Hands on: Nokia G50 review
HMD Global is an enduring stalwart of the budget phone market, but the Nokia G50 is its first phone in quite a while that you should really pay attention to.
This is a phone for people who like streaming media on their phone on the go: it has a giant display, 5G connectivity, a long-lasting battery, and a 3.5mm headphone jack, all for an impressively low price. Moreover, it cuts corners in other areas to keep the price low: the slow processor and unimpressive cameras won’t affect how you stream content.
Clearly, then, HMD Global has identified a particular niche of buyer and released a phone to appeal to those people. And we’d say it works: if you can relate to the above description, the Nokia G50 is a great phone for you that won’t break the bank.
It’s not a device for everyone, for sure, but it ticks all the boxes it needs to. We spent some time with the Nokia G50, and ahead of a full review, here are our initial impressions.
Nokia G50 release date and price
We’ve got the UK price of the Nokia G50, and that’s £199, which converts to roughly $275 or AU$375. That’s a supremely low price for a 5G phone, only matched by the likes of the Realme 8 5G, and you generally won’t find a similar device for cheaper than that.
Well, that’s for the 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage version of the phone, and we haven’t heard how much the higher-RAM or higher-storage configurations cost just yet.
HMD Global has done well to hit this competitive price point, as some of its other devices have failed on this front in the past: that’s why, in the introduction, we called the G50 the most interesting Nokia phone in a while.
We don’t have a release date for this phone just yet, or the availability in other markets; we’ll update you when we find those out.
Design and display
The Nokia G50 packs a massive 6.82-inch display – that’s a tiny bit bigger than the 6.8-inch Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, showing how much of a mammoth this device is. The screen is interrupted by a teardrop notch at the top, which houses the front-facing camera.
With a HD+ resolution, this big screen doesn’t have as many pixels as the Galaxy phone, or even most mid-range devices, which tend to hit FHD+ or more. But some people don’t need high-res displays, or high-refresh-rate ones either (this screen has a 60Hz refresh rate).
We were pleased to see the Nokia G50 avoids some of the main problems we have with big phones. The fingerprint scanner, embedded in the power button on the right edge of the phone, is low enough that we found it easy to reach without stretching. But the volume rocker above it, and the Google Assistant button on the left edge, were a little harder to hit without re-adjusting our hands.
The phone has a USB-C port as well as a 3.5mm headphone jack, something fans of wired audio will likely be glad to see.
The rear camera bump is circular, a design we’ve seen quite a few HMD Global phones use at this point, and it doesn’t stick too far from the body. The shell itself is made of plastic; we tested a blue version of the device, but there’s also a pale pink alternative.
Cameras and battery life
The main camera on the Nokia G50 is a 48MP snapper, and it’s joined by 5MP ultra-wide and 2MP depth-sensing buddies. On the front there’s an 8MP camera for selfies.
We haven’t found ourselves massively impressed with photography performance from our testing. Snaps looked desaturated and dull, while questionable autofocus occasionally resulted in slightly out-of-focus shots for close-up subjects. Other camera modes like selfies or Portrait shots were affected by the same color issue, though we found Portrait good for isolating subjects and blurring the background.
The phone captures video at 1080p and 30fps or 60fps. Other modes include Night, Panorama and Dual Sight (where you record video on the front and back cameras simultaneously) but we didn’t get a chance to test these out.
Keeping the Nokia G50’s juices flowing is its 5,000mAh battery, which is fairly big as smartphone power packs go, though due to the big screen it’s important here.
We didn’t use the Nokia G50 long enough to properly test its battery life, but from our initial testing, it seems like the device will breeze through a day with ease, and will probably give you a solid second day of use too. That’s for normal use – if you’re a prolific video streamer it won’t last quite that long, but we’d estimate it will definitely see you through a day even if you stream for a few hours.
Powering isn’t exactly earth-shattering, as we’d estimate the 18W charger will see the phone powered from empty to full in about two hours. Still, as long as you’re fine with powering the device overnight instead of during your pre-work shower, you’ll be fine with this speed.
Performance and specs
The Nokia G50 runs on the Snapdragon 480 chipset, which is a low-end processor that doesn’t exactly impress. The phone is rather slow to use for gaming or simply swiping between menus, so it’s not advisable for avid mobile gamers or people who like a fluid interface experience.
Saying that, if you don’t use your phone too much, you might not notice the slow speeds; likewise, this processing won’t really affect streaming video, so your TV show playback won’t be any different.
The chipset is paired with either 4GB or 6GB of RAM, and 64GB or 128GB of storage – we’d recommend opting for the latter, as if you download lots of apps, 64GB can quickly fill up. There’s a microSD card slot that lets you get up to 512GB of storage though.
As we’ve said, the phone is 5G-compatible, letting you access the newest generation of cellular connection. This lets you download things faster, jump on video calls easily when out and about, and play online games without lagging far behind your companions.
The software here is Android 11 – and that’s stock Android, as Google designed it, not a fork as many companies design to lay over the base software. HMD Global has pledged at least three years of software updates, so this phone will theoretically support Android 14 (if that’s what it ends up being called).
There are actually a few pre-installed apps on the Nokia G50, a fact which might turn eyebrows from Android purists. However they are Spotify, Netflix, Amazon Shopping and ExpressVPN, and there’s a good chance you’d download some combination of those anyway.
We were pleasantly surprised by our time with the Nokia G50, partly because it seemed a promising and competitively-priced Android phone, and partly because HMD Global has set its own bar pretty low recently.
With a giant screen, 5G connectivity, 3.5mm headphone jack and big battery, this seems to be a great phone for people who like their on-the-go entertainment.
Sure the cameras and chipset leave a lot to be desired, but for that low price, we can look past a few issues. Stay tuned for our full review to be sure, though.