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The Nokia 3.4 is one of the cheapest Androids around, but how does it score in our review?
A true budget buy, but with some serious compromises if you're after more than just the basics.
The Nokia 3.4 is one of Nokia’s cheapest Android phones. Selling at around £120, and seen for as little as £99 online, it’s a sensible buy for someone who just wants a phone for the basics.
Elements like the cute little punch hole camera and a fairly good-looking screen mean the Nokia 3.4 does not look all that cheap too.
We wouldn’t recommend it to the bargain hunters who like phones, rather than considering them a grim necessity. The Nokia 3.4 is often quite slow and, in its cheapest version, has very little spare storage for apps and photos.
You get a little more for your money from one of the top Chinese brands like Xiaomi or Realme. Never considered these before? They are household names in other parts of the world, nothing like the no-brand phones you’ll find on Amazon if you filter by cost. Try our round-up of the best Xiaomi phones to find out more.
The Nokia 3.4 is a low-cost Android phone but comes with some stark compromises to consider before you buy.
You can buy the Nokia 3.4 from Amazon.
The Nokia 3.4 is a cheap Android phone for someone who just wants to do the basics and would either live contract-free or with a very low-cost monthly deal.
The Nokia 3.4’s recommended price is £129.99. It can commonly be found for between £105 and £120 online.
The Nokia 3.4 is a little cheaper than Samsung's direct alternative, the Samsung A02S. That is good news. However, you can get more phone for the same amount of money from companies like Realme and Xiaomi. The Nokia 3.4 is OK value, but it’s at this level compromises in the tech start to become more apparent in some phones. Including this one.
You can’t expect mind-blowing features in a phone that costs £100-120. But there are two notable parts to the Nokia 3.4.
The first is its screen. This is a 6.39-inch 720p LCD display. It’s not ultra-sharp or huge, but we think it comes across fairly well in person.
The Nokia 3.4’s colour tone is surprisingly pleasant, with a slightly warm look we tend to prefer to the cool blueish tone some cheaper phones have. It holds up pretty well in bright sunlight too. We half expected it to look dim out in the sun.
Nokia’s use of a punch hole is neat too. Android phones either use one of these holes cut into the display to fit the front camera or a ‘teardrop’ notch at the top. Punch holes are generally considered a class above, even if it’s mostly because all the more expensive Androids have one.
Android One is the Nokia 3.4’s second notable feature. This means it’s guaranteed two years of Android updates from the date of its release.
You’d hope for that anyway, but Android One phones also use a very clean version of the Android software. There are no ‘bonus’ apps installed that you don’t want, and the interface has a pleasant purity to it. Nokia hasn’t fiddled with what Google’s designers made.
It’s a good job the Nokia 3.4 uses Android One software because there’s barely any space to house extra software. Our version has just 32GB of space, and you’re left with much less than that to actually use.
After restoring our WhatApp image library and installing the popular PUBG game, we only have 4.5GB left. The Nokia 3.4 isn’t the phone for you if you like to use a lot of apps and games or store loads of photos.
This phone doesn’t have enough power to play console-like 3D games well anyway. It has the budget Snapdragon 460 processor, and the Nokia 3.4 flat-out refuses to run Fortnite.
More importantly, the Nokia 3.4 is a poor multi-tasker. Even streaming audio in the background can slow basic navigation down significantly, and apps take a while to load at all times.
If you just use your phone to message people, the Nokia 3.4 will do the job just fine, but we found its sluggish feel frustrating.
The Nokia 3.4’s speaker is quite weak-sounding too. It’s a classic thin phone speaker, where some of the best phones from one class up can actually sound fairly decent for podcasts and streaming radio.
The Nokia 3.4 has a 4000mAh battery. This may sound a lot if you upgrade from a phone many years old, but it is a bog-standard size in 2021.
It has no trouble lasting a full day, but heavy use may see it drain away to near-empty by night-time. We tend to end up with around 15% charge left at the end of the day.
