The Nokia 8.3 5G is it’s first 5G foray and anything good enough for James and friends is good enough for me.
But damn you, Nokia. Your Nokia 8.3 5G ‘No Time to Die’ promo ‘in cinemas November 2020’ got me all excited. I had to purchase the entire James Bond Collection on DVD from JB (on special for $80.50 – RRP $115). I now have 24 movies (nearly 100 hours) and six iconic James Bond actors to catch up on before I can see ‘No Time to Die’ – now fortunately scheduled for April 2021.
Damn you as I should be doing reviews on your phone instead of enjoying myself. BTW the movies are a perfect way to spend summer.
Or as Moneypenny might say to James, “Is that a Walther PPK Nokia 8.3 in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?”
Nokia 8.3 5G Model TA-1234 DS 8/128 (look for ANZO region on the label)
Nokia is a smartphone brand owned by HMD Global in Espoo, Finland. Many ex-Nokia executives run it. Microsoft previously destroyed the brand from 2014 to make Windows Mobile handsets. The .3 series (2020) are the fourth generation under HMD.
First impression – PASS+
Big glass slabs are still in vogue. This is 171.90 x 78.56 x 8.99 mm x 227g. It has a flat 6.81″ screen and narrow bezels curving over to meet the frame.
The real action is on the back. It is ‘Polar Night’, and you can have and Aurora Borealis right in your hand. It is blue, deep teal, and coloured bands of light move as you rotate it. But it is hugely slippery, and the TPU bumper case ruins that effect.
Did I mention hugely slippery? Several times a day it would slip, by itself, off a glass desk or polished timber side-table. It got to the stage that we put a rubber mat under it to help defy gravity (or use the TPU case).
On the back is a round ‘signature’ camera hump with four ‘so-called’ Zeiss lenses and a dual flash. More on that later.
The right side has the combo fingerprint/power and volume up/down buttons. On the left is a Google Assistant button. And it is complete with 3.5mm combo audio jack.
Right now, let me tell you it loses points big time for the incredibly poor Google Assistant Button placement. With one-handed use – every time you use the combo power/fingerprint button on the right side, you accidentally fire up Google. Arrgh!
Screen – PASS
O-hole on left top. IPS LCD
2400 x 1080, 386ppi
20:9 and STBR of 82.9%
RGB adjust Temp HDR
16.7m Not given but measured at a maximum 600 nits with uneven brightness that varies between 550 and 650 nits over the screen Approx. 1200:1 maximum and 900:1 typical No claims on colour gamut Measured 100% sRGB and Delta E of 4.4 (<4 is good) but depending on-screen modes it can be as high as 9 No Cold to White HDR10 support and Amazon HDR
It has a Dynamic mode to adjust colour, brightness, and contrast to the content. Modes are original, photo, video, reading and games. Colour accuracy goes out the window in this mode
It has a switch to add faux HDR to SRD content. Despite an HDR certification blacks tend towards grey and details are lost in the shadows
AOD Dark mode Blue light
Not for direct sunlight and the glossy screen exacerbates that No Yes TUV Certified
Widevine L1 HDCP 2.3 but Netflix will only stream in HD/SDR DRM Info reports an HDR10/+/HLG capable screen
Not specified – assume toughened glass (not Gorilla Glass)
2D camera-based. Test 4/10
Is it a big screen. It has reasonable colour, brightness, and contrast. Regrettably, others in this class offer 90-120Hz LPTS and some AMOLED screens.
Processor – PASS
Qualcomm SD765G 7nm 1 x 2.3Ghz, 1 x 2.2Ghz, 6 x 1.8Ghz
Adreno 620 Compute Open CL: 1263
The SoC/GPU supports most mid-frame rates, but the 60Hz screen and response times mean there are better gaming choices. PUBG will do 40fps.
8GB LPDDR4X – we experienced no lag or multi-user issues.
128GB UFS 2.1 (92GB free) Androbench sequential read/write Internal storage: 952.27/231.49MBps – The write speeds are 50% slower than other SD765G devices. OTG: While it would recognise external drives, it won’t read or write to them. Every drive tested (formatted to exFat or FAT) came up as corrupted. It would format them but would not transfer data to them.
