The Nokia 2.3 marks the beginning of the Nokia ‘.3-series’, in fact, the fourth generation under the brands’ new owner’s HMD global.
The Nokia 2.3 follows the 2, 2.1, 2.2 and sits one step above its 1-series and well below its top-end 9-series.
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 e6 ($197) – not to mention pre-paid ‘burners’ from about $90.
The hard thing in reviewing all these cheap phones is to declare a ‘winner’ because all have specs to match the price and all make a range of compromises to do so. And what is interesting is how fast technology changes. What was a 5/5 a few months ago is hopelessly outclassed by a new comer – rinse and repeat!
These compromises include lower-powered MediaTek Helio processors, less/slower ram/storage, 720p screens, Wi-Fi single band, lower-res cameras, plastic chassis….
Yet none of the competitors admits this, all promising fabulous AI photos, significant battery life, pro cameras… Yes, I believe in Santa too but for $199 all you can expect is a basic phone with a social media camera.
For once – it would be nice if phones under $199 (well under
$399) stopped all the marketing BS and told it like it is. Nokia is not too bad
here, but we strip away the fancy faux metallised plastic paint job and get to
the heart of the matter.
From JB Hi-Fi, Harvey Norman, Big W, The Good Guys and Officeworks
Telstra has it for $149 pre-paid with free delivery
First look is ‘nice.’
A faux metal ‘sand’ textured/coloured plastic back, teardrop screen with broad chin and bezels (lowish 80.7% STBR), Android One 9, micro-USB port (so yesterday!), and a dual-camera on the back. If anything, it has slightly more squarish and conservative looks than the competitors with their outlandish vacuum electrostatically deposited ‘deep purples’ etc!
Note: Do not buy models TA-1194, TA-1206, TA-1209, TA-1214, TA-1216
as they are not AU certified.
Nokia 2.3 – base specs
MediaTek MT6761, Helio
A22 four-core A53 2.0Ghz + PowerVR GE8300 (same as the 2.2 it replaces)
2GB LPDDR3-933 single-channel RAM, 32GB eMMC, microSD
6.2-inch, teardrop, 1520 x 720, 19:9, 271ppi, 80.7%
Single Sim, Cat 4 150/50Mbps LTE 1, 3, 5, 7, 8,
20, 28, 38, 40, 41, VoLTE
Wi-Fi N, BT 5.0, AGPS. FM radio (no NFC), 3.5mm
audio, earpiece speaker/mic/bottom speaker (mono)
Android One, Android 10 ready. Dedicated Google Assistant
Cyan Green, Sand, Charcoal 157.69 x 75.41 x
8.68mm x 183g
Missing: Any IP rating, e-compass, expandable
storage is for data only, notification LED
Screen – PASS
The 6.2” screen is 720p, so pixelation is slightly noticeable
on text. Auto-brightness can reach 500 nits, but it is closer to 400
(auto-off). There is some unevenness as well – bright in the centre and nearly
10% less at the edges. Black levels are weak (.35) and contrast is about
1200:1. There are no gamma adjustments.
It is not overly bright, contrasty or colour accurate (it is
cool). There is no screen protection, and it will scratch.
Some reviews mention ‘Always on Display’ – it does not have
that or a notification LED.
Processor – PASS
It is an entry-level (lower-mainstream) Helio ‘A’ processor
whereas many in the <$199 bracket use the faster ‘P’ series. Paired with the
2GB (790MB free) single-channel LPDDR3-933 ram it is slow, choking at any attempt
to multi-task. There is 16GB free of the 32GB storage. MicroSD storage to 512GB
is only for data – not apps.
CPU Throttle – PASSable
Our 15-minute test reveals it is capable of over 44,000GIPS,
but every two minutes, it needs to take a big breath and drops back considerably
until it cools again and back to top speed. It is not really an issue as this
is no use case for this phone to be 100% stressed.
GPU – PASS
The GPU encodes H.264 and will decode H.264/HVEC/VP8/9
content. It is not a gaming device.
Comms – PASS
It is Wi-Fi N single band 2.4Ghz that archives 65Mbps/-40dBm
at 2m from our reference NETGEAR AX12 router. If you need Wi-Fi speed, then you
need a dual-band device.
Sensors – PASSable
Note that it only as a 3-axis accelerometer that returns wildly
different pedometer results. It lacks many standard sensors although not unusual
for this price bracket.
A-GPS is too slow for real-time navigation and took several
minutes to find satellites.
LTE – PASS
Signal strength was -79dBm (good) and it was able to find the next nearest tower at -85dBm. It is fine for urban use.
Battery – PASS+
All publicity mentions a two-day battery life – but what
does that mean? Well, Nokia says that it is courtesy of AI-assisted Adaptive
Battery technology. The AI-feature learns your app usage habits and prioritises
power for the apps you use the most. Sorry, a weeklong test does not invoke any
AI so we will just have to take its word for it.
We tried to get two days use, but the only way we could come
close was just to use it as a phone and disable GPS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and set
the screen to 100 nits (30%) with adaptive brightness off.
A 4000mAh battery is quite large, but a micro-USB 5V/1A
charger is quite small. Charge from 0-100% took a massive seven hours of a slow
linear charge – no fast charge here and a 5V/2A charger makes no difference!
Screen-on time – typical daily office use – 15 hours
This is the same primary camera as the Nokia 2.2. It uses a
Samsung S5K RGB sensor and has added a depth sensor for bokeh.
Daylight shots are great –
reasonable colours, contrast and detail.
It is quite good in day/office light, but the smaller 1.12um
pixels mean low light needs a lot of post-processing.
Office light shots (600 lumens) are
OK, but colours are a little washed out, and definition starts to suffer.
Low light shots are very noisy and
There is a ‘Recommended Shot’ feature, which captures images before and after pressing the shutter button as well as an AI-powered ‘Portrait Mode’ and low light settings.
GadgetGuy’s take –
Android One makes the Nokia 2.3 stand out in a crowded market. 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 littel different.
When we reviewed the Nokia 2.2 here only last October, it was standout for value and it had a removable battery – 5/5. But since then a tsunami of lower-cost phones has emerged, and Nokia’s 2.3 is not so special any more. In fact, it could have had any brand on it!
For example, how can it hope to compete with the likes of BBK (now the world’s second-largest phone maker with OPPO, vivo, realme and OnePlus covering every single market niche? Its $199 realme C2 has better: specs; camera; processor; more ram/storage and a dual sim.
For me, after a few days of use, it was unexciting in every way. But that is what you expect of a $199 phone. And perhaps in that un-excitedness lies the secret – a simple good value phone that should last the distance and see Android 10 and maybe 11.
My best advice to Nokia is to go its own way and develop something the #me-too brands can’t offer.
Note the ribbed effect in the video is not evident on the real product
Android One makes the Nokia 2.3 stand out in a crowded market.
Value for money
Ease of Use
Offers a Nokia alternative in this crowded price bracket
Nice looks and grippy back
Slow, so slow charge
No IP rating (no issue) but plastic back could be fragile and scratchable