Price (RRP): $349
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
Resolution: 1600×720 (268ppi)
|Colour depth in bit/colours: 16m|
Typical/Max Brightness: 450/500 nits (claim)
Contrast: Colour gamut: 90% sRGB
Delta E 10 (<4 is considered accurate)
White balance choice from cool to warm
|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
4×2.0Ghx + 4×1.8Ghz
VP8/9, HEVC, H.263/4, MP2/3/4.
OpenCL 2.0 Full, Vulkan 1.1, OpenGL ES 3.2, DX12
|RAM||RAM: 4GB LPDDR4X|
Storage: 64GB eMMC 41GB free
OTG Support: Yes
Micro-SD card expansion: 512GB
|Geekbench 5||Single 312|
Its close in power to a 2017 Samsung S8
|Game Use||Casual web-based games only to 24fps|
|CPU Throttle||Max: 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
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-FI||Wi-Fi 5 ac, 1X1 MU-MIMO|
Signal strength -42dBm/433Mbps at 5 metres from NETGEAR AX12 router
SBC, AAC and aptX low latency
|NFC||Yes – PayWave only|
|GPS||Single-band approx. 10m accuracy.|
Not recommended for turn-by-turn navigation at speed
|USB||USB-C 2.0, OTG, does not support ALT DP video over USB-C|
|Sensors||Ambient 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.
4G/5G/LTE – PASS
|LTE||Cat 4 – slow 150//50Mbps|
|Bands||, 3, 5, 7, 8, 20, 28, 38, 40, 41|
|Sim||Dual plus dedicated microSD|
Each sim can have a separate ringtone
One sim active at a time
|Other||VoLTE 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
|Sound||3.5mm audio jack|
Speaker: Down-firing (mono)
|Sound Signature||Mid focus for clear voice|
|BT and cable output||Clean and strong feed|
|3.5mm buds||Boomy 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
Quick Charge: Supports QC 3.0 and PD 2.0 or higher
|Tests||Video-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
|Charge||With supplied charger – just under 3 hours|
With QC 3 (5V/3A) – under 2 hours
Battery Summary: We expect this to run for up 24-36 hours normal use hours between charges.
Operating system – EXCEED
|OS||Android One 10 and 11 coming|
UI: Pure Android
Security Patch June 2020
|All apps and Google Assistant|
|Upgrade||Next version of the OS|
Up to three years quarterly Google Android security patches
|Security||Rear 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
|Colours||Cyan, Sand and Charcoal|
|Build||Gorilla Glass 3|
Composite plastic painted back
|Dimensions||164.3 x 76.6 x 8.5mm x 180g|
|In the box||3.5 mm earbuds and mic|
Clear bumper case
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
Pixel Size: 1.12um
Focus type: AF
Zoom: up to 8x digital
AI scene recognition
66.3 ° FOV
* 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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