The Nokia brand had finally made its comeback to the world of mobile phones thanks to HMD Global. After finalizing the sale from Microsoft last December 2016, the people behind the newly formed Finnish company started working on various devices that will bear the famous mobile brand we’ve all grown to love. And they sure know how to make a great entrance, as they finally unveiled the first line of Nokia smartphones running on the Android operating system in Q1 2017.
After introducing the amazing Nokia 6 to the public last January, it was followed right away by two new devices that had surely attracted the attention of low-cost consumers and avid fans alike. The Nokia 3 and Nokia 5 were announced in Barcelona, Spain during the 2017 Mobile World Congress, receiving positive feedback not only because of its beautiful design and affordable price tags, but also due to the Nokia – Android combo finally made possible in reality, which was a highly-requested combination even during the Lumia smartphone era.
With the new Nokia smartphones finally released in the Philippines last month, the local phone users are craving for a firsthand experience of all three handsets. And while it’s great to have such a welcoming response, there are also questions that being asked about Nokia’s comeback. Do all three Nokia smartphones stand a chance in the local market where Android phones are being released in rapid succession by well-known mobile companies? What can the Nokia 3, 5, and 6 offer to create a lasting impression among consumers? And finally, are we really ready for Nokia Android phones?
Let’s see if we can answer all three questions with our review of the Nokia 5.
Nokia phones have always been known for their stunningly unique designs, often going all-out to make sure that they stood out above other devices under the same market range. Despite the existence of tough competition among Android smartphones, the Nokia 5 did not fail to deliver the high expectations we had when it comes to phone aesthetics. Yes, it is a midrange level smartphone by category, but the overall elegant design clearly spells out the word “premium”. Being crafted out of a single block of aluminum doesn’t only ensure durability, but also gave the phone that sleek, metallic finish that won’t certainly go unnoticed by consumers.
Following the trend of releasing larger smartphones, the Nokia 5 has dimensions of 149.7 x 72.5 x 8.05 mm (8.55 with camera bump). With that being said, we can’t find any fault once we held it in our hands. Its smooth body with curved edges feels great to touch since it doesn’t have any disturbing bumps at the side (even the buttons are not that prominent), and despite its large built –– it is very light and can easily be slipped into any pockets without worrying about the extra bulk.
Unlike the Lumia smartphones of the past which were known for the wide selection of vibrant palettes, the Nokia 5 is available in 4 minimalistic color options (Tempered Blue, Silver, Matte Black, and Copper) – a welcome change that gets along well with its futuristic style.
While the design is way above our expectations, how about the durability? With aluminum as its base material for added strength and display with sculpted Corning® Gorilla® Glass, HMD Global made it sure that the Nokia 5 will remain true to the Nokia legacy of renowned quality. As promised to their avid fans, the Nokia 5 is a result of “ultimate level of beauty and durability”.
The Nokia 5 runs on Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 430 1.4 GHz octa-core processor, which ensures faster data processing, as well as smoother apps and games experience with less battery consumption. We were able to test out the device by playing Mobile Legends and Royal Revolt 2 with the highest graphic option and there were only minimal lags with the performance during gameplay. When utilizing apps like Facebook, Instagram, and Skype, the experience is smooth as well with only very slight delays when opening pictures or initializing video calls. It does help with the overall phone experience that the Nokia 5 has a 2GB of RAM, which is important when opening or using multiple apps at the same time.
When it comes to power source, the Nokia 5 has a 3,000 mAh non-removable Li-Ion battery to support the phone functions. With heavy usage and multiple apps opened, the phone lasted longer than we expected – an average of 9 to 10 hours. Having a multi-core processor does help in making the battery life last longer. On standby mode, the Nokia 5 could last around 80 hours before having the need to charge it.
