Nokia 5 review: Numb3r5 don't lie

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Introduction

Part of the original trio announced in the spring to mark Nokia return to making phones, the Nokia 5 occupies the middle ground between the basic 3 and the slightly fancier 6. We’ve been arguing on what’s the right way to break ties when rounding numbers (you know, the usual office quarrels) and Nokia’s gone with the controversial ’round half up’.

Nokia 5 review

You see, the Nokia 5 has the 3’s display resolution on a slightly larger diagonal, but not as large as the 6. An aluminum unibody, not unlike the 6’s, has been chosen instead of the 3’s aluminum frame/plastic back combo, and while the entry-level 3 didn’t get a fingerprint reader, there is one gracing the 5’s face.

Inside the Nokia 5 you’ll find the 6’s more powerful chipset, but the 3’s scant 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage. The 5 matches the 6’s battery capacity at 3,000mAh, but is denied the stereo speakers and it’s a single bottom-firing unit this time – like the one on the Nokia 3.

Nokia 5 reviewFrom left to right: Nokia 6 • Nokia 5 • Nokia 3

But even those that insist on rounding to even have to agree that the 13MP rear camera makes a solid case for the Nokia 5 being a 5 and not a 4 – an 8MP camera on the Nokia 3, 16MP on the Nokia 6, and 13MP makes for a Nokia 4.875, so 5 then, alright, we concede.

The point we’re trying to make with this math gibberish is that the new Nokia is doing a good job of segmenting its products, and is offering something to cater to varied target audiences. Maybe a Nokia 4 would be too much – let’s not go there.

Nokia 5 key features

  • Body: Aluminum body, 2.5D Gorilla Glass display glass (unspecified version). Tempered Blue, Silver, Matte Black, Copper color schemes.
  • Display: 5.2″ IPS LCD 1,280x720px resolution, 282ppi.
  • Rear camera: 13MP, 1.12µm pixel size, f/2.0 aperture, phase detection autofocus, dual LED, dual tone flash; 1080p/30fps video recording.
  • Front camera: 8MP 1.12µm pixel size, f/2.0 aperture, autofocus; 1080p/30fps video recording.
  • OS/Software: Android 7.1.1 Nougat.
  • Chipsets: Qualcomm Snapdragon 430: octa-core 1.4GHz Cortex-A53 CPU, Adreno 505 GPU.
  • Memory: 2GB of RAM; 16GB of storage, dedicated microSD slot for expansion.
  • Battery: 3,000mAh Li-Po (sealed).
  • Connectivity: Dual SIM version available (ours is single SIM); Cat.4 LTE (150/50Mbps); microUSB 2.0; Wi-Fi a/b/g/n; GPS; Bluetooth 4.1; FM Radio; NFC.
  • Misc: Front-mounted fingerprint reader; single speaker on the bottom; 3.5mm jack.

Main shortcomings

  • Low amount of RAM by today’s standards; 16GB of storage is especially crippling.
  • No USB-C port
  • No quick charge support

We have to praise Nokia for opting for a dedicated microSD slot that lets you have a memory card and two SIM cards in the phone at the same time – that is, if you get the dual SIM version of the Nokia 5, which our review unit isn’t. But a microSD slot doesn’t really make up for the 16GB of storage – we’d have been happier with 32GB.

Less of an issue, but still worth whining about is Nokia decision to go with a microUSB 2.0 port instead of the USB-C of the present and future. Sure, you probably still have a bunch of those microUSB cables lying around, but we do have to move forward eventually, right? Major phone makers should spearhead the change or we’ll be left with two competing standard for quite a while.

Nokia 5 review

Moving forward one step at a time with this review, we’ll continue with the Nokia 5’s unboxing and hardware overview on the next page.

Nokia 5 unboxing

The Nokia 5 comes out of a box very similar to the ones of the Nokia 3 and 6 we’ve previously had for review. In fact, all three phones were together at the office at one point and it would have been a struggle figuring out which goes where, if we could at all be bothered to keep our stuff organized. Point is, the new Nokia is keen on reigniting brand awareness and the retail packages reflect that.

Retail package - Nokia 5 review
Retail package

Inside the box you’ll find the basics – a charger (plan 5V/2A one) and a USB cable, but also a headset. That last piece of smartphone paraphernalia has been disappearing from the retail bundles of budget-minded devices recently, so it’s good the Nokia 5 has it.

Nokia 5 360-degree spin

The Nokia 5 measures 149.7 x 72.5 x 8.0 mm, making it a reasonably sized 5.2-inch phone. Samsung’s got a bunch of those in its recent lineup and both the Galaxy J5 (2017) and the A5 (2017) are a few millimeters shorter and a millimeter narrower, but the Moto G5 is a fraction of a millimeter taller and 1.5mm wider. The Huawei P8 lite (2017), also known as Huawei P9 Lite (2017), Huawei Honor 8 Lite, Huawei Nova Lite, Huawei GR3 (2017), because Huawei, with its 147.2 x 72.9 x 7.6 mm is shorter but wider – again, not by much.

At 160g, the Nokia 5 is on the heavy side of average, but most 5.2-inch handsets are in the 155-161 range, so not really a cause for concern. The J5 (2017) is 160g, the Moto G5 is 155g, the Huaweis listed above are somewhat lighter at 147g – most of them do have ‘Lite’ in the name, after all.

Hardware overview

The Nokia 5 is closer to 6 than it is to 3 number-wise, and it shows in the Nokia 5’s materials and build quality. We’re not ones to immediately dismiss plastic and there was a certain appeal to the simple polycarbonate 3. Metal is metal, though, and the 5 has it.

Nokia 5 review

An aluminum unibody like the one of the Nokia 6, only with less striking lines and more curves – the Nokia 5 is a bit more generic. The smooth finish of the back and the rounded edges can only mean one thing, though – the 5 is very slippery, but that’s really how aluminum-backed phones tend to be.

We’re quite pleased with how the antenna inlays are worked into the design of the back, almost making them invisible. Is anyone really a fan of antenna bands being used as accents?

Anodized aluminum back - Nokia 5 reviewExcessively large camera bump - Nokia 5 reviewExcessively large camera bump - Nokia 5 review
Anodized aluminum back • Excessively large camera bump

We’re not as excited about the whole camera/flash assembly – the generous camera lens inlay might be warranted on the rumored upcoming Nokia 8, where there is a bunch of stuff going on such as a dual camera and whatnot, but on the 5? And let’s not spare the Nokia 5 our usual complaint about the regulatory markings on the back – the technology exists, get rid of them.

