The phone felt premium for a budget smartphone with its 2.5D Gorilla Glass 5-inch screen and metallic frame. There's the standard 3.5mm headphone jack, microUSB port capable of USB OTG, power and volume buttons, 2 microphones, and separate trays for a microSD card and nano SIM card.
On the software side, it runs Android Nougat 7.1.1 and the company promised that the Oreo update is on its way. I'm actually quite surprised with the lack of bloatware and bundled apps save for the standard Google apps. There's no drastic custom UI either - a complete inversion of my Zenfone 5 experience. It is a fresh experience coming from Android Kitkat.
Once the initial 'wow' wore off, I saw the compromises they took to keep the phone within budget.
While the barebones set of apps might seem appealing to people who wants to keep their app drawer clean, there are essential apps missing from the phone and the built-in ones just plain suck for the tasks they're assigned to.
For one, there's no sound recorder app built-in. You'll have to pick one from the Play store.
The included Google apps like Drive and Photos acting as the phone's file manager and gallery respectively, feel convoluted and insufficient when trying to deal with local files in the phone. Downloading a replacement for these is a must. I personally picked Solid Explorer and Simple Gallery for this.
But the worst offender of them all is the camera. Do yourself a favor and AVOID using the stock camera. I am serious.
The following three photos are shot using the stock camera app.
I'm convinced the stock camera has focusing issues as nearly all my shots came out blurred. Relying on autofocus is a hit or miss and even if you manage to get a good shot, you'll have to deal with the washed out or over or underexposed photo.
I replaced it with OpenCamera and never opened the stock camera app ever since.
Comparison shots between OpenCamera (top) and stock camera (bottom). Notice the more accurate near-focus and better exposure.
For video, it can shoot only up to 720p at 30fps. There's no image stabilization to speak of. The only good thing I can say is the front camera is an autofocus 8MP shooter.
The Nokia 3 camera felt like a step backward from my Zenfone 5's PixelMaster camera. I definitely miss the amazing night mode feature and less noisy photos from my old phone. Still, I might be expecting a bit too much for a budget phone.
Other notable features of the phone (which I honestly haven't used) are NFC, Bluetooth 4.0, LTE, and dual-band wifi.
Overall, the Nokia 3 is for people who want an updated and unadulterated Android experience, a sturdy and nice-looking device, with little expectations on photography, while not breaking the bank.