When I heard that Nokia was coming (albeit just as a brand name through a new company called HMD Global) it gave me a feeling of happiness and nostalgia reminding me of the multitude of old Nokia devices I previously owned.
Nokia used to be the ‘go to brand’, until 2009 when the company’s fortunes began to decline. With their requirement to jump to a ‘smart’ OS to bolster their feature phone business and compete with the likes of Apple, Google and even at that stage, Palm. A series of mis-steps in terms of tech saw Nokia selling its mobile devices division to Microsoft, ending the run of an original, and savvy mobile brands – or so we thought.
Fast forward 2 years, when former Nokia executives came together to make a new company, HMD Global, which signed a deal with Nokia to design and build devices under the Nokia brand.
The first Android devices recently launched in the Australian market certainly sent a wave of excitement not only for myself but fellow Ausdroid staff and we wanted to see how the Nokia 5 can handle the everyday life and the usage that would come with this kind of lifestyle but how well Nokia have made the device and ensured that the pure Android experience is maintained.
So let’s have a look shall we!
Nokia 5 Hardware and Build Quality
The Nokia 5 is delivered in what I like to call ‘Classic Nokia Packaging’. You’ll note the ‘Connecting People’ tagline is there and then when turning on the phone you’ll be greeted by that classic Nokia ring tone (It’s called Grande Valse if you’re looking for the name).
It seems HMD Global is really playing on the nostalgia heavily, but it’s in all the right places. With HMD still a fledgling company why wouldn’t you use every advantage? But it works.
The Nokia 5 is a beautiful, light and feels well crafted – and it feels strangely familiar, basically it feels like a Nokia.
HMD have managed to curve the screen into the body, with the Gorilla Glass melting into the rear body, it’s comfortable to hold and shows an extreme eye for detail, likely thanks to the ex-Nokia employees working on the phone at HMD Global.
The phone has a 5.2″ IPS LCD display and 5MP front-facing camera for some decent, though not spectacular selfies on the front, along with that familiar Nokia logo.
Pleasing, to me at least, the Nokia 5 uses capacitive keys. These are located on either side of the rounded off rectangular, front facing, slightly indented fingerprint sensor. Nokia has placed the capacitive keys in the correct orientation – back on the left and multi-tasking on the right – so they’re very much making an effort to go with the design aesthetic of Android.
The fingerprint sensor requires you to activate it – i.e push it down. I’m mostly use to the Pixel style of fingerprint sensor that simply requires a touch.
HMD is using microUSB connectors on the Nokia 5, a bit of a disappointment in this age where USB-C is fast becoming the norm – at least on higher end devices. The position of the Nokia 5 in the market gives some leeway for saving some money here, but this transition period is hard for everyone.
One port I was please to see has remained in the past is the 3.5 mm jack. It’s on the bottom of the phone, my preferred position, but even if it’s not yours at least it’s there right?
Also included is a Nano SIM slot, which also has room for a microSD card. The inclusion of a microSD card lets you expand the disappointing 16GB of onboard storage – again, it’s a budget device, but we’re hoping that one day 32GB will be the new norm.
Nokia has an interesting design flourish on the rear of the Nokia 5 with a centre mounted camera and flash setup. There’s also a centre aligned Nokia logo on the rear below that – bringing our Nokia logo count to a final total of 2.
Nokia 5 Display
The Nokia 5 has a 5.2-inch IPS LCD display with a 720 x 1280 resolution making a relatively unexicting display with a 282 ppi pixel density – essentially standard definition viewing. The screen is very bright, however, I think a better choice would have been to move this type of screen to say the Nokia 3, while including a 1080p resolution display on the Nokia 5.
The lower resolution on the Nokia 5 is a little naff, but the screen colour reproduction is also less than satisfactory with a colours appearing washed out.
Using the device indoors, the screen is clear and bright, however fingerprints, smudge marks and dirt in general can be easily seen when the display is both on and off. Another issue I found when using the device is that if you’re directly below any sort of light, this can make viewing the screen a little bit difficult.
Outdoors, the screen is again bright and clear but like indoors, if in direct sunlight, the display can be a bit difficult to review. You can try and easily change the brightness of the screen but sadly this doesn’t do much to help fix the issue
Nokia 5Performance and Battery Life
The Nokia 5 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 chipset which is the same for its bigger sibling the Nokia 6. While many would think that having a lower powered (4xx series) processor would undermine the overall performance, the real world results speak otherwise.
The spec also includes 2GB RAM and the resultant combination doesn’t exactly shine, but plods along quite admirably, though the lower powered processor/RAM combo forces the phone to occasionally lag as apps load.