Make sure you don’t get this the wrong way, however – we mostly like the Nokia 5’s design and build quality, but in typical reviewer fashion, we need to point out the stuff that bugs us.

Nokia 5 review

And yes, there’s some of it on the front as well. It’s great that there’s a fingerprint reader on the 5, unlike on the 3. But it’s a tiny bit too narrow for our liking. Or is it too low? Or a bit of both? Well, it’s a little awkward at first, but not something you won’t get used to and forget about a couple of days into owning the smartphone.

It also doubles as a Home button – there is no onscreen navigation bar. It’s flanked by two capacitive keys, Back on the left, Recents on the right and they light up when tapped.

Nokia 5 review

Above the display there’s an earpiece slit – sadly, not a second speaker. To its right is the ambient light/proximity sensors cutout (barely visible), while the front-facing camera is on the other side – itself more prominent, perhaps proud of having autofocus. There’s no notification LED, sadly.

A phone like any other - Nokia 5 reviewHome key with fingerprint reader - Nokia 5 reviewUsual stuff on top - Nokia 5 reviewUsual stuff on top - Nokia 5 review
A phone like any other • Home key with fingerprint reader • Usual stuff on top

The display glass is ever so slightly curved towards the edges, which makes for pleasant swiping off the edges when you get there. Nokia doesn’t specify what generation of Gorilla Glass is on top, but does say there is some.

The right side of the phone is home to the power button and the volume rocker. The former is a little on the small side and could have been a millimeter longer, and a few millimeters farther from the volume rocker, but it’s no big deal. Both click very positively, which is nice.

Buttons on the right - Nokia 5 reviewClicky, clicky - Nokia 5 review
Buttons on the right • Clicky, clicky

On the opposite side you’ll find the two card bays – one is for SIM cards (or just one SIM card in our case), the other is for the microSD card, which you’re going to need in light of the limited internal storage. Dedicated slots are the bomb and we wish more makers would opt for those instead of the hybrid solution where you have to choose either a second SIM of a microSD card.

Card slots on the left - Nokia 5 reviewDedicated slot for storage expansion - Nokia 5 review
Card slots on the left • Dedicated slot for storage expansion

On the bottom of the Nokia 5 is the microUSB 2.0 port – we’ll need to wait for the 8 to get a Nokia with a USB-C connector. To one side there’s a pinhole for the microphone, and the loudspeaker is on the other side. Up top there’s a 3.5mm jack and nothing else.

Bottom is home to the microUSB port, mic and loudspeaker - Nokia 5 review3.5mm jack on top - Nokia 5 review3.5mm jack on top - Nokia 5 review
Bottom is home to the microUSB port, mic and loudspeaker • 3.5mm jack on top

Slipperiness aside, the Nokia 5 feels very nice to handle. Your palms will appreciate the lack of sharp edges and it’s a distinctly different feeling compared to the Nokia 6 (which we liked anyway). Meanwhile, the sides provide enough area to grip when picking the 5 off a table. Overall, a very pleasing experience.

In your hand - Nokia 5 reviewIn your hand - Nokia 5 review
In your hand

The 5.2-inch display is bright, not very contrasty

The Nokia 5 is equipped with a 5.2-inch 720p IPS display – nothing overly fancy, but still a decent 282ppi density. It’s a classic RGB arrangement with equal numbers of subpixels for the three primary colors.

Nokia 5 review

The Nokia 5 is very bright at its maximum setting, and you can get all 630-something nits manually – the automatic setting doesn’t offer a boost on top of that, but it’s not really necessary. Less exciting is the black level, which is one of the highest we’ve measured recently, and that inevitably results in less that stellar contrast.

Display test 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Nokia 5 0.69 632 916
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) max auto 0 559
Sony Xperia XA1 0.512 537 1049
Xiaomi Redmi 4 Prime 0.475 528 1112
Xiaomi Redmi 4 0.576 527 915
Motorola Moto Z Play (max auto) 0 526
Nokia 6 (Chinese version) 0.377 522 1385
Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (S625) 0.322 484 1503
Samsung Galaxy J7 (2017) Max Auto 0 482
Nokia 3 0.353 477 1351
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) 0 413
Motorola Moto Z Play 0 371
Samsung Galaxy J7 (2017) 0 348

Sunlight legibility is quite good on the Nokia 5 too, marginally better than the Nokia 6 and among the better LCDs in this respect.

