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  • Tech - Compare & Reviews
  • Updated: Jan 21, 2021

Phone Review: Unboxing The Nokia 3.4 Smartphone

RATINGS

5.2
  • Battery 7

  • Camera 5

  • Connectivity 5

  • Design 4

  • Display 5

  • Storage 5

Price :

The low-cost Nokia 3.4 is a sure attraction to those looking for a good smartphone to buy. They don't need to break a bank.

As cheap as it is, the phone makes a very good first impression, the screen is perfectly solid and the Android One interface has a clean look just like that of the Google Pixel 4a.

If you are one who loves playing games with your phone, installing a couple of games on this phone is worth following its 32GB storage. The storage capacity of the device is even enough for your large WhatsApp image library to import.

However, the phone becomes unreliable when storage gets low, just like any other phone would. So, in that case, you will need to free up some more space for the device to get back running normally.

There’s a regular lag before the keyboard pops up, as app interfaces load, and as you move between apps.

Although it’s not terribly slow, Motorola, Realme, Oppo and Xiaomi phones for similar money run much better. Don’t even think about trying Fortnite. It runs but spends a significant amount of time at 0fps. The cameras are fairly poor too.

There isn't much to expect from the Nokia 3.4 but its long battery life might make up for these performance problems if you only want to ‘do the basics’. However, these are affected by the phone’s slow feel too. A Moto G8, Realme 6, or Oppo A5 2020 is highly recommended instead.

Nokia 3.4 price and release date

The Nokia 3.4 is already available in the US, the UK, and Australia with a price of $179 / £130 / AU$249 respectively which puts it at the low end of smartphone pricing, in line with the likes of the Alcatel 3L (2020).

Design

If your budget only stretches to something like the Nokia 3.4, then expect a phone made of glass and metal or one with a fancy in-screen fingerprint scanner.

The Nokia 3.4 still has some nice touches. Its punch-hole screen was considered a sign of a higher-end phone just a year or so ago. The screen borders are similar to those of a much pricier mid-range phone. And the display is large enough for comfy video watching. It even has a reasonably attractive circular camera housing on the back.

Most manufacturers use smooth curved plastic on the backs of their budget phones. It’s meant to look and feel like glass, even though it isn’t.

Nokia uses embossed plastic on the 3.4 and its back doesn’t flex as it sits right on the subframe and components inside.

The phone has a rear fingerprint scanner rather than a more on-trend side or in-screen one. It’s slower than some, taking around a second to unlock the Nokia 3.4. But in use, it is perfectly fine, with no reliability issues. A slightly relaxed unlock is better than one that refuses to recognize your finger half the time.

There’s a Google Assistant button on the side, but you are far more likely to press it accidentally than deliberately.

You get a 3.5mm headphone jack, common in cheap phones like the Nokia 3.4 but not in higher-end ones. However, the speaker is weak. It’s thin, not very loud, and uses just one mono driver. Motorola’s G-series phones sound significantly better.

READ MORE: Nokia 7.3 With 5,050mAh Battery Life Spotted Online

Display

The Nokia 3.4 has a 6.39-inch LCD screen which is one of the phone’s highlights.

It has a perfectly fine colour. Its contrast is good and maximum brightness is powerful enough to make the screen fairly clear outdoors.

It's also large enough to watch Netflix or YouTube videos on, without it seeming a desperate compromise.

You can get better if you spend a little more, of course. This is a 720 x 1560 display, a big step below the Full HD screen of a phone like the Realme 6. However, it is honestly not that glaring. Use the ‘Desktop’ mode in Chrome and small fonts will appear a little pixelated, but the rest of the interface looks reasonably sharp.

There is one more obvious sign, this is not a top-quality screen. The very bottom of the Nokia 3.4's display is brighter than the rest because it’s where the backlight LEDs sit. You can’t tell where these are in a truly great LCD phone screen.

A few of the Nokia 3.4’s elements bothered us, but the display is not one of them. As you might guess, the phone does not support HDR, but again this is not a big issue at that price.

Camera

The Nokia 3.4 has three rear cameras. There’s a 13MP primary, a 5MP ultra-wide, and a 2MP depth aid. This is used in the Portrait mode, which blurs out the background.

In perfect lighting, shots look a little fizzy and vague up close. Dynamic range is only okay even with the help of good baked-in HDR processing, and shots that use dynamic range optimization often have ‘ghosting’. This is where you see dual exposure of moving objects, caused by the delay between the multiple shots used to compose the image.

The Nokia 3.4’s low light images are poor, and while there is a Night mode, which attempts to brighten up the scene, we actually tend to prefer the photos taken using the standard Auto mode. Night tries to lift the shadows a little, but they end up so noisy the images look better without. You can’t fix every face with better lighting.

Shooting images feels slow, particularly if, for example, you take an image from WhatsApp rather than the camera app. Focusing is iffy as well. On reviewing the stack of images of the Nokia 3.4, a handful of the images were not properly focused.

The Nokia 3.4’s camera performs at about the base level one would expect, considering the price. The phone can still take images worthy of Instagram. Just shoot against a nice clean, blue sky and photos can look colorful and punchy.

The second field of view, the ultra-wide, is welcome too, even if its 5MP images are mediocre.