Micro-SD to 512GB
Geek Bench 5
Single: 516 Multi: 1613 It is in between the SD730 and SD845 But it performs about 20% below the typical SD765G benchmarks. We can only put this down to thermal design
Max: 159,172 GIPS, Average: 145,164 – 17% loss over 15 minutes CPU temp reached 61° It does run hot under load getting up to 42° externally.
The Qualcomm SD765G is my favourite Goldilocks chip of 2020 – just right. But this one is performing up to 20% less than the pack.
Other makers have utilised the SD765G’s comprehensive feature set like Wi-Fi 6 AX, dual-channel GPS, Aqstic audio engine, Dolby Atmos, USB-C 3.1 and QC 4 charging. Sorry, but our tests found none of these.
Now I know that Pure Android may limit some of these features, but it was rather a lacklustre performer compared to other SD765G devices.
Comms – PASS
Wi-Fi 5 AC 2×2 MIMO Signal Strength 5Ghz – distance from ASUS AX1100 router – 2m: –33dBm/866Mbps – 5m: -604dBm/117Mbps – 10m: -69/52Mbps (almost unusable but reverts to 2.4Ghz)
<10m accuracy for turn-by-turn navigation
Yes – PayWave only
2.0 (we were unable to read/write from external media)
Accelerometer and Gyroscope combo – this makes for a very touchy screen autorotate – turn it off. Magnetometer Proximity Ambient Light
The Wi-Fi 5 speeds are average, particularly as some in this class are still able to get a strong signal at 10m.
The SSD765 supports USB-C 3.1 – this has implemented the far slower 2.0. Ditto to dual-channel GPS – this is a single channel.
The combo sensor tends to make these devices ultra-sensitive and give too many false screen rotations. Turn auto rotate off to maintain your sanity.
LTE and 5G – PASS
Hybrid dual sim (one active at a time) or single sim plus micro-SD
VoLTE – carrier dependent – generally yes Wi-Fi calling – Yes
claimed to be the first smartphone which is compatible with all existing 5G bands. We can’t test that, but it has n78 sub-6GHz for Australia
-101dBm in a 3-bar reception area (average) Strength: 79.4fW Found a second tower at -108dBm and 15.8W
We find that most 5G phones perform more poorly than dedicated 4G devices. It must be something to do with the antenna design as they drop too easily to 3G.
This should be a good city phone or suburban – not for regional or rural use.
Battery – PASS or maybe a fail
Claimed 4500 but reported as 3300mAh
5V/3A,15w, 9V/2A/18W and 12V/1.5A/18W Test: 30% – 30 mins 60+ – 60 mins 100% – 1.5 hrs
Video Loop test: 1080p/50%/aeroplane mode – 18 hours Typical use 4G, Wi-Fi Test – 15.5 hrs MP3 music test: 50% volume played from storage – 40+ 100% load Battery drain – 4 hrs T-Rex –442.6min/7.38hrd/3346 frames Idle Drain screen off: about 15 days Idle drain screen on: 25hrs
We are concerned that the battery claim of 4500mAh shows independently on all test apps as 3300mAh. If the apps are correct, that makes a huge difference to battery life.
We found that it needed a charge every night. It is a one-day phone. Others in this class will charge as fast as 45 minutes.
It charges consistently at 5V/3A/15W in a linear manner – approx. 1.5 hours
Sound – PASSable
Why, oh why, a mono speaker at this price bracket? Class-leaders have stereo and Dolby Atmos.
Mono earpiece and down-firing speaker*
Unknown – probably Qualcomm
Codecs are SBC (standard), LDAC (Sony), aptX/HD/Adaptive (Qualcomm) and LDAC (Sony). You must enable these in Developer Options. It drove our reference Sony WH-1000xM4 in SBC, AAC and LDAC (OPUS) modes and provided good clear sound and plenty of volume.
Yes, and standard buds
Yes, with buds as aerial
Tests dB Anything over 80dB is excellent
Media – 75 Ring – 76 Alarm – 75 Earpiece – 55 Hands-free – adequate and clear
It is a mono bottom-firing speaker, so there is no L/R sound stage
No bass, very late-mid and lots of low-to-mid treble – it focuses on clear voice
I can’t imagine what Nokia was thinking by making its flagship smartphone a mono system. The SD765G supports so much more.
It is not as loud as others in the class and callers commented on wind noise in hands-free.
