The Nokia X30 5G is an upgrade from last year's Nokia X20, with an overhaul in design and performance. Compared to its predecessor, it has a better display, a faster processor, and improved camera performance. However, it comes at a higher price point than the Nokia X20 and is up against other mid-range phones such as the Google Pixel 6a, Nothing Phone (1), and OnePlus Nord 2T.
The Nokia X30 5G boasts a more slender, compact, and premium design than the Nokia X20. Its smaller 6.43-inch display and thinner 8mm body make it comfortable to use while still offering an improved display tech and a boosted refresh rate. The AMOLED display offers more vivid colors, deeper blacks, and better dynamic range. It also has a boosted 90Hz refresh rate that makes animations and scrolling smoother and more responsive.
The Nokia X30 5G is made from recycled materials and has a redesigned rear camera housing. It uses 100% recycled materials for the aluminium frame and 65% recycled plastic for its rear cover. The phone has decent everyday performance, but it still lags behind other similarly priced phones. The audio experience is lacking, with only a mono speaker and the removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack.
Here is our detailed hands-on review of the Nokia X30 5G for all readers of the Geeky Stuffs.
Design and Build Quality
The Nokia X30 5G marks a fresh start for Nokia's high-end mid-range line, and this is most evident from its revamped design. The bulky, simplistic X20 design has been replaced by a slimmer, more compact and overall more premium design. The Nokia X30 is considerably smaller than its predecessor in nearly every way, featuring a slightly smaller 6.43in display and a much thinner 8mm body, making it 35g lighter at 185g. This marks a significant change in Nokia's design philosophy, resulting in a more comfortable in-hand experience.
The smartphone is made up of an aluminium frame and a plastic rear, featuring chamfered edges that give the phone a more premium look and feel. It's available in two finishes, Cloudy Blue and Ice White, with the latter being the focus of this review. Although some may criticize the use of plastic, it's common at the mid-range price point and it won't shatter like glass if dropped. Furthermore, the frosted glass finish makes it feel more expensive and helps to hide fingerprints.
The rear camera housing has been completely redesigned, with a much more compact and stylized rectangular housing located on the top-left with matching chamfered edges and a vertical dip. This results in a much cleaner, more premium-looking rear compared to its predecessor. Additionally, Nokia has used 100% recycled materials for the aluminium frame and 65% recycled plastic for its rear cover, which is a commendable step towards environmental consciousness.
Display and Audio
The Nokia X30 5G's smaller display size compared to its predecessor is actually a positive in the author's opinion. At 6.43in, the X30 strikes a balance between portability and still offering a decent viewing experience for content consumption. The AMOLED display is an improvement on the old IPS LCD display, with more vivid colours, deeper blacks and better dynamic range, and boasts a boosted 90Hz refresh rate for smoother scrolling. The fingerprint reader has been moved underneath the display, resulting in fewer false readings.
However, the audio experience is lacking, with only a mono speaker and no stereo output, and the removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack may disappoint some users who have yet to make the switch to wireless earbuds. The author suggests that HMD could have upgraded to a dual-speaker system to make up for this omission.
Features, Hardware Specs, and Performance
Compared to last year's budget-focused Snapdragon 480 featured in the X20, the Nokia X30 5G represents a significant performance upgrade with the Snapdragon 695, 6-8GB of RAM, and 128GB-256GB of storage. However, for its £399 price tag, there are several more powerful options available, some even cheaper than Nokia's latest smartphone.
For instance, the OnePlus Nord 2T with its MediaTek Dimensity 1300 offers noticeable gains over the Snapdragon 695. Moreover, smartphones such as the Motorola Edge 30 Neo and Poco X4 Pro 5G that do offer the Snapdragon 695 are priced as much as £140 less than Nokia's offering. This is also reflected in benchmarks, where the X30 struggles to keep up with similarly priced competition, and the phones it aligns with cost significantly less than its asking price.
