The recently announced Nokia 3.4 arrived for a review. The latest Nokia device in the affordable market segment comes with a nice design, color choices, latest SoC and Android One experience. The Nokia 3 series of devices is quite an important one for Nokia Mobile, because it seems like the best entry point for feature phone users in the smartphone world. The first Nokia 3 was announced in 2017 together with Nokia 5 and 6 and was one of more attractive budget devices.
This year’s Nokia 3.4 was announced in September this year, alongside the Nokia 2.4. The 3.4 comes with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 460 SoC announced earlier this year, together with 3GB or 4GB of RAM. We have a triple camera on the back and a punch hole display on the front. The phone packs a big battery, USB Type C and offers nice design and color options.
You can find out down below how the Nokia 3.4 performed on our review.
Name: Nokia 3.4 (#Nokia3dot4)
Dimensions: 160.97 x 75.99 x 8.7 mm
Mass: 180 g
Display: 6.39 inches, HD+ 720×1560 (269 ppi)
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 460 (11 nm), Octa-core (8 × up to 1.8 GHz ARM Cortex-A53 and A73),
Extras: FM Radio, 5W charger (supports 10W), nano SIM, USB Type C port
Color: Charcoal, Fjord, Dusk
Price: approx. €159
design and build quality
great battery life
Timely updates and support up to Android 12
package includes 5W charger, but device supports 10W
ultrawide camera not that useable
Packaging, design and build quality
The first thing you see on the Nokia 3.4’s retail box is the device itself, both from its front and backside. Nokia Mobile decided for packaging that emphasizes more the device itself, instead of the legacy handshake we saw on boxes prior to 2020. The back of the box has some key specs showcased, the Android One logo in the corner and a link to Nokia accessories. While Nokia Mobile has been improving its accessories portfolio with new headphones (and cases), I still feel there is much to be done in this area, but it is great to see they are pointing buyers to a place where they can find accessories.
The content of the retail package includes the phone, a wall adapter, cable for the USB Type C port, SIM tray tool and a quick start guide. We didn’t get headphones or a case, but there is still a small possibility that some markets might get different box content.
What you will notice when lifting up the Nokia 3.4 for the first time is how well the device fits in the hand. You don’t have that cold metal premium feel, but you can feel the textured back and the tightly jointed backside with the sideframe. There are no cracking sounds on the plastic when you apply some pressure and overall, the device feels very well composed.
On the front we can see the 6.39-inch display with a punch hole for the 8MP front camera located in the upper left corner. There are some tiny bezels around the screen, with the exception of the bezel below the screen where the Nokia logo is situated. I personally still felt that the device is quite compact and utilizes the front surface extremely well, regardless of the bigger bottom bezel. For comparison sake, the bezel is still smaller than on the Nokia 8.3 5G.
On the right side we can find the volume button and the power button. The other side contains the Google Assistant button, which I still personally find redundant, but if you are into such stuff, who am I to judge? Above that button, we have the SIM tray that also contains space for a MicroSD card. On top, we can find the 3.5mm headphone jack and a microphone, while on the opposite side we have the USB Type C charging port, external loudspeaker, and a microphone as well. The color of the frame is slightly different from the color of the backside and that looks really good.
On the backside, Nokia Mobile opted for the continuation of the established design language that includes a circular camera housing, but also textured back with mat color. I cannot emphasize enough how the backside has an excellent material/color choice, because the device feels less slippery, there are no fingerprint residues and there are no reflections that cause so much trouble when taking a photo of the device. I see this material choice as superior to glass and I think that a metal frame and such polycarbonate backside can easily be used on flagship devices.
Anyways, the mentioned circular camera housing has 3 cameras and a LED flash. In the center of the camera housing, we just have a circle in the color of the backside, which to me feels like it’s there because of logistical purposes of re-using the camera housing on different devices. I would rather see it gone and have a seamless full camera circle on the back, but that is just me. Below the camera ring, we have a fingerprint sensor. I didn’t have problems distinguishing between the sensor and the backside, thanks to the backside nanotexture, and found the sensor precise, but a bit slowish. I mean, it’s ok for its price range, but expect a slight delay that you will get used to.
