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Nokia 3 review: The Nokia 3 is cheap and you'll know it

The Android phone sacrifices too much power in order to keep costs down.

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Andrew Lanxon
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Andrew Lanxon

Lead Editor, CNET Advice, Europe; Lead Photographer, Europe

Andrew is CNET's go-to guy for product coverage and lead photographer for Europe. When not testing the latest phones, he can normally be found with his camera in hand, behind his drums or eating his stash of home-cooked food. Sometimes all at once.

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The Nokia 3 is the lowest-end of Nokia's new line of Android phones. It's on sale in the UK for £120, but you will have to make sacrifices for that price. That converts to $156 or AU$200, although Nokia has no plans to bring the phone to the US.

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6.4

Nokia 3

The Good

The Android-based Nokia 3 is dirt-cheap, looks good and is comfortable to hold in one hand.

The Bad

Its lack of power makes using the phone sluggish and frustrating.

The Bottom Line

The Nokia 3 sacrifices too much processing power to achieve its low price. You’re better off spending a bit more on the Motorola Moto G5.

The biggest problems are in the processor performance. The quad-core chip struggles to run even the stock version of Android Nougat, making swiping around the interface sluggish and stuttery. There's a noticeable delay when opening apps, too, and some apps -- including the Google Play store -- forced quit on several occasions. I found it regularly frustrating.

The design of the phone is lovely, though, with a slim body and narrow bezel, making it compact enough to hold in one hand. The 5-inch display's 720p resolution is sufficient to clearly showcase the essentials, although it's neither bright nor bold, so don't buy this phone hoping to show off your holiday snaps at their best.

Speaking of snaps, the 8-megapixel camera is fine for some quick photos in the park on a bright day, but it lacks the vibrant colours or exposure balance of pricier camera phones. The HDR mode does a decent job of lightening up some of the shadows, but even then you won't get results you'll want to do more with than simply slap on Facebook. It's very grainy in low-light, although the 8-megapixel front-facing camera takes some crisp selfies.

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Nokia 3 outdoor camera test

Andrew Hoyle/CNET
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Nokia 3 low-light camera test

Andrew Hoyle/CNET
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Nokia 3 front-facing camera test

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

The battery lasted about 10 hours on our rundown test, which is distinctly average. That said, if you're only using the basics of Whatsapp and email throughout the day, then you shouldn't struggle to get a day of use out of it. Keep the screen brightness down and Wi-Fi turned off if you want to eke out the hours.

Don't buy the Nokia 3 if you're a regular smartphone user wanting to play games and take Instagram-worthy photos throughout the day. You'd be better off splashing a bit more cash and going for the excellent Moto G5.

Do buy the Nokia 3 if you want the basics of email, phone calls and a spot of Whatsapp and don't want to drain much of your bank account to get it.

Nokia 3 specs comparison chart


Nokia 3Motorola Moto G5Nokia 5Motorola Moto E4
Display size, resolution 5-inch; 1,280x720 pixels5-inch; 1,920x1,080 pixels5.2-inch; 1,280x720 pixels5-inch; 1,280x720 pixels
Pixel density 293ppi440ppi282ppi294ppi
Dimensions (Inches)
5.7x2.9x0.37 in5.89x2.85x0.34 in5.7x2.8x0.37 in
Dimensions (Millimeters) 143.4x71.4x8.48144.3x73x9.5 mm149.7x72.5x8.55 mm144.5x72x9.3 mm
Weight (Ounces, Grams) TBA5.1 oz, 145gTBA5.3 oz; 150g
Mobile software Android 7.1.1 NougatAndroid 7.0 NougatAndroid 7.1.1 NougatAndroid Nougat 7.1
Camera 8-megapixel13-megapixel13-megapixel8-megapixel
Front-facing camera 8-megapixel5-megapixel8-megapixel5-megapixel with flash
Video capture 720p1080pTBA1080p
Processor MTK 6737, Quad-core 1.3Ghz1.4GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 430Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 430Quad-core processor (Qualcomm Snapdragon in North America; MediaTek globally)
Storage 16GB16GB, 32GB (varies by region)16GB16GB
RAM 2GB2GB or 3GB, based on region2GB2GB
Expandable storage 128GB128GB128GBUp to 128GB
Battery 2,630mAh2,800mAh (removable)3,000mAh2,800mAh (removable)
Fingerprint sensor NoBelow screenBelow screenBeneath screen (varies by region)
Connector Micro-USBMicro-USBMicro-USBMicro-USB
Special features
Dual-SIM, splash-proof
Dual-SIM (varies by region), splash-resistant (varies by region)
Price off-contract (USD) Converts to $156N/AConverts to $235$130
Price (GBP) £120£169 (16GB, 2GB RAM); £179 (16GB, 3GB RAM)£180£129
Price (AUD) Converts to AU$200Converts to AU$291 (16GB)Converts to AU$301Converts to AU$172
nokia-3-mwc-10.jpg
6.4

Nokia 3

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 7Performance 4Camera 6Battery 7