Nuu G3 review: Slick smartphone design on a budget

You’ve probably never heard of Nuu, and that’s okay; they’re a smaller smartphone company looking to make a name in a crowded market with aggressively priced phones that still compete with some of the bigger fish.

The Nuu G3 is a $200 option from the company that wants to bring sleek design to the budget market with relatively decent hardware to match. Obviously there are always concerns of sub-par performance when you do that, but the G3 looks extremely promising. So how exactly does it pan out?

Design

I’m gonna go out on a limb and say the Nuu G3 is probably the best looking $200 phone on the market, even if it nicked some of that design from Samsung’s Galaxy S9. The 5.7-inch screen has fairly small bezels, too, making for an immersive experience.

The back of the phone sports a full glass design that does look very similar to a Samsung device. The camera and LED layout is a bit different and the fingerprint scanner is smartly placed below everything, not to the side, but you can definitely see where Nuu pulled the inspiration from.

Whether or not it’s the most original design on the market, it looks great, feels nicer than a budget phone (although not as premium as an actual Galaxy S9) and fits extremely well in hand. It’s a thin design that makes the most of its screen thanks to an 18:9 aspect ratio and left a great impression.

 

The Nuu G3 keeps the volume and power buttons on the right side, adding a slight texture to the power button to help you differentiate them. That doesn’t stop me from accidentally turning the screen off when I just want to turn the volume down, but I’m probably worse at that than the average person.

The top of the phone houses the tray for the phone’s dual SIM slots and microSD card slot, and the bottom is where you’ll find a USB-C charging port. The lack of a headphone jack is really unfortunate, but Nuu does include a USB-C to 3.5mm adapter in the box. There’s a clear case in there, too!

Hardware

 Nuu G3
AnnouncedJanuary 2018
ReleaseMarch 2018
Display5.7-inch (1440x720) IPS LCD
ProcessorMediaTek 2.3GHz Octa-core MTK6737
RAM4GB
Storage64GB of internal storage, expandable with microSD card
Rear Camera13MP + 5MP, f/2.0, phase detection autofocus, OIS, LED flash
Front Camera13MP
Battery3000mAh (non-removable)
ChargingUSB Type-C
SoundBottom-facing stereo speakers
SoftwareAndroid 7.1.1 Nougat
ConnectivityBluetooth 4.2, WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, NFC, GPS
SensorsAmbient, proximity, accelerometer, gyro, compass, fingerprint
Measurements153 x 70 x 9 mm
Weight185g
ColorsBlue, Taupe

Performance

Performance is good, most of the time. The phone utilizes an octa-core MediaTek processor that holds up for most activities. It’s not the snappiest phone ever, but actually using apps and playing games works just fine. Nuu seems to be positioning this device as a media powerhouse, and media playback isn’t an issue, either.

If there’s a gripe about performance, it’s surprisingly in the keyboard. Every so often a key would skip or just not register if you tap too quickly, so you’d see “Netfix” or “Sptify” in the search bar despite being really sure you didn’t mistype. The issue persisted across different keyboards and didn’t happen often enough to ruin the experience, but I’d be hesitant to do any heavy emailing or writing on this device without a keyboard that’s got seriously aggressive autocorrect.

But with that being said, if you’re more of a media user, the phone ships with 64GB of internal storage with microSD card support, and the screen is really great for its price. Watching videos is a genuinely great experience.

However, these speakers are really bad. The bottom of the device makes it look like you’ll get two speakers in stereo, but nope. Nu pulled an Apple and one of the “speakers” is just a dummy cutout to make the bottom edge look symmetrical. Even without that, though, the speaker just sounds very thin and tinny with pretty much no low end. For YouTube videos and the like, probably not a big deal, but if you’re jamming out to music or watching blockbuster movies, you’re going to want headphones or a separate speaker for a decent experience.

Battery

The Nuu G3 packs in a 3000mAh battery, which isn’t bad. We’re starting to see bigger and bigger batteries in all phones, and that’s still a trend here, but that also means the G3 won’t be far above the average anymore.

 

It’s not bad by any stretch; getting through an entire day was a breeze, even with pretty demanding usage. The biggest complaint would probably be the lack of fast charging, since it takes a few hours to really juice up a battery of that capacity. It’s a strange omission since the phone has a USB-C port, anyway, but corners have to be cut somewhere.

Software

There’s good news and bad news on the software front. The good news is that Nuu didn’t really add much to their flavor of Android, but the bad news is that they’re using Android 7.1 Nougat, which is, um, kind of old.

All things considered, the software doesn’t really hold this phone back. There are a few Nuu specific things, like a file manager, an app for local alerts, FM radio, and a web browser that looks like it’s built from Chromium source code, but otherwise you’re getting simple and clean Android, for better or worse.

Clean software installations are almost always preferable, but that makes it incredibly clear that Nuu is selling this phone for its sleek design and not with any gimmicky software features. They have built in their own versions of Face Unlock like other Android OEMs, so that’s not to say there are absolutely no neat software additions, but there’s not much worth really discussing.

Camera

This is another case of dual camera systems not always living up to the hype of a more advanced setup. In the right (read: perfect) conditions, you can get some pretty decent shots out of the G3. There’s even a portrait mode that uses both cameras for a soft blur effect to make your shots look a little more professional.

With that being said, sometimes it struggles with getting the subject just right and if your lighting isn’t great, it’s going to struggle. Outdoor shots look just okay, and if you’re dealing with anything in low light it’s just going to be a blurry mess.

It’s a little disappointing since we’ve seen some pretty decent cameras in $200 phones, but the G3 just can’t seem to pull it off.

Closing

In all honesty, I like this phone a lot. The Nuu G3 was fun to use and managed to hide its flaws well enough to feel like something much more high end. That all-glass design helped, too.

With that being said, there are still some flaws here. Performance needs to be just a little bit better, and the camera and speaker just can’t hold up next to the competition. In a vacuum I think this is a great phone, but in the current market there are a ton of competitors that have slowly raised the bar in the past few years in regards to performance, battery life, and camera.

If you’re just itching for a phone that puts design above all else, this is your product, especially if you’re the type to watch a lot of videos on the go. And with just a few small improvements, I think a successor would be a really tough phone to beat.

Buy it now: Amazon


About the Author: Jared Peters

Born in southern Alabama, Jared spends his working time selling phones and his spare time writing about them. The Android enthusiasm started with the original Motorola Droid, but the tech enthusiasm currently covers just about everything. He likes PC gaming, Lenovo's Moto Z line, and a good productivity app.