Sunlight contrast ratio

  • Samsung Galaxy S8
    4.768
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+
    4.658
  • Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+
    4.615
  • Oppo R11
    4.454
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge
    4.439
  • OnePlus 3
    4.424
  • Samsung Galaxy S7
    4.376
  • HTC One A9
    4.274
  • Samsung Galaxy Note7
    4.247
  • Samsung Galaxy A3
    4.241
  • OnePlus 3T
    4.232
  • Google Pixel XL
    4.164
  • ZTE Axon 7
    4.154
  • Samsung Galaxy S6 edge
    4.124
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017)
    4.124
  • Samsung Galaxy Note5
    4.09
  • Huawei Nexus 6P
    4.019
  • Vivo Xplay5 Elite
    3.983
  • OnePlus X
    3.983
  • Apple iPhone 7
    3.964
  • Oppo R7s
    3.964
  • Huawei P9 Plus
    3.956
  • Meizu Pro 6 Plus
    3.935
  • Lenovo Moto Z
    3.931
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016)
    3.918
  • OnePlus 5
    3.914
  • Samsung Galaxy C5
    3.911
  • Samsung Galaxy C7
    3.896
  • Samsung Galaxy A5
    3.895
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 outdoor
    3.879
  • Samsung Galaxy J2 outdoor
    3.873
  • Samsung Galaxy A8
    3.859
  • Sony Xperia XZs
    3.818
  • Samsung Galaxy A9 (2016)
    3.817
  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
    3.816
  • Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017)
    3.804
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016) outdoor mode
    3.802
  • LG V20 Max auto
    3.798
  • Xiaomi Redmi Pro
    3.798
  • Sony Xperia XZ
    3.795
  • Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016)
    3.789
  • Apple iPhone 6s
    3.783
  • Meizu Pro 5
    3.781
  • Microsoft Lumia 650
    3.772
  • Xiaomi Mi 6
    3.767
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016)
    3.756
  • Oppo F1 Plus
    3.709
  • Vivo X5Pro
    3.706
  • Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)
    3.688
  • Apple iPhone SE
    3.681
  • Huawei Mate 9
    3.68
  • Samsung Galaxy A7
    3.679
  • Meizu PRO 6
    3.659
  • BlackBerry Priv
    3.645
  • Sony Xperia XA1 Ultra
    3.597
  • Apple iPhone 7 Plus
    3.588
  • LG G6
    3.556
  • Apple iPhone 6s Plus
    3.53
  • Motorola Moto Z Play
    3.526
  • Samsung Galaxy J3 (2016)
    3.523
  • Samsung Galaxy J3 (2016) outdoor mode
    3.523
  • Acer Jade Primo
    3.521
  • Microsoft Lumia 950
    3.512
  • Oppo R7 Plus
    3.499
  • nubia Z11
    3.466
  • Huawei P10 Plus
    3.456
  • HTC U Ultra
    3.453
  • Samsung Galaxy J7
    3.422
  • Meizu MX5
    3.416
  • LG V20
    3.402
  • Huawei P10
    3.379
  • Oppo R9s
    3.352
  • Honor 8 Pro
    3.341
  • Oppo R7
    3.32
  • Lenovo P2
    3.316
  • Honor 9
    3.289
  • Xiaomi Mi 5s
    3.276
  • Nokia 5
    3.261
  • Nokia 6 (Chinese version)
    3.244
  • Samsung Galaxy J2
    3.235
  • Sony Xperia X Performance
    3.234
  • Xiaomi Mi Note 2
    3.228
  • Motorola Moto X Play
    3.222
  • Oppo F3 Plus
    3.218
  • Huawei Mate 9 Pro
    3.206
  • Huawei P9
    3.195
  • ZTE Nubia Z17
    3.159
  • Lenovo Vibe Shot
    3.113
  • Motorola Moto X Force
    3.105
  • LG Nexus 5X
    3.092
  • HTC U11
    3.089
  • Huawei Mate S
    3.073
  • Microsoft Lumia 640 XL
    3.065
  • Sony Xperia XA1
    3.012
  • Sony Xperia L1
    2.994
  • Sony Xperia X
    2.989
  • Huawei P10 Lite
    2.974
  • Samsung Galaxy Note
    2.97
  • Huawei Mate 8
    2.949
  • Xiaomi Redmi 4
    2.92
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3S
    2.913
  • Sony Xperia XA Ultra
    2.906
  • LG G5
    2.905
  • HTC One S
    2.901
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3s Prime
    2.893
  • Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus
    2.884
  • Sony Xperia XZ Premium (sRGB)
    2.877
  • Sony Xperia XZ Premium
    2.877
  • Sony Xperia Z5
    2.876
  • Nokia 3
    2.871
  • Microsoft Lumia 550
    2.851
  • Lenovo Moto M
    2.813
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3 Pro
    2.803
  • Sony Xperia Z5 compact
    2.784
  • Meizu MX6
    2.751
  • LG V10
    2.744
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3
    2.735
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (S625)
    2.714
  • Meizu M5
    2.71
  • Sony Xperia M5
    2.69
  • Xiaomi Redmi 4 Prime
    2.679
  • Huawei P9 Lite
    2.679
  • Vivo V3Max
    2.659
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix
    2.658
  • Xiaomi Mi 4i
    2.641
  • Xiaomi Redmi 4a
    2.635
  • Sony Xperia XA
    2.609
  • Motorola Moto G4 Plus
    2.582
  • Motorola Moto G4 Plus (max auto)
    2.582
  • Meizu M5s
    2.58
  • Xiaomi Mi 4c
    2.574
  • LeEco Le Max 2
    2.567
  • Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL
    2.563
  • Microsoft Lumia 640
    2.563
  • Lenovo K6 Note
    2.544
  • Lenovo Moto G4
    2.544
  • Oppo F1
    2.528
  • Sony Xperia Z5 Premium
    2.525
  • Huawei Honor 7 Lite / Honor 5c
    2.506
  • Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
    2.503
  • Oppo F1s
    2.481
  • Motorola Moto G
    2.477
  • Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus
    2.473
  • Huawei G8
    2.471
  • Huawei nova
    2.467
  • Sony Xperia Z
    2.462
  • Lenovo Vibe K5
    2.459
  • Meizu m3 max
    2.447
  • HTC 10 evo
    2.407
  • Huawei Honor 7
    2.406
  • Sony Xperia E5
    2.386
  • ZUK Z1 by Lenovo
    2.382
  • Samsung Galaxy J5 (2016)
    2.378
  • HTC 10
    2.378
  • Oppo F3
    2.376
  • vivo V5 Plus
    2.371
  • Meizu m1 note
    2.362
  • Huawei nova plus
    2.329
  • HTC One E9+
    2.305
  • Alcatel One Touch Hero
    2.272
  • Lenovo Vibe K4 Note
    2.254
  • Sony Xperia C5 Ultra
    2.253
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 (MediaTek)
    2.249
  • Sony Xperia C4 Dual
    2.235
  • Xiaomi Mi Note
    2.234
  • Motorola Moto G (2014)
    2.233
  • Huawei P8
    2.196
  • Meizu M5 Note
    2.189
  • Huawei Honor 6
    2.169
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 2
    2.166
  • OnePlus Two
    2.165
  • HTC One X
    2.158
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (X20)
    2.145
  • LG Aka
    2.145
  • Archos 50 Diamond
    2.134
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note
    2.119
  • Xiaomi Mi 4S
    2.095
  • Acer Liquid X2
    2.084
  • Huawei P8lite
    2.078
  • vivo V5
    2.059
  • Moto G 3rd gen max manual
    2.026
  • Xiaomi Mi Max
    1.996
  • Sony Xperia E4g
    1.972
  • OnePlus One
    1.961
  • Meizu m3 note
    1.923
  • BlackBerry Leap
    1.892
  • Meizu m2 note
    1.892
  • HTC Butterfly
    1.873
  • ZTE Nubia Z9 mini
    1.759
  • Sony Xperia U
    1.758
  • Asus Zenfone Selfie
    1.68
  • Motorola Moto E (2nd Gen)
    1.675
  • ZTE Nubia Z9
    1.659
  • Motorola Moto E
    1.545
  • Sony Xperia M
    1.473
  • Sony Xperia L
    1.351
  • Xiaomi Redmi 2
    1.311
  • HTC Desire C
    1.3
  • Meizu MX
    1.221
  • Sony Xperia E
    1.215

Additionally, color accuracy is pretty decent – with an average DeltaE of 4.7, the Nokia 5’s display is a little bit more accurate than the Nokia 6’s (average DeltaE of 5.3), and substantially better than the Nokia 3’s (average DeltaE of 9). Still, the Nokia 5’s whites are bluish, there’s no escaping that.

