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Nokia 8.3 5G Review

The Nokia 8.3 5G is the latest in a series of top notch phones claiming to offer flagship specs at a rock bottom price. It targets the same space as the new Pixel 5 and Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro.

Verdict

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The Nokia 8.3 5G is HMD Global’s first attempt at a cheap phone with 5G. It targets the same busy space as the Pixel 5 and Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro.

As a piece of hardware it doesn’t have all the next generation bells and whistles seen on its competitors.

Check the phone’s specs sheet and you’ll find there’s no fast refresh rate screen or clever software additions to be found.

But, by getting nearly all the basics right and offering the blissfully bloatware free Android One experience, it remains a solid choice for any buyer on the budget looking for a 5G phone.

A black Nokia smartphone displaying home screen resting on it's white packaging box

Design and Screen

  • A chunky, well-built phone
  • No 90Hz panel – something now fairly common at this price
  • 6.81-inch is certainly large and good for media

Nokia execs’ used to joke that if you dropped one of their phones, it’s the floor that’ll come off worse. The Nokia 8.3 5G follows this strategy when it comes to design.

It’s a chunky, well built lump of a phone that’s noticeably larger and heavier than most current gen’ handsets measuring in at 171.9 x 78.6 x 9 mm and weighing 220g. The plastic, shiny back also gives it a distinct mid-range. Think Galaxy S20 FE, rather than flagship Galaxy S20 Ultra.

However, the heft makes it feel reassuringly solid, and having survived an accidental encounter with the kitchen flaw I can confirm it is very well built. As an added bonus, unlike many phones at this price it also has a formal IP 52 water resistance rating. This isn’t quite as good as an IP 68 rating, but it does add some protection from sprays of water.

The only downside to the phone’s heft is that, like the Moto G9 Plus and Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro, it can feel a little unwieldy to use one handed, especially if you’re a southpaw. This is in part due to its sheer size, but also because of its physical button placement.

Like its rivals, the Nokia places its power and volume controls on the phone’s right hand side. The positioning is intended to lie where a right handed person’s thumb would naturally fall, but for left handed people it’s an outright pain. This is especially true if you want to use the power buttons inbuilt fingerprint scanner.

Outside of this, it ticks all the right boxes when it comes to functionality, coming with either 64GB or 128GB of storage, a USB-C charge input and 3.5mm headphone input for any audiophile or wireless hold out still using a cabled set of cans.

Close up right angled view of blue Nokia smartphone laid on a concrete block

The Nokia 8.3 5G’s screen is generally good, outside of one key omission – it doesn’t have a high refresh rate screen.

For those out of the know, traditionally most phone screens are locked to 60Hz. This means no matter what you’re doing the phone will render 60 images per second. However, recently phones have started hitting the market with higher refresh rate panels that can go as high as 90Hz, 120Hz and in some instances 144Hz. This has a few benefits, chief of which is making the display generally feel smoother to use and more responsive.

A few years ago the Nokia 8.3’s standard 60Hz rating would have been fine, but with key phones including the Pixel 5, Galaxy S20 FE, Moto G 5G Plus and Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro all featuring the tech it feels like an odd omission.

Thankfully outside of this the screen is perfectly serviceable. Measuring in at 6.81-inches big it’s more than spacious enough for regular use, movie watching and gaming. The 1080 x 2400 resolution isn’t the sharpest you’ll find this price, but honestly you’ll struggle to spot individual pixels.

IPS panels never offer the wonderful deep immersive blacks of their OLED rivals, but the Nokia 8.3’s screen has a nice neutral, natural tone, which is a welcome change to the overcooked warm displays I see on most phones this price.

Max brightness levels aren’t as good as you’ll find on some of the best Android phones, but they’re high enough to make sure the phone screen remains legible in everything but the brightest sunlight.

A black Nokia smartphone standing held in hand, displaying home screen

Performance

  • Android One gets you a clean build of Android with no bloatware
  • 6GB or 8GB RAM and a Snapdragon 765G chipset
  • 5G support

If, like us at Trusted Towers, you’re a fan of unadulterated, pristine clean Android installs then the Nokia 8.3 5G is a top phone. The 8.3 5G is one of a select few phones to come out this year as part of the Android One programme.

This comes with two key benefits. First, the phone’s software is untouched, meaning its completely free of bloatware, duplicate apps and UI changes. Second, because it ensures the phone will receive updates to newer versions of Android year-on-year, a key factor most companies struggle to deliver on at this price.

As a result, outside of Google’s Pixel line or Motorola’s One series, you’ll struggle to find a handset with cleaner, more future proof software than the Nokia 8.3 5G at the moment.

The Nokia 8.3 5G runs using Qualcomm’s mid-tier Snapdragon 765G chip. The chip’s backed up by either 6GB or 8GB of RAM (tested) depending on which storage option you pick.

Spec fanatics will likely sniff at the absence of an 8-series chip but, as we noted in our Pixel 5 review, the 765G is a perfectly competent piece of silicon that is more than powerful enough for most users. It’s also a lot less demanding on a phone’s battery.

With regular use I found the Nokia 8.3 5G zips through everyday tasks. Multi-tab web browsing is smooth and the phone runs game streaming services, like GeForce Now with zero issues. Local games like CoD Mobile and PUBG also run fine, though I tended to dial down their graphics settings to remain the occasional delay in loading times.

The chip’s 5G connectivity will also be a boon for early adopters of the new tech. 5G’s a new networking standard/technology that’s rapidly rolling out across the UK and other territories. It offers huge increases in data speeds compared to 4G that let you do things like stream video in 4K and download entire TV series in minutes. Or at least that’s the idea.

