Nokia’s latest smartphone offers 5G connectivity with a decent value proposition. It’s a huge device with lots of great features built in, and the promised ongoing support makes it even more recommendable.
What is it?
The Nokia 8.3 5G is a 6.8-inch device with Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 765G chipset, 6GB or 8GB of RAM, and 64GB or 128GB of storage. The display is a vibrant Full HD+ resolution unit with good brightness and colour reproduction. There’s a 4500mAh battery inside that ought to last most people into a second day of usage comfortably, and the camera unit is a quad-array with 64MP main lens, 12MP wide-angle, 2MP macro, and a 2MP depth sensor for accurate autofocus and post-processing.
Overall, the device feels positively massive, coming in at a little over 220 grams, and it can be difficult to reach the far corners of the display. It’s the biggest smartphone Nokia has ever made. To reduce hand stress, Nokia has placed the combined fingerprint sensor and power button on the right edge, comfortably in reach of a thumb or index finger. However, if you have smaller hands – or you’re used to more modestly sized phones – it’s definitely stretching the boundaries of what’s usable.
Other features included on the 8.3 5G include a headphone jack, a dedicated Google Assistant button placed opposite to the power button, and a holepunch front-facing camera weighing in with 24MP of resolution. Expandable storage is available via microSD card, with cards up to 400GB supported.
What’s it like?
The Nokia is a fantastic daily device with just a few glaring issues. Starting with the good, its huge screen makes it fantastic for media consumption – reading the news, checking into socials and watching videos are great on such a large display. While the screen isn’t right up there with the high-end devices from its competitors – after all, it’s still a Full HD display with 60Hz refresh rate – it’s still more than usable, offering a satisfying visual experience.
Performance is also great – apps load quickly, and general browsing and gameplay feels good on the device. It’s not Qualcomm’s fastest chipset, but it still has plenty of power for day-to-day use. Battery life is similarly good, unless you’re really using that large display for a long time – and even then it should comfortably last you all day long.
Nokia has committed to supporting the phone through 3 years of monthly security updates to Android, along with Android 11 coming soon and Android 12 in the future. This is probably thanks to the Android One program, providing a very stock Android feel right out of the box with none of the bloatware you can sometimes get from other manufacturers.
5G connectivity is solid, and this phone is capable of using a range of frequency bands, offering great signal even from a range of rollouts – Nokia says the 8.3 5G is future proof by supporting all these frequency bands, and will operate globally with current and future technologies. Whether or not this is the case remains to be seen.
On the bad side – that Google Assistant button is very annoying at times. It’s just too easy to accidentally activate it when you’re picking up the phone. In my case, just holding the phone naturally places my finger on the button, and it requires too little force to activate. You can simply disable the button in the settings menu, but it’s not remappable to any other function, so you’re left with a useless button.
I also found the phone dropping calls occasionally for no reason, and while on a call, the proximity sensor is prone to reactivating the screen. I found in some cases, the phone had turned on the flashlight or disabled Bluetooth all from contact with my ear.
How are the cameras?
As with prior Nokia smartphones, Zeiss has provided the optics for the cameras, and they perform quite well. Shots from the main lens are sharp and colour reproduction is very accurate – but computational photography from its competitors is slightly better to my eye. Night mode also works great – although the software can be a little too eager to boost exposure too high.
While the main sensor touts a 64-megapixel resolution, general auto shooting downsizes this to 16-megapixels with quad pixel binning to provide better lighting performance. However, you can utilise the full 64-megapixels in Pro mode by digging through the modes in the camera app. Beware that Pro mode in 64-megapixel resolution will produce file sizes in excess of 20MB per photo.
The wide-angle lens offers decent quality too – while not as good as the main sensor, it’s more than usable if you need to fit more into your photo.
As I’ve experienced with phones from other manufacturers, the macro lens is a huge letdown. Why phone companies insist on a macro lens instead of something more usable like a telephoto is still beyond me. Photos from this lens come with washed-out colours and the focus is never quite on point – although it can provide an interesting perspective if you’re willing to overlook the reduction in image quality.
The 8.3 5G’s video capability is also being touted by Nokia, and the phone supports 4K recording up to 24fps and 21:9 aspect ratio for that cinematic feel. A 60fps mode is also available for fast-moving scenes, although at a lower resolution.
Should I buy it?
If you’re looking for an alternative to the high-end 5G offerings from the major brands, the Nokia 8.3 5G is honestly worth considering. At its lower price point of $899, it’s a powerful phone with a good main camera, a nice display, and a huge footprint – if you’re into larger phones.
The device is let down by an annoying Google Assistant button and a middling macro lens, along with some weird call issues – but these are the worst things about the device, and everything else about the phone feels great. If the screen lockout during calls can be fixed, it’s a nice device.
While a bit more expensive than 5G options from brands like Motorola, it feels like it’s worth the extra money with a solid build quality, better photography experience, and a better software experience with longer promised update tail. Nokia’s continued delivery of the Android One program makes the 8.3 5G worthy of consideration.