The Nokia 3.4’s video is extremely basic. It can shoot at up to 1080p, 30 frames per second. There’s no 60fps, no 4K. And, far more important, there is no stabilization. This means your handheld footage will look amateurish and shaky.

We get an 8MP selfie camera, and it’s perfectly respectable. Images get soft in lower light - no surprise there - but this is not an afterthought selfie shooter.

Specs and performance

The Nokia 3.4 has a Snapdragon 460 chipset and 3GB of RAM. This is an entry-level CPU with only just enough RAM to scrape by in Android 10, and you can feel it.

The Nokia 3.4 is quite slow. We can write off poor performance in 3D games or very demanding apps on cheap phones, but here it affects every interaction. The virtual keyboard often takes a beat to appear, and elements of apps pop up more slowly than other phones.

Things get worse if you multitask by, for example, streaming a podcast or radio station while using the Nokia 3.4.

There’s a low-level lethargy to everything here once you go beyond the basics of swiping between the home screens and app drawer. Apps may also crash if you let the Nokia 3.4 run low on space, suggesting the limited amount of RAM here forces Android to use the 32GB of storage for jobs that might otherwise be done using system memory.

Truly bad performance in an Android phone can make using a device a nightmare. The Nokia 3.4 isn’t that bad most of the time, but it is notably slower than the Oppo A5 2020, Moto G8, and Moto G8 Power.

Gaming is restricted too. By the time we had installed Fortnite and ARK: Survival Evolved, the Nokia 3.4 was already out of space, although this was exacerbated by WhatsApp’s image library taking up a few gigabytes.

Even after freeing up some room, Fortnite was completely unplayable. After a few seconds at reasonable (but low) frame rates, it effectively brought the phone to a halt, reading ‘0fps’. Our assumption is the Nokia 3.4’s 3GB of RAM just isn’t enough to run the game, because the Snapdragon 460 isn’t that weak.

This theory is confirmed by ARK: Survival Evolved. You can only run the game at ‘low’ graphics, but it runs perfectly well. And even looks good, despite the low-end graphics setting.

The Nokia 3.4 scores 1,188 (255 per core) in Geekbench 5, which is around 250 points less than a Snapdragon 665 phone like the Moto G8.

Reasonably good scores like this suggest, again, that the Nokia 3.4’s lethargy is caused by limited RAM. There is, after all, no extra layer of software to blame. The phone is part of the Android One program, which rules out the use of a third-party interface.

It also means the Nokia 3.4 is guaranteed an update to Android 11 and security updates for at least three years. This is a real selling point, particularly up against relatively little-known manufacturers that sometimes release phones and then leave them to wilt, update-free.

Note: we don’t mean Oppo, Realme, or Xiaomi, but the more obscure names like Elephone.

Battery life

The Nokia 3.4 has a few issues, but battery life is not one of them. This phone has a fairly ordinary-sounding 4,000mAh battery, but we found it outlasts most phones with this capacity.

It’s likely helped here by the lower-resolution screen and lower-power chipset. Even on heavy days that included several hours of audio streaming, far too much browsing of eBay for bargain buys, and many WhatsApp checks, the Nokia 3.4 ended up with at least 30% charge left.

Light users should find it lasts the two days Nokia claims. Battery life is the Nokia 3.4’s strongest aspect, alongside the decent screen. This phone is far from alone as a long-lasting cheap mobile, though, as the budget sector is where you find some of the largest batteries.

However, its battery charging is not that fast. The Nokia 3.4 has a puny 5W charger which could get you from flat to 16% in 30 minutes. Rubbish.

Nokia 3.4: To buy or not to buy?

To Buy: You can buy this phone if you want a cheap phone. A low price is the main reason to buy a Nokia 3.4 as it doesn’t cost.

Also, if you want a long-lasting mobile, this phone is one to consider. The Nokia 3.4 lasts a long time between charges, even longer than expected given its 4,000mAh battery capacity. You can hit this phone pretty hard and it’ll still have some juice left by midnight. Nokia’s claims of 2-day use aren’t fiction in this case.

The phone is good for you if you want plain software. This phone is part of the Android One program. That means the Nokia 3.4 has mostly untouched Android software, and you are guaranteed two years of major software updates and three years of security updates. Not bad for a cheap phone. 

Not To Buy: If you’re impatient, this phone isn't for you. The Nokia 3.4 is pretty slow as almost every interaction with the phone is affected, from unlocking it and sending a message over WhatsApp to playing a game. Rivals with 4GB of RAM and a 6-series Snapdragon chipset even run better.

If you want to take great photos, this phone is the wrong choice for you. The Nokia 3.4’s triple-camera array looks impressive for a phone this cheap, but the results aren’t that good. Night images are poor, the camera is a bit slow, and even in great lighting, fine detail looks a bit fizzy and vague when you get up close. You can take solid shots with the right scene, but don’t expect miracles.

Looking to play Fortnite, then just take your mind of this phone. This phone lets you try to play Fortnite, but trust us: don’t bother. It brings the phone to a standstill. Speaker quality is pretty poor too and there’s not much room for game installs. The good news: most other games run fine, including glossy 3D ones.

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