Nokia 5.3: With love from Finland

Mala Bhargava | Updated on August 26, 2020 Published on August 26, 2020

Clean updated software and right build rub shoulders with underpowered specs and dated elements on this made in India budget phone

India still has lots of goodwill for this trusted brand. But nostalgia will only take you so far. The Finish sequel to the Nokia we used to know has launched a bunch of devices including feature phones, which are what absolute newcomers on a budget are still looking for. A cousin of mine just presented a 5310 to an elderly lady living on her own, and it was touching to see her ecstasy to see this simple phone that won’t challenge her.

The Nokia 5.3, however, isn’t a feature phone: it’s a smartphone from the same budget segment that aggressive Chinese players operate in and more or less own. Nokia has to fight the Chinese brigade as well as Samsung, to be noticed in this segment. It comes in with software as its biggest strength and —dare we say, the fact that it’s an alternative to Chinese phones. In fact, it’s made in India for India.

The Nokia 5.3 has a good sturdy sort of build. It’s solid and yet not stressful to hold. The polycarbonate back does show smudges, but a quick wipe will banish them. You don’t even need a case. Nokia has brought out this phone in a plain black, in an impressive-looking ‘sand’ colour, and in blue. Sadly, I’ve only seen the black. The circular camera housing on the back is sweet, actually. And right under it is the physical fingerprint sensor, which works fine.

On the front, the screen turns out to be an LCD, as expected, and that’s something I always find really dated. It lakes lustre in these times. The front camera is under a teardrop notch. If you turn up the brightness, the screen won’t look too bad, but it’s hard not to compare with the competition. Increasingly it feels like Nokia pushes in phones created as if there weren’t any competition in sight.

The review device was running on 3GB RAM and 64GB storage. There’s a 6GB but again with 64GB storage. The processor is a Snapdragon 665. All the hardware feels very dated, but here’s the strength: it runs on the Android One programme. This means virtually no interference with Android 10 and regular updates. In fact, one came in as I unboxed it. But more than that, it will readily upgrade to Android 11. It’s all about a clean software experience instead of bells and whistles being thrown at you leaving you wondering how to reclaim your phone.

The cameras are strictly average. Perhaps Nokia should have done away with a few of the cameras but improved their quality instead. There’s definitely no need for the macro lens or even the portrait mode, frankly. The night mode helps a little with enhancing the brightness.

Some elements that users will like is a 4,000mAh battery which could last about a day and a half or even more if you do little with it. The advantage of toned-down hardware is that there’s not much to drain the battery, in fact. There are two SIM slots and a memory card slot and more a 3.5mm headphone jack with an FM Radio just the way Indians like it.

Price: Rs 13,999 and Rs 15,990

Pros: Good build, no bloatware, clean Android with promised updates, simple experience, good battery life, retains headphone jack, FM Radio,

Cons: Dull LCD screen, under-powered, strictly average cameras, at the price doesn’t beat competition


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Published on August 26, 2020
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