Connectivity

The Nokia 5 comes in singe and dual SIM versions, and the one we have on our hands is the single SIM one. Even if you do get the dual SIM variant (2x nano SIMs), you’d still be able enjoy a fully functional microSD slot – there’s a separate tray and all.

Courtesy of the Snapdragon 430 chip, the phone supports Cat.4 LTE for theoretical maximums of 150Mbps down and 50Mbps up.

Nokia doesn’t specify which Wi-Fi standards the phone supports, but our best guess is b/g/n over 2.4GHz and a/n over 5GHz. Bluetooth is v.4.1, there’s NFC, and an FM radio receiver is on board.

The USB port on the bottom is the old one – the trusty but headed for obsolescence microUSB 2.0. Oldies, but goldies – the 3.5mm jack is here too.

Nokia 5 battery life

The Nokia 5 draws power from a 3,000mAh battery – same capacity as the Nokia 6, where the power pack needs to feed a larger, higher-res display. For a 5.2-inch phone, the Nokia 5 is then more than adequately equipped.

It did prove itself in practice too, with very good results in all of our tests. More than 12 hours in Wi-Fi web browsing and just short of 13 hours in video playback mean roughly 3 hours on top of the Nokia 6 in each discipline. The Nokia 5 failed to match the 6’s 3G voice call endurance, but at 18:34h you could still have plenty of long and pointless, um… meaningful, conversations.

Those numbers result in an overall endurance rating of 84 hours for the Nokia 5 – 9 more than the Nokia 6.

Nokia 5

Our endurance rating denotes how long a single battery charge will last you if you use the Nokia 5 for an hour each of telephony, web browsing, and video playback daily. We’ve established this usage pattern so our battery results are comparable across devices in the most common day-to-day tasks. The battery testing procedure is described in detail in case you’re interested in the nitty-gritties. You can also check out our complete battery test table, where you can see how all of the smartphones we’ve tested will compare under your own typical use.

While we mostly have praise for the Nokia 5’s endurance, it’s hard to say the same about charging speed. A 30-minute charge from flat will only get it to 23%, which is quite sluggish in the rapid charging times we live in.

Latest Nougat in blue

The Nokia 5 boots Nougat in the latest available to non-Google devices version 7.1.1. It’s in near stock form too, with pretty much all basic tasks being handled by the Google suite of apps.

Nokia 5 review

Of course, it’s a Nokia, and there’s a certain degree of blue accents in the interface making it distinct enough to be easily recognizable and thus good for brand awareness. However, the two-color approach is not universally appealing. It grew on us pretty quickly, but a little bit of variety and color here and there might be a good idea for future iterations. We mentioned the lack of customizability in the Nokia 3 review, and the Nokia 5 is the same with just one icon pack and overall GUI style with its default launcher.

The lockscreen displays the standard Nougat notification cards, complete with grouping, expanded view and direct reply. There is a clock as well, but it lacks the weather widget and further customization that the Nokia 6 had. Then again, the Nokia 3 didn’t have those either, so maybe it was only the Chinese version of the 6 that got them.

There’s a camera shortcut in the bottom right, while the bottom left shows the fingerprint icon – if you have fingerprint recognition enabled, that is. These can not be changed either. While we’re at it, the camera can be launched with a double press of the power button, if you enable the setting.

Lockscreen - Nokia 5 reviewLockscreen - Nokia 5 reviewLockscreen - Nokia 5 review
Lockscreen

Lockscreen

The homescreen is where the Nokia looks like no other. All of the system icons and pre-installed apps are painted in Nokia blue, and they’re all circles. It is Nokia’s way, clearly, as it’s more or less the same on all three phones, and we’ve already pointed out that we often found ourselves scrambling to find the icon we’re looking for, because we couldn’t tell them apart by shape or color. Of course, once you get used to what’s where, it gets easier. There are no themes – the blue color scheme is the one you get and that’s it.

On the other hand, all the third-party apps retain their original icons – the launcher doesn’t apply any changes to them. That makes them recognizable, but then they look nothing like the built-in ones. We kind of naturally wanted to pile them away on their own separate screen, just to keep things consistent and our OCD in check.

The Pixel-like app drawer that you pull up from the dock is your only option – you cant tap on an Apps icon to go to a separate app drawer interface with screens that you swipe side to side. Of course, since there is folder support on the homescreen as well, you can organize everything there and simply forget the Pixel-like swipe up gesture to open the drawer even exists.

Home screen - Nokia 5 reviewFolder view - Nokia 5 reviewApp drawer - Nokia 5 review
Home screen • Folder view • App drawer

Speaking of gestures, a long press on the home screen toggles edit mode on. You also get access to widgets and wallpapers. The latter can be sourced from the pre-loaded and a little bit obscure Google Wallpapers app, which has the handy option for daily wallpapers. The homescreen setting menu only has a couple of options, but both are interesting.

Homescreen editing - Nokia 5 reviewHomescreen settings - Nokia 5 reviewGoogle Now panel - Nokia 5 reviewGoogle Wallpapers app - Nokia 5 review
Homescreen editing • Homescreen settings • Google Now panel • Google Wallpapers app

App suggestions is the nifty first row in the app drawer, which is automatically populated with recently used apps. As for the Google App toggle, it is used to enable or disable the Google Now interface, accessible through a swipe to the right form the homescreen. There’s Google Assistant too – the customary long press on the Home button summons it.

The Nokia 5’s notification shade is about as stock as you get. A single pull down gets you six small toggles, pull a second time and you get a total of 9 large ones per pane, with multiple panes supported. There’s also a brightness slider, but Auto brightness is only accessible through the settings menu.

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Notification shade

The task switcher is business as usual – the Android rolodex is present here. The ‘clear all’ button only appears when you scroll all the way to the top – a bit of a nuisance. There is multi-window multitasking (thanks, Nougat), but the screen is always split 50/50 – you can’t resize the windows.

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Task switcher • Multi-window

There are a few gestures you can enable on the Nokia 5, but just basic stuff, really. There are magnification gestures, pick up to mute and turn to reject call, and the double press of the power button to launch the camera counts as a gesture.

