Nokia X30 5G review: a pure view of mediocrity

The camera and the back of the Nokia X30.

Nokia X30 5G

MSRP $460.00

“HMD Global’s latest Nokia is its best phone in years, but that’s not saying much. It’s a good phone, but not the special one HMD needed.


  • Nice screen

  • The design is lightweight and well balanced

  • Fast charging speeds

  • clean android software

  • Long software update support cycle

The inconvenients

  • Mediocre camera

  • Some performances stutter

  • Disappointing battery life

  • Bad update history

HMD Global is back with its first slightly premium phone since the middle of the pandemic in 2020. The Nokia X30 5G is Nokia’s latest offering, and it’s currently on sale in the UK for £400. – about the same price as rival phones from Google and Apple.

I’ve been using the Nokia X30 for a week and found it to be a very adequate phone, without anything particularly noteworthy. It’s fine in a bubble, but at this very competitive price, that becomes a problem.

Nokia X30 5G design

The Nokia X30 reminds me a bit of the Nokia Lumia icon. It’s a polycarbonate phone with metal sides. Of course, it’s 2022, and the passage of time means we can find things like Gorilla Glass Victus protecting the front screen, a camera island on the back, and a camera hole on the front. The screen is 6.43 inches tall, so it’s just a tad larger than the Pixel 7. It has very thin bezels and the overall footprint is smaller than it might be.

Breaking it down to detail, there are metal strips on all sides which make it premium. This and the polycarbonate on the back are recycled. On the right side, like all Nokia phones, you’ll find the power button (which doubles as the Google Assistant key) and the volume rocker. The Assistant key is annoying for those who want quicker access to their phone’s shutdown capabilities, but it’s perfectly fine once you get used to it.

The Nokia X30 5G is available in Cloudy Blue or Ice White color options. My unit is the Ice White, and it looks quite sleek. Replace the polycarbonate on the back with a more premium material and you can easily see this phone as a true flagship.

There’s no headphone jack – thanks Apple for that. There’s a SIM tray, no thanks to Apple, and this phone supports eSIM, so you can have two SIM cards on it. USB-C is here too, so all your connectors can work with the X30. It’s great because there’s no charger in the box (recyclable) – HMD says it’s to save the environment. As with every other company, we’re tempted to nod at the obvious display of greed, but HMD has a stronger point to make here, and we’ll get to that towards the end.

Nokia X30 5G screen

The Nokia X30 screen.
Digital Trends / Michael Allison

The 6.43-inch PureDisplay incorporates a fingerprint sensor underneath. It has its good and bad sides. The screen gets sufficiently bright, although it peaks at 700 nits. Colors pop and look rich whether you look at Bleach on Disney Plus or Iago on Youtube. Reading a few books on the train, I found it to be an immersive experience as the content filled the uninterrupted screen perfectly.

The bad? The HMD isn’t the best when it comes to screen brightness control. Auto-brightness was always too slow to react to environmental changes, sometimes not even at all. This led to a situation where I was in total darkness, but the phone screen remained as if the switch was on, and another where I could see the display flickering and changing brightness in some way really shocking. It’s quick and unnoticeable most of the time, but it’s annoying when you notice it.

One thing that isn’t bothersome, however, is the inclusion of a 90Hz display panel. Not all high-end smartphone makers offer it, and some even sell it. $1,000 phones with 60Hz displays. As such, it’s nice to see HMD not skimping on that.

Performance of the Nokia X30 5G

Nokia X30 rear.

Nokia has equipped the X30 5G with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 processor. It’s one of Qualcomm’s cheapest chips, and it reduces the phone experience in several ways.

Let’s be clear: this is a chip capable of handling light mobile games on titles such as Marvel Future Revolution without getting too hot, but it’s not the best chip for a phone that costs 400 pounds.

While the 90Hz display is commendable, there’s enough lag when scrolling and swiping the interface to remind me of the processor more than the cost. Although HMD says you’ll keep it for three years, I’m not entirely convinced of its long-term viability, given the lag at this point.

Nokia X30 5G Camera

The Nokia X30 marks the brand’s return to Pureview for the first time in years. Don’t be fooled by the Pureview branding, though – this isn’t the Pureview of the old Lumia days.

The Nokia X30 5G has a perfectly adequate camera. HMD didn’t skimp on the hardware here with those nonsensical 2MP depth sensors that other smartphone makers are tempted to work with. Instead, the X30 has a decent dual-camera setup. The main camera is a 50-megapixel affair, while a 12MP ultra-wide lens backs it up. A 16MP camera sits on the front for selfies, video calls, and face unlock support.

