Thursday, March 23, 2023

Nokia 8.3 5G V UW review: a big clunky mess

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For the first time, I’m going to break down a phone’s name for you, only because it’s ridiculously convoluted. This phone is called the “Nokia 8.3 V 5G UW”. Nokia 8.3 is the actual product name of this Android smartphone; the V stands for Verizon; 5G is for the support of the new network standard; and YOUR is Ultra Wideband, the name of Verizon’s 5G that uses the millimeter wave spectrum (mmWave). Clearly, Verizon is to blame for this disaster.

This is the model that I have been testing for a few weeks. Fortunately, you don’t have to take a deep breath to say the name of the nearly identical unlocked version that will work on other carriers: the Nokia 8.3 5G. It skips millimeter wave support in favor of slower but more accessible support 5G spectrum (sub-6). Regardless of the model, this phone is hard to recommend. At $ 700, it costs too much and it’s just not fun to use.

Big fall

I winced the first time I took it out of the box. This thing is heavier and bigger than the new one iPhone 12 Pro Max and the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra.

Big phones don’t bother me, but it’s hard to reach parts of the screen with one hand unless you slide it in your hand, and the glass on the back is a fingerprint magnet snapshot that quickly gets dirty.

Photography: HMD

Then came the drop. I was squatting, taking a photo low to the ground (with another phone, for comparison). My pants pocket was about a foot and a half above the curb. The Nokia 8.3 5G, too big to be constrained by a meager pocket, escaped. RIFT.

The glass back shattered and it has continued to release tiny pieces of glass into my hands ever since. Magnificent. I come to this phone after reviewing two other $ 700 phones, the Google pixel 5 and Samsung Galaxy S20 Fan Edition. They use aluminum (with a bio-resin finish) and plastic respectively for the back material – much smarter. Both are also IP68 water resistant and support wireless charging, two features missing on the Nokia.

Nokia’s LCD screen isn’t that impressive for this price either. It’s crisp and bright enough to see outside on sunny days. But it can’t match competitor’s OLED panels. Each pixel in an OLED display acts as a backlight, so when you see black, the pixel is completely off and it looks brilliantly dark. On this phone, the black pixels still shine a bit, which means that the dark elements are not completely dark. The lack of OLED is problematic for features like Always-On Display, which shows the time and notifications when the phone is asleep. Had to flip the phone upside down at bedtime as the whole screen has a backlight that gives off a distracting glow. Pity.

The good news? I had no performance issues with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G inside. Apps launch quickly and games run fine most of the time. There is occasional stuttering, but it has never been a concern.

Its battery life is poor. The 4,500mAh cell lasts for a day, but not a minute longer, and that’s when I barely use the phone to do things like browse Reddit and Twitter, read articles and maybe take some pictures. Simple activities like these got me back to 20% by 10pm with just over three hours of screen time.


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