Nokia 5 review – probably the budget smartphone of the year

- Adrian Ungureanu

It’s quite a rare occasion for me to say that from the title of a review and that’s because I liked Nokia 5 very much. And unlike other smartphones, I got to play with it 3 weeks which is a fair amount of time to come to a relevant conclusion.

I would also say from the start that Nokia 5, is what Nokia 3 should have been. Most likely HMD Global and Nokia wanted to make Nokia 3 the more affordable version of the model you read about in the next paragraphs. In my Nokia 3 review I was stating that Nokia 3 is an interesting budget smartphone but it could be better and probably Nokia 5 is the answer to that conclusion.

Premium design
Like the Nokia 3 or 6, or 8, the Nokia 5 is another proof that HMD Global is set to keep Nokia standards of quality at a high level. For a budget smartphone Nokia 3 also showed us that you can put a premium design on an entry level smartphone, but Nokia 5 is even better. Because it has metal case, while Nokia 3 is made out of plastic.

The rounded corners, the smooth edges, the Gorilla Glass frontal panel slightly curved on the edges, the side buttons, slim and discreet and even the antenna lines are making Nokia 5 look like a premium smartphone. It doesn’t look like a budget smartphone at all.

It’s pleasant to touch. Either the slippery Gorilla Glass at the front or the metal case at the back. Seen on the table or in someone else’s hand you are inclined to think it’s an expensive smartphone. But it’s not. Aesthetically, Nokia 5 looks from a different league. HMD offers Nokia 5 in four color options: Tempered Blue, Silver, Matte Black, Copper. We had the silver one and you liked its appearance.

Performances above what its specs suggests
I’m not going to tell you a story about the specs so here’s the list with its most important specifications, that you are directly interested:
Display – 5.2-inch HD (1280x720p), IPS LCD, protected by unspecified Gorilla Glass
Chipset – Snapdragon 430, with 1.4GHz octa-core processor and Adreno 505 GPU
Memory – 2GB RAM, 16GB internal storage which can be extended with 256 more GB, via microSD card
Cameras – 13MP rear camera and 8MP selfie snapper
OS – stock Android 7.1.1 Nougat
Battery – 3,000mAh
Other features – fingerprint reader (in Home button), dual-SIM, 4G LTE

As you can see it’s not the best equipped smartphone on the market. I assure you is not one of the most spectacular specs list in the budget segment either, but they are decent, and the way the phone works, the way that apps and services run make us believe that Nokia 5 performs better that the specs sheet suggests.

At least for what I needed I don’t see any problems. I tried to used as normally as possible at my own pace. On Nokia 3 apps kept on crashing, specially the camera app, Google Chrome and Facebook’s Messenger. With Nokia 5 it wasn’t the case.

Of course, one of the reason that apps run smooth on Nokia 5 is that HMD Global and Nokia decided not tu customize de Android OS and left it as vanilla as it could. Most of the times, manufacturers go for their own UI, but they actually make it worse for their phones. For what is worth, Nokia 5 was the first smartphone to get Android security updates for September, even before Google’s Pixel smartphones, and that should count for something, right?

Cameras not much better than on Nokia 3
I kept comparing it with Nokia 3 because they are on the same segment, and Nokia 3 is not too much cheaper than Nokia 5. Nokia 5 brings a lot more, in other areas, but not in the camera department. I can say that Nokia 5 is not better than Nokia 3. Maybe some of the updates sent from HMD Global or Google fixed some of the app’s issues, but if the cameras on Nokia 5 are better than does on Nokia 3, the differences are barely noticeable.

It good condition of light, the pictures and videos are decent, but during the evening or at night, or in dark areas, the pictures are unsatisfactory. You can see the gallery bellow and you will se for yourselves. They are uncompressed and untempered with any apps, but I tried many times and failed before I actually got some pics to show you and not make myself look as I don’t know how to take pictures. And believe me is not me. Is the phone.

I believe that Nokia could’ve done much better with the cameras. That’s why I can’t wait to see Nokia 8, which features new cameras with Carl Zeiss lenses. If Nokia 5 had a decent camera, it would’ve been the perfect budget smartphone. At least in my book.

As I mentioned before, Nokia 5 is one of the best smartphones within the budget segment. I believe it’s the best in its class right now, because it displays a good balance between design, performance and prices. Prices around the world are around $160-170. Also, some telecom operators are giving it for free if you choose to make a contract with them.

BTW, for the first time in my life I actually answered to a poll quiz from a smartphone maker. HMD Global pushed a poll question to my phone, maybe some of you got it as well. They asked: „On a scale from 1 to 10, how inclined are you to recommend Nokia 5 to a friend and why?”. My answer was 9, and explained that I like Nokia 5, because it looks good, its performs well and in comparison with many smartphone, it really has a decent and realistic price.