The mid-budget smartphone segment in India is highly competitive, thanks to devices from companies like Xiaomi, Realme, Samsung, among others that pack good specifications on paper at affordable pricing. Of course, HMD Global does not want to be left behind and has launched the new Nokia 5.4 at a starting price of Rs 13,999.
Among the keys features of the Nokia 5.4 are a 4,000mAh battery and 48-megapixel quad rear cameras. The Nokia 5.4 comes at Rs 13,999 for the 4GB RAM and 64GB storage model, while the 6GB RAM and 64GB storage variant is priced at Rs 15,499.
If one looks at specifications on paper, it faces some tough competition from Realme Narzo 20 Pro and Redmi Note 9 Pro. But how does the Nokia 5.4 perform in real life? We will find out in our full review.
Nokia 5.4 review: What’s good?
Despite a polycarbonate back design, the Nokia 5.4 can easily pass off as a premium device in the mid-budget segment, thanks to an intricate woven pattern design on the back cover that looks elegant. The Dusk colour variant that we got for review is the right kind of shiny, which I liked. The phone offers a sturdy grip, which is a great thing for people who have slippery hands. Nokia has also given a transparent plastic back cover in the box, which is great as you will not need to purchase one separately.
When it comes to performance, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 662 SoC running the Nokia 5.4 can handle day-to-day tasks such as watching videos, streaming music, messaging, browsing social media, making calls, and playing basic games like Candy Crush, Temple Run 3, Subway Surfer, with ease. I liked that the phone did not lag much during these tasks. The smartphone does not get hot even after long hours of usage, which is another plus.
In terms of battery, the 4,000mAh battery on the Nokia 5.4 can easily last for up to two days on moderate to heavy usage. I mainly used the phone for watching Netflix shows and movies, streaming music, playing games, and watching YouTube videos.
The front camera is capable of clicking some good photos, especially in the bright outdoors. The Portrait mode does a good job of blurring the background and I was happy with the details in photos as well.
Nokia 5.4 will please those who enjoy the stock Android experience. The smartphone comes with less bloatware and minimum software tweaks and offers a clean UI experience, which I enjoyed. Plus it comes with a promise of three years of security updates and two years of software update, which is great.
What’s not good?
The Nokia 5.4 ships with a 6.39-inch HD+ display, which is a letdown, especially when one looks at the competition. For instance, the Redmi Note 9 Pro and the Realme Narzo 20 Pro, which are its biggest competitors and offer an FHD+ screen. When it comes to performance, I had to struggle to look at the screen in bright outdoors even with the brightness turned to maximum, which is an issue.
The back camera module juts out a bit, which is a problem when you keep the smartphone on the back panel as the camera module touches the surface. This might lead to smudges on the camera module. Another issue that I faced was that the phone attracts a lot of fingerprint smudges both on the front and rear side, so a back cover is a must in order to keep the phone looking clean.
The camera performance is decent in places where there is ample light, though do not expect much as the photos clicked with the main sensor turned out to be dull with missing details. Another major area where the phone lag is in focusing on an object. Most pictures looked dull and miss out on details. The phone struggled with low-light camera performance as well as the pictures looked grainy.
The Nokia 5.4 slowed down significantly while playing graphics-heavy games like Asphalt-9. I also faced issues with multiple tabs open in the background, which I had to close at regular intervals to keep the phone running smoothly.
The fingerprint scanner is more of a hit and miss. Sometimes it works but is not efficient as you would like it to be, which is frustrating. On several occasions, I had to put in the pin to unlock the smartphone because the fingerprint sensor couldn’t recognize my fingerprint.
Though there is fast charging support, sadly, it is only 10W, which is why the Nokia 5.4 takes almost two hours to get fully charged from 20 percent to 100 percent. This comes as a bummer when compared to the competition like the Redmi Note 9 Pro and the Realme Narzo 20 Pro that offer 18W and 65W fast charge support, respectively.
Nokia 5.4 review: Verdict
The Nokia 5.4 is a decent mid-range smartphone and comes with its own sets of pros. I liked the design and overall performance, but a lack of key features like an FHD screen and fast charging capabilities were a pain point. The smartphone will face some tough competition from the Redmi Note 9 Pro and the Realme Narzo 20 Pro. The Samsung Galaxy M31 is another good option to go for, which is priced closer to the high-end model of the Nokia 5.4 at Rs 15,999.