Almost two years ago, I reviewed the $200 Nokia 5.3, which was promised two years of Android OS upgrades and three years of security updates. How has HMD Global, the company that licenses the Nokia brand, fared? Only just Android 12 was used on that device, which is a one-year-old version of Google’s operating system.
That’s a big delay, but at least that the budget phone will get another six months of security updates before its support officially ends. Unfortunately, things have taken a turn for the worse. Now I have a new $270 Nokia G400 5G, which will only get two years of security updates and no commitment to Android OS upgrades. It might get Android 13, but who’s to say, since HMD isn’t making any promises? This feels like a drastic change of attitude from a company that prided itself on delivering quick updates and lengthy software support back in 2016.
Today, most of the Android phone makers offer a software commitment policy so that you have a clear picture of how long the device will be supported. The $250 Samsung Galaxy A13 5G, for example, will get two OS upgrades as well four years of security updates. That’s amazing, and it means you can hold on to the device without worrying about it turning into a buggy, unprotected mess after two years. It allows you to hold on to your device that much longer when everything else is running on an app, reducing the need to spend on another phone. It’s hard to recommend a smartphone in 2022 when you don’t know if it will get the latest version of its operating system.
The sad thing is that the Nokia G400 is a decent phone. It looks dull and dreary, comes in dull gray, and doesn’t look like a “Nokia” phone at all. But the 6.58-inch LCD screen is sharp, colorful, and has a 120-Hz screen refresh rate, so it feels smooth and responsive when you interact with it.
The performance is good. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 480+ chipset inside reliably runs all the apps you could want, although you’ll have to wait here and there for things to load. (It’s limited by 4 GB of RAM.) But over the course of two weeks, I was able to use it just fine to answer emails and text messages, browse Reddit and Twitter, make phone calls, and even play casual games like Alto’s Odyssey. The software is stock Android 12, which is great, so you get very little bloatware (any of it is removable), and the interface looks slick.
The 5,000-mAh battery cell gave me a day and a half of average use, and you get all the features you’d want in any phone in 2022, like sub-6 5G connectivity on all major US carriers (yes, including Verizon , many devices Nokia’s unlocked phones that traditionally weren’t compatible with them), a headphone jack, a fingerprint sensor, and a microSD card slot to expand up to 64 GB of internal storage. I’ve used the NFC sensor to tap and pay on the subway here in New York City, and you even get a charger in the box.