Nokia 5.3 2020 – a solid workers phone at $349

Nokia 5.3 2020
100% human

The Nokia 5.3 2020 joins Nokia’s ‘.3’ 2020 family and offers more feature and later tech for a very reasonable $349. It is a solid worker’s phone. Interesting as its code name is ‘Captain America’ so we expect bullet-proof performance.

By mentioning ‘workers’, I don’t mean to exclude children, seniors or those with limited income. But the $169 Nokia 1.3 (review here 4.1/5) and $199 Nokia 2.3 (review here 4.2/5) are more economical and equally safe choices.

There is no 4.3 at this stage – it would sit around $299. So the question is if the Nokia 5.3 2020 is worth $150 more dollars over the Nokia 2.3.

Well, you get a 6.55” screen (6.2) with a 20:9 ratio (19:9), a quad camera (dual camera), 4/64GB (2/132GB), USB-C (micro-USB) and probably, more importantly, a Qualcomm SD665 (Helio A22).

Only you can answer if it is worth sacrificing 23 Big Macs, 37 cups of coffee or 15 cans of Finland’s famous and finest Kalakalle Fish Cock to get this device.

Mandatory warning – dodgy online sellers

We have named and shamed the main grey market opportunists here.

You will not get Australia warranty; Australian over-the-air OS and firmware updates; and you cannot make a 000 call without a sim. In fact, as these often do not support LTE Band 28 used by Telstra and Optus, so most of the time all you will get is 3G.

Australian Review: Nokia 5.3 2020 TA-1234 DS (Dual Sim) 4/64GB

Reviews use FAIL, PASS and EXCEED against over 70 test paradigms. These paradigms vary for the class of phone, price bracket etc. So, PASS means it meets what we expect of any phone at that price or level.

  • Australian Website here
  • Price: $349
  • Warranty: 24-months ACL
  • 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 is the fourth generation under HMD.

 First impression – PASS

I wish I could inject a faux sense of excitement into this. You know, shout “IT’S A NOKIA’, but it is another bland glass slab with a V-notch selfie and a circular camera bump on the back. The bump makes it rock if you place it on the desk.

At the top are a 3.5mm combo audio jack, speaker slot, and mic. The bottom has USB-C, down-firing speaker and mic. There are separate power, volume and OK Google buttons. The dual sim also has a separate microSD slot to 512GB.

Screen – PASS

Size: 6.55”
Resolution: 1600×720 (268ppi)
Ratio: 20:9
Refresh: 60Hz
Type: IPS
S-T-B-R: 82.3%
Colour depth in bit/colours: 16m
Typical/Max Brightness: 450/500 nits (claim)
Contrast: 1100:1
Contrast: Colour gamut: 90% sRGB
Delta E 10 (<4 is considered accurate)
White balance choice from cool to warm
G-T-G: 60ms
Notch: V-shape cut-out
Screen protection: type: Gorilla Glass 3
Excellent haptic feedback
Widevine: L1 for HD streaming but YouTube only streams in 480p
Daylight readability: Not for direct sunlight
TÜV Rheinland Low Blue Light certification

It is not fair to put a $349 device through the same screen tests as we do for far more expensive phones. For example, screen brightness varies over the screen from 450 to 550 nits. Delta E is unimportant as you will not be relying on DCI-P3 or Adobe RGB accuracy.

Screen Summary: As good as it gets

Performance – PASS

ProcessorQualcomm SD665
4×2.0Ghx + 4×1.8Ghz
GPUAdreno 610
VP8/9, HEVC, H.263/4, MP2/3/4.
OpenCL 2.0 Full, Vulkan 1.1, OpenGL ES 3.2, DX12
ModemX12 LTE
Storage: 64GB eMMC 41GB free
OTG Support: Yes
Micro-SD card expansion: 512GB
Geekbench 5Single 312
Multi 1394
Compute 369
Its close in power to a 2017 Samsung S8
Game UseCasual web-based games only to 24fps
CPU ThrottleMax: 150,154GIPS, Average 145,048 – Throttle 6%
It gets very hot with the internal CPU temperature reaching 97°.
It ranges between 40-50° for typical use – not recommended for prolonged use
Nokia 5.3 Throttle
The SoC gets a little hot for prolonged use

The SoC, coupled with slower eMMC storage and 4GB of RAM means it will choke on multi-tasking and lots of browser tabs.

This is a solid mass-market performer with sufficient AI and power to deliver a good user experience. Over 100 phones use it including TCL 10 Plus, Moto G8 Plus, OPPO A9 /A52/A72 (and realme 5, vivo U10), 3 Telstra Tough Max, etc.

