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Nokia 5.3 First Impressions: Is Stock Android Enough To Save Under-Loaded Innards?
Nokia today announced a refreshing new line-up of feature phones and budget smartphones for price-conscious consumers in India. The new Nokia smartphone line-up includes two dual-SIM feature phones- Nokia 150 and the Nokia 125. Priced at Rs. 2,299 and Rs. 1,999 respectively, the new feature phones will be made available across top mobile retailers in India on August 25th.
The Nokia C3 is the company's entry-level budget smartphone for first-time smartphone users. It sports a 5.99-inch HD+ display and comes with a one-year replacement guarantee. The dual-SIM Nokia C3 will be available in two variants- 2GB/16GB and 3GB/32GB at Rs. 7,499 and 8,999 respectively starting 17th September.
What we are testing today is the Nokia 5.3. Running the stock flavor of Android 10, the Nokia 5.3 first appeared in March 2020 along with the Nokia 8.3. In India, the Nokia 5.3 comes with a promise of '2 Years Android Upgrades' and 3-years of security upgrades. The smartphone will be available in two configurations- 4GB/64GB and 6GB/64GB at Rs. 13,999 and Rs. 15,499 respectively.
Let's find out more about the Nokia 5.3 in the following first impressions.
Design Sturdy Nokia Design With Premium Aesthetics
The Nokia 5.3 has a very sleek and sturdy design. The 2.5D curved glass at the front and the soft satin finish rear panel gives it a very premium look and feel. The circular camera module at the back panel with four lenses and LED flashlight in the centre looks very captivating. Nokia says that the back panel is scratch-resistant. The phone's right side has the power button and the volume rockers and a dedicated button sits on the left side to invoke the Google Assistant. The Type-C charging port is positioned at the bottom along with a microphone and a bottom-firing speaker. The mono speaker unit produces loud and clear audio.
Overall, the Nokia 5.3 has a subtle design which looks much better than the Realme C-series and Xiaomi's Redmi Note 9-series handsets. We are testing the Charcoal color variant which has a dark grey texture. The smartphone is also available in Cyan and Sand color variants which look quite striking.
Display- Average HD+ (720p) Dewdrop Notch Display
The Nokia 5.3 sports a massive 6.55-inch LCD screen with a teardrop notch. The LCD panel comes in 20:9 aspect ratio and offers a good real-estate for multimedia playback; however, the low-resolution is a big letdown, especially when the Indian market today offers a 1080p smartphone at Rs. 9,999. The 6.55-inch screen size with 720p resolution only results in underwhelming 267ppi which directly affects visuals. The colors seem slightly muted and the LCD panel's viewing angles are also not inspiring. This is not a screen for binge-watching and to enjoy graphics-intensive games.
Camera- Quad-Lens Rear Setup, 8MP Selfie Camera
The Nokia 5.3 flaunts a quad-camera system featuring a 13MP f/1.8 primary sensor aided by a 5MP ultra-wide-angle (118°) camera, 2MP macro sensor and a 2MP depth-senor. The 13MP primary sensor captures decent shots. The images are not oversaturated and show realistic colors. I am really impressed by the phone's depth-sensing capabilities. The Nokia 5.3 captures stunning portraits with natural bokeh and pleasing colors. The camera app also offers a variety of bokeh modes to experiment with photography. We will explore the camera on the Nokia 5.3 in detail in our comprehensive review. For selfies, the Nokia 5.3 sports an 8MP f/2.0 camera.
Hardware- Entry-Level Snapdragon 665 SoC + 4GB/6GB RAM
The Nokia 5.3 is powered by the tried and tested Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 SoC. It's a good entry-level chipset for budget smartphones but comes across as a slightly outdated CPU in the second half of the year 2020. We have tested several SD665-powered devices in the last year. The list includes the popular devices such as the Realme 5/5s, the Mi A3, Vivo U10 and the Redmi Note 8.
Based on our testing, we are expecting decent performance on the Nokia 5.3 as the SD665 has to supply power to a stock Android device with Adreno 610 taking care of graphics for a 720p display. Nokia gives you the option to buy the handset in two configurations- 4GB RAM + 64GB ROM and 6GB RAM + 64GB ROM.
Software- Stock Android With 2-Years Android Upgrades
My review came running on Android 10 with May security patch but it instantly got a new update as soon as I set up the device. The new update (35.46MB) only brings the June security patch by Google and no system upgrades or stability improvements. The software is entirely stock Android which means you don't get to see any form of bloatware, pre-installed apps or annoying app recommendations that plague the budget and mid-range smartphones from the house of Xiaomi, Realme, Oppo and Vivo. If you have been a long-time stock Android user, you will feel right at home.
The software seemed smooth and lag-free. The Android 10 gestures work seamlessly and the stock Android 10 offers some useful features like Focus Mode, System-wide Dark theme and Bedtime mode. Nokia has pre-installed just one app on the handset, i.e. My Phone. It is essentially a customer-service support app with user guides, personal assistant chat option, FAQs about the device, Warranty and insurance information and to help you find the nearest care centre for service queries. Besides, you will only find Google's stock apps such as Photos, Google Maps, Duo, Assistant, Chrome, etc.
Nokia promises to offer 2-years Android upgrades and 3-years of monthly security updates with the Nokia 5.3. The brand mentions that the new handset is Android 11 and will also receive the Android 12 update in the future.
Battery And Connectivity
Nokia is promising a 2-day battery life on the Nokia 5.3. The smartphone is powered by a rather modest 4,000 mAh battery cell which has to support a pretty standard 720p resolution display. Combine it with the clean software; the Nokia 5.3 might last for at least one and a half day with moderate to heavy usage. We will evaluate the battery performance in our detailed review of the handset.
As far as connectivity is concerned, the Nokia 5.3 comes equipped with a triple-slot SIM card tray to let you use two active 4G SIM cards and a microSD card to expand the phone's built-in 64GB memory to up to 512GB. The smartphone supports NFC, Bluetooth 4.2, Wi-Fi, A-GPS and comes equipped with a Type-C charging port and a 3.5mmaudio jack.
Should You Buy The Nokia 5.3?
The Nokia 5.3 is not in the race to offer the best specifications in its respective price-segment. Instead, it focuses on delivering a smooth and polished software experience. The spec-sheet isn't quite groundbreaking but what makes it stand out is its sturdy and premium-looking design and the clutter-free software experience. Despite its entry-level chipset and fairly average HD+ display, the Nokia 5.3 manages to bring some variety to the sub-15K price bracket which is largely dominated by the likes of Xiaomi, Realme and Samsung. We will evaluate the phone's full potential in our comprehensive review.