In a world of yearly updates to phones, it’s becoming apparent that this is, ecologically speaking, not the best idea. HMD Global has been promoting longer lasting devices recently, with their vision of ‘Connecting the world without costing the earth’. The Nokia X30 is the latest in their line to hit our shores, offering a sturdy handset made from a combination of recycled materials, and a box which has a smaller footprint.
The phone comes with an expected three years of life thanks to a three year warranty to back up the solid design, and three years of OS and monthly security updates.
The Nokia X30 isn’t simply relying on the three year promise to last, with a solid spec list that should see you comfortably through those three years. The hardware includes a Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 5G SoC, 8GB RAM, 256GB of on-board storage, 4,200mAh battery with 33W Fast Charging and their ‘Best Pureview Camera’ to date.
So is the Nokia X30 set to be your companion for the next three years? I spent three weeks with the Nokia X30 and here’s what I found.
Hardware and Design
When you look at the Nokia X30 5G there’s no surprises, but it feels surprisingly solid in the hand thanks to the matte aluminium chassis that encircles the phone which is made of 100% recycled aluminium in keeping with their eco-friendly design.
The phone has a squared off ‘chunky’ feel to it, but it feels sturdy and the matte finish continues onto the polycarbonate rear which on my review unit is ‘Ice White’ in colour, though there’s a ‘Cloudy Blue’ option available if you like darker coloured phones.
There’s a camera island also made of aluminium on the rear housing the dual rear camera array which is off-centre and makes the phone rock when placed on a table. There is no TPU case in the box, which usually evens out this bump – though you can purchase one from the Nokia website.
The power and volume buttons are also made of aluminium and are located on the right hand side of the phone and have a nice tactile ‘click’ to them when you press them leaving you in little doubt they’ve been pressed.
There’s a bottom firing speaker on the base of the phone, though strangely this does NOT pair with the speaker at the top used for phone calls. The top speaker is hidden behind machined holes in the aluminium chassis. The bottom speaker works decently well at medium volume, however tends to top out at high volume with some static if you pump the volume too loud.
Also on the base are the SIM tray which supports dual-SIM and a USB-C port for charging and connectivity – though it’s only USB 2.0 so it’s not going to offer great data transfer speeds if you need them.
The front of the phone is covered in smooth Gorilla Glass Victus covering the 6.43 inch AMOLED display. The display includes a small punch hole notch in the centre at the top to house the 16 MP selfie camera, which is encircled with a silver ring that certainly draws the eye when looking at the display, though not as much with the display turned on.
Nokia has included a large 6.43-inch AMOLED display which has a 90Hz refresh rate which is about table stakes for phones in this price range. It works extremely well though with smooth scrolling throughout the OS and games look impressive at high frame rate. This refresh rate can be toned down manually in settings to 60Hz which will save you some battery life.
The display is rated at 400nits typical brightness, with 700nits peak brightness – however while it’s extremely bright inside (sometimes blindingly so at night) I found it difficult to see under bright daylight.
There’s a built-in optical fingerprint sensor in the display which operates moderately quickly, though not near as instantaneously as options from OPPO, Samsung or even the Google Pixel line. As an alternative you can use face unlock on the front camera.
The Gorilla Glass Victus covering the display has held up fairly well to a few weeks of use though with a few micro-scratches from being pulled in and out of a pocket over that time – however this doesn’t show up when the display is turned on.
The last note I have is that there is some bezel surrounding the display, which isn’t overly distracting and of course protects from any phantom touches while handling the phone.
A Qualcomm Snapdragon 695c 5G processor is running the show and it’s a decently fast system when paired with 8GB of RAM. The phone handles loading apps and multi-tasking decently well, though you will notice slight lags in performance on occasion, though it’s definitely not a deal-breaker.
With 256GB of on-board storage there’s plenty of room to move, though without a microSD card option to expand the storage you may need to offload some of your stored photos and videos over time if you want to keep the phone for the full three years.
Overall it’s a decently fast platform which should last most users for three years. As usual I ran the Nokia X30 5G through the GeekBench benchmarks and here’s how it stacked up.
Battery and Charging
There’s a 4,200mAh battery inside the Nokia X30 and it supports wired fast charging up to 33W – but there is no support for wireless charging.
On the charging front, there’s no charger in the box which allows HMD Global to shrink the packaging down – but if you don’t already have one, you’ll need to purchase one. Strangely, you can’t even purchase a 33W charger from Nokia themselves on their accessory store – though there are a number of options around.