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Gestures

Synthetic benchmarks

The Nokia 5 is powered by the Snapdragon 430 chipset, much like its stablemate, the Nokia 6. That means an octa-core CPU that is a significant upgrade over the Nokia 3 and its quad-core processor, even if we’re talking about the same Cortex-A53 cores, capped at a lowly 1.4GHz. The Nokia 5 only has 2GB of RAM, however, unlike the 6, which comes with either 3 or 4 gigs.

Nokia 5 review

Unsurprisingly, the Nokia 5 posts virtually identical numbers to the Nokia 6 in the CPU-centric GeekBench. There are some variations between the other Snapdragon 430 or 435 equipped devices with both the Moto G5 and Lenovo K6 Power trailing the Nokias. The Exynos 7870 and 7880, represented by the Galaxy A3 (2017) and A5 (2017), outperform the S430 in the Nokia 5. So do the S625s (Moto G5 Plus, Redmi Note 4, Moto Z Play), predictably.

GeekBench 4.1 (multi-core)

Higher is better

  • Moto G5 Plus
    4255
  • Nokia 5
    2851
  • Moto G5
    2580
  • Xiaomi Redmi 4
    1819
  • Nokia 3
    1529

GeekBench 4.1 (single-core)

Higher is better

  • Moto G5 Plus
    847
  • Nokia 5
    672
  • Xiaomi Redmi 4
    670
  • Moto G5
    618
  • Nokia 3
    551

GeekBench 4 (multi-core)

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017)
    3958
  • Moto G5 Plus
    3789
  • Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)
    3294
  • Xiaomi Redmi 4 Prime
    3016
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (S625)
    3011
  • Nokia 5
    2728
  • Nokia 6 (Chinese version)
    2719
  • Motorola Moto Z Play
    2621
  • Xiaomi Redmi 4
    2099
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3s Prime
    1944
  • Lenovo K6 Power
    1698
  • Nokia 3
    1487

GeekBench 4 (single-core)

Higher is better

  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (S625)
    832
  • Xiaomi Redmi 4 Prime
    819
  • Moto G5 Plus
    799
  • Motorola Moto Z Play
    795
  • Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017)
    764
  • Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)
    681
  • Xiaomi Redmi 4
    655
  • Nokia 5
    647
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3s Prime
    641
  • Nokia 6 (Chinese version)
    638
  • Lenovo K6 Power
    610
  • Nokia 3
    557

In overall performance, the Nokia 5 takes a lead ahead of the other S430 competitors, at least according to Basemark OS II 2.0. It’s on par with the Exynos 7870 rivals here, almost matching the Galaxy A3 (2017) and J7 (2016)’s score. The Snapdragon 625 devices are a little further ahead, with the Exynos 7880-packing Galaxy A5 (2017) having a commanding advantage.

Basemark OS 2.0

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017)
    1417
  • Moto G5 Plus
    1089
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (S625)
    1050
  • Motorola Moto Z Play
    1031
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016)
    1007
  • Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)
    999
  • Nokia 5
    982
  • Xiaomi Redmi 4
    832
  • Moto G5
    795
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3s Prime
    794
  • Nokia 3
    568
  • Lenovo K6 Power
    281

It’s slightly different in Antutu – all of the S430 devices are packed tightly, less than 800 points splitting best from worst. This benchmark does a great job of showing the difference between the S625 and S430 too – phones with the 600-series chips inside post 40% higher scores than the S430 ones – again, not the least bit unexpected.

AnTuTu 6

Higher is better

  • Moto G5 Plus
    63390
  • Xiaomi Redmi 4 Prime
    62316
  • Motorola Moto Z Play
    62217
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (S625)
    61616
  • Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017)
    61020
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016)
    49094
  • Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)
    45742
  • Lenovo K6 Power
    44115
  • Xiaomi Redmi 4
    44089
  • Nokia 6 (Chinese version)
    44062
  • Moto G5
    43755
  • Nokia 5
    43392
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3s Prime
    43344
  • Nokia 3
    28441

In the graphics department, the Nokia 5 does well with what it’s got. Raw power coming out of the Adreno 505 may not be abundant, but it’s more than an adequate to drive a 720p display, as the fps numbers from the onscreen tests in GFXBench can attest.

For example, the Galaxy A5 (2017) has the most oomph, and is capable of twice the frame rate of the Nokia 5 when rendering stuff at 1080p. However, when each device needs to render the content for its respective display resolution, the Nokia 5 is able to match the A5 (2017) in frame rates, thanks to having to render a little over half the pixels. The Snapdragon 625 devices with 1080p displays can’t even compete with the Nokia 5 in onscreen testing.

GFX 3.0 Manhattan (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017)
    15
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (S625)
    9.9
  • Xiaomi Redmi 4 Prime
    9.8
  • Motorola Moto Z Play
    9.8
  • Moto G5 Plus
    9.7
  • Xiaomi Redmi 4
    7.2
  • Nokia 6 (Chinese version)
    7.2
  • Lenovo K6 Power
    7.1
  • Moto G5
    7.1
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3s Prime
    7.1
  • Nokia 5
    7.1
  • Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)
    5.1
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016)
    4.9
  • Nokia 3
    2.2

GFX 3.0 Manhattan (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017)
    15
  • Nokia 5
    14
  • Xiaomi Redmi 4
    14
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3s Prime
    14
  • Motorola Moto Z Play
    10
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (S625)
    9.7
  • Moto G5 Plus
    9.7
  • Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)
    9.6
  • Xiaomi Redmi 4 Prime
    9.6
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016)
    9.5
  • Lenovo K6 Power
    7.1
  • Moto G5
    7.1
  • Nokia 6 (Chinese version)
    7
  • Nokia 3
    4.5

GFX 3.1 Manhattan (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017)
    9.1
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016)
    7.2
  • Moto G5 Plus
    6.4
  • Xiaomi Redmi 4 Prime
    6.2
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (S625)
    6.2
  • Motorola Moto Z Play
    6.2
  • Moto G5
    4.6
  • Nokia 6 (Chinese version)
    4.6
  • Nokia 5
    4.6
  • Xiaomi Redmi 4
    4.5
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3s Prime
    4.5
  • Lenovo K6 Power
    4.4
  • Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)
    3.2
  • Nokia 3
    1.4

GFX 3.1 Manhattan (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Nokia 5
    10
  • Xiaomi Redmi 4
    10
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3s Prime
    10
  • Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017)
    9
  • Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)
    7.3
  • Motorola Moto Z Play
    6.7
  • Moto G5 Plus
    6.4
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (S625)
    6.2
  • Xiaomi Redmi 4 Prime
    6.1
  • Moto G5
    4.6
  • Nokia 6 (Chinese version)
    4.6
  • Lenovo K6 Power
    4.4
  • Nokia 3
    3.2
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016)
    3.2

