The future of phones is in 5G. The fifth-generation standard for cellular networks, it’s expected that 5G will be used by more than 1.7 billion people by 2025. The fancy new networks will offer much greater bandwidth than current 4G networks, providing improved download speeds to the extent that they’ll begin to challenge traditional service providers for our main internet connection.
It might be time, then, to jump on the 5G bandwagon when you come to your next phone choice. Most major phone companies now offer a few 5G-ready handsets, but as a relatively new technology, phones with 5G adaptability usually find themselves priced at the higher end of the market.
However, there are some notable exceptions, including Nokia’s latest handset, the Nokia G50 (£199, Nokia.com). Marketed as Nokia’s most affordable 5G phone, the G50 promises to provide powerful performance and solid levels of future-proofing without having to look at your bank balance longingly.
The £199 price point is certainly tempting for a 5G phone. However, it’s not much use having a phone ready for network development that disregards the rest of its tech. Has Nokia managed to find the right balance between the future and the here-and-now?
How we tested
We approached the G50 the same way we would with any smartphone, judging its performance regarding processing power and speed, gaming capability, sound, screen, connectivity, battery life and future-proofing tech. We also focused on the G50’s general feel – did it give the impression of being a premium phone? How did it feel in the hand? One major question remained in our minds throughout: is it a handset that we could see ourselves using for a prolonged period?
Nokia G50: £199, Nokia.com
Dimensions: 173.83 x 77.68 x 8.85 mm
Display: 6.82” HD+
Battery: 5000mAh with 18W quick charging
Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 480 5G Mobile Platform
OS: Android 11, ready for Android 12
Camera: Rear cameras 48MP, 5MP ultrawide, 2MP depth; front camera 8MP
The G50 is comfortingly Nokia. Its simple design is enhanced by two colourways – ocean blue and midnight sun – that give off a nice glean as you move the phone in your hand. The smudge quotient isn’t particularly high, although we noticed a few telltale fingerprints on the back after a while using the phone.
Despite the minimalist design, the phone still feels a little clunky. It’s always good to have a large screen, but the G50 could afford to be a little smaller if it meant a drop in overall size and weight: bigger isn’t always better. That being said, it doesn’t feel like a burden in your pocket, and its size isn’t more overbearing than most on the market.
Other design aspects have been thoughtfully considered. The fingerprint scanner, for instance, is on the side of the phone, ergonomically perfectly positioned for your thumb, and there’s a button on the other side to get the attention of Google Assistant. It’s the little things.
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The best design aspect of the G50 is the clean Android user interface. There aren’t many cleaner UIs on the market: it’s crisp, vibrant and easy to use. The only design foible is the general lack of back button, with gestures replacing a more physical option. This is purely personal preference, however, and it doesn’t take long to get used to a more gesture-led world. The G50 uses Android 11, but will be compatible with Android 12, meaning the UI will stick around for a while. We’re big fans.
The G50 uses its screen space well, stretching across almost the whole face, and the 6.82” HD+ display produces bright imagery and video, ably dealing with contrast and saturation. Sound could be better when gaming or watching video, as all sound comes from the bottom speaker, but the video quality does enough to make an evening down a YouTube rabbit hole enjoyable and immersive.
The Qualcomm Snapdragon 480 chip does the business, bringing a decent snappiness to general usage, and smoothness to video playback, alongside providing that all-important 5G compatibility. Two years of OS upgrades means that the G50 is also ready for Android 12, and your security is nicely assured with three years of monthly security updates giving you the cutting edge of phone protection.
The camera set-up is a winner. It’s certainly better than the price point would suggest: the rear 48MP camera takes clear, bright shots, and the “beautify” option also lets you add a little immediate pizzazz to your pictures. It copes well in most lighting, with a good performance in low light and lack of blur in bright settings.
Buy now £199, Nokia.com
Portrait mode provides an intricate subtlety, with the right amount of blurring of your surroundings, clarity on the face, and a discernible pop of colour and brightness. Video is enhanced by selfie stabilisation, which certainly smooths out any shakiness in the hand, and bar a few readjustments from the camera, which works pretty flawlessly. We’re thinking of starting a daily vlog.
The watermark option – a personalised watermark on your shots – is a fun bonus that gives an extra sense of pageantry and professionalism to your shots, and would be useful for a photographer on the go. Overall, the camera set-up performs better than many at a higher price point.
Nokia claims that the G50’s 5000mAh battery is enough for two days of use, and it would seem to be the case, judging by our usage. Battery stays admirably high even when running games or shooting video, and only drops a couple of per cent overnight. It’s a great-sized battery for the price, and will last you a weekend of normal usage without needed to grasp for the charger.
The verdict: Nokia G50
The Nokia G50 is a strong performer for the price. Its camera set-up is impressive and produces great shots, especially in portrait mode. The design is simple and sophisticated: it’s a little clunky, but still light enough when compared to similar handsets, and didn’t feel like a dead weight in the pocket.
Multiple years of security and software updates are a real advantage for the G50. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 480 MP chipset performs well, and leaves space for the phone to continue to be reliable over the next few years: the Android experience is one of the cleanest on the market and something likely only to get better with the introduction of Android 12.
Even without its 5G capabilities, the Nokia G50 would be an astute choice at the price point, but with the addition of next-generation network compatibility, it’s hard to think of a better option.
Buy now £199.00, Nokia.com
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