In the last couple of years as premium smartphones have achieved incremental improvements, the low and mid-range smartphone market has steadily been improving. Faster processors, as well as optimised software in the form of Google’s ‘Go’ for entry level, and ‘One’ version of Android for mid to high range phones have similarly worked wonders on these lower specced phones.
HMD with the Nokia line of phones has been big adopters of both Go and One versions of Android, and the latest phone to hit our shores is the Nokia 1.3 running Android Go, now available here in Australia for $169.
As a phone, it has some decent specs but the Nokia 1.3 is also the first Android GO device to nab the new Camera GO app, which attracted my attention.
GO apps are of course modified versions of Google apps designed for these lower powered devices. The new Camera GO app is more integrated with the camera module, including offering portrait mode – a feature missing from most low-end camera software. So, with Google, makers of the wonderful Pixel camera software handling the camera smarts, the Nokia 1.3 presents an interesting new prospect in the entry level smartphone market.
HMD have kindly loaned EFTM a review device and it’s time to see what it can do.
Hardware and Design
As a budget phone, HMD have made some design choices to fit the price including using a microUSB charging port, or a lot more plastic than on higher end devices.
The plastic is mostly found on the removable rear cover, which protects the likewise removable 3000 mAh battery, as well as microSD Card and Dual-SIM tray. The ‘removeable’ cover though is a real pain to actually remove, with your only instruction to slip something into the almost non-existent gap between the cover and phone – pro-tip: use the microUSB port to get some leverage.
The rear cover has a nicely riffled texture to it, and comes in Cyan, Charcoal and sand colour options – I’m still jealously eyeing off the glorious Cyan colour option ;).
Around the front, the Nokia 1.3 is aesthetically fairly ‘standard’ for a phone in 2020, with a 5.71-inch display which is bright and easy to read, that features a tear-drop ‘notch’ which houses the 5MP selfie-camera. There’s a bit of bezel around that screen, but nothing overly egregious, though there will be the usual complaints about the ‘chin’ on the phone which is fairly large.
The phone has a headphone jack in the top, and a charging port – microUSB – in the bottom, and a volume rocker and power button on the right, and a Google Assistant button on the left which can call the assistant similarly to the squeezable edges on Pixel (and previously HTC) phones. There’s settings to turn the Google Assistant button on or off, but as standard you can’t re-assign it to another function.
Internally, the spec sheet reads like a budget phone, with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 215 processor, 1GB of RAM, and 16GB of internal storage, which can be expanded with a microSD card up to 400GB.
Performance wise, the Nokia 1.3 does surprisingly well. It’s a fairly smooth experience for the most part, with Android Go just moving along getting things done, albeit a little slower than your top of the range flagship phone. Sure there’s a bit of lag every now and then, but the phone never locked up even under load. The 16GB of storage also tends to be a small problem, with the phone tending to slow down as the internal storage started getting close to capacity.
The 3,000mAh removable battery actually got through a full day of use, but the 5V/1A (5W) micro-USB charger doesn’t include any fast charging, so be prepared to wait – although if you’re charging overnight this isn’t a problem.
Android Go too aids in the good battery life, sipping instead of gulping from the battery with its optimised OS and redesigned ‘Go’ apps.
I am a little disappointed to find no bio-metric security (Fingerprint scanner, or facial…