Categories: Smartphones

Nokia 5.3 review — No-frill mid-ranger

Today we get to get a closer look at the new Nokia 5.3 smartphone. The key phrase of the promotional materials for this device is “a large screen for great opportunities”. Let’s figure out how big the screen is and what are the “big” opportunities in this affordable smartphone.

Nokia 5.3 specs

LAUNCH Announced 2020, March 19
Status Available. Released 2020, April 02
BODY Dimensions 164.3 x 76.6 x 8.5 mm (6.47 x 3.02 x 0.33 in)
Weight 185 g (6.53 oz)
Build Glass front (Gorilla Glass 3), plastic back, plastic frame
SIM Single SIM (Nano-SIM) or Dual SIM (Nano-SIM, dual stand-by)
DISPLAY Type IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors
Size 6.55 inches, 103.6 cm2 (~82.3% screen-to-body ratio)
Resolution 720 x 1600 pixels, 20:9 ratio (~268 ppi density)
Protection Corning Gorilla Glass 3
450 nits typ. brightness (advertised)
PLATFORM OS Android 10, Android One
Chipset Qualcomm SM6125 Snapdragon 665 (11 nm)
CPU Octa-core (4×2.0 GHz Kryo 260 Gold & 4×1.8 GHz Kryo 260 Silver)
GPU Adreno 610
MEMORY Card slot microSDXC (dedicated slot)
Internal 64GB 3GB RAM, 64GB 4GB RAM, 64GB 6GB RAM
eMMC 5.1
MAIN CAMERA Quad 13 MP, f/1.8, (wide), PDAF
5 MP, 13mm (ultrawide)
2 MP, (macro)
2 MP, (depth)
Features LED flash, HDR, panorama
Video 1080p@30fps
SELFIE CAMERA Single 8 MP, f/2.0, (wide)
Video 1080p@30fps
SOUND Loudspeaker Yes
3.5mm jack Yes
COMMS WLAN Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n/ac, Wi-Fi Direct, hotspot
Bluetooth 4.2, A2DP, LE, aptX
Radio FM radio
USB 2.0, Type-C 1.0 reversible connector, USB On-The-Go
FEATURES Sensors Fingerprint (rear-mounted), accelerometer, proximity
BATTERY Non-removable Li-Po 4000 mAh battery
Charging Charging 10W
MISC Colors Cyan, Sand, Charcoal

Price and positioning

There are many smartphones in this budget, but first of all it will be interesting for us to find out the difference between Nokia 5.3 and Nokia 7.2, which I already had the opportunity to review. Yes, it is more expensive, but nevertheless it will be interesting to learn the differences.

Where to buy Nokia 5.3:

What’s in the box

Nokia 5.3 comes in a thin cardboard box with a signature design. Inside, in addition to the smartphone itself, you can find a simple 10 W power adapter, an equally simple USB/Type-C cable, classic wired in-ear headphones with a headset function straight from 2010, a SIM card eject tool, and a set of documentation. Standard stuff.

Design, materials and build quality

I want to scold and praise the smartphone for the design at the same time. Why? Because Nokia is still stubbornly ignoring the front panels of its smartphones and experiment mostly with the back. Almost all devices of the manufacturer in front look the same.

The not-so-thin bezels is what gives the phone its patented Nokia look. There’s a particularly wide indentation at the bottom, where the logo is located. There’s also a drop-shaped notch that looks kinda rough thanks to its size.

The back plate looks much better in comparison. I appreciated the round block with cameras in Nokia 7.2, but in 5.3 it is even more… symmetrical. Four eyes at the same distance from each other, and a flash in the center.

With color and design, everything is also good. I tested the most boring black model, but there is something to see here as well. Firstly, under the panel itself there is a certain texture in the form of diagonal notches, which is clearly visible. Secondly, the left and right edges are somewhat brighter and form a smooth gradient transition closer to the middle. It looks strict and classy.

But in general, in addition to black, which is referred to as Charcoal by the manufacturer, there is also a Cyan model with the same gradient transition and texture, and a Sand model, without a gradient but with texture. As the manufacturer pointed out, “three Scandinavian colors to choose from.”

As for the materials, here we have glass and a polymer composite, but unlike Nokia 7.2, glass is only on a front panel. What is a polymer composite? In simple terms, plastic, but good quality plastic. So, the frame and the back plate are made of plastic. Both are matte coated.

In front there is a solid oleophobic layer, so fingerprints and stains can be removed quite easily. Of course, the case has no moisture protection, but the build quality is excellent.

Element configuration

On top we have the earpiece speaker, a front camera, light and proximity sensors. At the bottom there is only the already mentioned Nokia logo.

