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Nokia 3.4 Review: Betting On Stock Android In Hardware-Driven Segment
HMD's latest Nokia smartphones focus on delivering a clean Android software experience on a budget. We have already tested the Nokia 5.4 which impressed us with its stock Android software and camera capabilities (H-Log Video & Cinema Mode); however, it fell short of display and performance which are equally important for an overall smartphone user-experience.
- Premium Aesthetics & Sturdy Design
- Clean Software Experience
- Dedicated microSD Card Slot
- Guaranteed Android Updates
- Low-Resolution Display
- Sluggish Performance
- Average Cameras
- Battery Life Could Have Been Better
The Nokia 3.4 also belongs to the same league. Priced affordably at Rs. 11,999, the Android One powered smartphone picks up a direct fight with the recently Poco M3 and several Redmi smartphones priced under Rs. 12,000. Should you trust in a Nokia-branded stock Android handset or opt for a Chinese smartphone with better hardware? Let's find out.
Nokia 3.4 Design- Familiar Sturdy Build Fused With Premium Aesthetics
The Nokia 3.4 might be the best-looking budget smartphone out there in its respective price-bracket. The fit and finish are top class and the overall design aesthetics are way better than budget smartphones from Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo, Realme, and even Samsung. The phone is made out of polycarbonate and feels very sturdy. It is going to last much longer than the competitor devices. If durability is what you are looking for in a budget device, the Nokia 3.4 is the answer. We are testing the Dusk color variant which has a very unique and subtle purple finish. You can also buy the handset in Charcoal (Black finish) and Fjord (Blue shade) color options and both look striking.
Good Ergonomics And Basics Covered
The Nokia 3.4 not just looks good; it also nails ergonomics and offers the most required basic features such as a 3.5mm headphone jack, a dedicated microSD card slot, and a snappy physical biometric scanner. These features might not matter much in the premium price-segment but they make a lot of sense for consumers in the sub-15K price-point. With the Nokia 3.4, you can use any 3.5mm earphones/headphone and can use two active 4G SIM cards with a microSD card simultaneously. As far as ergonomics are concerned, the rounded edges and curved back panel offer a comfortable fit in hands. Overall, Nokia 3.4 is a good-looking smartphone with a sturdy design and well-rounded ergonomics.
Nokia 3.4 Display- Falls Short Of Expectations
Similar to the Nokia 5.4, the Nokia 3.4 also flaunts a 6.39-inch LCD. The screen size is fairly good for media playback, gaming, and reading; however, the low resolution, reflective nature of the LCD, and muted color reproduction hampers the user experience. The screen does not feel lively in a well-lit environment and is mostly good for indoor usage. The peak brightness levels are also not very inspiring which makes it difficult to use the smartphone in harsh outdoor light. Nokia should seriously step up the display game to stay in the competition. In a nutshell, if the display is your top priority, the Redmi and Poco smartphones will serve you better.
Nokia 3.4 Camera Performance
The Nokia 3.4 flaunts a triple-lens camera setup featuring a 13MP primary sensor, a 5MP wide-angle lens, and a 2MP depth sensor. For selfies, the Nokia 3.4 boasts an 8MP front-facing camera. This is pretty much the same camera hardware (minus the 2MP macro sensor) that we have tested on the Nokia 5.3. The 13MP main sensor captures good shots in daylight. The images show vibrant colors and good details. The dynamic range is decent but could have been better. In comparison, the Redmi and Poco smartphones offer higher megapixel sensors that capture images with better details and a wide dynamic range.
Moving on, similar to its siblings, the Nokia 3.4 also captures natural-looking portraits. The 2MP depth-sensor ensures pleasing close-up shots with workable edge-detection. The edge detection is not as clean as it is on the Nokia 5.4 but with some efforts, you can create a good shot. The camera app also offers various filters for background blur effect along with blur level adjustment.
The Nokia 3.4 isn't an ideal device for night-time and wide-angle photography. The low-light and wide-angle shots lack details and show high unwanted noise. The dedicated night mode helps to some extent but the overall results are still not astounding. Similarly, the 8MP selfie camera is only good for daylight shots and fails to impress in poor lighting.
Nokia 3.4 Hardware And Software Performance
The Nokia 3.4 is a budget phone and works just like one. The underlying chipset- Qualcomm Snapdragon 460 can easily handle light apps and games but isn't the most ideal chipset to handle heavier apps and number-crunching tasks. Thanks to the clean stock Android software and 4GB RAM, the phone feels snappy and smoothly handles basic tasks such as web-browsing, camera usage, video playback, light games, and basic photo/video editing. This isn't the ideal handset for power users. You should invest in Xiaomi or Realme's budget device if you are a power user.
The Nokia 3.4 runs Android 10 out-of-the-box. As per HMD's promise, the phone will receive guaranteed Android 11 and Android 12 updates and up to three years of security updates. The phone is free of bloatware and you won't see any unwanted spam, advertisements, and notifications. It's a clean Google user-experience, something very rare in the budget price bracket. That being said, if clean software is your priority, the Nokia 3.4 and the Nokia 5.4 are good choices.
Nokia 3.4 Battery Life, Audio And Connectivity
The Nokia 3.4 draws power from a modest 4,000 mAh battery cell which easily lasts for one full day with moderate usage. What comes as a disappointment is the bundled charger and the charging speeds. The 5W charger in the box takes as much as 2.5 hours to recharge the battery to 100% which is too slow for even a budget phone in 2021. The competition offers bigger batteries that last long and recharges much faster.
As far as the audio is concerned, the single bottom-firing speaker gets the job done but won't set any new standards. The speaker sounds shrill at maximum volume and the sound quality is pretty average. For connectivity, the Nokia 3.4 has a Type-C charging port, two SIM card slots (dual 4G VoLTE) and a microSD card slot, a 3.5mm audio jack, FM Radio, dated Bluetooth 4.2 connectivity, GPS/AGPS, GLONASS, and Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n.
The Nokia 3.4 focuses on delivering a clean software experience rather than a power-packed hardware performance. The stock Android software along with guaranteed Android updates and sturdy build quality on a budget price makes a strong case for the budget handset. If you seek a powerful hardware experience, the market offers several options in the same price bracket such as the recently launched Poco M3, Redmi 9 Power, Realme 6i, and the Poco M2 Pro.