Nokia 5 quick review: A classy, compact mid-range phone with stock Android
After the Nokia 3, Nokia 6 and Nokia 8, we’ve got our hands on the Nokia 5. The Nokia 5 is a mid-range smartphone that looks eerily similar to the flagship Nokia 8 and aims to compete with the likes of the Redmi Note 4, Moto G5S and offline offerings from Samsung, Oppo and Vivo.
The Nokia 5 is a very curious beast – it is stuck in a no man’s land between the Nokia 3 and Nokia 6. Neither does it offer the specifications of the Nokia 6, nor is it as cheap as the Nokia 3. For this very reason, I was more interested in the Nokia 3 and Nokia 6 initially than the Nokia 5.Read more ↓
However, after spending more than a week with the Nokia 5, I have come to realise that the smartphone has its own unique place in Nokia’s Android smartphone line-up. At Rs 12,499, the Nokia 5 comes with a 720p 5.2-inch display, a gorgeous full metal chassis, bloat free stock Android and the promise of timely updates.
Nokia’s comeback has revolved around design and build quality, clutter free stock Android and a focus on user experience rather than paper specifications. The Nokia 3, Nokia 6 and Nokia 8 have delivered on all three factors with aplomb. Can the Nokia 5 continue the tradition? Does it have what it takes to stand out in this hyper competitive marketplace? Let’s try to find out in our quick review:
Unlike the Nokia 6, which looks utilitarian and full of testosterone , the Nokia 5 is much more curved and flowing. In fact, the Nokia 5 looks like a mini version of Nokia’s flagship Android smartphone (trust me, that is high praise indeed). Just like the Nokia 8, the smartphone looks elegant and classy – Scandinavian design at its best.
The resemblance to the Nokia 8 is uncanny – from the tapered edges , to the aesthetic camera lens and LED flash placement (minus the ZEISS branding of course) and the antenna lines which have been subtly and cleverly pushed towards the top and bottom edges of the smartphone. In the Matte Black colour of our review unit, the antenna lines simply seem to disappear, giving the back a very clean and seamless look.
ust like the Nokia 6 and much more expensive Nokia 8, the Nokia 5 is made from a single block of ‘precision-milled’ aluminium and as a result feels far more premium than most phones in its segment. The build quality and design of the Nokia 5 is the smartphones biggest strength – it looks and feels like a phone far above its price range.
The front is an all-glass affair protected by Gorilla Glass 3 with the Nokia logo on the top right, the 5.2-inch display in the middle and the capacitive keys for home, back and multitasking on the bottom. The fingerprint sensor is embedded in the capacitive home key which is a bit recessed.
The Nokia 5 feels extremely solid and sturdy and fit and finish is also top notch. Thanks to new found confidence gained by the tank like build quality of the Nokia 6, Nokia 3 and Nokia 8, I actually tried (with all my might I must add) to bend the Nokia 5. The smartphone did not flinch – at all. HMD Global must be lauded for building extremely solid phones across the price range.
The Nokia 5 comes with a 5.2-inch 720p IPS LCD display with a resolution of 1280 x 720 and a maximum brightness of 500 Nits. The display is covered by Gorilla Glass 3 for protection against nicks and scratches. Let’s get the bad stuff out of the way first – the display has pretty average viewing angles. Which is very surprising considering both Nokia 3 and Nokia 6 have stellar displays. This display is best viewed head on, making Nokia 5 not the best phone for sharing multimedia content with your buddies.
Now on the positive side, the colours are rich and vibrant and the maximum brightness is high enough to cope with bright sunlight. In fact, the display is actually brighter than the one found on the Nokia 6. The minimum brightness is also low enough to make using the phone quite comfortable at night.
The Nokia 5 is not a specification monster. The focus here is on extracting the most out of the hardware at hand and software optimisation. I saw an example of the same philosophy in the Nokia 6 which performed admirably in day to day use despite its underpowered processor.
The Nokia 5 is powered by the Snapdragon 430 processor paired with 2GB of RAM, the Adreno 505 GPU and a 3,000mAh battery. The smartphone comes with 16GB of internal storage which can be expanded via a microSD card (of up to 256GB). What I really like is that there is no Hybrid SIM funny business on board – there is a separate slot for the microSD card.
While there is no denying that smartphones like the Redmi Note 4 have much more horsepower under the hood and are better suited for power users and those who push their phones consistently, the Nokia 5 actually performs quite splendidly in day to day use.
Thanks in part to the bloat free build of stock Android (7.1.1 with the latest August security patch), the Nokia 5 tackles everything from casual web browsing, using social media applications like Facebook and Instagram, taking pictures and so on with aplomb. In fact, thanks to the 720p display, the Nokia 5 is actually faster than the Nokia 6 in many occasions as the Snapdragon processor has less pixels to push.
If you do not plan on opening a gazillion tabs in Chrome or opening a plethora of apps in the background, the Nokia 5’s performance will suffice. It even handles games like Asphalt 8 quite well – though it did take a little long to open the game. Once up and running though, there were no problems in game play whatsoever.
What does rear its ugly head every now and then is the 2GB of RAM, which leads to the phone having to re-open applications occasionally. A final analysis of how the smartphone performs under intensive use will have to wait till the full review. On a side note – HMD Global has confirmed that the Nokia 5, along with the rest of the Nokia Android smartphone line-up will be getting an update to Android 8.0 Oreo very soon.
The Nokia 5 comes with a 13MP rear camera with phase detection autofocus, a dual-LED flash and an aperture of f/2.0. When there is adequate light, you will get above average images. When the sun goes down or light reduces, the camera starts to struggle quite a bit.
In well-lit scenarios, colours are natural, there is good amount of detail and dynamic range is decent for the price. However photos lack vibrance are a bit too dark sometimes. In low light, the pictures become quite grainy and noisy and lose detail. I will have to test the low light capabilities in detail – watch out for the full review for that.
On the front, there is an 8MP camera with an aperture of f/2.0. While I was not able to test the front camera extensively, in my limited time of use, it produced above average images (for the price) with adequate detail and natural colours. However, it does seem to struggle in low light. A full analysis will have to wait till the full review.
All in all, the Nokia 5 is quite a competent mid-range smartphone that looks stellar and is built like a tank. While the smartphone has slightly underwhelming specs, an average display and somewhat average cameras, it strikes back with a classy and elegant design, smooth and bloat free software, the trust associated with the Nokia brand name, the promise of timely updates and good day to day performance. Now we will have to wait till the full review to see if the Nokia 5 is a home-run for HMD Global or a good attempt with some compromises.
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