Nokia 5.3 2020 – a solid workers phone at $349

4.3Overall Score

Name: Nokia 5.3 TA-1234DS
Price (RRP): $349
Manufacturer: Nokia

The Nokia 5.3 2020 joins Nokia’s ‘.3’ 2020 family and offers more feature and later tech for a very reasonable $349. It is a solid worker’s phone. Interesting as its code name is ‘Captain America’ so we expect bullet-proof performance.

By mentioning ‘workers’, I don’t mean to exclude children, seniors or those with limited income. But the $169 Nokia 1.3 (review here 4.1/5) and $199 Nokia 2.3 (review here 4.2/5) are more economical and equally safe choices.

There is no 4.3 at this stage – it would sit around $299. So the question is if the Nokia 5.3 2020 is worth $150 more dollars over the Nokia 2.3.

Well, you get a 6.55” screen (6.2) with a 20:9 ratio (19:9), a quad camera (dual camera), 4/64GB (2/132GB), USB-C (micro-USB) and probably, more importantly, a Qualcomm SD665 (Helio A22).

Only you can answer if it is worth sacrificing 23 Big Macs, 37 cups of coffee or 15 cans of Finland’s famous and finest Kalakalle Fish Cock to get this device.

Mandatory warning – dodgy online sellers

We have named and shamed the main grey market opportunists here.

You will not get Australia warranty; Australian over-the-air OS and firmware updates; and you cannot make a 000 call without a sim. In fact, as these often do not support LTE Band 28 used by Telstra and Optus, so most of the time all you will get is 3G.

Australian Review: Nokia 5.3 2020 TA-1234 DS (Dual Sim) 4/64GB

Reviews use FAIL, PASS and EXCEED against over 70 test paradigms. These paradigms vary for the class of phone, price bracket etc. So, PASS means it meets what we expect of any phone at that price or level.

  • Australian Website here
  • Price: $349
  • Warranty: 24-months ACL
  • Country of manufacture: China by Foxconn
  • Nokia is a smartphone brand owned by HMD Global in Espoo, Finland. Many ex-Nokia executives run it. Microsoft previously owned the brand from 2014 to make Windows Mobile handsets. The .3 series is the fourth generation under HMD.

 First impression – PASS

I wish I could inject a faux sense of excitement into this. You know, shout “IT’S A NOKIA’, but it is another bland glass slab with a V-notch selfie and a circular camera bump on the back. The bump makes it rock if you place it on the desk.

At the top are a 3.5mm combo audio jack, speaker slot, and mic. The bottom has USB-C, down-firing speaker and mic. There are separate power, volume and OK Google buttons. The dual sim also has a separate microSD slot to 512GB.

Screen – PASS

Size: 6.55”
Resolution: 1600×720 (268ppi)
Ratio: 20:9
Refresh: 60Hz
Type: IPS
S-T-B-R: 82.3%
Colour depth in bit/colours: 16m
Typical/Max Brightness: 450/500 nits (claim)
Contrast: 1100:1
Contrast: Colour gamut: 90% sRGB
Delta E 10 (<4 is considered accurate)
White balance choice from cool to warm
G-T-G: 60ms
Notch: V-shape cut-out
Screen protection: type: Gorilla Glass 3
Excellent haptic feedback
Widevine: L1 for HD streaming but YouTube only streams in 480p
Daylight readability: Not for direct sunlight
TÜV Rheinland Low Blue Light certification

It is not fair to put a $349 device through the same screen tests as we do for far more expensive phones. For example, screen brightness varies over the screen from 450 to 550 nits. Delta E is unimportant as you will not be relying on DCI-P3 or Adobe RGB accuracy.

Screen Summary: As good as it gets

Performance – PASS

Processor Qualcomm SD665
4×2.0Ghx + 4×1.8Ghz
GPU Adreno 610
VP8/9, HEVC, H.263/4, MP2/3/4.
OpenCL 2.0 Full, Vulkan 1.1, OpenGL ES 3.2, DX12
Modem X12 LTE
Storage: 64GB eMMC 41GB free
OTG Support: Yes
Micro-SD card expansion: 512GB
Geekbench 5 Single 312
Multi 1394
Compute 369
Its close in power to a 2017 Samsung S8
Game Use Casual web-based games only to 24fps
CPU Throttle Max: 150,154GIPS, Average 145,048 – Throttle 6%
It gets very hot with the internal CPU temperature reaching 97°.
It ranges between 40-50° for typical use – not recommended for prolonged use

Nokia 5.3 Throttle

The SoC gets a little hot for prolonged use

The SoC, coupled with slower eMMC storage and 4GB of RAM means it will choke on multi-tasking and lots of browser tabs.

This is a solid mass-market performer with sufficient AI and power to deliver a good user experience. Over 100 phones use it including TCL 10 Plus, Moto G8 Plus, OPPO A9 /A52/A72 (and realme 5, vivo U10), 3 Telstra Tough Max, etc.

Comms – PASS

Wi-FI Wi-Fi 5 ac, 1X1 MU-MIMO
Wi-Di, Hotspot
Signal strength -42dBm/433Mbps at 5 metres from NETGEAR AX12 router
BT 4.2
SBC, AAC and aptX low latency
NFC Yes – PayWave only
GPS Single-band approx. 10m accuracy.
Not recommended for turn-by-turn navigation at speed
USB USB-C 2.0, OTG, does not support ALT DP video over USB-C
Sensors Ambient light sensor, Proximity sensor, Accelerometer (G-sensor), eCompass

We experienced unexplainable Wi-Fi 5Ghz speed fluctuations during the test ranging from 73-433Mbps. We disabled all other devices on the network, and while the variation improved, we suspect it is the Qualcomm shared Wi-Fi/LTE antenna that the cause.  Still, this is not an issue for a phone in this bracket.

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