Review: The Nokia 3.4 is mediocre at best

Review: The Nokia 3.4 is mediocre at best - a disappointing return to smartphones for Finnish mobile giant.
Photo credit: Newshub.

I have fond memories of Nokia handsets as the durable and dependable phones that accompanied me through the 2000s.

At its prime, the Finnish company's reputation for building great phones meant consumers trusted it on the back of releasing some truly iconic mobiles.

Nokia's latest bite at the smartphone cherry comes in the form of the Nokia 3.4: a $300 budget smartphone claiming to punch well above its paygrade.

I've been using one for the past week and here are my thoughts.


What you get for your money is about what you'd expect for a phone at this price bracket and on the surface, the Nokia looks to be a perfectly respectable smartphone.

Nokia 3.4 review.
Photo credit: Newshub.

It has a very dim 6.4 inch LCD screen that's only interrupted by a punch-hole 8MP selfie lens. On the rear, a fingerprint scanner and tri-lens camera array (13MP/2MP/5MP) are shrouded by embossed plastic which comes in a choice of blue, pink or black.

The phone is running Android 10, the current native Android build. Nokia said it does this so customers get instant access to the monthly security updates and the latest Android OS updates, but I suspect it's to skimp on having to maintain a custom OS.

The Nokia 3.4 is powered by a Snapdragon 460 chipset and 3GB of RAM. This makes for a pretty poor combo, even in a low-end phone like this.

You've got 64GB of internal storage, although Android bloatware chews through around a quarter of this by the end of startup.

There's a USB-C charging and transfer port, which powers a 4000mAh battery and unexpectedly you also get a standard AUX port, which I'm thrilled by.

The good

The 3.4 is a dirt-cheap smartphone at $300, a fact Nokia doesn't try to hide. For comparison, an iPhone 12 Pro will cost you at least $1899 in New Zealand, while the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra starts at $2200.

One of the best attributes of this phone is its extensive battery life. The dim screen and low processing power means the fairly small 4000mAh battery lasted me around two days per full charge - exceptional in the world of modern smartphones.

Running native Android OS does have its perks, including not having to wait for custom Android OS patches or builds with each new Android build. Nokia also promises at least three years of OS updates and security patches, which is quite the promise for any smartphone, let alone one this cheap.

The Nokia 3.4 also allows for expandable memory up to 512 GB and can take a second SIM card, which is also very nice for the low price.

Is the NZ$300 Nokia 3.4 any good?
Photo credit: Newshub.

The bad

The list of good features ends there: the Nokia 3.4 is not a great phone.

The Snapdragon 460 chip paired with the 3GB of RAM is a recipe for a lethargic phone and a well-below average user experience.

Nokia promises three years of Android updates, but I'll be surprised if this phone will be able to run Android 11 - let alone an Android build three years down the track. Even out of the box, this phone is painfully slow and often irksome to use. 

Don't expect many games to run on the Nokia 3.4 - you'll be lucky if you can run Spotify and surf social media at the same time.

Info about the LCD display is sparse, but I suspect the IPS screen is running at a refresh rate of about 60Hz, which makes for a noticeably worse experience in today's smartphone market. Navigating the home screen is often sluggish and I've noticed the 3.4 stutters occasionally.

Photo taken with a Nokia 3.4.
Photo taken with a Nokia 3.4. Photo credit: Newshub.
Photo taken with an Oppo Find X2 Pro.
Photo taken with an Oppo Find X2 Pro. Photo credit: Newshub.

Camera-wise, the 3.4 is okay. I wouldn't go using it as my daily shooter, but in a pinch it can take a decent photo. As you'd expect, its 13MP lens doesn't hold a flame against a flagship device like Oppo's Find X2 Pro from last year - but in my opinion, it gets close enough.

Video can seem choppy owing to this Nokia shooting in 1080p @ 30FPS, but I really can't hold that against a $300 phone.

The verdict

The Nokia 3.4 just feels like a lazy device. It takes a noticeable while to do anything, which in a world of hyper-responsive phones can be a death knell for any device.

While it would make a good entry smartphone for a young and careless teenager or a very patient older technophobe, I'd be hard-pushed to recommend it to anyone with reasonable expectations of modern smartphones.

But if you want a daily driver to treat with reckless abandon, this smartphone equivalent of a mid-2000s disposable film camera could be the device for you.

Oskar was supplied a Nokia 3.4 for this review.