Nokia 5 main features
Nokia fans who always wanted Nokia to go with Android rather than Windows Phone have finally got their wish. Nokia were widely criticised for going with the Windows Phone operating system rather than the popular Android system, but produced some iconic smartphones and were well respected by fans of Windows phones.
Read our full Nokia 5 review
But with slow takeup and Microsoft’s Windows Mobile operating system due to be replaced with a new generation of Windows on ARM devices, Microsoft quickly decided to wind down Windows 10 Mobile almost before they had started.
Following Microsoft’s offloading of the brand, HMD Global were formed and late in 2016 the first Nokia smartphone running Android, the Nokia 6, was born. This was followed by the Nokia 3 and Nokia 5, while a 21st century revamp of the iconic 3310 feature phone also hit the streets and if nothing else brought the new Nokia brand a lot of publicity.
The Nokia 5 sits between the budget Nokia 3 and midrange Nokia 6, though there isn’t a huge gulf between any of them. All three run on a slightly underpowered 1.4 GHz processor and like the cheaper Nokia 3 you’ll find 2GB of RAM and 16GB of memory, with about 5GB of that taken up by the operating system.
Middling 5.2 inch screen
A 5.2 inch screen is again in the middle, the Nokia 6 featuring a 5.5″ screen while the 3 gets a straight five inches. You’ll have to buy the Nokia 6 for a Full HD screen. A 720p HD is to be expected on the cheaper model but here we expected Full HD. You could argue, justifiably, that Samsung offer a similar resolution on the Galaxy J5 but the Moto G5 offers Full HD, and 5.2 inches is just about hitting the point where you can tell the difference, with text in particular giving the game away.
Like Motorola and Sony, Nokia have favoured an IPS LCD screen which are easier to see in bright sunlight and at wider viewing angles, but lack the rich colours of Samsung’s AMOLED screens. Some will argue that the AMOLED screens tend to look over saturated and IPS screens have a more natural look to them so it’s all a matter of personal preference at the end of the day. It’s bright and sharp with good contrast so won’t disappoint despite Nokia going for the cheaper option on what isn’t the cheapest phone around in this price bracket.
Lumia design cues
The screen is Gorilla Glass protected and curves off at the edges, which is great for swiping. It looks like just a design feature but it really is a pleasure not to catch your fingers on the rim of a phone when swiping and on this type of screen your fingers just glide off the edges, and the Nokia 5 is all the better for it. It will no doubt be standard on premium touchscreen tablets and computers in a few years’ time.
An interesting point about the design is that the screen offers the illusion of floating just above the body of the phone and with the way it tapers off at the edge, similar to the Nokia Lumia 930, it’s not difficult to imagine this is probably the chassis that would have been used for the Lumia 930’s replacement had the brand not been taken over by Microsoft.
It’s also interesting to note that the 3.5mm headphone socket is on the top of the phone, and while few phones have a logo on the front the Nokia logo is at the top right above the screen, as well as running vertically on the centre of the back. The dual camera lens is above the logo on the back and incudes dual LED flash. All of these are reminiscent of their position on the Lumia 930. These are clearly deliberately retained styling features from previous Nokias no doubt to remind you of which brand you are buying into.
Comfortable, natural feel
The full aluminium back panel, which actually looks similar to it’s counterpart on the Lumia 920, adds to the premium feel. It curves gently upwards into the sides, making the phone very comfortable easy and natural feeling in the hand. The metal unibody design does mean the battery isn’t removable, but it’s a decent size at 3000mAh so should get most of you through the day and beyond without any drama.
Thankfully – because you will need it with just over 10GB of memory to play with – there is a memory card slot combined with the pull-out sim card slot, accepting up to a further 128GB of memory. These are becoming more common now on metal clad handsets and the days where a full metal jacket meant you had to forego the memory card because you couldn’t access a slot inside the back are numbered.
Carl Zeiss lens
As on most of it’s rivals, you get a 13MP camera at the back and an 8MP on at the front. Nokia have again teamed up with Carl Zeiss for the lens so pictures were expected to be up there with the best, but while they were good as long as you had plenty of natural light the quality soon gave way to grainy and dull looking shots as soon as the light began to fade.
It’s true that this is a problem most smartphone cameras have due to the limited aperture size, but given the outstanding quality of the cameras on Nokia’s Windows phones we probably expected better. To be fair they are certainly acceptable enough for a smartphone at the cheaper end of the market, and features include phase detection autofocus which saw the camera responding quickly and accurately to focus and take shots with great accuracy and stability.
Additional camera features
HDR and panoramic modes are included too, but the only other feature is the Beautify mode to help jack up your selfies. Quickly hitting the power button twice opens up the camera but there’s no dedicated camera shutter on the side of the phone. A suite of manual controls is included but they’re not to hand on the camera’s on screen interface unfortunately, you have to delve into the settings to access them.
Video recording was impressive as long as you were still and on course in decent light. You can record at Full HD with sound at 30 frames per second, but of course you’ll have to use a tablet or monitor with at least 1080p resolution to view them in FHD. Image stabilisation is present but it’s not the best we’ve seen.
Audio quality is better than most, including more expensive handsets, and the noise reduction system works extremely well (again a reminder of the Lumia 930) but there’s only one downward facing speaker and you will prefer to use your headphones. An FM radio is also included.
The Nokia 5 comes with stock Android 7.1.1 (Nougat), with no manufacturer bloatware to spoil the party. It will also be upgradable to version 8 (Oreo).
The Nokia 5 looks fantastic and as a Windows Phone fan I can’t help wishing it had been a handset running that operating system. A full metal body isn’t offered by many in this price range, and many Nokia fans will feel that this is the Nokia Android phone they have longed for.
It’s a shame then that it is let down by a slightly less powerful processor than we would have liked to see, a with a ratio of just 282 pixels per inch and a camera that’s great in good light but poorer than most in low light situations, though the dual tone flash helps a great deal.
It’s not quite as cheap as some of it’s rivals either, not least the Motorola Moto G5 which does have a full HD screen. The G5 has a slightly smaller battery but unlike the Nokia does have Quick Charge facility. But, screen aside, The Nokia looks and feels like a classy handset costing a lot more and for lighter users that might just be enough to swing it.
More intensive users might want to wait for the Nokia 9 as the Nokia 6 has a few more features (including a Full HD screen), but retains the same, slightly slow, processor. The Nokia 5 is reasonable value but it’s not as good as it’s Windows predecessors.
The Nokia 5 is not a bad phone for the price and offers enough for most casual users but we would recommend spending a little more on the Motorola Moto G5 which offers considerably more for not a lot more money.