GFX 3.1 Car scene (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017)
    5.2
  • Moto G5 Plus
    3.5
  • Xiaomi Redmi 4 Prime
    3.4
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (S625)
    3.4
  • Motorola Moto Z Play
    3.4
  • Xiaomi Redmi 4
    2.5
  • Nokia 6 (Chinese version)
    2.5
  • Moto G5
    2.5
  • Nokia 5
    2.5
  • Lenovo K6 Power
    2.4
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3s Prime
    2.3
  • Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)
    1.9

GFX 3.1 Car scene (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Nokia 5
    5.2
  • Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017)
    5.2
  • Xiaomi Redmi 4
    5.1
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3s Prime
    4.9
  • Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)
    3.9
  • Motorola Moto Z Play
    3.7
  • Moto G5 Plus
    3.5
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (S625)
    3.4
  • Xiaomi Redmi 4 Prime
    3.4
  • Moto G5
    2.5
  • Nokia 6 (Chinese version)
    2.5
  • Lenovo K6 Power
    2.4

Basemark X serves to show the difference between chipset and GPU tiers. The Snapdragon 625/Adreno 506 devices post identical numbers at the top of the chart, the Snapdragon 430/Adreno 505 ones, Nokia 5 among them, are in the middle (once more with little to separate them), and the Exynos 7870/Mali-T830MP2 Galaxies are in the back. The poor Nokia 3 is nothing but an also-ran.

Basemark X

Higher is better

  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (S625)
    10446
  • Xiaomi Redmi 4 Prime
    10424
  • Moto G5 Plus
    10406
  • Motorola Moto Z Play
    10401
  • Xiaomi Redmi 4
    7608
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3s Prime
    7604
  • Nokia 6 (Chinese version)
    7522
  • Lenovo K6 Power
    7475
  • Moto G5
    7475
  • Nokia 5
    7316
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016)
    5383
  • Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)
    5160
  • Nokia 3
    2210

There’s little to point out when it comes to the Nokia 5’s scores – it’s a standard Snapdragon 430 performer. That is to say, it’s adequately equipped to handle general workloads, and some mobile gaming. The 2GB of RAM don’t seem to adversely affect its benchmark results, while the 720p resolution is beneficial when it comes to graphics-intense tasks.

Phonebook

The Nokia 5 has the generic phonebook/dialer app with the list of favorites, the call log and the contacts are all tabs within the same app. The dialer is summoned with a tap on a button. Smart dial is supported too.

Favorites - Nokia 5 reviewCall log - Nokia 5 reviewContacts - Nokia 5 reviewDialler - Nokia 5 review
Favorites • Call log • Contacts • Dialler

Loudspeaker

The Nokia 5 has a single loudspeaker – the Nokia 6’s stereo setup didn’t make the cut. The lone driver can pump out a lot of decibels if the tune is right and it scored a Good rating in our three-pronged test. It kept it sound distortion-free even at max volume, too.

Nokia 5 review

Speakerphone test Voice, dB Pink noise/ Music, dB Ringing phone, dB Overall score
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) 65.8 66.0 66.5 Below Average
Samsung Galaxy J5 (2016) 66.0 64.3 70.1 Below Average
Xiaomi Redmi 4 Prime 63.1 67.3 71.3 Average
Sony Xperia XA1 61.7 69.7 71.8 Average
Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016) 64.5 71.0 68.9 Average
Xiaomi Redmi 4 64.8 70.1 72.0 Average
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) 66.1 66.9 75.5 Good
Moto Z Play 62.9 70.3 77.0 Good
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) 66.4 66.2 78.0 Good
Nokia 5 63.9 70.0 81.7 Good
Nokia 6 (Chinese version) 63.0 70.2 85.2 Good
Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (S625) 67.3 70.3 81.5 Very Good
Nokia 3 70.6 71.0 83.6 Very Good
Google Pixel XL 73.4 72.1 84.1 Excellent
Huawei Mate 9 83.1 74.5 85.0 Excellent

Text input

For text unput the Nokia 5 relies on the Google Gboard keyboard. It’s a great solution, offering predictive text (they all do), emoji, GIFs, search right from the keyboard, and plenty of customizability.

Gboard - Nokia 5 reviewGboard - Nokia 5 reviewGboard - Nokia 5 reviewGboard - Nokia 5 reviewGboard - Nokia 5 review
Gboard

Google Photos is both the gallery and the video player

There are no custom apps for handling multimedia content on the Nokia 5. For gallery, you get Google Photos, which isn’t half bad, though for most of its functionality you need to have cloud upload enabled. If you do, you’d be able to search for photos with words: “beach”, “selfies” and even people by name. The AI assistance goes on – Google will automatically take photos (or videos) it finds interesting and spruce them up. It will create collages, panoramas, filter-heavy images, short animations and other.

You can, of course, stay offline, and then the album, GIF, and collage creation can be done manually.

Google Photos - Nokia 5 reviewGoogle Photos - Nokia 5 reviewGoogle Photos - Nokia 5 review
Google Photos

Photos has a built-in editor too, which offers filters, light and color correction and basic cropping and rotation. There’s no option for doodling on the images, or for slapping overlays and such – hardly a shortcoming, really.

Photos editor - Nokia 5 reviewPhotos editor - Nokia 5 reviewPhotos editor - Nokia 5 review
Photos editor

There’s no dedicated video player, Google Photos also takes care of that. Its feature set is basic at best – the most it can do is loop a video, and there is no subtitle support. You can, however, edit videos – trimming, 90-degree rotation, and stabilization are the available options.

Photos as video player - Nokia 5 reviewPhotos as video player - Nokia 5 review
Photos as video player

Google Plays your Music

However, Google Play Music is still loaded on by default and it is a good thing too. It has come a long way and even if you don’t intend to subscribe to Google’s streaming service, it still offers bells and whistles like album art, powerful searching algorithms and also the neat ability to upload your own tracks to the cloud and stream them for free.

One issue we encountered was that the equalizer wasn’t available – hitting the option in the app’s settings took us to a blank page with a Dolby surround settings title. Perhaps it’s a remnant of an old firmware build and it will be patched up in the future.