Overall, the Nokia 3.4 is one of the best built devices in its price segment. I would honestly pick it before Nokia 8.3 in terms of pure composition and material perspective. The device is really solid with even weight distribution and feels compact in today’s smartphone world, even though it has a big screen.
The most attractive aspect of Nokia 3.4’s display is the punch hole. That was usually reserved for higher end phones, but it is slowly coming to budget Nokia devices as well. Display specifications are 6.39-inch length in the diagonal with HD+ (1560 x 720px) resolution and 269 ppi density.
The color reproduction is good for this price segment. The screen doesn’t feel washed out (bit dull) like it did on the Nokia 2.4 and is somewhere around Nokia 5.3 in quality. The max brightness will be enough to allow you to use the phone on direct sunlight, but there will still be some struggle there. It’s not as sharp as it would be with a FullHD resolution.
The display options include the usual basic brightness and font tuning options, but also there is double tap to wake the screen and the option of waking the screen when new notifications arrive. The 3.4 doesn’t have any method of notifying the user there are new notifications when the screen is turned off (no LED power button or Glance screen), so waking the screen at least will be of use.
Hardware, connectivity and performance
The Nokia 3.4 is powered by Snapdragon 460, Qualcomm latest SoC from Snapdragon 400 series. The SoC is built in the 11nm process and has a CPU that consists of 4 Kyro 240 Gold cores (Cortex-A73) clocked at 1.8GHz and 4 Kyro 240 Silver cores (Cortex-A53) with the same clock speed. The integrated GPU is Adreno 610.
In terms of memory, the device has options of 3GB or 4GB of RAM, as well as 32GB or 64GB of local storage with system taking up 16GB. The phone also supports a MicroSD card.
From a day-to-day performance standpoint, the Snapdragon 460 will do well. It feels a bit slow at times, but it’s mostly successfully doing all its tasks. You will also be able to play games, though performance can vary. For example, CoD Mobile is an excellently optimized game and will work on the 3.4 smoothly on low settings. Subway Surfers were also enjoyable on 3.4, but stuff like Fortnite should be avoided. If you do more performance intensive stuff on your phone – like a lot of social media, emails, communication apps, something with more advanced hardware will be a better choice.
I did experience a few bugs, mainly with Google Assistant’s strange behavior where Assistant sometimes calls some screens behind the current view, but sometimes it is in front. That might be how Google envisioned it, so it is not necessarily a bug, but a feature? The phone also had a noticeable delay on pressing the power button sometimes, as well as opening the camera by double pressing the power button, which can take well above a second.
Overall, the device behaved stable during usage and I like the fact that Nokia Mobile decided to use a current year SoC with this one. If you’re looking for a bit more performance, the Nokia 5.3 might be a better choice.
The device also has some nice to have connectivity feature, that is NFC that is supported in selected regions so users will be able to use Google Pay. The selected regions where the Nokia 3.4 with NFC is available include Australia, EU, Hong Kong, Indonesia, New Zealand, Russia, Sri Lanka, and Taiwan, but Nokia Mobile does say that you should check the local pages to be certain. Other than NFC on some markets, all units support FM Radio, Bluetooth 4.2 and WiFi 4.
Doing calls and sending SMS also works (surprise). The speaker is quite loud, which is good especially in noisy environments, while the sound remained clear on both sides of the conversation. The 3.4 uses Google’s Messages app, so you also get support for RCS messages and chat via Internet if it is supported in your market.
If you are familiar with the previous Nokia devices with Android, you already know what’s the software situation here. Nokia 3.4 comes with Android 10 out of the box and Nokia Mobile is proudly advertising that the device will receive an update to Android 11. The 3.4 is a part of Google’s Android One program, which is Google approved version of Android that requires Google’s blessing for any heavy custom interventions by manufacturers.
Devices with Android One come with less bloatware (unless you count Google apps as bloatware, for which an argument can be made), with Nokia Mobile preloading just two apps, alongside the camera app. The preloaded apps include the “My Phone” app that offers the user a portal to Nokia Support, Forums, checking warranty and other basic device info. The other preloaded app, for whatever reason, is Netflix.