Comms – PASS

Wi-FIWi-Fi 5 AC, 1X1 MU-MIMO
Wi-Di, Hotspot
Signal strength -42dBm/433Mbps at 5 metres from NETGEAR AX12 router
SBC, AAC and aptX low latency
NFCYes – PayWave only
GPSSingle-band approx. 10m accuracy.
Not recommended for turn-by-turn navigation at speed
USBUSB-C 2.0. OTG does not support ALT DP video over USB-C
SensorsAmbient light sensor, Proximity sensor, Accelerometer (G-sensor), eCompass

We experienced unexplainable Wi-Fi 5Ghz speed fluctuations during the test ranging from 73-433Mbps. We disabled all other devices on the network, and while the variation improved, we suspect it is the Qualcomm shared Wi-Fi/LTE antenna that the cause.  Still, this is not an issue for a phone in this bracket.


LTECat 4 – slow 150//50Mbps
Bands1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 20, 28, 38, 40, 41
SimDual plus dedicated microSD
Each sim can have a separate ringtone
One sim active at a time
OtherVoLTE and VoWiFi depends on carrier

LTE Summary: It achieved -95dBm (average in a 3-bar zone) and did not detect subsequent towers. It is best for city use.

Sound – PASS

Sound3.5mm audio jack
Speaker: Down-firing (mono)
Volume  Ringer: 75dB
Music: 72dB
Alarm: 77dB
Handsfree: 72dB
Earpiece: 50dB
Sound SignatureMid focus for clear voice
BT and cable outputClean and strong feed
3.5mm budsBoomy with poor upper-mids and treble

Sound Summary: It is not loud. Use headphones for music. It is fit for purpose as a phone,

Battery – PASS

Battery4000mAh battery
 Charger5V/2A (10W)
Quick Charge: Supports QC 3.0 and PD 2.0 or higher
TestsVideo-loop 50%/aeroplane mode: 15 hours
Wi-Fi typical office use – 12 hours
Screen-on – 10 hours
T-Rex – 311.5 minutes and 2822 frames
ChargeWith supplied charger – just under 3 hours

Battery Summary: We expect this to run for up 24-36 hours normal use hours between charges.

Operating system – EXCEED

OSAndroid One 10 and 11 coming
UI: Pure Android
Security Patch June 2020
GoogleAll apps and Google Assistant
UpgradeNext version of the OS
Up to three years quarterly Google Android security patches
SecurityRear Fingerprint sensor – 100% reliable over ten tests
2D Face recognition – 60% reliable over ten tests
No other security devices

OS Summary: One of the few Pure Android 10 phones. But you may need to get used to it as it only has one ‘home’ button a.k.a. iOS. Great to see Android One 11 coming.

Build – PASS

ColoursCyan, Sand and Charcoal
BuildGorilla Glass 3
Plastic frame
Composite plastic painted back
Dimensions164.3 x 76.6 x 8.5mm x 180g
IP RatingNo
In the box3.5 mm earbuds and mic
Clear bumper case
Nokia 5.2 2020

What’s missing

It is not so much what is missing as everything you expect of a $349 phone is there – no deal breakers.

At this price, you cannot expect IP ratings, Qi charge etc.

Nokia 5.3 2020 Camera – PASS

PrimaryMP: 13MP
Sensor: Unknown*
Pixel Size: 1.12um
F-stop: f/1.8
FOV: 66.5°
Stabilisation: None
Focus type: AF
Zoom: up to 8x digital
AI scene recognition
Flash: single
Google Lens:
Selfie 18MP
66.3 ° FOV
Flash: No
Standard shot – perfect colour and detail
Nokia 5.3 5X
5X zoom is adequate. We tried 10X zoom but you really don’t want to see that!
Nokia 5.3 macro
Pretty good macro detail although colours are a little washed out
Nokia 5.3 dark
<40 lumens shot is pretty good
Nokia 5.3 Night mode
Night mode introduces way too much noise. Look closely under the desk to the left.

* Our testing software can’t read the sensor types (unusual), but it seems to be a Samsung 3-series (probably 3L6 as used in the Moto e6s) with PDAF and smaller 1.12um pixels. It is good for daylight and office light.

Camera Summary: Overall, the camera is a cut above ‘social media’ standard, but it is not good in low light.

GadgetGuy’s take – Nokia 5.3 2020 passes muster

It is precisely as I expect from a $349 handset. Reliable, all necessary features with the added advantage of Pure Android One. You can’t go wrong.

BUT, where I expected some unique Nokia style and even Finnish quirkiness I got none. And this in my not so humble opinion is where Nokia is going wrong. You have a tsunami of SD665 phones, and it outclassed by the likes of Moto G8 ($329 4.6/5), and the superb OPPO A9 ($349 and 4.8/5).  If you spend $50 more, it gets a Moto g8 Plus ($399 5/5).

We use a highly objective rating system – the FAIL, PASS or EXCEED shows where a phone may deserve less or more marks. This device PASSES all paradigms and EXCEEDS on Pure Android.

However, I urge you to consider Nokia – a Finnish company that deserves to succeed and resurrect this iconic brand.


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Value for money
Ease of Use
Reader Rating2 Votes
Pure Android One with 11 coming
Meets all expectations for the price
None really