Build – PASS
168 x 74 x 9 mm x 207g – it’s a big phone
Front – glass type not specified Frame – not specified but likely metal Back – glass type not specified
In the box
Bumper cover 18W charger USB-A to USB-C cable 3.5mm standard buds
Solid and well-made but at 227g it is a pocketful.
Nokia why didn’t you use Gorilla Glass like everyone else? Or at least tell us its toughened glass. It may be, but we don’t know.
Android 10 – PASS+
Google Android 10 Security patch date: 1 October 2020
Pure Android One
All standard apps, Google Lens and Assistant. Dedicated Google Assistant key. Dedicated Google Assistant button (that is badly placed)
Amazon, Netflix – un-installable
Two years of guaranteed software upgrades – that means 11 Three years of monthly security updates. Note that Google will handle security updates in Android 11
Fingerprint on the power key – accurate and fast FaceID – 5/10 fails
Nokia is banking on its use of Pure Google Android will sell more phones than brands that use an User Interface over Google Android.
Yes and no.
Yes, it is nice to have a bloatware-free device and to get updates regularly.
No, a UI can add so much value and features to Pure Android. Even Motorola, a staunch Pure Android supporter, now has My UX on its 2020 devices.
Missing – FAIL
No IP rating. The class leader LG Velvet has IP68 and MIL-SPEC
It really should be, and Dolby Atmos would be nice
18W is not really ‘quick charge’, and there are SD765G phones that can charge in half the time
Not a deal-breaker but the class-leader LG Velvet has it
GadgetGuy announced this device back in March 2020. Later market entrants have better specs.
Nokia 8.3 5G Camera – PASS
It may be a quad-camera but most of the heavy lifting in by the Primary lens. And this time you don’t get Zeiss lenses – you get a Zeiss collaboration on the app – disappointing.
HDR EIS for video OZO sound recording Cinema Mode recording
The primary lens is great. The ultrawide is adequate. Digital zoom and dedicated macro are poor.
The Zeiss name is not however about the hardware, lenses etc. It’s a collaboration on the app for Zeiss-tuned filter modes. I think that the use of the name Zeiss printed on the camera, in this case, verges on deceptive.
Indoors Office Light (400 lumen)
Low light (room <100 lumen)
24MP binned to 6MP is fine. Screen fill flash helps
You can shoot [email protected] with EIS stabilisation, and the results are fine, but we recommend a tripod. They are even better without EIS as the SD756G can focus on processing higher bit-rates to give saturated colours and decent details. The video sweet spot is [email protected]
The dual mics are good at stereo sound recording.
GadgetGuy’s take – Nokia 8.3 5G is a bit old fashioned like Mr Bond
I was initially excited by the Nokia 8.3 5G – it looks great. But as I stated ‘dissecting it’ I found that it was far from the class-leader in the SD765G melee.
No Qi wireless charge, IP rating, mono speaker, stupid Google button placement and a ‘PureView’ camera that should have been exceptional – except that it was average. And the issues with battery size and general lacklustre performance means it is not the class leader.
This looks and feels like a 2019 mid-range – not some of the exceptional 2020 mid-range SD765G phones we have seen.
One thing – after having reviewed so many 5G phones is that 4G signal strength seems to be low to average across them all. Its as if 5G reduces 4G signal strength.
So the kindest thing I can say is that Nokia 8.3 is a fine phone all around, but several competitors eclipse it in almost every way.
And finally, Nokia used to provide detailed specifications. Now it is a few lines, and that usually means we reviewers have to dig harder and look in more detail discovering more flaws!
Grey market – no Australian warranty
We issue the standard warning that you must buy the genuine model with Australian firmware as it works on all Australian Telco carrier 5G and 4G LTE bands and can make a 000-emergency call (not 911) without a SIM. As A 5G device, it is pre-registered to the Australian network.
We have named and shamed the major grey marketers here. If you are going to spend this much money, get a genuine ‘Made for Australia’ model.
Rating explanation – Nokia 8.3 5G
If a device PASSes every test it gets 4/5. we add points for EXCEED and take off for FAIL. This is a fine phone but it does not stand out in the crowd.
Value for money
Ease of Use
Build quality – Nokia
Style – I like the Polar Blue
Android One and updates
Camera – not as good as expected
Camera needs more algorithm tweaking for low light and macro