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Nokia 3.4 first impressions: Smartly tuned, well priced

Nokia 3.4 is far from appealing. A Snapdragon 460 chip, an HD LCD display, only a 13-megapixel camera for the rear – stuff that a Redmi Note buyer

As Xiaomi prepares its next Redmi Note series device, the tech community goes wild on assumptions. “Will there be a 120Hz display?”, “Will Xiaomi go for a 5G chipset?”, “What could we expect from the cameras?” There’s a never-ending set of unanswered questions until Xiaomi’s big day arrives. In contrast, here’s the Nokia 3.4; a phone that probably does not know how to excite today’s tech-savvy group.

One look at the specifications sheet and the Nokia 3.4 is far from appealing. A Snapdragon 460 chip, an HD LCD display, only a 13-megapixel camera for the rear – stuff that a Redmi Note buyer would scoff at (and most Indian smartphone buyers). However, I used the seemingly inferior Nokia 2.4 a few months ago and that phone left me fairly surprised. Would the Nokia 3.4 follow the same and pull off an ace up its sleeves?

To find out, I spent a couple of days with a Nokia 3.4, and while I can’t get out my full review yet, here are my first impressions.

Design, Build

Nokia’s Nordic design language has given us a bunch of handsome smartphones in the past few months. After the Nokia 5.4’s posh design featuring a glossy finish, the matte texture on the Nokia 3.4 is refreshing. I got the Dusk color variant (purple for those who have a simpler world) and it ends up making the rather plane-jane design of the phone look stunning.

Nokia 3.4

The circular camera element with the blacked-out inserts grew on me and it worked in an indescribable way to make me comfy with the rather outdated rear-mounted fingerprint sensor. Seriously Nokia, technology now allows the fingerprint sensor to be mounted on the power key.

That said, I have shown the phone to a couple of my colleagues and I am yet to find someone disliking the Nokia 3.4 for its design. The Dusk colour variant with its subtle gradients under different lighting is eye candy and those with a taste for sophisticated design may find this Nokia worth flaunting without a case.

Nokia does not bundle a case in the box but I would not worry about that as the entire build is plastic. The fit and finish on the Nokia 3.4 is up to today’s high standards benchmarked by Xiaomi but I feel Nokia went soft with the buttons, quite literally. The volume keys, the power key, and the Google Assistant key are soft to touch and I doubt their reliability in the long run.

Nokia 3.4

The front is dominated by this large 6.39-inch display that accompanies thin bezels and some substantial chin. Nokia cleverly tries to mask the visual imbalance going on the front by pasting its logo on it. There’s a fairly small punch-hole cutout in the corner for the front camera.

On the whole, I, and my tech-savvy colleagues find the Nokia 3.4 handsome. In my opinion, it joins the bright yellow Poco M3 as two of the phones featuring a standout design under Rs 15,000.

Features

The Nokia of today has been conservative with its choice of smartphone components and the case does not change with the Nokia 3.4. In an age when Xiaomi and Realme are using high-performance Snapdragon 700 series chips for their sub-Rs 15,000 phones, Nokia’s choice of a Snapdragon 460 doesn’t seem to make a case for itself. Paired with a display that supports just 720p resolution, 4GB RAM, a bunch of rather average-seeming cameras, and still Android 10 out of the box, the Nokia 3.4 seems uninspiring.

Nokia 3.4

However, numbers tell a different story and the phone in itself speaks differently. In a world obsessed with gaming-focused chipsets, Nokia shows that you can have a fairly nice experience if you consider working on the software. This is possibly the only Android One device in its price category and Nokia is taking every bit of Android One’s intention of delivering a solid user experience seriously.

While I reserve all the details for the full review, the Nokia 3.4 hasn’t shown lags or stutters so far. This comes after using the phone extensively for doing all the office work, making over a dozen calls, using social media apps, streaming music, and more. Usually, a Redmi Note 9 or a Realme 7i would show signs of struggle but this meek Nokia kept chugging along. Hence, if you are considering buying this, there’s no need for worrying about the performance bit.

Here’s some light on other bits

Nokia 3.4

-The seemingly underwhelming rear triple camera setup relies on some solid post-processing algorithms to deliver an overall impressive photography experience (for its price). Daylight photography performance in on par with what I have seen from equivalent Redmi and Realme phones.

-The 4,000mAh battery has so far delivered an all-day battery life consistently. The support for 10W charging is frustrating especially when rivals offer support of up to 18W speeds.

-Nokia has released the phone with Android 10 but the company promises two Android OS upgrades as well as three years of security support. That means you will see the phone getting up to Android 12 over the course of two years. I already witnessed the February security patch being released for the phone.

-The benefits of having a completely stock Android experience unrivaled. Except for the regular bunch of Google apps, there’s no third-party app pre-installed here – not even Facebook (Hey Motorola, read this). That means there’re no unusual advertisements or irritating notifications when you boot it up for the first time.

Nokia 3.4 first impressions

Nokia 3.4

While the dominating smartphone brands hype consumers for their choice of a chip, Nokia keeps reassuring that you don’t always need muscles to deliver a solid user experience. The Nokia 3.4 is a pleasant smartphone to use and in my week’s worth of usage, I don’t find myself complaining about the lack of outright firepower. That, combined with the elegant “Nordic design” makes this Nokia one of my favourites in its price category.

A full review with an in-depth look at the individual aspects of the Nokia 3.4 is coming in another week. If you wish to spend more on a Nokia smartphone, check out our full review of the Nokia 5.4 in the meantime.


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