Nokia 8.3 5G Review – Just the big basics

Chris Burns - Nov 9, 2020, 4:07pm CST
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Nokia 8.3 5G Review – Just the big basics
Editors' Rating: 7/10
Pros
  • Beautiful industrial design
  • Decent, large display
  • Includes 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Side-mounted fingerprint reader
  • Android One (software updates guaranteed)
Cons
  • Cameras leave something to be desired
  • Display dim around camera punch hole

The Nokia 8.3 5G is the perfect smartphone for a certain sort of person. If you’re looking for a smartphone that has a modern processor, made by a major label company, runs Android One (so you know it’ll get updates from Google), has access to 5G data speed, has a sizeable display, and works with an at-least-usable set of cameras, this is the phone for you. The Nokia 8.3 5G is not the most extravagant phone in the world – it’s the best at most of what it aspires to be.

Who should avoid this phone

If you’ve only ever used an iPhone for the past decade, now’s not the time to try out Android with a Nokia phone. This device won’t satisfy users who’ve had far more expensive phones in the past. If you’ve had a smartphone with a much sharper display (higher PPI), you’ll probably find this phone difficult to get used to.

If you’re prone to dropping your phone on the ground because you lose your grip without a case, think twice. This device isn’t especially slippery, but it is big, and very smooth. I’d make sure I had some sort of system (likely a 3rd-party case) to keep this phone safe from slips out in the wild.

Who should buy this phone

If you want a simple-as-possible smartphone experience but do not like iOS, Android One is a good option. The Nokia 8.3 runs Android One. Android One is just Android without any frills, and a guarantee through Nokia that you’ll get “2 years of guaranteed software upgrades and 3 years of monthly security updates.” This version of Android is easier to use than iOS.

If you’re looking for the least expensive phone that has access to 5G data, this isn’t it. For the moment, that honor goes to Verizon’s TCL 10 5G UW – with Verizon, anyway. The Nokia 8 V 5G UW is a phone with a value that matches its price, so long as the user understands which areas Nokia’s concentrated their efforts.

For the rare lover of the side-mounted fingerprint reader, the Nokia 8.3 5G is a winner. This device has a fingerprint scanning power button, and it works great. BONUS: As we’re living in a global pandemic that requires our faces to be half-covered with a mask, face-scanning isn’t always the best idea for unlocking one’s phone. The fingerprint scanner axes that issue right out the gate.

Display

The display on this phone is 6.81-inches large with IPS LCD technology and 1080 x 2400 pixels across its face. That makes for a 386 PPI (pixels per inch) pixel density, not the sharpest display in a smartphone today, but it’s sure no slouch

You may find yourself a bit disappointed by the chin on this device – a bezel that’s thicker than the rest. That is, if you’ve grown used to the most modern smartphone design trends which all seem to put equilateral bezels above all else. That chin also shows the NOKIA brand – on the front of the phone – so you’ll want to make your peace with that design decision before you drop your cash, too.

The display seems to be slightly dimmer around the punch hole. It’s almost as if the punch hole casts a barely-visible shadow in all directions. This isn’t usually an issue, especially if you’re using the built-in Dark Mode that comes with Android 10 (with Android One, at least).

Camera Power

The camera system on the Nokia 8.3 5G leaves something to be desired. In perfect lighting conditions, we’re able to capture some decent photos. Once we start trying to capture moving objects in indoor rooms with lamp lighting – things start to get a bit messy.

If you’re looking for a hobby camera that’s great for ultra-wide photos, the Nokia 8.3 5G will do the trick. If you’re attempting to take award-winning macro shots, the Nokia 8.3 5G might disappoint. The same is true of special effects like smart bokeh blurring for portraits – Nokia’s cameras aren’t great here. They’re not BAD, but they’re not great.

ABOVE: Indoors, low light (not dark), moving object (see the shell). BELOW: Outdoors, wide angle, bright blue sky.

It’s quite possible that the camera system on this device is capable of improving. If we’re able to get a 3rd-party camera system – like a custom-tweaked Google Camera (GCAM) app, we might even have more luck making the best use of the cameras on this phone. But with what’s provided by Nokia, the cameras on this device are punching a little below their weight class.

Above you’ll see a few more examples of different environments and subjects captured by the back-facing camera array on the Nokia 8.3 5G for this review.

Battery

The battery size and the optimization of Android and the hardware here for the battery are superb. The phone is large, but the display is an LCD with a nothing-flashy pixel resolution, so you’ve got a perfect storm of elements when it comes to battery life. I’ve gone well over a day and a half of normal use with this device with relative ease.

If I charge the battery every other night, the Nokia 8.3 5G stays powered up enough to function. Once we start getting deeper into always-active, always-connected 5G use, this may change.

Wrap-up

There’s a specific sort of user that’ll enjoy the Nokia 8.3 5G. This device is also set for release with Verizon in a slightly different configuration – mostly to enable mmWave 5G – with the device called “Nokia 8 V 5G UW”. Barring unforeseen tweaking done to that phone by Verizon, this review should serve as a basic preview for that phone, too.

The Nokia 8.3 5G is a great smartphone. It looks great and it feels great. Its value is based in simplicity mixed with forward-aimed connectivity and guarantees for quality in both hardware and software (with the updates to boot!) This configuration of the Nokia 8.3 5G was priced at around $700 USD when this review was first published.


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