If there is one minor aspect that I’m going to complain about with the Nokia 5, it would be the storage capacity. We expected the device to have at least a minimum storage of 32 GB just like the Nokia 6, but the people behind the creation of the Nokia 5 decided to provide only 16 GB. While the phone has support for external storage – up to 128 GB of microSD card – it would have been great if they opted for a higher internal storage since software updates and pre-installed apps can really take a lot of space before we can even save our own choice of apps and media content. But since this is a hardware-related feature, the best thing we can advise is maximize the external storage and always do back up to avoid losing important files.
With the Nokia brand finally embracing the Android operating system, most of the avid fans will likely think that “it’s about time”. While Nokia smartphones running on Microsoft’s Windows Phone software were amazing devices on their own right, we have to admit that the smartphone market did not fully accept the existence of a third mobile ecosystem, with consumers continuously eyeing either Android or iOS. So the decision of HMD Global to team up with Google for the new batch of Nokia-branded handsets was a welcome and refreshing approach.
The Nokia 5 runs on Android™ 7.1.1 Nougat, with the promise of security and efficient performance through regular software updates. Along with this version of the OS are new features such as the ability to do split-screen view to display multiple apps and support for on-the-spot replies to notifications.
Nokia boasts of the purest form of Android under the hood with a promise of pure, secure and up to date
· Pure it has no OEM customization and bloatware that can slow down the usage performance that kills battery life. This gives users all freedom to customize and install apps that they’ve always wanted
· It is secure because of the monthly security updates so no need for an anti-virus software that also consumes battery life.
· Up to date, this device is packed with always the latest Android. It is running on nougat out of the box and upgradable to Oreo in few weeks’ time. HMD also announced that the full range of Nokia smartphones will also get the Android P update when it’s available.
Being new to Android, there was a need to adapt to the new experience and I was able to embrace it with the help of the Nokia 5.
For the imaging aspect, Nokia 5 has a 13MP phase detection automatic focus (PDAF) rear camera with dual tone flash. The default camera app features two modes: Panorama (for wide landscape shots) and Beautify (for portrait shots). But if you are looking for Lumia-standard camera capabilities, sorry guys! The most sought-after PureView technology won’t be seen in the Nokia 5 as Microsoft still holds its trademark. Carl Zeiss lens were also not utilized here, although having PDAF did work wonders for the smartphone. We might see hope for the Lumia Camera UI, though, as the patent was recently transferred to HMD Global.
Despite the absence of the said innovations, the Nokia 5’s camera still performs pretty well for average use. Colors are represented accurately, the shutter responds fast to the click of the button when taking shots, and automatic focus reacts well in cases of multiple subjects. For video recording, the smartphone works well in capturing accurate details (audio and visual), although we highly suggest to use a tripod and to have more natural lighting available, as the performance tends to decrease during low-light. It’s the same issue when taking photos at night, as the camera fails capture images despite having a decent camera aperture of f/2.0. While the use of flash helps, it tends to make the shots soft and grainy.
It would be a different scenario for the front camera. With an 8MP automatic focus (something that other phones at this price range don’t have), wide-angle camera, the Nokia 5 can capture stunning selfies with or without the Beautify mode. When compared to the Nokia 6, I believe the Nokia 5 took more decent shots with sharper edges and brighter contrasts.
Here are some sample shots from the Nokia 5:
Based on the review of the Nokia 5, we can now answer the questions that we had during the introductions. Yes, we strongly believe that the Nokia 5 has a high chance of survival in competing with other brands in the local market. With an affordable price tag of PHP 9,990, consumers can get the premium experience offered by a Nokia-branded smartphone without breaking the wallet.
While there are some aspects where the device was lacking, the Nokia 5 offers a great deal as well. It has excellent battery life, support for higher storage, great new features with less clutter thanks to Android Nougat, stunning phone design, and tried-and-tested durability – what more can we ask for? It’s a true smartphone for life, indeed.
And yes, we are so ready for Nokia Android smartphones! With the release of the Nokia 5 and its brothers, we can clearly tell that this was the change that we’ve all been waiting for. With the Nokia brand finally entering the Android market scene, we’re looking forward for better days to come.
Credits to JP Tizon for some of the shots taken from the Nokia 5!