Nokia 1.3 review: Android Go or No-Go?

Nokia 1.3 review: Android Go or No-Go?

The Nokia 1.3 is fairly affordable with a €109 / $120 price tag. A relatively inexpensive Android Go smartphone does have its limitations, as shown in this review. For whom is this stripped-down variant of Android suitable for? Spending some time with this entry-level Android-powered device has changed my perspective. 

Rating

Good

  • Very good value for money
  • Removable battery
  • Independent dual SIM and microSD slots

Bad

  • Very basic processor performance
  • Poor camera performance

Nokia 1.3 release date and price

The Nokia 1.3 has a recommended retail price of €109 ($120) in Europe. Dealers have been selling it since April 6, where some of them are already offering discounted prices in the region of €97 ($105). The Nokia 1.3 will arrive in black, blue, and light brown colour choices. Be aware that the Nokia 1.3 with Android Go comprises of extremely limited hardware capability and hence, it is not everyone's device of choice, which might make it worth your while to check out the:

Nokia 1.3 design and build quality

Based on its sticker price, the Nokia 1.3 plays the part by arriving in a simple design. Some of the advantages include the 3.5mm headphone jack as well as a removable back shell that provides access to its battery, something that has been lost in smartphone design for many years now. In other words, you can change the battery easily. The only drawback? It is not apparent where you are able to place an order a replacement battery for Nokia smartphones.

AndroidPIT Nokia 1 3 back logo
The back shell of the Nokia 1.3 can be removed. / © NextPit

The included manual provides instructions for removing the Nokia 1.3's back by carefully placing your fingernail between it and the edge of the screen. If you have short or brittle fingernails, it is highly advisable to use a flat-headed precision screwdriver instead as I took several painful tries before resorting to a tool.

AndroidPIT Nokia 1 3 camera
On the left lies a dedicated Google Assistant button. / © NextPit

The Nokia 1.3 offers two separate SIM slots and a dedicated microSD slot underneath the hood. Even better is the fact that you do not have to remove the battery to swap or insert another SIM card. As are no SIM drawers, just like phones of old, you do not have to look for a needle or ejector pin. On the other hand, the drawers happen to be so narrow that once a SIM card has been inserted, it will require a lot of effort and patience to remove it from the Nokia 1.3 without causing any damage.

In the short amount of time I had with it, the Nokia 1.3 showed no physical damage, pointing to a robust construction. The display ought to be shatterproof to a degree, although it does seem to have a tendency of attracting scratches if you are not careful. Nokia does not sell any accessories for this handset yet on its online shop; however, there were two different types of protective covers for its predecessor, the Nokia 1. Hopefully the same will be made available for the Nokia 1.3 soon.

Nokia 1.3 display

The 5.7-inch LCD display has a resolution of 1,520 x 720 pixels and has a brightness of 400 nits (according to the manufacturer's specifications). The Nokia 1.3 is fairly readable under direct sunlight. However, it does take a while at times to register the brightness level when outdoors before the LCD display dials up the brightness level accordingly.

The colors appear pale and slightly bluish though. If your friends in the photos look a little sickly: It's the Nokia 1.3's fault, and not their health.

AndroidPIT Nokia 1 3 front camera
There's a notch. / © NextPit

In terms of design, the Nokia 1.3 display is reminiscent of a 2018 smartphone. There is a centrally located teardrop notch and rounded corners. The bezels at the sides measure a relatively narrow two to three millimeters; while the bottom bezel remains unnecessarily larger in comparison to house the brand name. This is unfortunate as the navigation buttons are implemented within the screen area and not in capacitive keys. To have the border carry the Nokia logo does seem to be a waste.

AndroidPIT Nokia 1 3 front
The lower bezel is wider than the rest, making it completely unnecessary. / © NextPit

The proximity sensor of the display also reacts erratically when making a phone call. Occasionally, the display is activated, resulting in my selecting the speakerphone function with my cheek by accident during a confidential phone call. That embarrassing situation could have been avoided if the proximity sensor had been implemented better.

Nokia 1.3 special features

The Nokia 1.3 has an additional hardware button located on the left side. Pressing it will launch Google Assistant. The voice assistant can then answer your questions, save notes, start a timer, or even populate your shopping list.

Nokia 1.3 software

The Nokia 1.3 runs on Android 10 Go Edition right out of the box. This version is optimized for smartphones with a maximum of 2 GB of RAM and little internal memory. In fact, Android Go restricts the hardware specifications. In return, Android 10 Go offers exclusive access to particularly data-efficient apps like Maps Go, Google Go, and even the brand new Camera Go and Gallery Go (instead of Google Photos).

Camera Go offers some AI action, and it requires an existing Internet connection. First, you snap a photo of a text in a foreign language, you will then receive a translated copy after a few seconds.

nokia 13 camera go translate
Translation is part of the camera app. / © NextPit

Actually there should also be YouTube Go, but this is not offered in Germany, where I tested the phone. This is annoying, as YouTube Go offers video downloads and offline playback capability. This feature is useful in places where 4G is the norm such as Germany, as it is in rural India.

