After several unsuccessful attempts at returning to the global big league, Nokia might finally have discovered the missing ingredient: Android OS. The company brought three mid-range or low-end phones to the 2017 Mobile World Congress, and appears poised to again take over a significant piece of the handset market.
These models include the 5.5-inch Nokia 6, the 5.2-inch Nokia 5, and the 5-inch entry-level Nokia 3. We were able to try out all three in Barcelona this week.
Nokia 6, Nokia 5, and Nokia 3 Build & Design
The Nokia 6 and Nokia 5 are built around an aluminum unibody, and have a fantastic design which is modern but robust. Mid-range devices almost never have a premium finish, but this is precisely what these two Nokia models offer. For aesthetic reasons, only the aluminum edges of the Nokia 6 have been sanded, but both phones feel great when held in hand. Basically, they feature all the characteristics which helped Nokia hold onto the throne of the phone market for so many years.
The Nokia 3 comes with a polycarbonate – meaning plastic — body with an aluminum rim. Despite this, its above-average appearance helps it stand out. For an entry-level handset, the Nokia 3 leaves the impression of a much sturdier, better constructed phone with more modern design than other handsets in the same price range.
Nokia 6, Nokia 5, and Nokia 3 Displays
The Nokia 6’s 5.5-inch IPS display has a Full HP (1920 x 1080) resolution, while the Nokia 5 5.2-inch one comes with just 720p (720 x 1280); however, both screens have rounded edges and are characterized as 2.5D screens. They are also covered in Gorilla Glass, and the smaller model has a polarized layer to provide better contrast when it is exposed to direct sunlight.
Maximum brightness of the Nokia 5’s display is 500 nits, while the 6 model, which lacks the polarized layer, comes with 450 declared nits. This is why the Nokia 6’s screen is darker when exposed to sunlight; however, it still offers above average contrast, especially for a mid-range phone.
The Nokia 3’s 5.0-inch screen also has a more modest 720 x 1280 pixel resolution.
Nokia 6, Nokia 5, and Nokia 3 Performance
When it comes to hardware, the more powerful Nokia 6 and Nokia 5 come with the same Qualcomm processor designed for mid-rangers: a Snapdragon 430 with eight Cortex-A53 cores running a 1.4 GHz, plus Adreno 505 graphics.
The Nokia 5 is only available with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage.. The Nokia 6 has 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of internal storage, with a special Arte Black version configured with 4 GB/64 GB.
The Nokia 3 is equipped with MediaTek’s MT6737 quad-core chip running a 1.3 GHz. It has 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. All three models include a microSD slot for additional capacity.
All these Nokia devices get average results for their classes on benchmark tests, and since they come with pure Android OS, their performance also seemed typical for their price ranges when I tested them in Barcelona.
Nokia 6, Nokia 5, and Nokia 3 Software
Another great dealmaker for all three Nokias displayed in Barcelona is the software. The devices come with absolutely pure, untouched editions of Android, and outstandingly fast upgrades to future versions when Google makes them available have been promised. The Nokia 6 and Nokia 5 are launching with Android 7.1.1 Nougat, while the Nokia 3 has Android 7.0.
Nokia 6, Nokia 5, and Nokia 3 Cameras
The Nokia 6 comes with a 16-megapixel camera with f/2.0 aperture and autofocus with phase detection, while the Nokia 5 has the same sensor specifications but with a different resolution: 13 MP.
The Nokia 3 has an 8-mega pixel sensor with f/2.0, while all three of these Android devices have the same sensor for their selfie-cameras.
There is no sign of the PureView cameras which were a significant market factor on Nokia’s Lumia models – clearly, the company is saving them for a future flagship model. Even so, even these current cameras offer above average results for mid-range phones.
All these handsets also come with free Google Photos storage for image backup in cloud… in full resolution, which is a useful feature.
Nokia 6, Nokia 5, and Nokia 3 Battery and Etc.
The Nokia 5 and Nokia 6 are powered by 3000 mAh batteries, so it can be expected that the Nokia 5 will go somewhat longer between recharges because of its smaller display resolution and diagonal. The Nokia 3 has a 2650 mAh battery.
The Nokia 5 and Nokia 6 have fingerprint readers. The more powerful Nokia 6 also has stereo speakers.
Nokia 6, Nokia 5, and Nokia 3 Prices
Price was another reason these products made such a stir at MWC. Offering Nokia’s reliable performance, the handsets are nevertheless fairly affordable. The Nokia 3 will cost €140 throughout the globe, the Nokia 5 will be priced at €190 while the Nokia 6 will cost €230 euros … except the special Arte Black one which will set buyers back €300.
Devices with the same hardware specifications and similar prices can certainly be found, but these are usually unfamiliar Chinese brands which do not have the same level of finish or equal display contrast.
It seems Nokia is hoping to add to Google’s Pixel lineup in the low-end and mid-range, which no other manufacturer is doing in quite the same way. This is why it is not the least bit surprising that the flagship model has yet to be revealed – Nokia’s parent company HMD Global is clearly venturing into rebuilding the brand and conquering the market with sure shots before it begins experimenting.