Google Play Music - Nokia 5 reviewGoogle Play Music - Nokia 5 reviewGoogle Play Music - Nokia 5 reviewGoogle Play Music - Nokia 5 reviewGoogle Play Music - Nokia 5 review
Google Play Music

FM radio

Last, but not least, the Nokia 5 has you covered even when you don’t have a Wi-Fi or data connection. The built-in FM radio works great for some oldschool, off-the-grid music. It even has RDS. No recording functionality, though. Also, for some reason if you tap on the star icon next to the frequency of the station that is playing, it means that you want to delete the station instead of add it to favorites. #Logic.

FM radio - Nokia 5 reviewFM radio - Nokia 5 reviewFM radio - Nokia 5 review
FM radio

Audio output is nicely clean, but quiet

The Nokia 5 had as clear an output as you would expect when hooked to an active external amplifier. Despite the stellar scores we can’t give full marks due to the below average loudness, but a very good rating is still not bad for a phone in this price range..

Plugging in a pair of headphones did very little damage and the output remained nicely accurate – good job by the Nokia 5. Once again volume disappointed, but if quality matters to you the 5 is still an easy recommendation.

Test Frequency response Noise level Dynamic range THD IMD + Noise Stereo crosstalk
Nokia 5 +0.02, -0.03 -94.3 92.8 0.0035 0.019 -91.9
Nokia 5 (headphones) +0.00, -0.09 -92.4 89.9 0.0041 0.016 -68.6
Nokia 3 +0.02, -0.11 -91.9 91.8 0.012 0.017 -91.8
Nokia 3 (headphones) +0.88, -0.06 -78.7 77.6 0.039 0.348 -52.5
Sony Xperia L1 +0.10, -0.11 -93.6 92.9 0.0090 0.013 -93.8
Sony Xperia L1 (headphones) +0.79, -0.10 -92.9 91.9 0.010 0.420 -53.1
Xiaomi Redmi 3s +0.02, -0.07 -94.3 90.6 0.0024 0.0087 -91.8
Xiaomi Redmi 3s (headphones) +0.02, -0.10 -93.7 90.3 0.028 0.061 -72.2
Oppo F1s +0.37, -0.00 -71.2 75.3 0.936 1.190 -41.2
Oppo F1s (headphones) +0.80, -0.05 -67.8 74.6 0.336 0.579 -42.3

Nokia 5 frequency response
Nokia 5 frequency response

You can learn more about the tested parameters and the whole testing process here.

13MP camera takes decent shots

The Nokia 5 is equipped with a 13MP primary camera that sits behind an f/2.0 aperture lens. EXIF data reports a 21mm equivalent focal length, but we’d disagree on that – it’s definitely not that wide. We compared against the Samsung Galaxy S8 and the Nokia 5 provides the same coverage – so 26mm then. There’s phase detection autofocus and a dual LED flash to help in the dark.

Nokia 5 review

A quick look at the Camera app – it is the same custom deal we saw on the Nokia 6 and Nokia 3 – simple in some ways, but also potentially confusing and overcrowded if misused. In the main view, you get a shutter release on the bottom, a switch to video mode next to it (yet, the viewfinder doesn’t change to 16:9, what’s that about?!), and a shortcut to the gallery on the other side. A tiny mode selector next to the shutter release gives you the option to choose regular photo, panorama, or ‘beautify’ mode.

On the opposite end of the viewfinder there are switches for flash mode (on/off/auto), HDR (on/off/auto), self timer (off/3s/10s), and front/rear camera toggle. There’s a hamburger button too, for access to settings.

Camera UI - Nokia 5 reviewCamera UI - Nokia 5 review
Camera UI

In there, you’ll find handy features like a level and a compass, a guidelines overlay (rule of thirds) plus a watermarking tool. Who’d have thought that under Capture settings, a Manual mode would be hiding? ‘Manual’ might be a bit of an overstatement, though – there’s exposure compensation (-2/+2EV in full stop increments), white balance presets, a one-of-a-kind focus selector (auto/infinity/macro), and a metering mode selector.

Manual mode - Nokia 5 reviewManual mode - Nokia 5 reviewManual mode - Nokia 5 review
Manual mode

Image quality

You can expect pretty nice images from the Nokia 5, sharp and detailed. There’s some noise even in broad daylight, but it’s not a big deal and how often do you look at your skies in 1:1 magnification. Color reproduction is pretty balanced – there’s no excessive oversaturation, yet it’s not the dull output we saw out of the Nokia 6. If there’s anything we’d like to have have been better, it’s dynamic range – high contrast scenes could end up with detail lost in both shadows and highlights.

Camera samples - f/2.0, ISO 100, 1/1562s - Nokia 5 reviewCamera samples - f/2.0, ISO 100, 1/1309s - Nokia 5 reviewCamera samples - f/2.0, ISO 100, 1/1446s - Nokia 5 review
Camera samples - f/2.0, ISO 100, 1/1513s - Nokia 5 reviewCamera samples - f/2.0, ISO 100, 1/1827s - Nokia 5 reviewCamera samples - f/2.0, ISO 100, 1/1562s - Nokia 5 review
Camera samples - f/2.0, ISO 100, 1/1274s - Nokia 5 reviewCamera samples - f/2.0, ISO 100, 1/1490s - Nokia 5 reviewCamera samples - f/2.0, ISO 125, 1/50s - Nokia 5 review
Camera samples

HDR

The HDR mode can help in those situations, and it’s one of the more dramatic implementations. It brightens up the shadows and recovers some of the highlights, but you could expect skies that are grayer, than they are blue.

HDR: Off - f/2.0, ISO 100, 1/2252s - Nokia 5 reviewHDR: On - f/2.0, ISO 100, 1/2201s - Nokia 5 review
HDR: Off - f/2.0, ISO 100, 1/2306s - Nokia 5 reviewHDR: On - f/2.0, ISO 100, 1/2421s - Nokia 5 review
HDR: Off • On • Off • On

Panorama

The Nokia 5 produces surprising good panoramas for its class. The images are around 2,500px tall, stitching is practically flawless, and exposure is handled well.

Panorama sample - Nokia 5 review
Panorama sample

Before you move on to selfies, be sure to check out how the Nokia 5 renders the posters in the controlled environment of our studio. You can pick any two phones to compare with the Nokia 5, but we’ve pre-selected big-bro Nokia 6 and the Xiaomi Redmi 4.

Photo Compare ToolPhoto Compare ToolPhoto Compare Tool
Nokia 5 vs. Nokia 6 and Xiaomi Redmi 4 in our photo compare tool

Selfies

The Nokia 5 is equipped with an 8MP selfie camera with an f/2.0 aperture lens and autofocus. That last bit sets it apart from the majority of entry-level and midrange handsets with their fixed-focus front cams.