On the right side there is a volume control and a power key. According to the good old tradition, the latter has a white indicator light built in. It is more difficult to see the activity of the LED than if it were somewhere in the front, however, the solution remains interesting and unusual.

On the left is a slot for two nanoSIM cards and a microSD card, as well as a dedicated button for Google Assistant.

Above is a 3.5 mm audio jack and an additional microphone hole for noise reduction. On the bottom is the main microphone, USB Type-C port and slots of the multimedia speaker.

On the back there is a round block with four cameras, a flash in the center, below it is a fingerprint scanner, a vertical Nokia logo and inscriptions at the very bottom.


Nokia 5.3 is a large smartphone with a diagonal of 6.55″; it has the following dimensions: 164.3 × 76.6 × 8.5 mm and a weight of 180 grams. Using it with one hand is very difficult. The buttons are at normal height, you can use it without constantly changing the grip.

Nokia 5.3 Display

The smartphone is equipped with a 6.55″ IPS display, but its resolution is HD+ (1600 × 720 pixels, more precisely), the aspect ratio is 20:9, and the pixel density is 268 ppi.

The screen is in many ways very good. I liked the color rendering, the picture is contrasty and saturated. Viewing angles are traditionally wide, but when viewed diagonally, dark tones fade a little, which is quite natural for a matrix of this type.

The margin of brightness is quite ordinary, but not enough for a sunny weather. HD resolution is perhaps the main thing that can confuse the user. Yes, some elements do not look as clear as on screens with Full HD and even more so QHD. However, for inexperienced user it’s enough. FHD+ would be better though.

You can’t adjust the color reproduction, you can only regulate the white balance. In addition, there is a night mode and a dark theme. The display as a whole is less noteworthy than Nokia 7.2.

Nokia 5.3 Performance

Nokia 5.3 runs on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 11-nm chipset. It consists of eight cores: four Kryo 260 Gold with a maximum clock frequency of up to 2.0 GHz and another four Kryo 260 Silver with a clock frequency of up to 1.8 GHz. The Adreno 610 accelerator is responsible for the graphic processing. In the tests, the smartphone shows normal results, and throttling is practically not manifested in the first 15 minutes; performance decreases by only 7%.

Nokia 5.3

RAM, as already noted, may be 3, 4 or 6 GB, depending on the region. Most stores have the 4 gigs model with LPDDR4x memory. And in general, it’s enough for comfortable work. Approximately 7-10 undemanding programs can stay in memory without quitting.

There is 64 GB of storage, but it’s not the fastest (eMMC 5.1). 46.37 GB is available for the user, and the storage capacity can be expanded with a microSD memory card up to 512 GB. And most importantly, the user does not have to choose between two SIM cards or bigger storage.

The interface doesn’t work super-fast and is also not super-smooth, sometimes it can slowdown when scrolling through lists and rendering other animations – this is an inexpensive smartphone, so you should not expect anything special. With games, everything is relatively good, for this price. The phone copes with simple titles without difficulty, but heavier ones can make it sweat a little. Below are the FPS measurements made using the Gamebench utility:

  • PUBG Mobile – average graphics settings (balance) with smoothing and shadows, an average of 26 FPS
  • Shadowgun Legends – ultra-graphics, an average of 28 FPS
  • Call of Duty Mobile – very high, all effects are included, the “Battlefront” mode is ~ 33 FPS; Battle Royale is ~ 24 FPS

These games ran with the highest graphics settings that are only available for Nokia 5.3. Although, ideally, it is worth lowering the graphics in order to get a more comfortable frame rate.

Nokia 5.3 cameras

The Nokia 5.3 camera unit consists of four sensors. The main module is 13 megapixels, f/1.8 and PDAF. The optional ultra-wide-angle module has a resolution of 5 megapixels, f/2.4, and 118° viewing angle. There’s also a pair of 2 megapixel modules – a macro (f/2.4) and a depth sensor.

The main sensor makes good photos during the day with normal detail for this segment -and the right colors. But the smartphone often seems to underestimate the exposure, due to which in the shadows there’s almost nothing to see at all. Moreover, HDR mode has the same issue. And perhaps this is the main problem of this module. At night also don’t expect much, but there are options still.


So what to do? Use Google Camera. It’s easy to do and the results differ dramatically. The preinstalled software needs much work.

The ultra-wide module is not so hot as well. Starting with a low resolution and ending with a vastly different color rendering from the main module. Add to this an incomprehensible white balance and blurry edges of the pictures, and you’ll get the whole underwhelming picture. And we’re talking photos outdoors during the day! Of course you can use it, but only in ideal conditions.


