In the lab today is the Nokia 3.4, one of Nokia’s more affordable options for those who want quality without breaking the bank. No matter your budget, you can find a smartphone that will suit your needs. However, few brands have the kind of trust Nokia has. The smartphone manufacturer continues its return to the consumer electronics stage with a series of releases that bank on the solid reputation they have built over decades.
The Nokia 3.4 is standard fare for a phone made in 2020. It’s got a large, non-curved screen up front, a punch-hole selfie camera, a textured back case with a circular camera module placed above a fingerprint scanner, and a USB-C port at the bottom edge. Buttons are on the sides, and there’s a headphone jack at the top. Our review unit came in a shimmery, iridescent blue-purple when it gets hit by the light in just a certain way.
Some people might not like the plain design, but the simplicity of it appeals to me, and the textured back case gives it enough grip to keep from slipping out of your hands.
The Nokia 3.4 is a modestly specced phone that was designed to handle daily tasks well. The heart of this phone is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 460 chipset that runs an octa-core processor and a capable Adreno 610 GPU. It comes with up to 4 GB of RAM, and a comfortably large 6.39-inch, 720×1560 resolution screen. The main camera snaps 13 MP photos and can shoot 1080p video. Keeping the device running is a large 4000 mAh battery with 10W charging.
The 3.4 is a 4G phone with Wi-Fi b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.2 connectivity and has a dedicated microSD slot, along with dual-SIM capability.
User Experience: 3.5/5
Manufacturers have lately been putting out a lot of great phones in the lower tiers. More and more surprisingly capable devices have been hitting the market, and we couldn’t be happier. Not to be left behind, the 3.4 is Nokia’s attempt to ride the wave of capable, affordable phones.
Right out of the box, the 3.4 is pleasantly light. The plastic back case and sides help keep the weight down significantly. More than once, I fell into a slight panic because I didn’t realize that the phone was actually already in my pocket. It’s a little on the wide side and, coupled with how thin it is, can be unwieldy to hold in a single hand. Slipping it into the included clear plastic case would be a good idea from day 1.
The performance of the Nokia 3.4 is very pleasantly fluid, even considering the price point. The rear-mounted fingerprint scanner works faster and more consistently than my personal flagship phone’s in-screen scanner, and the location high center on the back case does make it convenient to tap regardless of what hand you use. It also has face unlock, though you do have to press the button to get it to start looking for a face to recognize, which slows the process down somewhat. That same power button is also quite tough to press–great for keeping unintended taps out of the way, but not as good when you want to unlock the phone with gloved hands, for example.
Once awake, the phone reacts quickly, with only the slightest beat before reacting. Once it gets going though, the experience itself doesn’t feel too far removed from any other smartphone from a reputable brand, regardless of price tier. It’s an Android One phone, which means some optimization and guaranteed future updates from Google, which is more than can be said for a lot of other manufacturers out there. As it stands, the OS is stable, and there was even an update midway through our review process, which is a great sign for things to come.
Battery life was likewise impressive, managing to last two days between charges, though with limited use of mobile data.
While the phone is quite pleasant to use on the whole, with snappy performance and a reasonable price tag, the corners cut to make this possible aren’t hard to find. The camera, for one, lacks sharpness, and even in decent lighting, details are fuzzy, and can’t take much cropping before it becomes quite obvious. Colors are at least quite faithfully reproduced, which was a pleasant surprise.
Because of the brand, and being an Android One smartphone, the Nokia 3.4 gets our nod. Finding that balance between price and hardware is a trick lots of manufacturers do, but guaranteeing software updates and delivering a cleaner Android experience makes this device a winner, despite a few flaws.
- Dimensions: 6.34 x 2.99 x 0.34in
- Weight: 180g
- Display: 6.39 inches
- Resolution: 720 x 1560 pixels, 269 PPI
- Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 460
- GPU: Adreno 610
- RAM: Up to 4GB
- Storage: Up to 64GB, microSD expandable
- Camera: 13MP main, 5MP wide, 2MP depth, 8MP Front
- Battery 4000mAh, 10W charging
- Android One
- Good battery life
- Poor camera performance
Great value from a great brand.
Reviewed by Ren Alcantara
Also published in Gadgets Magazine February 2021 Issue