For the first time, I’m going to break down the name of a phone for you, solely because it’s ridiculously convoluted. This phone is called the “Nokia 8.3 V 5G UW.” Nokia 8.3 is this Android smartphone’s actual product name; the V stands for Verizon; 5G is for the support of the new network standard; and UW is Ultra Wideband, the name of Verizon’s 5G that uses millimeter-wave (mmWave) spectrum. Clearly, Verizon is to blame for this disaster.
This is the model I’ve been testing for a few weeks. Thankfully, you don’t need to take a deep breath to say the name of the nearly identical unlocked version that’ll work on other carriers—the Nokia 8.3 5G. It skips millimeter-wave support in favor of slower but more accessible 5G spectrum (sub-6). Regardless of the model, it’s difficult to recommend this phone. At $700 it costs too much, and it’s just not fun to use.
I grimaced the first time I took it out of the box. This thing is heavier and bigger than the new iPhone 12 Pro Max and the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra.
I don’t mind big phones, but it’s difficult to reach parts of the screen with one hand unless you shimmy it down your hand, and the glass on the back is an instant fingerprint magnet that gets grimy quickly.
Then came the drop. I was crouching, taking a photo low to the ground (with another phone, for comparison’s sake). My pant pocket was about a foot and a half above the sidewalk. The Nokia 8.3 5G, too big to be constrained by a measly pocket, slipped out. CRACK.
The glass back shattered, and it has continued to release tiny bits of glass into my hands ever since. Wonderful. I’m coming to this phone after having just reviewed two other $700 phones, the Google Pixel 5 and Samsung’s Galaxy S20 Fan Edition. They use aluminum (with a bio-resin finish) and plastic, respectively, for the material on the back—much more sensible. Both also are IP68 water-resistant and support wireless charging, two missing features on the Nokia.
Nokia’s LCD display isn’t all that impressive for this price, either. It’s sharp and bright enough to see outdoors on sunny days. But it can’t match the OLED panels from competitors. Each pixel in an OLED screen acts as a backlight, so when you see black the pixel is completely off, and it looks brilliantly dark. On this phone, black pixels still glow a little, meaning dark stuff isn’t completely dark. The lack of OLED is problematic for features like the Always-On Display, which shows the time and notifications when the phone is on standby. I had to flip the phone upside down at bedtime because the entire screen has a backlight that emits a distracting glow. Bummer.
The good news? I didn’t have any performance woes with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G inside. Apps are quick to launch, and games run smoothly most of the time. There’s the occasional stutter, but it was never a cause for concern.
Its battery life is poor. The 4,500-mAh cell lasts a day, but not a minute more, and that’s when I barely use the phone to do stuff like browse Reddit and Twitter, reading articles, and maybe take a few photos. Simple activities like that brought me down to 20 percent by 10 pm with a little more than three hours of screen-on time.