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June 14, 2017

Nokia 6, Nokia 5, and Nokia 3: Our first take

by John_A

Why it matters to you

Nokia’s back … sort of. HMD is taking the reins, and the company is highlighting durability and battery life as highlights of its new phones.

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Update: All three Nokia phones are now available in India.

HMD Global, the company licensing Nokia’s name, unveiled two new smartphones, as well as a feature phone to drum up the nostalgia factor for the iconic brand.

The Nokia 6, which first launched in China last year, will be available globally. It will be followed by two lower-performing and smaller devices — the Nokia 5 and the Nokia 3. HMD said it’s committed to keeping up with the monthly security updates from Google for the operating system, as well as being timely with new Android version updates.

Speaking of Android, all of these devices will have the Google Assistant now that Google is bringing its artificially intelligent bot to all Android phones running Android 6.0 or higher.

All in all, the entire lineup seemed to be the best-built budget phones we’ve seen. Let’s take a closer look.

Nokia 5

The sequence of names really don’t make much sense, but it’s not hard to figure out that the Nokia 5 is the middle child of the group. The 2.5d glass on the 5.2-inch display offers a 720-pixel resolution, and it feels durable thanks to its aluminum unibody. The screen offers extra visibility in direct sunlight thanks to a polarizer.

The power button and volume rocker sits on the top right, and the bottom-front features capacitive navigation buttons. The middle button, however, doubles as a fingerprint sensor. The aluminum unibody really helps make this phone feel like a premium device — and you’ll certainly be surprised that it costs 189 euros (or about $200 U.S.).

Powering the smartphone is Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 430 with 2GB RAM, which seemed to keep the phone running smoothly in our brief time with it. What likely helps is how the Nokia 5 runs stock Android 7.1.1 Nougat, but don’t expect to do any intensive multitasking or play graphics-heavy games.

It sadly only comes with 16GB of internal storage, which is much lower than the standard offerings from phones in this price range. Thankfully, there’s a MicroSD card slot that supports up to 128GB of extra storage. It surprisingly has a massive 3,000mAH battery, which should keep this low-resolution device chugging along for quite a while.

There’s only a single speaker (but thankfully a headphone jack), and at the bottom sits a MicroUSB charging port. It’s unclear why Nokia went with MicroUSB over USB Type-C, which a lot of other budget phones have adopted. At least there’s an NFC sensor, meaning you can use Android Pay.

The rear camera packs 13 megapixels, and the front has 8 megapixels and a wide-angle lens. There didn’t seem to be much shutter lag, but we’ll have to explore the camera more when we get a review unit.

You can choose from blue, copper, black, and silver for the Nokia 5.

Nokia 3

The Nokia 3 is the most affordable of the lineup and also the smallest. An aluminum frame protects the 5-inch screen from accidental drops, but the back is made of polycarbonate. What’s remarkable is how Nokia makes this phone feel like it’s made of metal, as there’s a nice weight to it.

Like the others in the series, the Nokia 3 follows a minimalist design. The back is plain, save the camera; the buttons are on the right, and you’ll find capacitive navigation buttons on the front.

Like the Nokia 5, the device only has a 720-pixel resolution. It has a MediaTek 6737 processor with 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage that again can be expanded up to 128GB by using the MicroSD card slot. It has a slightly smaller 2,650mAh battery, which charges via the MicroUSB port on the bottom. It also comes with an NFC sensor.

The front and rear cameras both pack 8 megapixels, though the primary one has an LED flash.

This Nokia 3 runs Android 7.0 Nougat, and it’s likely to get upgraded to 7.1.1, as the company said it would be committed to timely version updates from Google. There are white, black, blue, and silver color options, and the phone will only cost 139 euros, or about $147.

Nokia 6

The Nokia 6 debuted last year in China, but it will finally be available globally. If you need a refresher on the specs, the 5.5-inch device is the only one of the trio to feature a Full HD display. The phone’s immersive sound comes via dual speakers and a dedicated amplifier with Dolby Atmos certification.

The extra metal protection along the sides of the phone make it feel very durable, and the Nokia 6 truly does feel like a high-end phone, both hardware- and software-wise.

Running Android 7.1.1 Nougat, the Nokia 6 is powered by the same processor in the Nokia 5 — the Snapdragon 430 — but it has an extra gigabyte of RAM. It also has more storage — 32GB to be exact, and MicroSD card support. It also carries the same 3,000mAh battery. You get a primary 16 megapixel camera with dual-tone flash, along with an 8 megapixel front-facing camera.

There are five colors to choose from, but the the glossy Arte Black was specially made for the phone’s global release. It’s quite the fingerprint magnet, though. Other available colors are black, blue, silver, and copper.

The Nokia 6 will cost 229 euros ($242), but if you want the fancy Arte Black special edition, you’ll have to shell out 299 euros, or $316.

All three devices seemed to perform well, but what’s unique is their build quality. HMD seems to have gone extra lengths to make sure Nokia devices are still known for their durability. The devices also seem to have big batteries — when paired with low-end specs, that usually means you’ll see great battery life. We’ll have to dig deep when we get our review units.

All three phones have launched in India, and are expected to launch in other countries in the near future, though we don’t yet know where. The Nokia 3 is available in India for 9,499 rupees, or $148, while the Nokia 5 is available for 12,899 rupees, or $200, and the Nokia 6 for 14,999 rupees, or $233.

Highs

  • Excellent build quality
  • Stock Android
  • Promise of monthly security updates, timely version updates
  • Snappy performance

Lows

  • Design can be a little plain
  • Poor internal storage capacity




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