I used the Google Pixel Charger which is rated at 30W, and it’s a decently fast charge, but not on the same level as the OPPO with their 80W charging or even the more recent Motorola phones with their 68W charger.
Thankfully the phone lasts a full day, even blowing past the 24 hour mark quite happily, with over 7 hours of screen-on time and a lot of usage each day.
The Nokia X30 5G includes a dual camera array on the rear featuring the PureView branding Nokia became known for back in the day. The dual camera array is headlined by a 50MP main camera and 13MP ultra-wide, while on the front is of course that 16MP selfie camera surrounded by a silver ring.
The camera system was described by HMD Global as the ‘Best ever Pureview Camera’ and features 4-in-1 pixel binning and introduces Night Mode 2.0 and Dark Vision for improved low-light photography. The low-light photography is further enhanced if you use a tripod, with an automatic ‘Tripod Mode’ enabled, allowing long exposures to capture great quality night shots.
In terms of photography, the camera captures a good shot in daylight, whether in bright light or overcast conditions, though the colours can be a little flat if the lighting isn’t just right. Overall though it captures a decent shot – although the lack of telephoto lens is a bit disappointing with the 2x digital crop only offering some consolation. There is of course the 13MP ultra-wide camera with 123° Field of View on the rear to fit in more of the image if you’re trying to capture an expansive vista. It doesn’t capture images quite as vividly as the 50MP sensor, but works well if you just want the shot.
Night mode did decently well, though not quite as well as the night modes on flagship cameras, though the tripod mode allowed for a slightly longer capture which made for improved images. There’s also a ‘Tripod
For the selfie lovers, the 16MP sensor does the job and that silver ring does make it easier to find the lens to look at when taking a selfie. There’s a fairly good portrait mode which offers good blurring of the background and a pretty decent delineation between the subject and the blurring.
While there is a ‘Cinematic’ mode for video, there ISN’T a 4K video recording option, though you will find 1080p with options for 30 or 60fps. It’s not a fantastic look for a phone meant to last three years to not offer 4K video, so it’s something to think about if you are planning to shoot in 4K.
The Nokia camera software offers the usual features on the main camera interface, Photo, Video, Portrait and Night Mode, with a Cinema mode for taking cinematic videos. Hidden away under the ‘More’ tab on the left is a few more features including a Pro mode and Panorama as well as novelty options like Dual Sight or video options for time-lapse, slow motion, SpeedWarp and Ultra Steady Video.
The big feature for the Nokia X30 5G is the three years of both OS and Security updates – a decent offering on a $799 phone, though it does pale in comparison to Samsung’s four years of updates on even their comparatively priced A-Series phones.
HMD Global has promised monthly security updates, as well as keeping the phone updated on the OS level for three years. While monthly updates are promised, it’s now January and I only just received the December 1st update – so it’s not quite as on-time as I’d like.
HMD Global have long used the Android One solution of a minimal software load, starting with Android 12 as a base, and installing some recommended applications alongside the OS. These recommended applications can be annoying with notifications (looking at you Spotify and LinkedIn), but thankfully these can be removed, though strangely Spotify remained in my list of installed apps.
The rest of the Android OS is very minimal and ‘stock’ Android, it’s clean, fast and aids in the smooth overall performance of the phone. There IS some bloatware that comes pre-installed on the phone, however you can uninstall all these apps if you don’t use them – and I do recommend removing them as I started receiving random Spotify and Linkedin notifications – even though I hadn’t logged in to the apps.
Should you buy this phone?
As mid-rangers go, there’s something quite attractive about a phone designed to last 3 years. Three year warranty on this phone, which feels solid enough to last that long, and three years of OS and security updates are also attractive, though exactly when those updates will come through is slower than most will like.
The design of the phone is good, though the screen in bright sunlight is hard to read and some decisions, including not pairing the speakers for stereo sound, and lack of 4K video on the camera are slightly odd choices, as is the slightly lower end processor which may start to show it’s age before the three years are up.
There is also solid competition at this end of the market from the likes of the Google Pixel 6a, Samsung Galaxy A53 and OPPO Reno series which are definitely options to look at if this is where your budget is at. Though the 3-year warranty is nothing to sneeze at.
As phones go though, the Nokia X30 is a solid option which you should check out – especially with that 3 year warranty.
You can head over to the Nokia website, or check it out at JB HiFi, Harvey Norman, Officeworks and even Telstra.