, but from an angle, the stainless edges accentuate them beautifully. Atop the device is the 3.5mm jack, and at the bottom are the micro USB charging and data port and speakers. The SIM and SD card slots can be found on the left side.
Ergonomically speaking, the device sits comfortably in the hand despite its 5-inch 720p display. Design-wise, you could say that the Nokia 3 beats the competition; you won't find any other smartphone with a similar design in this price point. At least, not now.
Nokia promises regular updates, but didn't specify if it meant that you'll always have the latest Android OS. It may be a vague promise for now, but at least the Nokia 3 comes with Android 7 Nougat, the latest available release. We don't have to wait long to see if Nokia will hold true to their word regarding “regular updates,” as the release of Android 8 Oreo seems to be just around the corner.
Android purists will love the Nokia 3's stock Android software, which goes well with the minimalist look of the device. No bloatware or third-party apps here – just pure Android enjoyment with no Nokia branding whatsoever.
The MediaTek MT6737 processor is a bit of a letdown, though, clocking in at only 1.3GHz. Although, it's quad-core, you might find yourself frustrated with the Nokia 3's performance at times. Apps may lag or freeze when things get too heavy, but once the device gets its bearings back, it's smooth sailing again.
One minor annoyance I experienced while using the Nokia 3 was ride-hailing apps, specifically the Grab app, not working and often freezing up on me. I don't know if it's related to the GPS chip used on the device, but it irked me because I didn't think getting a ride home should be that hard. Using the GPS on a smartphone may work its battery hard, but it shouldn't be a problem with RAM, especially with the Nokia 3's ample 2GB of it.
My experience with app crashes and longer load times with the Nokia 3 deterred me from installing bigger and memory-heavy apps, but of those I installed, I found that all of them worked – eventually. Gaming surprisingly worked well, although you'll have to wait a bit longer for the games to load.
Watching videos was a delight with the Nokia 3, but I recommend using earphones because the speaker on the device is rather unremarkable. The bundled headset isn't the best, either, so if you have your own set of headphones, wired or otherwise, I suggest you use them.
Speaking of wireless audio, I had some minor issues when connected to a Bluetooth speaker. I paired devices with no issues, but when I walked some ten steps away from the speaker with the Nokia 3 in hand, I found that the sound became choppy and sometimes cut out.
Take note that there were no obstructions between the phone and the speaker when this happened so I found it kind of strange. Wireless headphones may be different issue altogether, but it's something to take note of when using wireless devices for audio.
The cameras found on the Nokia 3's back and front are both 8MP shooters. While they may serve acceptable spur-of-the-moment snapshots, the performance of both cameras is mediocre, at best. In fact, they can be quite frustrating at times due to its quite long boot time and a disappointing shutter lag. If you're worried about missing fleeting moments, the Nokia 3 doesn't do a lot to ease the anxiety.
In good lighting conditions, however, and with minimal action and camera shake, both cameras take sharp photos. The powerful LED flash helps a bit in low-light situations if you find yourself in a pinch, but who takes photos with the flash on these days?
Taking videos was surprisingly stable, considering that there's no stabilization to speak of here. Of course, as an entry-level device, videos are limited to a resolution of 720p. No 4k videos here.
Battery life is pretty good but not the best; for a 2630mAh battery, I expected it to last a bit longer. It's enough for a day's use, though, but expect to charge it every night. The real disappointment with the battery is the charging time.
The Nokia 3's battery takes a long time to charge fully – around 4 to 6 hours. I got tired of waiting to see the exact length of time it took. Suffice it to say, it's a hassle when your battery runs low in the middle of the day and you need to fully charge it immediately.
This is unacceptable for a smartphone in 2017, and the only workaround is charging it overnight, which isn't always ideal. I'd have hoped there would be a fast-charging option, but no dice.
Will the Nokia 3 be your next Android phone?
If you're looking for a no-frills smartphone that has all the basics in a slick, premium-looking package, then the Nokia 3 should suit your needs fine. If, however, you're looking for power and the bells and whistles of a flagship, you better look elsewhere.
Power users will find the Nokia 3 wanting, but it's a great backup phone due to its price (P6,999 at launch), and it will make your mom or significant other happy if they were to receive it as a gift. – Rappler.com