Nokia 2.3: A responsible gift to make you look amazing
At some point, your child is going to want a smartphone. Five years ago I would have written 'teen' instead of 'child', but that's no longer the case.
The categories of people who want a smartphone, and who probably need one for genuine reasons, are expanding to cover everyone who can do their times tables or has given birth to someone who can.
So it's frustrating when your nine-year-old, who should be discovering puberty, is instead discovering the new latest and greatest ultimate X pro-Giga smart HD AI phone from MicrAppSung through people in the media, like me, who can somehow afford a new $2000 phone every six months.
Truth is, we can't, you can't, your kid can't, and your mum on a pension can't afford electricity thanks to the government so she can't either. We get review units from PR companies, some go into massive credit card debt, kids go to the bank of mum and dad, and the elderly go without or get stuck with knock-off phones that don't work and will most likely steal all their sensitive information.
Grim review, right? Don't worry, it gets better.
Nokia has come to the rescue with the Nokia 2.3 running Android 9 Pie, an operating system we've seen before and has a reputation for being simple but as visually sensational as the phone it's loaded onto.
The 2.3 comes in a number of colour options, not just black, and despite its price, doesn't look or feel cheap physically. Any teen who says their friends make fun of them for having a cheap-looking phone is lying or watching too many Youtube gadget reviews. Tell them to study/sport/party more instead.
The back of the phone is matte instead of shiny smooth, so less droppable. Despite this, I accidentally dropped it face first and even without the wonder that is Gorilla glass, it didn't shatter or even scratch.
The Android 9 Pie operating system is amazing for its lack of bloatware, so you'll generally have one app for each function, and that app will work, work simply, and work without draining the battery. Unlike some mid-level phones and some flagships, just using it won't have you chasing wall sockets all day.
Nokia claims a two-day battery life thanks to some smart-thinking chips in the internals, and our testing didn't prove them wrong.
Also, for $199 outright, it's not the end of the world when your teenager loses the thing. That's still Christmas present money, and nobody would disagree with you for making them earn a replacement themselves, but when the cheapest you can get a 3-generation old iPhone in Australia is around $800 dollars, you're budgeting clever with the 2.3.
You do lose out on some features of higher-end phones. There are no under-glass fingerprint sensors. The facial recognition unlock takes a while. It doesn't have NFC for using Google Pay (probably a blessing), and the field of view from the cheaper screen means you want to be looking right at it to get the best picture quality.
It does have some clever camera functions, like taking multiple shots when you press the button and picking the best one for you, so you get even more out its 13-megapixel lens with a 2-megapixel built-in sensor. So while it's simple enough for anyone to use, the hard-to-impress Instagram teens get access to exclusive bokeh and AI image fusion settings they can only get through having this phone.
Sadly, no USB-C, but at this price, that can be forgiven. Nothing on this phone is fast enough to need it and the battery lasts long enough it doesn't matter.
I'm tempted to say the lack of USB-C is made up for by the phone's readiness for Android 10, which will take this phone's already powerful parental controls and dial them up a few notches.
The Nokia 2.3 is already available in Cyan Green, Sand and Charcoal at JB Hi-Fi, Harvey Norman, Big W, The Good Guys and Officeworks - and will also be coming to Telstra - for $199 RRP.
Kieran Bicheno is a news editor and former economist who now writes for the sheer joy of capitalism and tech reviews. You can find more of Kieran's reviews and satire articles here.