Nokia 1.3 – about as low as you can go (and still get a decent phone)

Nokia 1.3
100% human

To be fair, you do not expect much from a $169 smartphone. But the Nokia 1.3 delivers well for the price. It is everything you need in a value phone.

A removable battery, decent bright screen, good volume, dual Sim, and the Nokia 1.3 doesn’t shirk on build quality either – no flex or cheap materials. If I have one gripe – after inserting the battery, I could not get the back off again!

We don’t do a full review any more on sub-$200 phones, but we do test them to make sure they are fit for purpose.

Review: Nokia 1.3 TA-1205 DS (Dual Sim)

  • Australian Website here
  • Price: $169
  • Colours: Cyan, Sand and Charcoal
  • Size: 47.3 x 71.2 x 9.35 mm x 155g
  • Warranty: 24-months (6-months battery)
  • Country of manufacture: China by Foxconn
  • Nokia is a smartphone brand owned by HMD Global in Espoo, Finland. Many ex-Nokia executives run it. Microsoft previously owned the brand from 2014 to make Windows Mobile handsets. The .3 series are the third generation under HMD.
Nokia 1.3

We use fail, pass and exceed for each paradigm. The Nokia 1.3 is rated as a budget smartphone.

Screen: EXCEED

5.71”, 1520 x 720, 295ppi, 19:9, teardrop, IPS claimed 400 nits

It is a bright screen – more than I expected. The icons are a little too small, but you can increase the font size and display size, so it is quite readable. There are also several accessibility tools.

Turn adaptive brightness off and manually set brightness – it is too aggressive towards battery life.

Processor: EXCEED

Qualcomm QM215, four core 1.3Ghz WITH 1GB RAM and 16GB (10GB free) eMMC storage. Micro-SD slot to 400GB.

There is a small amount of lag, but you have to expect that. It uses Android 10 Go and Google Go apps. Nokia promise two years of Android Go upgrades

LTE – Dual Sim – EXCEED

LTE Cat 4 Bands 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 20, 28

Signal strength was fine for Capital city and regional city use.


Wi-Fi 4 N 2.4Ghz – It gets -25dBm and 72Mbps at 1 metre from our reference NETGEAR AX12 router. It holds the signal quite well dropping to -75dBm (limits of usable) at 30 metres

BT 4.2 with the SBC/aptX codec is fine for stereo headphones. A 3.5mm combo audio port provides reasonable sound and clarity to the supplied buds.

AGPS – not for turn by turn navigation – it is a little slow and accurate to about 10 metres.

NFC – No and nor is it expected

Battery – PASS

Removable 3000mAh WT130 and a 5V/1A (5W) micro-USB charger.

We did not run the full gamut of tests. We ran the battery down in about 10 hours of screen time.

Discharge speed is a little high at around 400mA – that means about 5-6 days standby. If you need battery life, we suggest you put in in aeroplane mode most of the time.

But the 5W charger is slow – nearly six hours at best for a full charge. We would recommend daily charging and keep a power bank handy.

Sound – PASS

Maximum volume for the rear-port mono speaker is 78dB (ringer) and 73db voice or music.

There is no sound signature – it has no bass, late mid and some early treble (harshness). Subjectively it has one of the poorer audio speaker experiences in this class. But that is because it focuses on a clear voice.

It was adequate as a handsfree device, but we did find the single mic captures a lot of noise in that mode.

Security – PASS

No fingerprint but it offers face unlock. The latter failed 99% of the time.

Build – PASS

Snap-on back, plastic chassis and glass screen with limited scratch resistance.

 No water resistance. No individual battery listing or price

Android Go – PASS

Pure Android Go 10, and it will get G0 11.

Most Google apps run as-is, but there are special Go editions that work better under limited ram and storage. It has Google Assistant (and button) and Lens.

Nokia 1.3 camera – PASSable

  • Rear: 8MP, f/2.0, 1.12um, 65.7° FOV,  AF, LED Flash, 720@30fps. Sensor Galaxy Core gc8034_gt9772
  • Front: 5MP, f/2.4, 1.12um, 66.1° FOV, FF, No Flash but brightness enhancement – Sensor Galaxy Core gc5035

We use the term social media camera, and that is precisely what it is.

Nokia 1.3
The is a great shot daylight with good colour and definition
Nokia 1.3
This is a good office light 400 lumens shot although the red (Sodoko Book and appliances) are a little darker that reality.
Nokia 1.3
Not bad for low light (<50 lumens) but you can see noise as the AI tries to compensate.

GadgetGuy’s take – the Nokia 1.3 is as good as it gets for $169

There are a few sub-$200 phones that are OK. Motorola’s new e6s, the odd Alcatel (new series coming soon), the Mintt Coolmintt A3 and even the Nokia 2.3 are all worthy contenders offering just a little more than the Nokia 1.3 – what a difference $30 makes. That $30 means more RAM, more storage and a better camera.

As we wrote in the Nokia 2.3 review

Nokia deserves to succeed if only to help HMD, a Finnish company to keep the Asian dominated ‘bastards’ honest. But I fear it is playing in the #MeToo sandpit instead of striking a new, unique Finnish path. And to be honest, that is what I thought of Nokia’s earlier versions – something a little different.

At $199 the Nokia 2.3 occupies an increasingly competitive space with the likes of Nokia 1 Plus ($169), Nokia 2.2 ($149 on run-out), Mintt Coolmintt Duo3 ($179), Mintt Coolmint A3 ($199), realme C2 ($199), Aspera Gem ($149), LG K8 ($139), LG K9 ($179), Alcatel 1S ($199), Motorola e6s ($199) – not to mention pre-paid ‘burners’ from about $90.

But if you look at this for what it is the $30 saving means more food on the table and you still get a decent smartphone.

So that is why it rates well, but lower, than the above.

Value for money
Ease of Use
Reader Rating6 Votes
Value for money
Removable battery
Dual Sim and micro-SD
It is what it is - any less would introduce compromises