With the turn of the century, mobile phones emerged as big players in the telecom industry. Nokia immediately jumped on the wagon and captured a large share of the market in a spectacularly short amount of time. This glorious era of Nokia phones lasted for nearly a whole decade, with Android and iPhone smartphones resulting in the downfall of Nokia’s phones lacking in both software and hardware.
Now, after a brief stint with Microsoft and Windows Mobile, Nokia brand is once again free to experiment. And how do they choose to use this freedom? By looking towards the biggest kid in the playground — Android. Nokia 5 is the second phone by Nokia running on the Android operating system. Nokia 3, which was released earlier this year, was a good beginning but begged for a more refined and premium experience from the veteran device manufacturer. Nokia 5 aims to be the next stepping stone for this Finnish company. Let’s take a look at how well Nokia has managed to execute the smartphone experience this time around.
Before going into the in-depth review, let’s take a quick look at what this phone has to offer:
- 5.2 inches HD (720p) IPS LCD display with Gorilla Glass protection
- Octa-core 1.4 GHz Qualcomm MSM8937 Snapdragon 430 processor with Adreno 505 GPU
- 2 GB RAM and 16 GB internal storage with microSD card slot up to 256 GB
- Android 7.1.1 (Nougat)
- 13-megapixel rear camera and 8-megapixel frontal shooter
- 3000 mAh Non-removable battery
- Fingerprint (front-mounted), accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass
Pros and cons
Similar to almost all other smartphones in the market, Nokia 5 carries along with itself some pros and cons. A list of items and features in which it excels is:
- Good battery life
- Camera results exceed expectations
- Decent build quality and well thought out design
Here are the areas where it falls a bit short of the competition:
- 720p display might be stretched out a bit on 5.2 inches screen
- Slightly lacking performance in more resource intensive tasks
- No fast charging support
What do you get in the box?
- 5V/1A wall adapter with standard USB-A port (no fast charging)
- Standard length USB-A to micro-USB cable
- 3.5 mm hands-free
- SIM Card slot ejector tool
- Warranty information and product guide
Design and build quality
Nokia 3 was a bit more reminiscent of the Lumia phones of the past with the combination of plastic and Aluminium body construction. Nokia 5, although follows almost the similar design, tries to be a bit more premium with a completely metal body construction. The front of the device has a single glass slab as the display, while the back is completely metallic.
The construction of this device feels very solid and on first look, does not give any indication that it is supposed to be a budget phone. The soft, cold and metallic feel that the phone gives in hand is a joy to use and definitely not something which is common in this price range.
The button and ports placement on this phone is nothing extraordinary. The right side hosts the power button and the volume rockers, both of which are easy to find and press. The left-hand side has the single Dual SIM/SIM and microSD card slot. The 3.5 mm headphone jack is in its usual place at the top of the device and the bottom is home to speaker grills along with the main microphone and the microUSB port.
As is expected from Nokia devices, there are definitely no complaints from the design department. It looks premium, it feels premium and it is built in a way that makes it feel very solid and durable.
Similar to Nokia 3, the display used in Nokia 5 is of 720p resolution. The screen size, compared to some other competitors, is on the smaller side at 5.2 inches, so the low resolution doesn’t make that much of a difference as I first thought. It is plenty sharp and, when coupled with excellent typography of stock Android, there doesn’t seem to be any noticeable pixelation while using the device. The colors are a bit on the cold side and people who switch to this device from any AMOLED display will definitely miss the warm and punchy colors. Nonetheless, the color reproduction is fairly accurate and is pleasant to look at. Simply put, the display is sufficient for everyday use and most customers will definitely be happy with what they are getting for their hard earned money.
Unsurprisingly, Nokia 5 runs a near stock version of Android Nougat. The build version is 7.1.1 which is the closest any non-pixel phone can get to latest Android build right now. Nokia has not customized the software used on their Android devices. The only noticeable additions that I could find in the software were an inclusion of FM Radio app, tweaks to camera application, option to enroll in Nokia’s software experience program in the settings and the addition of a support application. Rest is stock and vanilla Android experience. It’s not a bad thing by any measure, I enjoy using stock Android and prefer it over most custom skins and ROMs available today.
All the usual goodies that come with Android Nougat like Google Assistant, Multi-window mode, quick replies in notifications and pixel launcher are all present with the software onboard the Nokia 5. The added support application is also super useful and might come in handy if you have any questions about your device.
Performance and battery life
Now we come to one of the weaker points of this device, its performance. Nokia has decided to go with the same chipset that they used in Nokia 3. A Qualcomm Snapdragon 435 processor with Adreno 505 GPU. It is not a bad CPU by any definition of the word, but the whole experience seems a little underpowered at some times. There is no noticeable lag while using the phone for day to day tasks, but its mid to low end processor and 2 GB RAM does struggle a bit when subjected to more resource intensive tasks. However, unless you plan to multitask more than 6-7 apps and play very graphically intensive games, you should be okay with what the device has to offer.
Here are the benchmark results from popular benchmarking application Geekbench.
With a 3,000 mAh battery and power efficient display and chipset, the performance is expected to be better than most phones. Nokia 5 does not disappoint in this regard. It runs like a champ when it comes to the battery department. I tried my best to kill it within a single day, but even with a constant data connection, streaming music on regular intervals and a couple of bouts of games thrown here and there, it survived the whole day and still had about 15 percent battery left when I put it on the table at night. The screen on time during that interval was above 7 hours and it fluctuates between 6 to 7.5 hours on average daily usage.
The disappointing part is that there is no fast charging support in Nokia 5, which means that filling up the 3,000 mAh battery takes a bit longer than it should in this day and age. It also means that there is no luxury of just plugging in your device for a half an hour to keep it running for 5-6 hours.
Nokia has always been known for good mobile cameras. Their work with Nokia 808 PureView is still an unmatched wonder. Although the new Nokia is being managed by HMD global, it still didn’t skimp when it comes to camera performance of this device.
The 13 MP rear camera is excellent in conditions with good lighting and performs admirably for its price range. There is a surprising amount of details in the pictures taken through it and the color reproduction is also definitely better than most cameras being used on other devices in this price range.
The real surprise is the front camera. The 8 MP front sensor comes with autofocus, something which sets it very apart from other phones in this price segment. It quickly locks on to your face and does a good job of keeping it in focus even if you are moving the phone a bit. There is plenty detail in the selfies and they come out worthy of posting on whatever social media network that you subscribe to.
So now we come to the end of the review, where we will have to decide whether or not the whole package described above is actually worth the price that Nokia is asking. Currently priced at 21,900 PKR, Nokia 5 is a very solid mid-range device. It comes with a lot of pros and very insignificant cons, a good sign for a company looking to regain its lost place in the market. Its premium design and build quality, good camera, and amazing battery life mean that it checks all the necessary boxes to make it worth your hard earned money. There are a few short comings like 720p display and lackluster performance in intensive games and applications, but these are expected when the device comes at only 21,900 PKR.