Nokia 2.3 REVIEW - A Solid Budget Performer
Nokia 2.3 REVIEW – A Solid Budget Performer
PAT PILCHER puts Nokia’s nicely priced new phone to the test and finds that it has as many pros as it does cons.
While the new Nokia 2.3 is super-affordable, the burning question is whether it offers a balance between value and functionality, or has one too many compromises been made?
At just $219 it occupies an increasingly competitive part of the budget phone market. But given its ultra-affordable sticker-price, there are compromises. These include a low-power CPU, less RAM/storage, and a lower-res screen/camera as well as a plastic chassis.
The Nokia feels a lot like a flagship phone – albeit one from 2018. It sports a faux metal coloured plastic back, a teardrop notch on its screen and there are a chin and bezels. It has a slightly more squarish look than a lot of its competitors but is still an attractive and pocketable design.
The Nokia 2.3’s 6.2-inch screen might only be 720p, but it can reach 500 nits of brightness, making it usable outdoors.
Perhaps the most significant compromises I noticed were under its hood. It packs an entry-level Helio CPU. This is paired with just 2GB of RAM. Because of this, running more than a few apps at once often saw it stuttering. While it has only 32GB of storage, there is MicroSD compatibility, so storage can be upgraded.
While it might not be a gaming phone, its GPU can decode H.264/HVEC/VP8/9 video, but given its storage constraints, you’ll need to factor in the cost of a Micro SD card to take advantage of this. There’s Wi-Fi support, but you’re limited to 802.11n on the 2.4Ghz band. There’s no 5Ghz.
Nokia says AI-assisted Adaptive Battery technology can help extend the generous 4,000mAh battery’s usable life. They say it’ll learn your app usage over time and prioritise power so the apps you use most often get the juice they need. In practice, I got a day’s usage, and close to two days when I disabled GPS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and decreased screen brightness. If I had a month or two instead of pressing review deadlines, the Adaptive Battery tech might have been able to shine, who knows?
Unsurprisingly, there is no wireless or fast charging. Charging from 0 to 100 percent took an entire night, but that’s when I usually charge my phone, so it wasn’t a deal-breaker.
If that sounds negative, there is light at the end of the review tunnel, which comes in the form of Nokia’s OS and software. Where most smartphones are gummed up with vendor or telco pre-installed crud, Nokia sports a stock Android UI, Google apps and no pre-installed crapware. Best of all, the Nokia 2.3 is regularly updated by Google. To this end, Nokia promises two years of software upgrades and three years of monthly security updates. Thanks to its uncluttered stock UI, it’s also a pleasure to use.
Being affordable doesn’t translate into a lack of features. The Nokia 2.3 comes with a dedicated Google Assistant button. This proved handy more times than I could count during testing. Google Lens also proved useful for translating a menu at a Chinese restaurant. There are also Google apps that you’d only otherwise get for the vast sums charged for Google’s overpriced pixel phones.
The Nokia 2.3 comes with a rear 13MP, f/2.2, 1.12µm, sensor as well as 2MP, 1.75µm, depth sensor. It can shoot 1080p video at 30fps. Around the front, there is a 5MP, f/2.4 shooter. The rear shooter image sensor is a Samsung S5K RGB that’s capable of great, colour-accurate daylight shots. These were also properly exposed and provided plenty of detail.
Lower light shooting, however, saw colours looking washed out. This is probably due to the smaller 1.12um sensor elements. The camera app is intuitive, and there is a ‘Recommended Shot’ capability. It captures images both before and after the shutter button has been hit and can give you the choice of photos to keep. AI is also present in the ‘Portrait Mode’ and with low light shooting modes.
Compared to a mid-range or flagship phone, the Nokia 2.3 might seem a bit underwhelming, but for a $219 phone, it does represent good value for money. If you’re after a phone for your kids to take to school, or even a spare emergency phone, Nokia’s 2.3 is a solid bet.
CPU MediaTek MT6761, Helio A22 four-core A53 2.0Ghz +
GPU PowerVR GE8300
RAM 2GB LPDDR3-933 single-channel RAM, 32GB eMMC, microSD to 512GB
Display IPS LCD, 6.2-inch, teardrop, 1520 x 720, 19:9, 271ppi,
Connectivity Wi-Fi N, BT 5.0, AGPS. no NFC
Audio 3.5mm audio, earpiece speaker/mic/bottom speaker (mono)
Cameras (Rear) 13MP, f/2.2, 1.12µm, 2MP, 1.75µm, depth sensor (Front) 5 MP, f/2.4, 64.9° selfie
Battery 4000mAh battery and 5V/1A (5W) micro-USB charger
OS Android 9