The Nokia 8.3 5G won’t be any surprise to seasoned Nokia watchers – not only was it announced months before it went on sale, it offers the sort of value-for-money proposition that the brand is known for nowadays, coming in at less than £500 SIM-free in the UK.
That’s not much money for a phone that has 5G on board and the sort of the specs that the Nokia 8.3 5G can offer, though there’s plenty of competition at this price point: the Pixel 4a, the iPhone SE 2020, the OnePlus Nord, the Moto G 5G Plus and several others too.
It really comes down to what you want out of a smartphone, and if it’s 5G or a decent rear camera then the Nokia 8.3 5G is worth a look (you’ll note how many 5G phones continue to trail 5G in the actual name, just in case you were about to forget the tech was on board).
Nokia phones like this model have also appealed in their simplicity under the stewardship of HMD Global, joining the Android One programme that ensures a near-stock Android interface, two years of speedy software updates, and three years of security patches.
Nokia 8.3 5G review: price and availability
The Nokia 8.3 5G is available to preorder now, with availability from October. You can pick it up in the UK for a little under £500 from the likes of Clove and O2, with a variety of different options available on contract. Over in the US, the pricing has been set at $699 for a SIM-free phone, but that’s for the 8GB RAM / 128GB storage model (as opposed to the 6GB RAM / 64GB option in the UK).
Nokia 8.3 5G review: design and screen
Nokia-branded phones tend to go in for a kind of simple elegant minimalism these days, and the Nokia 8.3 5G is no different in that respect: it’s plain but not unappealing in terms of its aesthetics, a phone that won’t turn heads but won’t embarrass you if you have to pull it out in front of strangers. It definitely doesn’t have the polish and the feel of the very best flagships on the market, but it’s still nicely put together.
It’s absolutely worth a look if you’re after a big screen on your next smartphone – the 6.81-inch, 1,080 x 2,400 pixel IPS LCD screen is definitely on the larger side, and like a lot of budget phones that we’ve seen, there are thin bezels on three sides with a slightly thicker chin down at the bottom. The only blemish on the display is a punch hole notch for the front-facing camera.
Overall, the screen is clear and bright and sharp, with no problems in terms of movie watching, web browsing, or doing anything else you might want to do with your smartphone. No, it’s not up there with the very best smartphone screens on the market, but for the price you’re paying it’s perfectly fine. At the sides you’ve got the volume controls, power button, and a Google Assistant button, if you need it.
We’re not huge fans of the power button fingerprint sensor that the Nokia 8.3 5G deploys – a sunken power button just feels wrong – but that’s more of a subjective assessment, and you may love it. It does at least leave the back of the phone clear for a large, circular camera bump. The greeny-blue Polar Night is your only colour option, and there is a headphone jack alongside a USB-C port and a single speaker. You don’t get any waterproofing or dustproofing, which is par for the course at this price.
Nokia 8.3 5G review: camera and battery
The Nokia 8.3 5G features a quad-lens 64MP wide + 12MP ultrawide + 2MP macro + 2MP depth rear camera, but if you haven’t got the memo yet, the number of lenses and the pixel count aren’t always an accurate way of gauging camera quality. The Nokia 8.3 5G actually does a decent job with photos, though perhaps not quite as good a job as some of its similarly priced competitors.
Photos in daylight and good lighting are bright and sharp, with excellent colour balance and plenty of sharpness and detail. As an added bonus, the shutter speed is quick too. If you’re snapping photos throughout the day then we don’t think the Nokia 8.3 5G is going to let you down, and we were really happy with most of the photos we got – that ultrawide lens is really handy for fitting more into the frame.
It’s low light, night time photos where budget cameras tend to slip up, and here the Nokia 8.3 5G is less impressive. It’s still okay though, especially if you turn on night mode – this lets you get substantially more detail in darker shots, if you’re prepared to put up with several seconds of exposure time, and we found that it improved some of our pictures taken when light was at a premium.
In terms of battery, in our two-hour video streaming test, the 4,500 mAh battery on the Nokia 8.3 5G went down from 100 percent to 69 percent, suggesting you’ll get around 6 or 7 hours of movie watching out of it – that was with the screen brightness ramped right up though, so a dimmer display would give you extra time between charges. In general, the battery is good for a day but not really much more than that.
Nokia 8.3 5G review: other specs and features
Under the hood we’ve got the Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G processor that’s proving very popular this year, and that’s paired with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage (which you can expand with a memory card). We have seen an 8GB / 128GB mentioned in some quarters, though it hasn’t gone on sale yet as far as we can see.
Those aren’t cutting-edge specs but they’re certainly capable of coping with everything a smartphone needs to do – the very top processors and piles of RAM are nice to have, and shave off a few milliseconds of loading time, but you don’t really need them (as the number of manufacturers choosing the mid-range Snapdragon 765G has shown). In Geekbench, the Nokia 8.3 5G posted some very respectable scores of 576 (single core), 1529 multi core) and 1259 (OpenCL).
You do of course get 5G with this phone – the hint is in the name. Whether it’s worth upgrading at this stage is up to you and whether or not you can get 5G where you live: it’s definitely the future, but we’ve been surviving just fine on 4G, and unless you particularly need blazing fast speeds or an ultra-reliable connection at all times, we don’t think it’s a must-have right now. If you do want it, the Nokia 8.3 5G is one of your cheapest options.
The phone arrives with Android 10 on board, and considering its status as an Android One handset, that should get bumped to Android 11 very soon. The clean, uncluttered, Google-focused version of Android that Nokia phones ship with is one of our favorite things about them, and it’s just about as clean an Android experience as you’re going to get outside of the Pixel line.
Nokia 8.3 5G review: price and verdict
Getting 5G at this price is one reason to sit up and take notice of the Nokia 8.3 5G – if the next-gen tech has rolled out in your area, and you like the idea of an ultra-fast, always-on connection, then this could well find a way onto your smartphone shortlist. It’s definitely the stand-out feature of the phone, which comes in at an appealing price.
Everything else is pretty much standard for the price: the performance, the battery life, the quality of the shots you can get from the camera… it’s all good, for the price. You might want to do a bit of shopping around to find the best deal possible (the widgets embedded on this page should help), and if you can find the phone at a discount then it’s going to make it a more appealing proposition.
As we’ve said, there are some excellent alternatives – the Pixel 4a is cheaper and takes better photos, and the OnePlus Nord is cheaper and feels like a more premium phone (with a superior screen). Neither of those phones come with 5G on board though, so you can see that you’ve got a few different factors to weigh up when judging whether or not the Nokia 8.3 5G is the phone for you.
In the end the Nokia 8.3 5G is exactly what Nokia is known for – a nicely priced, well-built handset that’s got nothing in the way of software bloat and that can take some decent pictures. We would like to give it some extra points for featuring in the latest Bond film, but we can’t say whether or not that’s going to matter either way to you…