The phrase 'best Nokia phones' may sound to some like a contradiction in terms. Many still associate the brand with the cheap burner phones and feature phones that were ubiquitous in the early 2000s.
But rest assured that's no longer the case. Nokia re-entered the mobile phone market in 2016, through the formation of Finnish company HMD, and became competitive once again, with its new range of sophisticated Android smartphones.
Today, while even the best Nokia phones don't match up to the top-priced Apple iPhones or Samsung Galaxy phones, they still have a lot to offer if you're looking for something that costs (far) less than a grand.
With that in mind, this article brings together the best Nokia phones available today, at a range of budgets. We'll walk you through the main differences between them, and give you the information you need to choose between them.
The best Nokia phones in 2021
The Nokia 8.3 is our clear choice as the best Nokia phone you can buy today. First, because it’s the only phone on our list that supports 5G. Second, because it has a lovely camera. And thirdly because, despite being the priciest model on our list, it’s still nicely affordable.
The rear camera is by far the best that Nokia has to offer right now, featuring a 64MP f/1.89 main sensor, a 12MP ultra-wide sensor with an aperture of f/2.2, a 2MP macro sensor and a 2MP depth sensor. It even provides pretty decent images in good light, although the night-time mode isn’t the best on the market. Meanwhile the 24MP front camera takes good quality selfies, and works well on video calls too.
The 8.3 is significantly bigger than the average smartphone, at 171.9 x 78.6 x 9mm, which means screen protectors and cases aren't so easy to come by right now, although that's likely to change in time. On the plus side the greater surface area makes room for a generous-sized 6.81-inch LCD screen, boasting 1080 x 2400 resolution and a taller-than-normal aspect ratio of 20:9.
In terms of storage, 64GB is a fraction of what you'll get on a top-end phone, but should still be enough for most people’s needs. And the 4,500mAh battery should get you through a full day away from a charger, unless you're doing something intense like streaming endless video.
A word of warning: if you're swapping over from another brand, you'll probably get tripped up a little by the quirky interface which, for example, is missing the triangle/circle/square buttons you normally see at the bottom of Android screens. But you'll soon get used to Nokia's way of doing things, even if you do occassionally make the wrong gesture due to muscle memory.
Overall, this is not the best phone on the market by any means. But if you’re looking for a high-end experience, a decent camera and 5G at a fraction of the price of a new iPhone or Galaxy, the 8.3 offers excellent value for money.
If the first Nokia phone on our list is too rich for your blood, but you still want a model that’s a cut above the norm, the Nokia 7.2 has a lot to offer for less than $200 / £200.
With a Gorilla Glass coating on front and back, and a frosted finish on the rear, the 7.2 boasts a premium-looking design that makes it look more expensive than it actually is. The 6.3-inch LCD screen serves 1080 x 2280 resolution and bright, crisp colors.
For basic photography, the camera does a decent job, coupling a 48MP main sensor with an 8MP ultrawide and a 5MP depth sensor. And the 3,500mAh battery will probably keep you going all day if you’re not doing anything too power-intensive.
Short of cash for a new phone? Then this is where Nokia really comes into its own. For less than $120 / £100, you can pick up a smartphone running Android 10 and with a decent (4.000mAh) battery, in the form of the Nokia 1.4.
Released this February, the Nokia 1.4 comes with a sizeable 6.51-inch, 20:9 aspect screen. This serves up a 720 x 1600 resolution, which is lower than the first two phones on our list, but still good enough for most people’s needs.
It’s a similar story with photography. The 1.4’s dual camera setup, with an 8MP main sensor and 2MP macro sensor, means you’re not going to get high quality, detailed pictures. But for quick shots to share with friends or on social media, it’s perfectly acceptable.
The biggest compromises with this phone are the miserly 1GB RAM, which means it runs slowly, and that it charges by micro USB rather than the USB-C, which means it takes a long time to power up. But overall, you’ll still struggle to find a better phone at this price, from any brand on the market today.
You might think there’s no way to beat the price of number 3 on our list, the Nokia 1.4. And it’s true that this is the cheapest Nokia smartphone on our list. But if you’re really stuck for cash, there’s always the alternative option of a feature phone.
