Nokia 5.4 Review
Nokia 5.4, a competitively priced device with a nice design and decent camera performance, is aiming at the titans of the budget smartphone industry. However, the Nokia 5.4 isn’t quite as good a deal as it appears, as it falls short in several areas compared to its predecessor, and it’s also slightly more expensive this time.
Is the Nokia 5.4 enough to convince people up from popular affordable options in such a competitive market? While there are clearly more powerful affordable options available, Nokia has something that the majority of them don’t: a stock Android version. It runs a stock version of Android 10, with an upgrade to Android 11 and maybe Android 12 expected in the future. In India, the Nokia 5.4 starts at Rs. 13,999, which is a fairly affordable price. Is there enough to make it stand out? Find out the answer in this review.
Nokia 5.4 Prices in India, Variants, Availability
Nokia 5.4‘s base variant includes 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage and costs Rs. 13,999. There’s also an Rs. 15,499 variant with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. It comes in two colours: Dusk and Polar Night. It’s available at Flipkart and other major online e-commerce websites.
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Nokia 5.4 Box Contents
Apart from the Nokia 5.4, you will get the following inside the box:
- 10W Charger
- Type C USB Cable
- SIM Tray Tool
- Pre Applied Screen Protector
- Jelly Case Headset
- Quick Start Guide
Nokia 5.4 Specs at a glance
Before we talk in detail about the Nokia 5.4, let’s see what the on-paper specs look like:
- Display: 6.39-inches IPS LCD
- Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 662
- RAM & ROM: 6GB RAM 64GB Storage, 4GB RAM 64GB Storage
- Software: Android 10
- Rear camera: 48MP (wide) + 5MP (ultra-wide) + 2MP (macro) + 2MP (depth)
- Selfie camera: 16MP
- Battery: 4000 mAh
- Weight: 180g
- Dimensions: 161 x 76 x 8.7 mm
Nokia 5.4 Design and Build
If there was one thing that classic Nokia was known for, it was design. Though it didn’t always make the most fashionable or stylish phones, the company was known for making phones that could withstand any bump, crash, or impact without flinching. This was obviously easier when phones were smaller, lighter, and mostly built of plastic. Nonetheless, the Nokia 5.4 was definitely designed with toughness in mind, if not sheer ruggedness. The handset weighs in at 180g, and while it has a noticeable presence in the hand, its overall weight builds confidence. It’s also well-balanced, making one-handed operation easier in general.
The 6.39-inch display and a punch-hole camera are on the top, with a muted Nokia branding at the bottom. The volume rocker and power button are on the right side of the smartphone, with a Google Assistant button on the left, a headphone jack on the top, and a USB-C port on the bottom. Unfortunately, the Google Assistant button cannot be reprogrammed for some other useful purpose. The four cameras are housed in a circular ‘Oreo’ on the device’s back, with a fingerprint sensor underneath. I found it to be usually inconsistent and a bit of a liability in everyday use, so maybe the performance can be improved with a software update.
Despite its plastic frame and back, the Nokia 5.4 feels well-made, if not very premium. By all aspects, it’s a stylish-looking device, particularly for the budget market, with the curved back allowing the device to fit comfortably in the hand; but the fully-plastic body gives it a little cheap feel – it even creaks a little when squeezed.
Nokia 5.4 Display
Nokia 5.4 features a 6.39-inch LCD display with a punch-hole cutout in the top left corner. Because this 720p screen cannot display high-definition content, videos on YouTube, Netflix, Disney+ Hotstar, and Amazon Prime Video are limited to 720p resolution. Nokia 5.4 uses a standard 60Hz panel rather than a 90Hz one.
Nokia 5.4, in my opinion, should have had a 1080p display. For starters, because the Nokia 5.4 is theoretically an upgrade over the Nokia 5.3 from last year, it also featured a 720p screen. Second, for a lower price, companies like Realme are offering phones with 1080p screens and a 90Hz refresh rate. This isn’t entirely bad as the text appears to be fairly crisp when using the display, and video viewing are also nice.
Because it’s a hole-punch display, there’s no notch to worry about, and the touch sensitivity was adequate for everyday use. The display is also very colourful, and it gets bright enough in direct sunlight to make the text visible. The brightness also helps in unlocking the phone using facial recognition, which, while it worked well for me in my testing, I never depended on it much and instead used the physical fingerprint sensor. The device’s 19.5:9 aspect ratio makes it appear sleek in the hand, just a little tall overall. Of course, the extra height provides more reading area, however, the low resolution means that text is sometimes jagged. Nevertheless, most people will find this display sufficient most of the time.
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Nokia 5.4 Performance
Nokia 5.4’s Qualcomm Snapdragon 662 chipset performs admirably. It’s a seasoned chipset that’s been found in dozens of smartphones, some of which I’ve already reviewed. Based on my own experience, I believe HMD’s processor selection is good. This chipset is capable of multitasking, image processing, and a variety of other tasks. The phone calls are fine, and the speakers are decent. For the price, the performance is adequate. Apps launch instantly, and screen transitions are seamless. Multitasking is also quite effective. The boot-up process takes a little longer than we expected, but unless you’re gazing at your phone waiting for it to start, you won’t notice.
