Nokia's ultra-affordable 1.3 smartphone

Nokia 1.3 REVIEW

June 19, 2020
2 mins read
Nokia 1.3 REVIEW


Nokia 1.3 REVIEW

PAT PILCHER considers swapping that premium phone purchase with an ultra-affordable Nokia and booking a holiday with the spare change.


Nokia’s ultra-affordable 1.3 smartphone

Nokia’s newest smartphone is only $169. This makes it one of the most affordable 4G smartphones available. Its price is compelling, but what got trimmed?

The most significant selling point with the Nokia 1.3 is the fact that it has Android One installed. This means you get a clean version of Android that’s both free of crapware and bloat. As well, you get two years of software updates. Because of this, the 1.3 will stay up to date until 2022. That’s a big selling point for any smartphone. It is also the icing on the cake considering this phone can be had for chump change.

Given its razor-sharp sticker price, there are compromises. You won’t get the most vivid or hi-res screen. Its CPU isn’t ideal for demanding tasks, and the storage/memory spec is at best sparse. But, for those on a budget, most of these issues are not likely to be deal-breakers. First things first, while it is super cheap, it is well built.

Nokia 1.3 review
Nokia’s 1.3 gives your finances a helping hand

While the Nokia 1.3 is crafted out of plastic, it’s well built and feels sturdy.  Its 5.71-inch screen has a teardrop notch and packs 720 x 1520 pixels so it can display HD. The display isn’t the brightest or most vivid you’ll find, but it is usable.

It isn’t an unattractive looking device either. Still, you’d be unlikely to mistake it for a premium flagship phone with the chunky bezels bordering both the top and bottom of its display.

Given the price, the lack of a fingerprint reader on the front or back isn’t a huge surprise, either. Instead of using your dabs to log in, you use a (slow) face unlock or PIN.

Both sides now: Nokia’s 1.3 back and front

Bells and whistles had to get balanced against cost. Because of this, you won’t find fancy pants stuff like IP68 waterproofing. What you will find though, is the addition of a 3.5mm headphone jack for wired cans. The budget sticker price also means that there’s no wireless or wired fast charging. Instead, the 1.3 charges via a micro USB port on its underside.

On the camera front, you get a single 8MP snapper on its rear, and a 5MP shooter on its front. It does a passable job for social media. That said, photos are not the most detailed. In low light conditions, both cameras struggle. The camera isn’t all that bad, and is on a par with that of an expensive smartphone from 3-4 years ago.

Its battery is a 3000 mAh jobbie. A super-efficient standby mode saw it last all day with typical use. Instead of begging for a charger in the evening, the 1.3 usually had around 10-15 per cent charge left. Your mileage will vary depending on the type of uses you’re putting it to. More demanding chores (gaming, streaming content) are likely to impact on battery life more.

Nokia 1.3 review
Nokia’s affordable 1.3 comes in colours

Under its hood, the Nokia 1.3 packs a Qualcomm QM215, a quad-core 1.3 GHz CPU. there’s only 1GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage. Because of this, you’ll also need to factor in the cost of a microSD card into its price.

The tiny 1GB of RAM also means using the Nokia 1.3 sometimes comes with a lag when opening apps. Because of this, it comes with fewer demanding Android Go apps like Gmail and Google Maps. It goes without saying that high-end games are unlikely to play well, but most apps I tried worked fine. Provided you’re okay with the lag, the 1.3 will run apps like Spotify and Facebook no trouble at all.

For simple stuff such as web browsing, social media and email, the Nokia 1.3 is ample. You could spend more and get more phone-wise, but the 1.3 is excellent for kids or as a spare emergency phone.

As many smartphones cost $2000+, Nokia’s 1.3 allows you to buy a phone and take a holiday with the money you’ve saved. All told, it’s about as cheap as you can go and still get a workable 4G smartphone. Add in two years of updates and the already sweet sticker price becomes even more palatable.


Pat has been talking about tech on TV, radio and print for over 20 years, having served time as a TV tech guy and currently penning reviews for Witchdoctor. He loves nothing more than rolling his sleeves up and playing with shiny gadgets.

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