On its website, Nuu calls the G3 “a trendsetter in design and technology.” Normally I ignore grandiose marketing claims, but I couldn’t shake this one off, precisely because Nuu’s “trendsetter” is the most shameless Galaxy S8 clone you’ll find this side of the Pacific.
But is it at least a well-built clone? For the most part, yes. Set the G3 down next to one of Samsung’s recent flagships, and you’ll inevitably find yourself in a game of “I Spy” as you try to spot all the differences. Nuu’s phone has no answer for the Galaxy’s Infinity Display or super thin bezels, but it’s still a faithful approximation — right down to the antenna lines and drilled speaker holes, which have exactly the same shape and placement as those on the Samsung Galaxy S8.
Nuu doesn’t use Gorilla Glass or any other hardened glass, which means a single drop would likely shatter the screen and rear. You’ll definitely want to be cautious about dropping it. A case is included in the box, but it’s meant more to guard against scratches, not drops.
There are two color options for the Nuu G3: Blue and taupe. We reviewed the former, but no matter what color you choose, you’ll find the phone to be a fingerprint magnet. That’s no fault of Nuu, however, as it’s also a problem with high-end phones that use glass.
The G3 has a 5.7-inch, 18:9 aspect ratio screen — a relatively-new trend that’s already seeping into the budget market. It means the phone is a little longer, and you’ll be able to see a little more content on vertical-scrolling apps. This aspect ratio is usually paired with a “bezel-less” design, where the edges surrounding the screen are incredibly thin. We wouldn’t exactly call the G3’s design bezel-less, but they are indeed small and unobtrusive. The volume rocker and power button are on the right edge of the phone, with the latter button having a handy pattern so it’s easy to distinguish.
Flip the Nuu G3 over and you’ll find a dual-camera system with a LED flash to the right. The fingerprint sensor is housed directly below the camera. This setup looks an awful lot like the new Galaxy S9 Plus, but there’s a giant “Nuu” logo at the bottom to remind you it’s not a Samsung phone. The fingerprint sensor responds quickly, without the need to frequently adjust our finger.
On the bottom of the G3 are bottom-firing speakers, as well as a USB Type-C charging port. The phone’s audio capabilities fall firmly in budget phone territory — it’s nothing to write home about. Sadly, there’s no headphone jack. There’s a USB-C to 3.5mm adapter in the box instead, so you can still use standard headphone, but if you have Bluetooth earbuds, you’ll have to rely on Bluetooth version 4.2.
At $200, you expect smooth, if not stunning, performance from a phone, and the G3 mostly holds up its end of the bargain. The device is powered by MediaTek’s Helio P25 system on chip, which is about on par with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor that appears in many midrange phones.
It’s the G3’s 4GB of RAM that really shines, though. Most handsets at this price feature half that amount, or maybe 3GB if you’re lucky. But 4GB is flagship territory, and it means Nuu’s bargain doesn’t struggle flipping between apps running in the background, or drawing the home screen after particularly intensive tasks. That said, app open times aren’t always the speediest — the worst offender was Gmail, which took as many as 6 seconds to populate my inbox.
Solid as the G3 is, it’s important to recognize that it’s not top dog in the segment. For example, the Snapdragon 625-powered Moto G5 Plus smoked the G3 in both the Geekbench 4 overall test and 3DMark’s Ice Storm Unlimited graphics test, posting respective scores of 3,746 and 13,862 to the G3’s 2,221 and 12,802. Even the Honor 7X, which features a Huawei-built Kirin 659 CPU, delivered a slightly more stable frame rate playing off-road racer Asphalt Xtreme, and that device actually placed behind the G3 by about 1,000 points in the 3DMark comparison.
The Nuu G3 runs Android 7.1 Nougat — it wouldn’t be an understatement to say we were more than disappointed to see a new phone shipping with a version of an operating system that launched in 2016. The upside, however, is that you won’t find a ton of bloatware on the G3. Other than an odd browser that looks extremely similar to Chrome, the phone runs a near-stock version of Google’s Android OS.