When it comes to gaming on the Nokia 5.4, I wasn’t expecting much from the chipset, and I was right. I used the maximum graphics setting in Call of Duty Mobile and Shadow War Games. There were a few lags in the game, but they weren’t too bad, so my gameplay was unaffected. When I was playing Asphalt 9: Legends on the Nokia 5.4, I observed some frame drops as well. I reduced the visuals by one level to improve the gaming experience, and the results met my expectations. I also put the Nokia 5.4 through its paces with the high graphic demanding game Genshin Impact. The game crashed twice over an hour of gameplay, and we noted some frame-skipping. With the exception of a few skipped frames, the gameplay on the less demanding Subway Surfers was superb.
I believe that the Nokia 5.4 is capable of running games such as Garena Free Fire and Call of Duty, but you will not get the best gaming experience on this smartphone. The Nokia 5.4, in particular, does not offer huge performance improvements over the Nokia 5.3, which was released last year.
Nokia 5.4 Software
In terms of software, the Nokia 5.4 is one of the few handsets in India that runs stock Android. Furthermore, the device is a member of Google’s Android One project, which means it will receive regular updates in the future. However, the Nokia 5.4 ships with Android 10, which is a disappointment. I hope the company changes this in the near future, as it completely defies the handset’s USP of providing buyers with the most up-to-date, stock Android experience.
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Regardless, the performance is mostly smooth, with a few hitches or slowdowns here and there. In fact, the 4 GB RAM + Snapdragon 662 combination makes it one of the smoothest devices I’ve used. The Nokia 5.4 is free of bloatware, besides the customised Camera app and the Nokia My Phone app, which adds to its smoothness. The Nokia 5.4 has a lot going for it, including the promise of guaranteed Android upgrades (for up to two years) and security patches (up to three years). The rest of the software experience follows the same pattern. With a single touch of the Google Assistant button, you can give commands, take notes, and more, and the dialler app includes built-in call recording.
Nokia 5.4 Cameras
Nokia 5.4 has a 48MP primary sensor, a 5MP ultrawide sensor, a 2MP macro sensor, and a 2MP depth sensor on the back. Only the primary sensor, which has been improved from the Nokia 5.3, shines out, and not just on paper. By default, the main 48MP camera captures pixel-binned 12MP shots, which look great if captured on a bright sunny day. The smartphone has some difficulty focusing on close-ups, and it can get colours terribly incorrect at times, but overall, the quality is acceptable. The primary sensor’s tendency for preserving natural colours in images impressed me. I took some sample shots and the actual grey colour of the gravel is visible, yet the sundown orange colour of the pot marigold is impressive.
In low light, images become grainy, and Night mode, unfortunately, adds a lot of noise while just slightly brightening the image. Because the ultra-wide-angle camera only has a 5MP resolution, image quality is poor even during the day. The macro camera didn’t get much use from me because the image quality was poor. The primary camera has 2X optical zoom, 5X hybrid zoom, and 8X digital zoom capabilities. The digital zoom is completely useless, to be honest.
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The results from the 16MP front camera, in particular, are below average. The selfies seem decent in good light, though they lack a lot of detail. Also, the dynamic range isn’t very good. I believe these selfies will require some editing before they are suitable for posting on Instagram. HMD is highlighting the Nokia 5.4’s new Cinema mode, which allows you to shoot videos in a 21:9 aspect ratio. The thing about these videos is that the aspect ratio is intended for large movie theatre displays, and HMD is promoting the Nokia 5.4’s potential to shoot them. However, for a phone that costs roughly Rs. 15,000, the cameras aren’t particularly impressive.
Nokia 5.4 Battery
Nokia 5.4 has good battery life. The phone runs on a non-removable 4000mAh battery. The Nokia 5.4 survived more than a day under normal use. This included viewing a Netflix movie for almost 2 hours, taking photos throughout the day, playing War Games for approximately 45 minutes, and using the internet and messaging apps. With a combination of texting, tweeting, snapping photos, and playing the occasional game, I never quite made it to the two-day mark during testing, but I did manage to survive for more than a day before the phone needed a charge.
This is all nice, but now comes the bad part. Nokia 5.4 only supports 10W charging, which is far from the current state of battery charging technology. The charging process was very slow as we can tell. The little charger took roughly 2 hours to fully charge the 4,000 mAh battery, which is slow when compared to the competition.
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Nokia 5.4 Audio, Connectivity, Biometrics
Nokia 5.4 has a loud mono speaker on the bottom that is loud enough for media playback. I wouldn’t advise using the supplied wired headset because it is of terrible quality.
Bluetooth 4.2, NFC, 4G, a USB-C port, and a 3.5mm headphone jack are all included in the smartphone. In terms of connectivity, the device falls short, as it does not support 5G or 5GHz Wi-Fi networks.
The device has a fast capacitive fingerprint sensor on the back for security, which can also be used to bring down the notification window with gestures.
Nokia 5.4 Pros & Cons
- No bloatware
- Stock Android 10
- Impressive battery life
- Sturdy design
- Unique videography features
- Poor cameras
- Low-resolution screen
- Average performance
For Rs 13,999, the Nokia 5.4 can be a good pick. I was amazed at how quickly the fingerprint sensor worked. The cameras also impressed me with their ability to preserve the subject’s original colours. The battery lasted a day and a half. However, Nokia 5.4 could have done better in a few areas.
The display could have been a 1080p 90Hz panel, the processor could have been a bit faster, the selfie camera could have taken better photos, and at least 18W fast charging could have been included. That’s all there is to the Nokia 5.4, but don’t forget about the Android updates that come with it. Unless you’re a die-hard Nokia lover looking for a stock Android phone, I’d recommend looking elsewhere. The Nokia 5.4 is a decent smartphone, but you can get a lot more bang for your buck with other devices out in the market right now.