In general, the Android One on Nokia 3.4 offers a clean experience and for budget devices might even be a benefit, because it allows quicker updates and, in theory, better performance. Swiping left on the homescreen you get to the “Google App” screen with a Google News feed. Pressing the Google Assistant button calls the virtual assistant and if you are used to Google’s offerings, you might like this. I personally like to turn this stuff off. You can swipe down in any part of the screen to bring the shortcuts and notifications from the top, but you can also do a swipe down gesture on the fingerprint sensor to do the same, and it works quite well.
The system supports a dark mode and there are also options like “Digital Wellbeing” for tracking how you use your device or “Adaptive battery”, that should spot intensive apps and should extend battery life. Other options include changing the system navigation between gestures and 3-button navigation, based on your preference. There is also the option for muting the device on pickup and turn over to reject call gesture.
Budget devices never come with impressive camera specs, so neither does the Nokia 3.4, but the phone offers some versatility by offering an ultrawide camera alongside the primary camera and a depth sensor. The primary camera comes with a 13MP sensor and is coupled with a 2MP depth sensor useful when taking portraits for bokeh effect. The ultrawide camera has a 5MP sensor. On the front, we have an 8MP sensor situated in the punch hole.
In conditions with enough light, the 13MP camera produces nice-looking images. They do lose details on the edges and don’t handle dynamic range well, but I like the colors. Sometimes the images don’t have a focus, in other words come out a bit blurry when the lighting is worse and when you don’t have steady hands. With HDR option turned off or on, the camera struggles in sunset scenarios where it does really poor in automatic mode and makes photos look much darker. You can fix this manually by tapping the screen and focusing something that’s in shadow, and the difference is huge. There is a night mode that can be handy if you have some streetlight in the scene, but it produces more noisy images than I expected.
The 5MP ultrawide camera can come in handy in situation where you don’t have enough space to move away from a subject you want in the scene. That said, 5MP sensor is rather small, so aim for good indoor lighting or daylight when using the camera. The photos that come out of the ultrawide sensor have a bit of a yellowish/greenish tint and less details on edges.
The portrait feature with different lighting effect is definitely something interesting to see in the budget category and the phone can produce some nice bokeh images. The front 8MP camera will also do well, but as always, with lower light the digital noise rises, and you lose details.
The video recording is limited to FullHD with no optical or digital/electronic stabilization. The videos are ok for this price point, but you really have to have a steady hand. If imaging is important to you, maybe device above this price range would be a better choice.
The camera app is pretty similar to other Nokia phones, but with a bit less features there. For example, there is no telephoto camera, so you just have the icons for the “normal” and “ultrawide” view. There is “night mode” and “portrait mode” sections as well, just like video and some other features hidden behind the left shortcut icon. The camera does have Google Lens integration, which I find handy for scanning QR codes or text translation. The problem I had with the app is that it is slowish. I might be just impatient, but transitions between front camera and rear camera, as well as different camera modes take a significant amount of time (half a second to second). I also felt some shutter lag, which increases the probability of blurry photos if you don’t wait for the phone to actually take the photo. For this price category, it is overall acceptable, but nothing category defining.
Camera UI screenshots
The 3.4 packs a rather big 4000mAh battery, giving around 2 days of usage – a bit less or more based on your habits, but I got around 2 days from it. The phone supports 10W charging, but the included charger is a 5W one. The charging time with included charger takes around 3 and a half to 4 hours, which shouldn’t be an issue if you are charging the phone overnight but is painful if you run out of battery during the day. If you have a faster charger, you could use the full 10W and gain some better charging speeds.
Nokia 3.4 is a great looking device ticking some important connectivity boxes in its price range, like USB Type C and NFC. I am a big fan of the design and material choice, as well as the punch hole display, that looks kilometres better than the teardrop notch. The big battery will secure excellent autonomy and the Snapdragon 460 is an actual budget SoC that performs well looking at the phone as a whole package for its price, but there are devices with similar price that offer better performance.
The primary 13MP camera will give good results with good-lighting conditions, while the 5MP ultrawide camera doesn’t feel like it adds value to the photo experience, judging by the produced images. The battery charging is slow, and I did encounter some slowdowns while using the device, but considering this is the first full month the 3.4 is on sale, Nokia Mobile will surely deliver some updates. The device also has a guaranteed update to Android 11, and should receive Android 12 as well. That’s something you won’t find with competitors in this price range.