There is nothing to praise the macro module for. It offers low resolution, and requires a lot of light. Don’t forget problems with quality and white balance.


Video recording on the main module is possible in 4K resolution at 30 fps, but without electronic stabilization. The ultra-wide module writes video at only 720p.

The front camera here is 8 megapixels, f/2.0. It’s quite ordinary, slightly blurry, but okay overall. You can take photos with blurring the background, and record video in Full HD.

The camera application is traditional for Nokia devices. With live photos, Google Lens, a timer, portrait and night modes, 1:1 aspect ratio, panoramas, fast and slow motion videos.

Unlocking methods

The fingerprint scanner, which is located on the back plate under the camera unit, works okay. No questions about its stability, it rarely makes mistakes. However, the response rate leaves much to be desired. Pretty slow for 2020 and it is unclear why.

But what’s even more incomprehensible is how face recognition works. All previous smartphones had the same complaint – too slow. In the case of Nokia 5.3, I also thought at first that nothing had changed, but as it turned out that something did in fact change. In the face unlocking settings, the item “Liveness Detection” appeared and by default it is turned on. Guess what has changed when I turned it off.

The smartphone started unlocking a lot faster. I do not know how this works, but now this second way of authentication can really be used. Yes, it still does not work lightning fast, but much better than before. So the first thing I recommend is to immediately switch on and off the option, otherwise pain and suffering are guaranteed.

Nokia 5.3 battery life

Nokia 5.3 has a 4000 mAh battery – uncharacteristically large, considering that Nokia 7.2 had only 3500 mAh. So yes, 5.3 survives for much longer. There’s also an energy-efficient platform and a screen with HD resolution.

In fact, the smartphone will work all day even with very active use. You can expect 1.5-2 days without games and frequent access to cameras. I used it for two days in total (7.5 hours of screen time). The battery test from PCMark Work 2.0 with the maximum brightness of the display resulted in 7 hours and 4 minutes, very decent.

But if with autonomy everything is very good, then the charging speed is disappointing. From the bundled 10 W power adapter the smartphone charges at this speed:

  • 00:00 — 12%
  • 00:30 — 37%
  • 01:00 — 62%
  • 01:30 — 81%
  • 02:00 — 95%

Sound and communication

The earpiece speaker here is quite ordinary. It is a pity that it does not work in tandem with the main multimedia speaker. But this is understood – we have a budget smartphone and you can’t rely on a stereo pair in this segment yet. But the multimedia one is mediocre on its own. The volume level is normal, but the quality is average and there is distortion at maximum volume.

At the same time, I can’t say anything bad about the sound in headphones. The quality and volume reserve are good. And what’s important, with any connection method, whether wired through a 3.5 mm audio jack or via a Bluetooth connection.

A set of wireless modules is more than enough. Dual-band Wi-Fi 5, GPS (A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS) and, of course, NFC. Only for some reason, the Bluetooth module version is 4.2. It still supports A2DP, LE, and aptX, but nevertheless, it is not clear why it is not the current 5th version.

Firmware and software

Nokia 5.3 runs on Android 10 and, as always, without any shell, but on a clean minimalistic system. Like all its younger and older brothers, the smartphone is a part of Android One program. This guarantees monthly security updates and at least two major operating system updates. Don’t expect much in terms of functionality or customization. A couple of simple gestures is all you get.

For example, by swiping around the the fingerprint scanner, you can lower the curtain with notifications and switches. By double-pressing the power button you can launch the camera, and simultaneously pressing the power and volume switch the smartphone into vibration or silent mode. There are two ways to navigate – gestures or three buttons. And a couple of other movements. The Google Assistant button cannot be reassigned using regular tools, you can simply turn it off.

However, at the moment, there are certain flaws in the firmware. For example, applications’ icons on the desktop may disappear for a while. It’s unpleasant. But there are some small interesting points. The Wi-Fi indicator, for example, displays the number 4 or 5 in the status bar – Wi-Fi 4 (2.4 GHz) or Wi-Fi 5 (5 GHz), respectively.


Nokia 5.3 is a good buy for its price. This is a smartphone with a curious design of the back plate, excellent build quality, a decent display, sufficient performance for the segment, adequate main camera, excellent battery life, support for NFC and Wi-Fi 5, as well as guaranteed software updates.

Among its weaknesses, I’d note the suboptimal resolution for such screen, the quality of additional cameras, a slow fingerprint scanner, sluggish charging speed, as well as some  software issues.

Where to buy Nokia 5.3:

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Denis Koshelev

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