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Nokia 5.3 review: This phone has a lot of catching up to do

Nokia 5.3 is the latest offering from HMD Global in India. But the phone faces stiff competition from its growing rivals. 

Nokia 5.3 review
Nokia 5.3 review (HT Tech)

Brand: Samsung
Product: Galaxy Tab S7 Plus
Key specs: 12.4-inch Super AMOLED display, octa-core SoC, 6GB RAM, 128GB storage, 10090mAh battery, S Pen support
Price:   13,999 (starting)
Rating: 3/5

HMD Global launched the Nokia 5.3 in India earlier this month. The smartphone actually made its debut back in March. Nokia 5.3 has a large display, all-day battery life, a Google Assistant button, and offers near-stock Android experience.

Nokia 5.3, however, faces stiff competition from its rivals in the same price range. Companies like Xiaomi, Realme and Samsung have more options for consumers, and with more benefits. So, how does the Nokia 5.3 fare as a mid-level budget phone, and is the fluid Android experience enough? We find out in our review.

The phone’s overall design is pretty decent with a notched display and a rear fingerprint sensor. It comes in three colour options of Charcoal, Cyan and Sand. The Charcoal (black) colour is the most decent one, and it’s also our review unit. The display on the Nokia 5.3 is a large 6.55-inch one which is great for streaming and playing games. But its HD+ resolution is quite disappointing, and something you’d get on phones priced below 10,000.

Nokia 5.3
Nokia 5.3 (HT Tech)

The Nokia 5.3 has a decent performance overall, but I wouldn’t call it fast. The phone was slightly slow even for basic usages like just navigating, and switching around different apps. The phone’s battery will last you for a full day if your activities involve regular ones like messaging, social media browsing, and streaming Netflix or YouTube.

ALSO READ: Nokia phone maker HMD Global doubles down focus on the Indian market

One thing the Nokia 5.3 doesn’t fall short on is the fluid Android experience. It comes with Android 10 out-of-the-box, and it is confirmed to receive two OS upgrades. You’ll also get timely security updates on the Nokia 5.3. Like other Nokia phones, this one too has a dedicated Google Assistant button which I honestly did not find much use for.

Nokia 5.3 camera sample
Nokia 5.3 camera sample

If you’re looking for a phone with good cameras, then this is definitely not the one. Nokia 5.3’s camera performance is honestly okay. It was a struggle trying to get good photos with indoor lighting, and the portrait mode doesn’t work properly either. Your chances of getting good photos are with the best possible natural lighting, and close-up shots. The fact that phones in the same price range offer much better camera performance leaves us wanting so much more from the Nokia 5.3.

Verdict

The Nokia 5.3 has some serious catching up to do, and the dated specs just won’t cut it when rivals are offering so much more. Yes, the Android experience and security are important, but other OEMs have been growing quite comfortable with Google and are offering upgrades much quicker. There aren’t any strong reasons as to why I would recommend this phone, especially when there are much better alternatives.