Nokia has been full of hands since the brand HMD came under the global umbrella. In fact, in a unique endeavor, the company is releasing smartphones that focus on providing a clean, stock Android experience to end buyers. The affordable smartphone market has matured over the years and as a result, Nokia has had to work twice as hard to avoid competition. On that note, the company recently launched Nokia 5.4 Priced at Rs 13,999 in India and in this review, let’s see if the smartphone deserves your bucks.
The latest mid-range competitor from the Nokia 5.4 company, it scores high on things like clean, bloatware-free interface and good performance. However, it is missing in a few other sections. Looking at the strong competition in its price range, some of its rivals look better.
From a distance, the design draws a lot of parallels to the Nokia 5.4 and its predecessor, the Nokia 5.3. In fact, if you do not know the new color paths, it’s hard for you to tell from one to another – from company branding to a circular camera module, the two smartphones look identical from the back. Furthermore, although both devices are built entirely using plastic, I think the company has taken two steps back with the build quality of the new model. Although you may think that the chassis of the Nokia 5.3 is very sturdy, the plastic back of the Nokia 5.4 is very demanding due to bending and creaking without using any pressure. This is very disappointing, especially from a Nokia-branded phone, because the company is known for its strong offerings.
While moving, Nokia 5.4 makes some mistakes by providing a beautiful gradient finish that emits different patterns under the sun. The handset is also featherlight and weighs just 180 grams. Unfortunately, the glossy back of a smartphone is prone to smudges, so you may need to wipe it twice a day to keep it clean. As for the rest of the design elements, the handset carries with it a special Google Assistant key on its left back. This smartphone also has a headphone jack and a microSD card along with two SIMs at the same time. For biometrics, the device gets a fast capacitive fingerprint sensor on the back, which can also be used to lower the notification pane by gestures. There is also Face Unlock on board, but I was not sold with the same accuracy in my performance with the handset and, therefore, relied heavily on the fingerprint sensor to bring me into my home screen.
In terms of display, the Nokia 5.4 features a 6.39-inch HD + LCD panel with a 60Hz refresh rate. The display in it is good and ships with a more strategically placed punch-hole notch compared to its predecessor. However, the panel rules when pitted against competition, supporting not only pixel-dense full HD + screens, but also refreshing at 90Hz or with AMOLED technology. I repeat – the performance on Nokia 5.4 is not so bad and the smartphone comes with Widwin L1 certification, which ensures that you can stream content in HD from OTT platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime. However, given how the mid-range segment is filled with a wealth of fascinating offerings, I expected Nokia to be even better here.
Specifically, it runs on Nokia 5.4 Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 662 processor with 4GB or 6GB of memory. For storage, the handset carries 64GB with built-in, user-expandable eMMC storage. So, how does a smartphone work? Well, Nokia 5.4 does not set fire to any benchmarks, it works well and can handle the basics very efficiently including web browsing, messaging etc. The smartphone shuts down due to its relatively slow storage, which increases the app load a little at times. As a result, you may not be able to go in and out of apps fast. However, I did not experience any issues with handset performance – resource-hungry apps like Twitter and Snapchat did not reload every time I jumped into them through the multitasking carousel and the smartphone did not display large spikes while gaming at room temperature. Speaking of which, I can comfortably run Call of Duty Mobile at high graphics and high frame rates, and it is enabled with other visual features such as Ragdol Effects, Anti Aliasing, and more. The gaming performance was also to my satisfaction, and the smartphone provided excellent ergonomics for long gaming sessions, so no complaints here.
I should also add that the Nokia 5.4 has a 3.5mm headphone jack slot as well as a loudspeaker on the bottom. Consequently, you can select the game with better sound by connecting the wired headset to the smartphone. In terms of connectivity, when using Nokia 5.4 with my Airtel 4G SIM, I did not get into network related issues as tested in Dwarka, Delhi. For the rest of my life I could not understand why the company chose a chipset that did not support 5GHz Wi-Fi networks. Even more bizarre is that Nokia 5.3 supports Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 665 processor and is ahead of Nokia 5.4, in fact, 5GHz Wi-Fi networks.
In terms of software, Nokia 5.4 is one of the few devices to boot stock Android in India. What’s more, this device is part of Google’s Android One project and receives guaranteed updates accordingly. At the time of writing, Nokia 5.4 is still stuck with Android 10, which is a bummer. I hope the company fixes this in the near future as it directly condemns the USP of the handset that offers buyers the newest, cleanest stock Android experience.
Camera-wise, the Nokia 5.4 ships have a quad-camera setup on the back, which features a 48MP main sensor, along with a 5MP ultra-wide angle shooter, 2MP depth sensor and 2MP macro lens. For selfies, the device gets a 16MP front camera, which is located inside the punch-hole notch of the smartphone. When it comes to image quality, Nokia 5.4 gets some things right, especially when clicking images during the day. For one, the photos display natural colors and do not increase the satisfaction in the shots in an attempt to make the Nokia 5.4 images look more tasteful. Second, the handset also controls exposure and even under harsh sunlight, I did not notice the highlight clipping in the compositions. At close-up, images are much more visible, but for the most part, you can click share-worthy photos from Nokia 5.4’s main sensor during the day.
Unfortunately, more than I can say for the smartphone’s other sensors. Take the macro lens of the device, for example, which takes a long time to focus properly on the subject and then rarely provides a passable shot. Then, there is the 5MP ultra-wide angle sensor, which introduces a lot of noise around the edges of the shot. When it comes to selfies, I’m very happy with the level of detail captured by the handset’s 16MP front camera, I could not help but notice that my skin tone is very pale in the photos. Lollipop is not very polished for photos and although Night Mode is enabled, the smartphone has struggled to output noiseless image.
Nokia has introduced the Nokia 5.4 with two unique camera-centric features with support for Ojo audio and H-Log videos. In short, the utility gives emerging videographers more flexibility in posting and allows them to edit footage whenever they feel fit. You can enable H-Log videos from the smartphone’s movie mode and when done, you can go to Google Photos to edit the final footage. Here, you can choose from different color profiles and apply any of them to your H-Log clip. All said and done, but the feature works as advertised, you can only apply the color profile preset right from the phone and have to rely on your PC for other edits. Then, there is OZO Audio, which captures spatial audio and adds a whole new dimension to your video clips. I found this feature to be very nifty, so there are no complaints here.
So, given the Nokia 5.4 starting price of Rs 13,999, what makes it a good buy? To answer that, allow me to quickly recover the hits and misses of the smartphone and here, the device offers better performance, a day worth of battery backup and a 48MP sensor. Unfortunately, the smartphone still boots Android 10, with a HD + screen that does not provide a strong frame and ships. What’s more, the device does not support 5G, or 5GHz Wi-Fi networks, which can be frustrating even in the connectivity segment. Consequently, unless you are a great Nokia fan and want a stock Android phone, I suggest you look elsewhere. Nokia 5.4 is a good smartphone, but things stand out, you can get a better bang for your buck by choosing devices like. Poco M3 (Review)… Or if you can extend your budget a little, the LITTLE X3 (Review) Or Norjo 30A (Review).
Editor Rating: 3/5
- Beautiful looking design
- Good performer
- Unique videography features
- HD + display
- Limited connectivity features
- Still boots Android 10