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Nokia 3.4 Unboxing, Review: Standing Out

Verdict: While phones in the Nokia 3 series has been mostly hit-or-miss, the newest model in the form of the Nokia 3.4 is the best of the lot, and certainly is a budget phone to look out for. Upgrades like an efficient Snapdragon 460 processor, triple rear camera setup, and class-leading battery elevates the Nokia 3.4 from mediocre to good, especially in the context of what you pay for it.

The Nokia 3.4 is priced at Php 7,990.

Pros

  • Very efficient battery life
  • Snapdragon 460 processor is an all-around performer
  • Durable textured back panel

Cons

  • Terrible performance in video
  • Night mode could be improved further
  • Stuck with 10w wired charging

 

HMD Global beefs up its budget lineup with the Nokia 3.4. This new phone from the brand looks to be the best of the budget offerings they’ve put out so far, which isn’t saying much considering our complaints with them at the time.

That being said, the Nokia 3.4 is a great phone for budget hunters despite its quirks, and is a step in the right direction for the brand.

Packaging and contents

HMD Global is pretty consistent with how it packages its offerings. You get a white box with the image of the phone printed on front with little fanfare. The brand proudly shows off its update guarantee (thanks to the fact that their phones are all Android One devices), which basically means you’re getting two years of major Android updates with the Nokia 3.4 and at least three years of security updates.

Inside the box, you have the phone itself, documentation, SIM ejector tool, USB-C cable, headset, 5w wall charger, and a silicone case.

Design

Taking cues from the Nokia 7.2 from 2019, the Nokia 3.4 employs a circular camera module that houses three cameras–the most for any Nokia 3-series phone–and an LED flash. The fingerprint scanner remains right below it, along with the Nokia branding. The camera module barely protrudes from the back panel, so you can comfortably place the phone on the table with very minimal wobbling.

While the Nokia 3.4 has a polycarbonate back panel, I appreciate HMD Global’s decision to use a ribbed texture as it makes the phone more durable against wear and tear. The unique design aside, the ribbed texture also means that the Nokia 3.4 is smudge resistant–letting you appreciate the color-shifting characteristics of the Fjord color much better.

Like its predecessor, you’re getting the same port layout with the Nokia 3.4: headphone jack on top, Google Assistant button and SIM tray on the left side, and power and volume controls on the right side. The big upgrade here is the charging/data port, as the Nokia 3.4 finally uses USB-C instead of the aging MicroUSB port.

Display and Speakers

Aside from a more modern-looking punch-hole display, the Nokia 3.4 gets a slightly bigger display at 6.39-inches. The display resolution remains the same at HD+, and the same goes for the display’s overall quality: good colors and a brightness level that is adequate for outdoor use. While HMD Global is consistent in using quality display panels on the majority of its Android One devices, the Nokia 3.4 improves on the accuracy of its Adaptive Brightness feature.

As for audio, the lone bottom-firing speaker has decent mids even when you max out the volume, though the bass is barely noticeable. It is good enough for videos, but not for music. If you want better audio, use wired or wireless earphones instead.

Cameras

While you get the same 13-megapixel snapper like the one used on the Nokia 3.2, HMD Global upgraded it with a brighter f/1.8 aperture, along with two additional cameras: 5-megapixel f/2.2 ultra-wide-angle camera and 2-megapixel f/2.4 depth sensor.

The brighter aperture on the main camera translates to better low-light performance, while the addition of an ultra-wide-angle camera expands the Nokia 3.4’s shooting options.

As for the photos we took with the Nokia 3.4, both the main camera and the ultra-wide-angle camera did relatively well for daylight shooting. The same cannot be said with low light, as both the main and ultra-wide-angle cameras suffer from loss of detail.

If you intend to use the Nokia 3.4 to shoot in low light, there’s a Night Mode option that can do the job. You will have to manage your expectations though as it tends to be inconsistent especially with colors.

If you plan to use the Nokia 3.4 for video, forget it: even when I was shooting at Full HD, the overall quality is below par with other similarly-priced smartphones. In addition, I noticed that the phone tends to focus hunt often when you shoot HD video at 60FPS.

Like with what happened during the initial launch of the Nokia 7.2, these issues are most likely software-related, so expect HMD Global to roll out updates to address them soon.

When it comes to selfies, the Nokia 3.4’s 8-megapixel f/2.2 selfie snapper does quite a decent job in making our selfies flattering in most lighting conditions.

Internals and Battery Life

While it still uses a Snapdragon 4-series processor, there’s no denying that the Snapdragon 460 is a big step up over the Snapdragon 429 used on the Nokia 3.2. Aside from a more modern 11nm process and an octa-core layout, the Snapdragon 460 utilizes better Kryo 240 cores, making it significantly more powerful and efficient at the same time.

Paired with 4GB RAM and 64GB internal storage, the Nokia 3.4 has just the right internals to handle the usual multitasking and a few games in between.

As for games, the Nokia 3.4 may not promise high frame rates (save for MOBA games like League of Legends Wild Rift), but it will assure that you get stable gameplay with FPS stability at above 90%. Demanding games like Genshin Impact will let you enjoy the game at a fairly decent average FPS of 21–just enough for a casual gaming session with the popular RPG.

While it has the same 4000mAh battery as its predecessor, the Snapdragon 460’s efficiency gives the Nokia 3.4 better endurance. With PCMark’s battery test, we logged in an incredible 22 and a half hours of battery life, which is very close (if not better) than HMD Global’s claimed 2-day battery life. Charging is done via USB-C, and while it can support up to 10w, you only get a pedestrian 5w charger in the box. Using a 10w charger, it took us around two hours to fully top up its battery.

Wrap-up and conclusions

HMD Global is finally catching up with the competition, and the Nokia 3.4 proves to be a significant step-up from the Nokia 3.2. The 5th-generation of the Nokia 3-series is the biggest upgrade so far thanks to a capable octa-core processor, USB-C, a modern punch-hole display, and a triple rear camera setup. All those key features proved to be crucial in making the Nokia 3.4 a compelling offering at the under-Php 8k segment.

While the cameras have their flaws with video and Night Mode, we are confident that HMD Global will be able to address the issue thanks to their stellar track record when it comes to rolling out updates.

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