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Nokia 3.4 Review

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HMD Global greatly helped Nokia to become a mainstay in the smartphone market. That’s why we now have devices like the Nokia 3.4.

This device is priced at Php7,990, and Nokia boasts its long battery life — which is essentially what other entry-level devices also have. What sets it apart is its stock Android interface. But are those features enough to justify its asking price? We find out in our Nokia 3.4 review.

Nokia 3.4 Specs

  • Android 10 (Android 11 ready)
  • Single/Dual SIM
  • 6.39-inch HD+ punch-hole display, 1560 x 720 pixel resolution, 269ppi
  • 1.8GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 460 octa-core processor
  • 4GB RAM
  • Adreno 610 GPU
  • 64GB eMMC 5.1 internal storage, expandable via microSD up to 512GB
  • 8-megapixel front camera
  • 13-megapixel + 5-megapixel (ultra-wide) + 2-megapixel (depth sensor) rear cameras
  • Dedicated Google Assistant Button
  • Headphone jack, Qualcomm aptX
  • 4G LTE
  • WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 4.2
  • GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS, Galileo
  • NFC (select markets)
  • FM Radio
  • USB Type-C
  • Dimensions: 160.97 x 75.99 x 8.7mm
  • Weight: 180g
  • Colors: Fjord, Charcoal
  • 4,000mAh non-removable battery, 10W fast charging

Design and Build Quality

Like most budget phones, the Nokia 3.4 is constructed with cheap plastic. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s entirely second-rate. The back panel has this ultra-thin line that results in a fingerprint-free, textured surface.

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The fjord color that we’re reviewing has a Nordic finish (as what Nokia calls it), which has a two-tone paint job as it transitions to purple from blue when reflects light. But if it’s not your cup of tea, a Charcoal (black) option is also available.

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Personally, I do like the build of this thing. The plastic material made it really light. Plus, the metal chassis resulted in excellent construction. I also appreciate how the Nokia-signature circular camera glass sits flush with an unnoticeable camera bump.

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Unlike some of its competition, the Nokia 3.4 has a punch-hole on top of its 6.39-inch screen for the selfie camera. This makes for a cleaner look with a higher screen-to-body ratio. The bezels are relatively thin, with the one on the chin large enough to accommodate the Nokia logo.

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Left side

There’s the SIM tray for two nano-SIM cards and a microSD card on the left side. Below is the dedicated Google Assistant, which you can turn on or off but sadly can’t be reassigned to a different command.

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Right side

The opposite side has the lock/power switch and the volume controls. The buttons are not protruded enough, making them a little awkward to press at times. On the upside, it does provide a sleeker appeal.

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Top

We rarely see the headphone jack on top of the device, which Nokia did on this device, next to the secondary microphone for noise isolation.

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The main microphone is at the bottom, together with the loudspeaker and the USB Type-C port.

Overall, we forgive the plastic shell of the Nokia 3.4 due to its slimness, weight, and solid build.

Display and Audio

The Nokia 3.4 has a 6.39-inch HD+ punch-hole display, with a 1560 x 720-pixel resolution and 269ppi — something you’d expect from an entry-level mainstream smartphone. However, still quite disappointing since we’ve already seen a couple of Chinese phones that managed to have an FHD+ panel.

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That said, sharpness is definitely one of its main weaknesses. You don’t have to look very closely to notice individual pixels. This makes texts from articles, social media, and home screen look soft. They’re still visible but not as sharp and as comfortable as what you’d get from an FHD screen.

On the upside, colors and contrast are surprisingly fine. Watching Netflix and YouTube videos on this thing would still be enjoyable.

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The speakers are also surprisingly good. The volume is loud, and voice clarity is swell, perfect for watching vlogs or any content. Albeit, it does struggle when different musical instruments play all at the same time.

Sadly, no free headphone jack is included. You have to purchase yourself if you want a better listening experience or listen to FM Radio. Qualcomm’s aptX audio is present, nothing else.

Hardware and Performance

The Nokia 3.4 is rigged with a 1.8GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 460 octa-core processor, with 4GB of RAM, 64GB of expandable storage (up to 512GB), and Adreno 610 GPU.