It does reliably lock onto your mug and produces sharp and detailed shots. Dynamic range isn’t spectacular, but Facebook and Instagram won’t mind, and color reproduction is nice and pleasant, if skin tones are a touch pinkish.

Selfie samples - f/2.0, ISO 100, 1/1013s - Nokia 5 reviewSelfie samples - Nokia 5 reviewSelfie samples - f/2.0, ISO 100, 1/871s - Nokia 5 review
Selfie samples

There is the mandatory beatify feature that’ll attempt to mask blemishes (and wipe pores in the meantime) and brighten up your skin.

Beautify: Off - f/2.0, ISO 100, 1/129s - Nokia 5 reviewBeautify: On - f/2.0, ISO 100, 1/126s - Nokia 5 review
Beautify: Off • On

Video recording

The Nokia 5 records 1080p video at 30fps and lower resolutions too, but no 4K, quite expectedly. The videos are treated to a bit rate in excess of 20Mbps, where 17Mbps is more or less the standard, and audio is recorded in stereo at 96Kbps.

Video quality is decent, though there’s a particular overall softness to the footage, despite the generous bit rate – it’s as if that’s the effect that was pursued. We don’t mind the overall natural look, yet can’t help but ask for a little more sharpness. Colors are on point, but dynamic range is a bit lacking, especially in the shadows.

You can also download a 1080p@30fps (10s, 25MB) video sample taken straight off the Nokia 5 to rule out YouTube’s processing.

Having examined that, you’re only left with a trip to our video compare tool to see how the Nokia 5’s footage compares to others in its class – or any other class, as long as we’ve tested them. We’ve picked the Nokia 6 and Redmi 4 to get you started, but changing them takes just a few clicks.

Video Compare ToolVideo Compare ToolVideo Compare Tool
Nokia 5 vs. Nokia 6 and Xiaomi Redmi 4 in our video compare tool

Final words

Some makers have a dozen of series of smartphones, a handful of models in each – the new Nokia has just three models, with a 4th one allegedly on the way. But even with these three currently in existence, the reborn Finnish brand covers the low-to-mid tier quite efficiently.

Nokia 5 review

We sort of established a couple of weeks ago, that you probably don’t want the Nokia 3, but the 5? The 5 you can’t really go wrong with, though it does inevitably come at a premium over the rock-bottom 3.

For the extra cash you’d be shelling for the Nokia 5 you’d get a chipset that can actually do some number crunching, a brighter and larger display, and a pair of cameras that are each better than the Nokia 3’s. And all of that will be packed in a nice aluminum unibody. Sounds like a reasonable deal.

Nokia 5 key test findings

  • The aluminum back may be slippery and the camera bump looks a bit out of place, but build quality is above the pay grade.
  • The display is very bright at its maximum setting and color accuracy is decent. Contrast could have been higher, but sunlight legibility is actually pretty good.
  • Battery life is excellent with more than 12 hours in both of our screen-on tests, the overall endurance rating is 84 hours.
  • The software experience is close to stock Android 7.1.1, with minor Nokia touches in icon design for some of the (few) pre-installed apps. The Google suite is used for everything, there isn’t even a Nokia gallery app or a music player. Overall, it’s a really basic software package with no theme support or proprietary features.
  • Benchmark performance is par for the course in its class, with the Snapdragon 430 delivering decent CPU performance and the GPU doing a respectable job with the 720p display.
  • The single loudspeaker pumps out enough decibels for a Good rating in our testing, remains clean even at full blast.
  • Audio output from the 3.5mm jack is clear, but rather quiet.
  • Still images from the 13MP camera have no particular flaws – detail levels are good, noise is not an issue, colors are pleasing. Perhaps a little more dynamic range would have been nice, but at this price it’s nitpicking, really.
  • The 8MP selfies pack a lot of detail, though skin tones have a little more pink that ideal.
  • 1080p videos from the main cam are on the soft side, though they have a natural, underprocessed look. Still, we would have liked some more pop out of them.

Of course, the Nokia 6 still has something to offer on top of the 5 – that’s why there are three models in the lineup. For a nominal bump in price, the 6 delivers a larger and higher-res 5.5-inch 1080p display – the choice is clear if that’s top on your list of priorities. It won’t last as long on a single charge though, and in our experience the Nokia 5 tends to capture better images with both cameras – go figure.

Nokia 6
Nokia 6

A Samsung Galaxy J5 (2017), which unfortunately we haven’t had the chance to test yet, might be a worthy alternative, albeit a slightly more expensive one. Its 14nm Exynos 7870 chip should be more frugal and with a 3,000mAh battery and 5.2-inch 720p SuperAMOLED display, battery life could be in its favor – though that’s just speculation at this point. The Galaxy does offer higher-resolution selfies, but looking at the specs alone, those are the only key differences.

Samsung Galaxy J5 (2017)
Samsung Galaxy J5 (2017)

You can pick up a Moto G5 for about as much as the Nokia 5 costs. That’ll get you a FullHD display over the Nokia’s 720p, though the diagonal of the G5 is smaller at 5 inches. The G5’s primary camera is perhaps the superior one, but not the selfie shooter – the Nokia wins there. As for battery – the Nokia 5 will likely outlast the Moto G5 on a charge, but the G5’s power pack is user replaceable. Having in mind how rare that is these days, it could settle things in the G5’s favor for some users.

Motorola Moto G5
Motorola Moto G5

You could also look at the Sony Xperia XA1 for an alternative to the Nokia 5. The slightly more expensive Xperia has a more powerful chipset, more RAM, and twice the storage of the Nokia, plus a 23MP camera to the Nokia’s 13MP. The Finnish smartphone wins in battery life, by a rather wide margin, and is, after all, more affordable.

Sony Xperia XA1
Sony Xperia XA1

If you want to be more adventurous, the Xiaomi Redmi 4 might be the way to go. After-sales support may not be stellar in all regions, but the Redmi is cheaper, and can be had with more RAM and storage than the Nokia. Regardless of which side you take in the stock Android/MIUI argument, there’s no escaping the fact that the Redmi is running Marshmallow, while the Nokia is on the latest Nougat.

Xiaomi Redmi 4 (4X)
Xiaomi Redmi 4 (4X)

An affordable vanilla droid with solid build, great battery life, bright display, and camera output that won’t leave you embarrassed – that would have been enough to seal the deal for any smartphone. This one? This one can claim all of the above, but adds something even sweeter – a Nokia badge. Yes, we kinda fancy the Nokia 5.

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