The Nokia X20 5G is a smooth operator, responding quickly to everyday tasks such as scrolling through social media, replying to messages, and watching videos on TikTok. This can be attributed, at least in part, to the boosted 90Hz refresh rate, which enhances the fluidity of animations and scrolling in media-rich applications. Occasionally, there may be a slight delay when launching the Camera app, but this only occurs infrequently, leading me to believe it may be more of a software issue than a hardware problem. If it is indeed a software issue, I anticipate that a fix will be released shortly.
The phone is capable of gaming, albeit not at the highest graphical settings for demanding games such as Genshin Impact or Call of Duty Mobile. However, if you lower the quality, the phone can still run games without getting excessively warm over extended periods of use. Although it may not be ideal for hardcore gamers seeking 60fps+ performance, it's perfectly adequate for casual gaming such as playing Candy Crush.
The phone boasts several notable features, such as 5G connectivity that works alongside Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1. NFC is also available for convenient mobile payments. Additionally, for those seeking to move away from physical SIM cards, the phone supports eSIM.
Although the Nokia X30 lacks the Leica branding and has a 50Mp main camera, which is 14Mp fewer than its predecessor, it's actually an upgrade in the camera department. Despite the misconception that higher megapixels result in better quality, the X30's camera surpasses that of the X20 in nearly every aspect. The aperture of f/1.9 captures plenty of light, resulting in well-lit images with accurate colors and impressive detail, which is consistent across shots. Furthermore, the X30 outperforms most mid-range smartphones in low-light photography thanks to Night Mode 2.0 and the wider aperture. The phone captures detailed and balanced low-light shots, such as those taken on a streetlamp-lit street.
Nokia's Dark Vision mode provides excellent low-light performance with its additional night mode function, activated by tapping the icon in the top-right of the Night shooting mode. It captures more light than the naked eye can see in some scenarios, although particularly dark night shots can come out slightly soft due to the lack of a laser-based autofocus system. Nevertheless, the 50Mp primary lens is not only a good camera for a mid-range smartphone but also performs exceptionally well in all conditions.
The ultrawide lens captures great wide-angle shots, with accurate colour matching that ensures consistency in shots taken across both rear lenses. On the front, the 16Mp camera offers improved image quality despite the reduction in pixel count. The AI Portrait mode provides good edge detection, although it may miss wispy hairs. Additionally, Night Selfie mode is available for use in low-light conditions.
Battery Performance and Charging Speed
Despite having a smaller display, the Nokia X30 still boasts a decent 4200mAh battery capacity which is only slightly less than its predecessor. However, the addition of a 90Hz refresh rate display can affect battery life. The Nokia X20 could last up to a day and a half with moderate use, but the Nokia X30 only offers a comfortable all-day experience. It usually finishes the day at around 30% after regular texting, scrolling, and TikToking. Heavier users may not have as much luck.
Our battery benchmark test showed that the Nokia X30 lasted for 11 hours and 10 minutes before needing to be recharged, which is respectable but not outstanding. To compensate for this, the phone comes with 33W fast charging, which is faster than the 18W charging of the Nokia X20 and is comparable to the Nothing Phone (1), but not quite as fast as the 210W charging of the Redmi Note 12 Explorer Edition. Charging times are decent, with the phone reaching 39% in 15 minutes, 75% in half an hour, and a full charge in about an hour. However, Nokia doesn't include a charging brick with the phone, so users will need to provide their own 33W USB-C charging brick to take advantage of this feature.
The Nokia X30 is a significant departure from last year's X20 in almost every aspect. Its design is more modern and sleek, with a thinner and lighter profile. The display has been upgraded with a faster refresh rate, and performance has also received a boost. Despite the absence of Leica branding, the cameras are outstanding this year. These enhancements make the £100 price increase for Nokia's top-end mid-ranger almost justifiable.
While it may not surpass popular mid-rangers like the Nothing Phone (1) with its IP53 water resistance and wireless charging or the OnePlus Nord 2T with its exceptional performance, Nokia finally has a fighting chance of establishing itself in the mid-range market.