As is the trend of 2018, there’s a Face Lock feature on the G3 that lets you unlock the device with your face. Don’t expect this feature to rival the level of security with Face ID on the iPhone X — we were able to easily unlock the phone with a color photocopy of a selfie. It’s purely for convenience, and it works relatively well.
The dual-camera system on the Nuu G3 is nearly flush with the case and looks absolutely handsome. While two rear cameras are a nice touch on a budget phone, it’s not going to yield the same results you’d find on other dual camera phones. In fact, it won’t even yield results as good as its closest competitor, the Honor 7X.
The primary lens on the Nuu G3 packs 13 megapixels, and the secondary lens has 5 megapixels. The primary lens is meant to do the heavy lifting, and the secondary helps create a bokeh effect for Portrait Mode photos.
In broad daylight, photos from the G3 are perfectly acceptable. There’s good detail, solid color, and the camera reacts quickly — though some photos can look a little washed out. In any other lighting condition, things start to drastically change for the worse. There’s a significant amount of noise, and a good chunk of detail is lost when shooting in low-light.
Since there’s no optical image stabilization, you’ll need to hold the phone very still, lest you want to end up with blurry photos. This is made worse as the camera shutter button is slow to react in poorer lighting conditions. The front camera has 13 megapixels, and again selfies look solid in bright light. In any poorer lighting conditions, expect the photo to come out a fuzzy.
Nuu really wanted to the G3 to be feature-packed, and it definitely shows in the camera app. How well those features work though, is somewhat of a mixed bag. Portrait Mode offered the best results. Similar to the Live Focus feature on the Samsung Galaxy S9, the Nuu G3 allows you to adjust the degree of background blur and see the results instantly in the viewfinder.
Unlike the Galaxy S9, however, you’re not able to adjust the blur once the photo is taken. We encountered a few instances where the background wasn’t evenly blurred, but we’re still impressed with how well it performed.
There’s a Beauty Filter on board that also masks any imperfections on your skin — smoothing it all out to make it look like you’re wearing makeup. It’s not good at all. There’s a slider that lets you control the strength of the effect, but it doesn’t seem to work, and the result often makes your entire face blurry.
In the right conditions, you can get Instagram-worthy photos on the Nuu G3. Otherwise, this is a camera that will easily frustrate. If you want a decent camera in this price range, the Honor 7X is your best bet.
The G3 is powered by a 3,000mAh battery capacity, with support for fast charging. We had no problem making it through a day of moderate use. After quite a bit of browsing the web, using social media apps, watching YouTube videos, and taking photos, the G3 hit 47 percent around 6 p.m. — that’s after taking it off the charger at 8:30 a.m.
That being said, charging is slow. We charged the phone with both the included 5 watt charger as well as another quick charger, and the G3 still took more than 2 hours and 40 minutes to fully charge back up.
We expect the Nuu G3 to last about one to two years. Since we’ve already experienced some lag, we expect performance to get worse as time goes on. Also, while the glass may seem like a nice addition, a single drop could easily destroy it, and impact the phone’s usability.
It’s also worth noting that the Nuu G3 ships with Android 7.1 Nougat. The next version of Android is only months away. While Nuu would not confirm an upgrade to Android 8.0 Oreo or Android P is on the table cards for the G3, a representative told Digital Trends it may be possible to update the phone to Oreo — though not over traditional over-the-air updates. The representative said users may need to mail their phones if Nuu decides to update the G3 to Android 8.0 Oreo, which is preposterous.
Should you buy the Nuu G3 mobile device that costs $200? I’m going to flat out say no. While the Nuu G3 may look great, there’s a lot to be desired in terms of overall performance. For the same price, we recommend buying the equally handsome, but much more capable, Honor 7X.