A feature phone is a cheap mobile phone that lacks the functionality of a smartphone, but can connect to the internet and perform some basic tasks. And the best Nokia feature available today is the strikingly affordable Nokia 225.
What can you do with it? Well, for a start you can make voice calls (remember them?) and send texts. You can surf the internet (slowly and painfully) with the Opera Mini browser, which is specially coded for low-powered phones... although only via mobile internet, not Wi-Fi.
You can also play some simple games, listen to music that you’ve preloaded onto a memory card, or tune in to FM radio. You can take some pictures with the 0.3MP camera for reference, although they won’t be good enough quality to share online. And that’s pretty much your lot
In short, anyone who’s grown up with smartphones, and has never experienced a feature phone, will find the Nokia 225 maddenly restrictive. If, however, you’re trying to wean yourself off internet addiction, and want a phone that’s almost exclusively for calls and texting, then this is a great (and cheap) option.
The Nokia 5.4 is another good choice for anyone who’s watching the pennies, but wants a modern and capable smartphone.
This smartphone runs Android 10, comes with a 4,000mAh battery, which should get you through a day’s normal use, and its 6.55-inch IPS LCD screen offers a “good enough” resolution of 720 x 1560. And the icing on the cake: its quad-lens camera comprises 48MP standard sensor, a 5MP ultra-wide sensor, a 2MP macro sensor and a 2MP depth sensor.
Be warned, though: those specs make the camera sound more impressive than it is, and it doesn't capture particularly good images in practice. That said, as long as you have good lighting conditions, you should be able to get reasonably decent shots. The 16MP selfie camera on the front is pretty capable too.
In short, this is a solid, if slightly flawed budget choice from Nokia. Yes, there are compromises, but at such a low price you may well find them acceptable.
Another 2020 release, the Nokia 2.4 offers a lot of good things for a very low price. These include a powerful 4,500mAh battery and a 6.5 inch LCD screen with 720 x 1600 resolution. However, as you’re paying around two-thirds the price of the previous phone on our list, the Nokia 5.4, there are an inevitable compromises in terms of capabilities.
So you get just a dual-lens camera, a 13MP main sensor twinned with a 2MP depth sensor, and a 5MP selfie camera on the front. You get half as much storage, at 32GB, and perhaps most strikingly, RAM slumps to just 2GB and the processor is less advanced too. That means this is phone is going to run pretty slowly in practice. Still, if the price is right, you may find these limitations worth the cost saving.
Sitting in between the previous two phones on our list in terms of price, the Nokia 3.4 offers a nice balance between cost and capabilities.
The 6.39-inch LCD screen provides strong colors, good contrast and acceptable levels of brightness, at a resolution of 720 x 1560. In terms of performance, it’s 4,000mAH battery provides strong battery life, but with only 3GB of RAM, it runs a little more slowly than most of the phones on this list. It runs especially slowly once you fill up the limited 32GB of inbuilt storage. That said, as long as you don’t expect too much from the Nokia 3.4, it does represent good value considering the low price.
The camera has three sensors: a 13MP main sensor, a 5MP sensor ultra-wide, and a 2MP depth sensor. However, in practice, the images it captures are less than good, even in strong light. If photography is important to you, then, it’s worth spending a little bit more on something like the Nokia 5.4 (fifth on our list).
The Nokia 6.2 is a mid-priced Nokia phone that’s very similar to the Nokia 7.2, number two on our list. Released within a month of each other, they have the same dimensions, they weigh the same; they have the same screen, the same battery and run the same operating system. They both have three-lens cameras which include a 8MP ultrawide sensor and a 5MP depth sensor
One big difference is that the Nokia 6.2 runs a slightly older processor, and has just 3GB RAM to the 7.2’s 4GB. That means it’s going to run a bit slower in practice. The main difference, though, is the camera’s main sensor, which is 48MP on the 7.2 but only 16MP on the 6.2.
If you’re not bothered about the camera, though, and you’re a relaxed type of person who can take a slight hit on the processing speed, the slightly lower price of the Nokia 6.2 might make up for this.