Ultimately, I think the camera was one part of the phone that suffered from the processor choice. While it was fine, it was often slower than I would prefer when capturing images or switching between lenses. If you take too many pictures at once or are in a dark room, the camera slows down way too much for my liking.

The quality of the camera here is variable. It doesn’t perform well in dim lighting, producing quite smudged photos on a few occasions. One thing I noticed is that the X30 has a lower threshold for what it considers “dark” than other phones. Trying to capture a sunset photo caused me to switch to night mode, whereas a Pixel 6a had no such issues.

I’m also a bit too used to the Pixel’s color grading, especially when taking selfies with darker skin. The aggressive sharpening and AI beautification meant that, for the most part, I wasn’t sold on the quality of the front camera. Your mileage may vary here.

Overall the camera is good. Position yourself in bright lighting with a steady hand (or not so steady, given the presence of optimal image stabilization), and this camera has potential. When it gets a little darker, a little cloudier, a little more cloudy, you may find yourself wishing for something better. For a phone with the Pureview brand, that’s a little disappointing.

Software and battery Nokia X30 5G

The Nokia X30 comes with a stock version of Android 12. It will receive Android 13 at some point in the future, and HMD promises three years of software updates. I’ve been monitoring Nokia’s software rollouts for years now, and the business has steadily deteriorated. It might just deliver on its three-year service promise, but don’t hold your breath for a timely release. I checked with HMD for an ETA on when Android 13 would hit the Nokia X30, but didn’t get a response in time for publication. We’ll update this story when we get back to you.

As for the phone itself, the software is decent: clean, untouched Android – for better or worse. Unlike Motorola or Google, there aren’t any cool customization features or fancy widgets, or even a smart launcher. One of the few concessions here seems to be the inclusion of Express VPN, but that’s easily overlooked.

The advantages to this are that using the X30 is easy to learn, familiar, clean and fast. All your favorite Google Play apps and games are here, and Material You brings a splash of color to the whole system.

All that lightness means you’ll get plenty of use out of the 4200mAh battery too. Nokia says you can get up to two days of battery with normal use, but I regularly end days of active use with the Nokia X30 5G needing a charge. There’s a super battery saver mode to squeeze more use out of a single charge, but that essentially turns the X30 into a dumb phone, kills the always-on display and is better saved for extreme cases.

There were no surprise battery drains, which means performance is predictable on a day-to-day basis. If you don’t have the social life of a 20-something in London, the X30’s battery should be fine for you. If you do run out of charge before a ride, support for 33-watt charging speeds should help you catch up while you shower.

Nokia X30 5G price and availability

The Nokia X30 5G will set you back £400 from the Nokia store in the UK (around US$460) for the 128GB model with 6GB of RAM. If you want more RAM and storage, the company offers a 256GB model with 8GB of RAM at 440 pounds ($511). It is the latter that was used for this review.

The Nokia X30 is okay but overpriced

Nokia X30 leaning on a laptop from British gift brand Suck.
Digital Trends / Michael Allison

The Nokia X30 is simply too expensive for what it offers. It’s a perfectly fine phone in the abstract that you might assume was priced at £350 or less. This calculation changes when it comes to 400 pounds in this very competitive market. For 380 pounds, the Motorola Edge 30 will give you a similar Android experience and a more powerful Snapdragon 778 processor. For 400 pounds you can buy a Google Pixel 6a or a Samsung Galaxy A53 5G.

Nokia offers its Circular subscription as a selling point. After passing the credit check, you can get a new X30 for £22 a month – and they’ll even recycle the phone for you when you’re done. The unique selling point remains the environmentalism of HMD. The company will allow you to earn credits, which it calls Seeds of Tomorrow. The longer you stay subscribed to Circular, the more seeds you can access. These seeds can be used as currency to donate to select environmental causes. It’s something to consider, but not very compelling on its own.

HMD Global’s revival of Nokia has seen the company occasionally try to release a high-end phone. Be it the Nokia 8, Nokia 8 Sirocco, Nokia 8.3 5G or Nokia X30, the company has rarely attempted to recapture the glory of the old Nokia. Too often, however, it feels like he’s simply succeeding in lowering the bar for his previous efforts.

If you can find the Nokia X30 discounted 50-100 pounds less, it will get a more emphatic recommendation. As it stands, it’s a sleek phone that just can’t compete.

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