Running the usual benchmark tests, I found that under the Geekbench 4 test, the Nokia 5 multicore scored 2,765 meaning that the Nokia 5 came out with about the same score or close to score as the Moto G5 for example. The AnTuTu benchmarks were a bit mixed and aren’t all that surprising given the market the Nokia 5 is aimed at.
Battery wise, the Nokia 5 comes with a 3,000mAh non removable battery which is the same capacity as its bigger sibling, the Nokia 6. I found the performance of the battery to be decent, at least for light usage. An average day of social media use, video watching and web surfing, starting at around 7:30am and lasting through to 8-9pm saw the phone with between 10-30% battery left.
Nokia 5 Camera
The Nokia 5 comes with a rear facing 13MP sensor with a 1.12 µm pixel size behind an aperture of f/2.0. The Front facing camera is a slightly lower resolution, 8MP sensor though with a similar 1.12 µm pixel size and f/2.0 aperture which can snap a pretty decent selfie if you’re into that.
Colour reproduction is quite good and can reliably lock and focus on your mug, however dynamic range isn’t that great. Skin tone is also a little more on pink-ish side also. Looking back at the pictures that were taken, it would seem that they were darker than what it was when taking the photo. Looking at the settings and playing around with them really didn’t help any further.
Sadly there is no manual or pro mode settings to give you control over settings such as the shutter speed or white balance and it is a little disappointing but probably not a surprise.
Nokia 5 Connectivity
WiFi connectivity during this review was strong with my home WiFi network ensuring that there wasn’t any dropouts or delays.
In regards to network connectivity, the Nokia 5 I was reviewing was network unlocked and I was able to ensure pretty decent reception 3G & 4G via both the Optus and Vodafone SIMS I tried with the Nokia 5. The Nokia 5 supports all the major LTE bands (Band 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 20, 28, 38, 40) here so there shouldn’t be much to worry about
Bluetooth wise, the Nokia 5 comes with Bluetooth version 4.0 LE (Low Energy) and with my bluetooth devices/speakers, a strong connection was maintained no dropouts experienced.
A bonus for the lower end handset is the inclusion of NFC for payments, pairing of accessories or even programming your own tags. Topping up my Opal card, with payment coming via the Android Pay app was pretty easy, simply and quick which is what we all like really.
A compass is also included for those who need that sort of thing as well.
Nokia 5 Software, UI and Installed Apps
The Nokia 5 comes with Android 7.0.1 (Nougat) in a pure vanilla form, it’s refreshing to not have a UI placed atop and the speed of updates should be greatly enhanced.
Nokia have also guaranteed both security patches and major firmware updates for the Nokia 5, including its other siblings as well. Furthermore, Nokia has guaranteed that Android Oreo being delivered to their entire range of devices – Nokia 3, Nokia 5, Nokia 6 and Nokia 8 that were launched this year and the further promise of Android P when it becomes available next year. Although no timeframes have been given at this stage and we will certainly be keeping an eye out for new of Android 8.0 (Oreo) coming to the Nokia 5.
In relation to installed apps, the Nokia comes with the stock standard Google apps such as Google Play, Play Music, Play Movies & TV, Allo, Hangouts, Drive, just to name a few. In relation to Nokia specific apps that have been installed onto the device, was the Nokia Support App which
Nokia 5 Sound and Speakers
Well to start off with what most of you are already thinking, the bottom/rear speaker is terrible. Period!
The speaker is only really, in my opinion, good for speaker phone. If you want to watch videos or listen to music, then maybe look at getting either some decent headphones or bluetooth speaker.
Speaking of such devices/accessories, when listening to music it is probably best that you pair the Nokia 5 with a bluetooth device/speaker or chromecast audio as the speaker located at the rear of the device really isn’t suited for listening to music or watching movies.
Nokia 5 Conclusion
The sticking point for me on the Nokia 5 is the SnapDragon 4XX chip processor, considered by many to be an underpowered platform aimed at a lower end price point. For the money at the Nokia 5 price point, a Snapdragon 6XX series processor is what I expect.
It is also a bit disappointing that the Nokia 5 doesn’t have USB-C charging along with the lack of any sort of quick charge feature certainly puts a small cloud of judgement over the device – something Qualcomm could supply easily with higher end processors.
Though underpowered the selling point of stock Android with fast and timely security and feature updates is quite attractive for the entire Nokia range.
There’s also the pure nostalgia factor. The new Nokia phones may be made by HMD Global, but the company is made up of so many ex-Nokia staff that once you hold the phone you’ll agree that at heart it really is a Nokia phone.
Overall I would say the Nokia 5 has its flaws, but on the whole it could be a whole lot worse. As a first time user will it be sufficient. However for someone who may be looking for something with more raw power and performance then it might be worth looking at what other device might be available for under $400-$500 market range.
But not a bad start Nokia, not a bad start at all.