Most people will need to charge the Nokia 3.4 every day. But given we think this phone is only really a good fit for people who don’t actually want to spend hours glued to their phone screen, that is probably no major issue.
There is, unsurprisingly, no fast charging here. The Nokia 3.4 does use a USB-C socket to charge and supports 10W charging, but you only get a 5W charger in the box. This is extremely slow and takes several hours to take you from flat to full.
We’d suggest hunting the house around for a higher-powered charger at home if you own several other USB-charged gadgets.
Nokia doesn’t try to pretend the Nokia 3.4 is a tech tour de force in most areas, but it still put three cameras on the back.
These are a 13-megapixel primary camera, a very basic 5-megapixel ultra-wide camera and an even simpler 2-megapixel depth camera. Image quality is a clear step below some of the 48-megapixel phones you can get at around £150.
Fine detail looks crackly up-close, and sunny skies shot with the main camera tend to appear an unnatural gradient of blue tones rather than the more consistent colour you see with your eyes.
However, this doesn’t mean you won't see some clear improvement if you upgrade from a similarly affordable phone from several years ago. Even though the Nokia 3.4 is cheap, it still benefits from some of the progress we’ve seen in phone camera image processing made over the last few years.
This means you can shoot just about any scene and get a properly exposed photo, not a dull one or a picture with great chunks of overexposure. That’s where the image is too bright, and the lightest parts become solid blocks of white.
The same is true of the ultra-wide. You won’t shoot any detail-packed masterpieces, and the lens suffers from flare with bright light sources. But would we send some of these images over WhatsApp or post them on Instagram? Sure.
Having a depth camera also means you get a portrait mode, which blurs the background for a more dramatic-looking image. The Nokia 3.4 performs this blurring just as well as phones twice the price.
The Nokia 3.4’s selfie camera is pretty disappointing, though. While it can shoot a passable image in good lighting, photos look very undersaturated when taken indoors. Not flattering at all.
Video is weak too. You can shoot Full HD clips at 30 frames per second, but there is no stabilisation. Handheld footage looks juddery and amateurish. And we can’t imagine too many people setting their Nokia 3.4 up on a tripod.
If you’ve already done a bit of research into budget phones, you probably know what to expect from the Nokia 3.4. It’s an all-plastic phone, bar the glass on top of the screen and cameras.
No one techy will confuse this for a flagship Android, but there are some reasonably distinctive touches here and there. Nokia uses a round camera housing on the back, and the rear cover has a lightly embossed texture of lines running down its back.
This gives it a slightly tactile finish that is a little nicer and more grippy than flat plastic.
The Nokia 3.4’s shape sits right in the middle of the road. This isn’t a tiny phone, and it’s not a giant. Nokia is out to appeal to as many budget buyers as possible, so it’s no wonder we end up right at the median.
Some of you may find its Google Assistant button annoying, though. This button sits on the left side of the Nokia 3.4 and brings up the Google digital assistant whenever pressed, even if the screen is off.
We have accidentally pressed it countless times, pausing music streaming, and you probably will too.
This is a side-effect of the Nokia 3.4 being an Android One phone. Still, Android One also helps to pare down its setup. You’ll be asked to log in to your Google account when you get the phone up and running, but you won’t be asked to log into, or sign up to, any manufacturer services.
As such, this is one of the easier-to-setup phones for the less technologically confident.
We would only recommend the Nokia 3.4 for someone who wants a simple phone and does not intend to do anything too advanced with it.
The Nokia 3.4 is a good fit for someone who mostly uses a phone to keep in contact with people in their contacts list, through a messenger app, calls or SMS. Those who want to use stacks of apps, play games or take lovely photos are best off spending a little bit more or heading to one of the Chinese brands whose pricing is a little more aggressive than Nokia’s – such as Xiaomi or Realme. You get very little spare storage here, and the phone feels quite slow a lot of the time.
Design and set-up: 3/5
Overall rating: 2.8/5