Finding a good budget 5G phone seems as elusive as finding a unicorn these days. Not only do manufacturers have to keep the price as low as possible, but the device also has to pull off some advanced 5G-compatible technologies. No wonder phone makers tend to compromise on other components, and the overall experience takes a hit as a result.
This is where I find the Nokia G50, the $300 phone that Nokia pitches as an affordable 5G-phone alternative. While the Nokia G50 is a solidly built phone with a minimalist, no-nonsense Scandinavian aesthetic, it has many flaws that I haven’t experienced in a modern smartphone in a long time. Its entry-level 5G processor lags, its low-resolution touchscreen requires more effort to use than others, and I even had some connection issues with my 4G T-Mobile service on this phone.
These are significant trade-offs for a device that is not the only $300 5G phone in town, assuming you need 5G connectivity at all. There is the $300 OnePlus Nord N10 5G that is a T-Mobile exclusive, the newer and cheaper $239.99 OnePlus Nord N200 5G, as well as the $279 Samsung Galaxy A32 5G. It’s hard to see how the Nokia G50 could possibly stand out from this increasingly crowded, budget 5G space.
Sports Grind Entertainment Score
5.5 out of 10
- Long battery life
- Sturdy, stainless steel framed body
- Main camera can take impressive photos
- Heavy with sharp edges
- Low-resolution screen, not very touch responsive
- Laggy processor
- Ultrawide camera’s colors are inaccurate
Heavy. That’s the first word that comes to mind when holding this 6.84 x 3.06 x 0.35-inch phone that weighs 7.76oz (220g), which is heavier and taller than the Pixel 6 Pro (7.4 oz; 210g). While I appreciate that its stainless steel-framed body is a rarity in smartphones these days (other than the much more expensive Pro-model iPhones), this phone is too heavy to hold with just one hand for long. Its sharp edges dig into my palms due to its heft and make me eager to put the device down.
As classy as that Ocean Blue matte ombre looks, the G50’s smooth polycarbonate coating is a sucker for finger smudges and makes the phone way too slippery to use without a case. I can’t tell you how many times the phone has slipped off a table or countertop, thanks to a combination of its slippery back and the vibrate mode. My review unit only survived the falls because it’s built like an indestructible tank.
Its durability is definitely a plus since Nokia (and parent company HMD) expects you to keep this Android 11-running phone for longer and is committed to providing two years of OS updates and three years of security updates. This is not as impressive as it sounds: the $279 Samsung Galaxy A32 5G provides four years of security updates, which is the longest out of this class.