The phone’s synthetic benchmark scores mirrored my real world findings. Testing the phone with Geekbench 4, which stress tests the CPU to give a rough gauge of overall performance the Nokia 8.3 5G ran in with 571 single-core and 1543 multi-core scores. These scores are par for the course for a phone running the 765G chipset. The Pixel 5, which uses the same chip, scored 600 single and 1623 multi in the same test.

A black Nokia smartphone standing against books placed one over the other, displaying home screen

Camera

  • You’ll find four cameras on the back, including a 64MP main camera
  • This is paired with a depth camera and 12MP ultrawide
  • Selfies are taken care of with a 24MP front camera

The one area best mid-range phones, outside of Pixels, struggle to compete with the best phone is camera tech. This remains the case with the Nokia 8.3 5G, which offers passable, but fairly by the numbers camera performance.

The phone comes loaded with a quad-sensor rear camera that combines 64MP wide, 12 MP, ultrawide, MP, macro and 2 MP depth parts. As is the case on most phones at this price, the latter two sensors are fairly useless and don’t have any real impact on image quality if you use the out of the box settings.

The auto mode is capable of taking decent photos for use on social media. Images are generally sharp and the camera app/shutter speeds and auto focus are nice and snappy. Images also don’t feel massively over-processed, which is a common problem on most phones at this price. But colours and dynamic range aren’t on a par with what you’ll get on a Pixel 5 and generally can look a little dull compared to some competitors.

Portrait shots, where the phone uses the multiple sensors to detect depth and add a bokeh effect, also aren’t the cleanest you’ll find at this price. Though they look fine on screen, blown up you’ll see some boundary issues where the subject and background are blurred. A bokeh effect is where the main subject of a photo is sharp, but the background is blurred.

Night time photography tells a similar story. Though it is possible to take usable snaps in low light, if you have steady hands, motion blur creeps in with even the slightest movement. Noise is also prone to creeping in and generally you won’t get the same quality shot as you would using a Pixel 5.

The 24 MP front camera tells a similar story. It’s more than good enough for taking selfies in the daylight and video calls, but low light performance isn’t anything to write home about.

You can see a selection of photos taken on the Nokia 8.3 5G below.

 

Battery life

  • There’s a 4500mAh cell inside
  • 18w charging

The Nokia 8.3 5G is powered by a 4500mAh battery and features 18W fast charging. With every day use it offers solid stamina. Using it as my main work and personal phone I universally managed to eke out around two day’s use before having to reach for the charger.

This entailed sporadically browsing the web, regularly checking my social media and incoming messages, watching a few Youtube videos, a few hours music listening and half an hour on GeForce Now before bed. The decent stamina is likely largely down to its clean software and basic 60Hz refresh rate screen. A higher refresh rate puts a bigger drain on a phone’s battery as it forces it to show more images per second.

However, intensive tasks hit it fairly hard. Watching video with the screen set to 150 nits, the brightness most people will find comfortable, on Wi-Fi the Nokia 8.3 5G discharged an average of 10% charge per hour, which is a little higher than normal.

Gaming puts an even bigger drain on the battery. Play PUBG the phone lost an average of 14% of its charge per hour.

Charge speeds are reasonably good with the phone generally taking just over an hour to go from 0-100% using the in box charger.

You should buy the Nokia 8.3 5G if…

You’re after good, clean software

Like many HMD Nokia phones, the Nokia 8.3 5G runs Android One software. This is a version of Android similar to what you’ll find on Pixel phones with a distinct lack of bloatware. You should also multiple updates and three years of security patches.

You shouldn’t buy the Nokia 8.3 5G if…

You want true value for money

At its RRP, this isn’t the best value smartphone out there and you can tell this phone was delayed a lot. The lack of a 90Hz display means you might want to look elsewhere to get better bang for your buck.

A great camera is key

Another aspect of this phone where you might find better in our best mid-range phone list is the camera. It’s perfectly adequate, just not the best around.

FAQs

What is Nokia 8.3 5G price?

In the UK, the RRP of the Nokia 8.3 is £499.99

Where is the Nokia 8.3 made?

The Nokia 8.3 is made in India

Is Nokia 8.3 waterproof?

The Nokia 8.3 is not waterproof and it does not have an IP rating

Specs

UK RRP
Manufacturer
Screen Size
Storage Capacity
Rear Camera
Front Camera
Video Recording
IP rating
Size (Dimensions)
Weight
Operating System
Release Date
First Reviewed Date
Resolution
Refresh Rate
Ports
Chipset
RAM

Jargon buster

LCD

The type of display usually used on cheaper and mid-range devices. Lacks the punch on an OLED panel.

Snapdragon 765G

Qualcomm’s 2020’s mid-range chipset and the platform that powers the phone. This includes the CPU, GPU, ISPs for the camera and modem.

USB-C

The modern USB connector you’ll find on most Android phones, new laptops, cameras and games consoles. It’s reversible and used for charging along with data-transfer.

mAh

An abbreviation for milliampere-hour and a way to express the capacity of batteries, especially smaller ones in phones. In most cases the higher the mAh, the longer the battery will last but this isn’t always the case.

5G

Offering faster download and upload speeds when compared to 4G. Great for game streaming and HDR video playback. Not supported everywhere yet and speeds vary wildly.

Android One

This is a version of Android similar to what you’ll find on Pixel phones with a distinct lack of bloatware. You should also have multiple updates and three years of security patches.

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