Maps Go is nothing more than Google Maps running in WebView. Launch the Chrome browser on your smartphone and open Google Maps to see what I can view on the Nokia 1.3. It is not really suitable for actual on-road navigation, but it ought to do the trick if you're on foot and need a moment to pause and reestablish your bearings.

nokia 13 google go
Google Go contains several web applications. / © NextPit

Google Go, on the other hand, is an interesting concept. Instead of going to the Play Store, installing an app and consuming media, news or games on it, Google Go is supposed to deliver all of those content to you instantly via web apps.

The advantage is significantly reduced data consumption as well as a quick overview in a curated catalogue. The disadvantage? An obvious reduced selection of available games, news, and other content. Occasionally, you can still see the catalogue's Indian-centric offerings, check out a Bollywood quiz or cricket game.

Nokia 1.3 performance

Get ready: the Nokia 1.3 comes with the Snapdragon 215 processor, which is the smallest of all Qualcomm chipsets. Needless to say, the Snapdragon 215 processor will be overwhelmed quickly with the workload that an enthusiast demands from a review unit. During the duration of the review, I had to turn my usage pattern completely upside down.

nokia 13 apps
At the beginning, I tried to reuse all apps. That proved to be too much for the Nokia 1.3. / © NextPit

When I first set it up, I transferred my entire collection of daily apps over. There are about 20 of them, and after a few minutes, I knew that I would overtax the Nokia 1.3 with them. There was a lag of several seconds, and I even missed incoming calls because the display did not turn on quickly enough.

nokia 13 lags
Left: Download and installation of Play Store apps sometimes took hours. Middle: The user interface crashed once during a call. Right: The battery life allows two hours of active use. / © NextPit

So I reset the Nokia 1.3 and installed Google Photos as the only additional app. Even then, a fresh out of the box experience requires patience. I still missed incoming calls, as the display came on only after the call had been redirected to my voicemail. After the fourth missed call, I deactivated the mailbox in a rage.

I spared myself from the pain of running the Nokia 1.3 through standard benchmark tests.

Nokia 1.3 audio

The acoustic performance of the Nokia 1.3 is average. Once a phone connection has been successfully established, both the loudspeaker and the hands-free speaker are loud enough in all situations . People with less sensitive hearing will therefore understand their counterpart well and vice versa.

Nokia 1.3 camera

The cameras on the Nokia 1.3 are an 8-megapixel sensor with autofocus and LED flash at the back, and a 5-megapixel sensor with brightness enhancement at the front (the display lights up briefly to show a white screen). There's an 8X zoom, but it provides grainy results (most probably due to digital zoom), and there's a portrait mode, where it will provide a fake bokeh effect due to software rendering based on object edges.

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Bokeh ends up with the subject looking like an apparition with the Nokia 1.3. / © NextPit

The Nokia 1.3 lacks the usual gallery app that comes with Google Photos. Rather, you will find Gallery Go in its stead that ought to organize your photos automatically. Due to the small number of test photos taken, I am unable to go into more detail on how capable the organization prowess of Gallery Go is.

Nokia 1.3 battery

The Nokia 1.3 has a (theoretically) replaceable 3,000 mAh battery, which should be sufficient for the economical Qualcomm chipset Snapdragon 215. In my rather punishing testing of this handset, it does seem as though this handset is running on fumes as I had to charge the Nokia 1.3 every day a bit earlier than the day before. Based on the statistics I gathered, I used only two hours of display time each day.

In reality, not many would be able to get through the entire day with the Nokia 1.3 as a casual user. In an ideal situation, you would most probably need to charge the Nokia 1.3 nightly with an average usage pattern of once every three hours. After all, based on only standby time alone, the battery was able to last for more than two days.

Nokia 1.3 technical specifications

Dimensions: 147.3 x 71.2 x 9.4 mm
Weight: 155 g
Battery size: 3000 mAh
Screen size: 5.7 in
Screen: 1520 x 720 pixels (295 ppi)
Front camera: 5 megapixels
Rear camera: 8 megapixels
Flashlight: Dual-LED
Android version: 10 - Q
User interface: Stock Android
RAM: 1024 MB
Internal storage: 16 GB
Removable storage: microSD
Number of cores: 4
Connectivity: HSPA, LTE, Dual-SIM , Bluetooth 4.2

Final verdict

It is not easy for me to deliver a verdict concerning the Nokia 1.3, because I know little about its target market. The typical owner of such a smartphone would require a totally different usage pattern from mine. What I do know is this: the Nokia 1.3 is sufficient if you:

  • Want to install less than five additional apps
  • Do not want to use your smartphone for taking photos
  • Look at/use your smartphone at a frequency of less than every two hours

If any of the above-mentioned points do not apply to you, please have a look at our frequently updated list of alternatives:

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3 comments

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  • Simple workhorse, noting special


  • marco sarli
    • Admin
    5 months ago Link to comment

    For that price, if you are not playing games but use phones for what they are meant to be used,communication, it seems a very reasonable option. I have a Go tablet,used mainly as a reader for books (up to 4 hours a day), normal browsing and some facebook or whatsapp calls and in one year of daily use never had a problem or noticed any lag.


    • it is terrible. and we all know this. 2020 + the price = 1GB ram, i feel this equation does not make sense and you dare to support this nonsense.
      i asked a salesman about this, and he said "yep, thats typical nokia.."

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