Nokia 6 hands-on: HMD Global gets it right with first Nokia Android smartphone

Sami Khan
Nokia 6

HMD Global Press kit

Nokia's re-entry into the smartphone market was anything but subtle. HMD Global has taken the initiative to rejuvenate the brand, and so far the Finnish startup has been quite successful. At the Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2017 in Barcelona, Spain, last week, Nokia had displayed all of its smartphones for the first time ever.

All the way from Nokia 6 – the first ever Android smartphone under Nokia's brand – to Nokia 3, Nokia 5 and the popular re-launch of Nokia 3310. During our time at the Nokia booth at MWC 2017, we had to chance to get a hands-on experience of all the new phones.

People have grown extreme liking towards the Nokia 6 smartphone, which has made waves in China through its flash sales. It is soon coming to international markets, including India, but before that here's our hands-on review of the Nokia 6.

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Design

Even before its demo at the MWC 2017, Nokia 6 design was seen in photos following the January release in China. After spending some time with the handset, we can safely say that photos did no justice the handset. The mid-range smartphone had a premium feel and looked classy, much like many other budget premium smartphones in the market.

Nokia 6

Nokia 6 is quite compact and comfortable to hold in hand. Its 5.5-inch measuring diagonal display, rounded corners, curved sides at the back and a metal design makes it an overall charmer. At the back of the phone, there's a pill-shaped camera module and a single colour design with chamfered sides along the borders of both sides.

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The display side of the Nokia 6 is quite standard with a full glass coverage and a physical home button at the bottom. On the right side, there are volume controls and the power key, and on the left you will find the dual SIM hybrid slot tray.

Nokia 6

In case you are planning to go with the Arte Black variant of the Nokia 6, it's best to carry a cleaning cloth as it is a fingerprint magnet. We also noticed some scratches on the phone at the booth, and considering it was a brand new unit, there is a serious warning right there.

Nokia 6

Display

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Besides the comfortable grip, Nokia 6 has a satisfying Full HD 1080p display. There's nothing extra-ordinary here, but the handset makes sure it is best suited for watching movies, browsing and more. Using the handset outdoors under direct sun won't get challenging as the display avoids reflection, which would otherwise make it hard to use it in broad daylight. Overall, it was a wise choice on Nokia's behalf to use a Full HD display with Gorilla Glass for protection.

Nokia 6

Camera

Nokia 6 is at par with its rivals with a 16MP rear facing camera with f/2.0 aperture, PDAF and dual LED flash. We briefly tested the camera under good lighting condition and the results were not disappointing. The colours captured by the Nokia 6 were true to real ones, but we did notice some distortion at maximum zooming levels and zooming into an image after it has been shot.

Nokia 6

The capture speed is spontaneous and auto focus had no issues. The camera UI is slightly different from stock Android, but it is kept simple to make it easier for users to capture photos or shoot videos with a tap of a single button.

Nokia 6

On the front, Nokia 6 has an 8MP shooter with f/2.0 aperture, which can give some good quality selfies. The large aperture size makes it easy to shoot some great selfies in daylight and decent ones in low light conditions. If you are looking to buy Nokia 6 for its camera, you won't be disappointed, but there are several other options such as Xiaomi Redmi Note 4, Moto G5 Plus and others in the same price range with competitive results.

Performance

It's too soon to tell if the Nokia 6 is as good as other budget premium smartphones in terms of performance, but the chipset used to power the phone has proven to be one of the most reliable ones in recent times. Nokia 6 is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 chipset, which is paired with 3GB RAM, 32GB storage and stock Android 7.1.1 Nougat for a snappy user experience. We did not experience any lags launching and running multiple apps and switching back and forth between them. However, a detailed review of the phone's performance will be done once we get the handset for review nearing its launch in India. From what we can tell so far, buyers will not be making a losing bet on Nokia 6 for its performance. Also, Nokia 6 will be among of the first third-party Android phones to receive latest Android updates and monthly security patches.

For those who are extensive users with gaming and running performance-driven software, Nokia has a 4GB RAM and 64GB storage variant, which comes in a special Arte Black colour option, which is similar to Apple's Jet Black shade. Quite frankly, it is the higher-end variant that seems to make sense as compared to the entry-level model.

Battery

Nokia 6 features a 3000mAh battery, and our guess is that it will last up to 10 hours on a single charge if you are a heavy user and save some juice at the end of the day for those who mainly use phones for all means of communication. But we are not able to confirm Nokia 6's battery life just yet as we haven't tested it long enough.

Fingerprint scanner

One of the most standard features in mid-range phones is a fingerprint scanner. While most phones put the sensor at the back of the phone, Nokia prefers the home button to integrate the biometric scanner. It is undoubtedly accurate and fast, but it is also not surprising as most phones in Nokia 6's range do so anyway. This certainly cannot be the reason to buy the phone, but it is definitely a worthy addition.

Nokia 6

Audio

Nokia 6 has Dolby Atmos speakers at the bottom of the device, which delivers audible sound, balanced bass and least distortion. At the crowded MWC booth, playing sample tunes on the Nokia 6 was quite audible, but we couldn't really make out the bass difference from other standard speakers. Since Nokia is widely promoting this feature, we will specially look into it during our review.

Nokia 6

It is worth nothing that Dolby Atmos is only on the speakers of the phone and not when you use plug in earphones.

Conclusion

HMD Global has already received positive response for Nokia 6 and we can reaffirm that it is not overrated in any way. Nokia 6 is an excellent device with premium build quality, good camera, and snappy performance. While the handset comes in matte black, tempered blue, silver and copper, our favourite is the Arte Black, which is exclusive to 4GB RAM model. The handset has all the latest tech, everything from 4G LTE to dual SIM hybrid slot, and fingerprint scanner. If you recently upgraded your phone, then there isn't really any necessity to buy this one, but if you are considering an upgrade, Nokia 6 is easily one of the top three in our recommendation.

Nokia 6 price in India is yet to be announced, but in Europe the 3GB model costs €229 (approx. Rs. 16,000) and the 4GB variant is priced at €299 (around Rs. 21,000), which is quite decent to match its specs.

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