Nokia 3.4 benchmark scores

Bottomline is, the performance is passable but disappointing for the price. Social media browsing, taking pictures, and other light tasks are doable, but with noticeable lags here and there. I even noticed a slight delay when skipping tracks on Spotify.

Call of Duty Mobile on the Nokia 3.4

The same can be said about gaming. We tried maxing out the graphics settings when playing Call of Duty Mobile and ended up with a rocky experience with many frame drops.

We played with the settings and settled with Low graphics quality and Medium frame rate for drastically better and smoother gaming performance.

Software and User Interface

Probably the only best thing about the Nokia 3.4 is its UI. Like all Nokia smartphones, the Nokia 3.4 is part of the Android One program. This means that it runs on pure, stock Android. No third-party interface can make things slow and complicated.

This also means that the device will be the first to get security updates and software upgrades. However, the unit that we have here still runs on Android 10, but an Android 11 update will surely arrive very soon.

With that said, everything is clean and straightforward on the Nokia 3.4, which makes us wish that other budget smartphone also runs on stock Android.

Since it doesn’t conform to any branded UI, you can’t see any bloatware. All generic Android apps like Google Photos for the gallery, Gmail for email, Chrome for web browsing, and more.

The dedicated Google button also works well. But if your phone is out of reach, you can easily call out “Hey Google,” and it would respond.

iPhone-like gesture navigation is enabled out of the box. It can be confusing at first, but you can get used to it easily. If you prefer the traditional three-button navigation, that option is available in the settings menu.

Probably my only gripe with the interface is the swipe fingerprint feature. Basically, you can swipe down/up the fingerprint scanner to summon the notifications tab. Don’t get me wrong; it’s convenient to swipe the scanner than to reach all the way up with your thumb to check notifications. However, it’s prone to accidental swipes and can be distracting when you’re watching movies or playing games. You can disable it in the settings menu.

Camera

Even for the price, the image quality you can get from the Nokia 3.4’s triple rear cameras is bad. Images from the 13-megapixel main shooter look washed out, with terrible colors and soft details. Things get worse when you’re shooting at night.

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13-megapixel camera | Outdoors
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13-megapixel camera | Outdoors
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13-megapixel camera | HDR On
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13-megapixel camera | Low Light

The inclusion of a 5-megapixel ultra-wide lens was appreciated. Unlike the others, it lets you take wide shots with no distortion. But being a low-resolution sensor, image quality is terrible.

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5-megapixel ultra-wide | Outdoors
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5-megapixel ultra-wide | Low Light

If you have a less-distracting background and right lighting, the 2-megapixel depth sensor can do a decent job of isolating the foreground. You can even choose between different bokeh shapes: circle, star, heart, butterfly, snowflake, and waterdrop.

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2-megapixel | Depth sensor

The selfies from its 8-megapixel selfie camera are also disappointing. It should be fine if you really have to use it, especially for online classes and whatnot, but if you like shooting TikTok videos and taking selfies a lot, there are better options out there.

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8-megapixel front camera

Battery

The Snapdragon 460 chipset may not be the most powerful processor around, but it’s definitely one of the most power-efficient chips on the market. Casual users can easily get at least two days’ worth of juice out of this. It then comes with a 10W charger which takes about 2 hours to full charge the Nokia 3.4

Verdict

The Nokia 3.4 is definitely behind the competition in terms of specs and hardware. The processor of choice is terrible, the camera quality is terrible, and the screen resolution could be better.

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But by itself, the Nokia 3.4 is actually a decent device. It has an admirable thin and light design, long battery life, and a surprisingly decent loudspeaker. However, these features are also seen in most of its competitors.

What makes the Nokia 3.4 stand out is its Android One software, respecting how Google visioned Android phones would look and feel. If you’re one of those cravings for that clean, stock-Android look, this device is one of the cheapest ones you can get.

Nokia 3.4 price and availability in the Philippines

You can get the Nokia 3.4 for a price of Php7,990 — exclusively available on Shopee.

Pros

  • Clean Android One interface
  • Thin and light design
  • Long battery life
  • Surprisingly decent speakers

Cons

  • Mediocre performance
  • Terrible cameras
  • Only HD+ screen

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