Nokia used to be the star of mobile tech shows, but it’s been years since MWC Barcelona showcased a genuinely exciting Nokia phone. Well, that changed this year, as you surely already know. Nokia smartphones are back – albeit through a licensing deal – and this time they run Android. As HMD Global executives said on stage at the launch event… Finally! Finally, the Nokia brand embraces Android, the most powerful and successful mobile OS in the world. But is that enough to guarantee success?
We spent time with the new Nokia 6, Nokia 5, and Nokia 3, and these are some of our initial impressions. Spoilers: we’re moderately optimistic!
Read: Huawei P10 hands-on!
Right off the bat, the great thing about the Nokia 6, 5, and 3 is that, no matter which one you pick, you’re getting excellent build quality.
The 6 and 5 feature unibodies machined out of blocks of high-strength aluminum, while the more affordable Nokia 3 features an aluminum frame with an understated polycarbonate back.
The trio are all running Android Nougat and it’s a completely stock build of Nougat, with no bloat or needless customization added. HMD said it went for a pure version of Android in order to keep the experience clean and simple and to make it easier to keep up with Google’s monthly security updates. In fact, “Pure Android” is one of the taglines of HMD’s Android lineup, along with the “obsession” with user experience and a leadership in product design.
Speaking of software, Google Assistant is built-in across the lineup, and accessible with a long press of the home button. This is the very same Google Assistant we’ve seen on Google’s Pixel phones and Home, though the recent announcement that all recent Android devices would get it soon definitely stole some of HMD’s thunder.
As a quick comparison, the Nokia 6 is the biggest out of the bunch and it’s also the highest spec’d. This device, which was launched in China earlier this year, has a 5.5-inch 1080p display, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of onboard storage, and it’s being powered by a Snapdragon 430 processor. There’s an 8MP front-facing shooter and a 16MP camera on the rear, with dual-tone LED flash. You also get dual speakers with Dolby Atmos enhancements driving the audio experience. The Nokia 6 will be available in four colors – matte black, silver, tempered blue, and copper – but there’s also a limited edition “Arte” version that comes garbed in gorgeous glossy black and packs four gigs of ram and double the internal storage compared to the regular versions.
The Nokia 5 sits squarely in the middle of the pack with a 5.2-inch IPS HD display, two gigs of ram, 16 gigs of storage and the same Snapdragon 430 processor as the top of the line. It’s got a 13MP camera on the rear, an 8MP camera on the front and comes in the same four matte color options as the Nokia 6. The only other real difference between the Nokia 5 and 6 aside from the specs is that the design of the former is a rounded metal body, whereas the Nokia 6 has sharp and distinct edges with flat sides all around.
The unassuming Nokia 3 rounds out the lineup with a 5-inch screen, two gigs of ram, 16 gigs of internal storage, and 8 megapixel cameras on both the front and the rear. Instead of a Snapdragon processor like the Nokia 5 and 6, the Nokia 3 features a MediaTek quad-core processor, which is a common occurrence of budget devices like the Nokia 3. If you want a small phone this is definitely the one to get out of the bunch, as it’s the easiest to use in one hand and despite having a polycarbonate back and not being fully metal, the build quality is still pretty solid.
The Nokia 6 has been available in China for quite some time now, but now it’s going to be available internationally, along with the Nokia 3 and Nokia 5. The expected availability date for the three devices is sometime in Q2, which could mean as soon March.
The prices of these phones are quite appealing – Nokia 6, the current top of the line (we can’t call it a flagship, as it’s hardly a competitor to the best of Android) will retail in Europe starting at €229. The Nokia 5 will start from €189, while the smallest of the brood, the Nokia 3, will be just €139. It’s an open question whether any of these phones will make it to the US, though from HMD Global’s verbiage it does sound as the plan is to make them widely available across the world.
As a quick conclusion, it’s clear that HMD Global played it really safe with the Nokia 6, 5, and 3. Remember that we’re talking about a company that’s been incorporated mere months ago, attempting a delicate resuscitation of a brand that retains a lot of nostalgic fans, but has little other advantages against some incredible fierce competition. If you were hoping to see bolder designs or any actual innovation, you will probably be disappointed by the Nokia 6, 5, and 3, but as a first step, the trio of Nokia Android phones seems entirely adequate.
Read next: LG G6 hands-on!
For more on Nokia’s new line of Android-powered smartphones and the rest of our Mobile World Congress 2017 coverage, keep it tuned to Android Authority, our YouTube channel, and our social channels!
What do you think of these Nokia Android phones? Is this what you were expecting to see after all the buildup?