Nokia 6 first impressions: A healthy reboot for a nostalgia-heavy brand

Nokia is back in business, Android style. We saw the first wave of new Nokia-branded smartphones loaded with Android OS this MWC (Mobile World Congress). HMD Global, the company that officially has the Nokia branding license, has finally brought the three new smartphones to India, which will be available in the coming weeks.

While the Nokia 3 and Nokia 5 will be available online as well as offline, the most attractive out of the bunch is the new Nokia 6, which will be an Amazon.in exclusive. The sub-Rs 15,000 smartphone offers a decent hardware and a solid looking design. Here is a quick look at the device.

Build and design

Nokia was known to build one of the toughest phones around and that puts a lot of pressure on the company. The new age of smartphones come with more delicate parts and while it's still possible to build a tough smartphone, it comes at the expense of design. So what's Nokia done with its new smartphones?

The Nokia 6 seems to offers solid build quality. HMD Global said that the Nokia 6 uses a single block of 6000-series aluminum and, well, it shows. It feels like a slab of metal and has slightly sharp edges, which might disappoint some. The overall finish is premium though, and I think the company has done a good job in the design department. It fits well in the hand too, I just wish it was a bit smaller.

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The layout of the antenna bands is similar to how Apple placed them on the iPhone 7, curved around the top and bottom edges. The camera module, along with the LED flash, is stacked vertically and raised from the main body.

At the front is the 2.5D curved glass which adds a nice finish to the 5.5-inch display sitting under it. The handset has a capacitive home button just below the display, which also houses the fingerprint scanner. Two backlit Android navigation keys sit on either side. Right above the display are the earpiece, light sensors and the front facing camera.

The frame in the middle is all metal as well and houses the volume and power buttons on the right side, the 3.5 mm audio jack is on the top, the SIM card tray is on the left and the speaker and microUSB port are at the bottom.

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Considering the huge number of metal-clad smartphones in this price range, the Nokia 6 definitely has a distinguishing factor thanks to its design. Of course that is my opinion, and it might not appeal to everyone.

Display

The Nokia 6 features a 5.5-inch IPS LCD display with a resolution of 1920x1080 and a pixel density of 403 ppi. As mentioned above, the display is covered with a 2.5D curved Gorilla Glass 3 for added protection. The display looks good and colors also seemed to be vibrant. In terms of sharpness, I think a Full HD resolution on a 5.5-inch screen is perfectly fine. While the viewing angles seemed to be in tune, I am not very sure about how well it can perform under direct sunlight, though the company says it has an anti-glare coating and up to 450 nits of brightness.

Chipset, Storage and RAM

This is where the handset could fall. Today, it's all about 'specifications versus price.' The Nokia 6 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 SoC with an X6 LTE modem, an octa-core 1.4 GHz processor and Adreno 505 GPU. This is paired with 3 GB of RAM along with 32 GB of internal storage. This storage can be further expanded using a microSD card of up to 128 GB. At its price, the specifications are quite underwhelming. If you are purely looking for the best performing hardware, then there are better options on the market.

The Snapdragon 430 is not a very powerful platform, but that might translate into better battery life. Whether Nokia hit the right balance of battery life and performance, however, remains to be seen.

OS and software

HMD Global is banking a lot upon the OS. As a part of the official partnership with Google, all the Nokia smartphones, including the Nokia 6, will get the latest updates on time. Currently, you get Android 7.1.1 Nougat on the Nokia 6, which is nice to see. Also, it is being offered in clean stock format. Spot on! You might however get Amazon apps built-in as a part of Nokia's exclusive retail partnership.

The OS felt smooth to me during the few minutes of usage. Apps opened smoothly and scrolling also felt good. The UI is similar to what it is on the Pixel smartphones with the app drawer simply sliding from the bottom up. The smartphone also features Dolby Atmos support, offering a rich audio experience.

If the company can live up-to its promise of pushing updates including security patches on time, it could leverage this as there are hardly any Android OEMs that provide updates on time.

Camera

Considering how Nokia pioneered the camera department before fading from the market, I had high hopes (ahem, Carl Zeiss) that it would capitalize on this feature. Sadly, that isn't the case. The Nokia 6 comes with a 16 MP rear camera with an f/2.0 aperture, phase detection autofocus and a dual-LED flash. As for the front camera, you get an 8 MP camera with an f/2.0 aperture lens.

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The quality is just about average. While it can capture good details, some of the images turned out to have soft corners. Colors are a bit subdued and pictures seem to lack punch and feel a bit flat. Even the HDR mode doesn't make a huge difference. The front camera also has a similar story, with average and flat images.

The cameras are not bad per say, but there's nothing extraordinary about them. I'll have more information once I spend time with the device.

Battery and connectivity

These are also pretty standard on the device.  There is a 3,000 mAh battery with support for fast charging. There is no confirmation if it will be bundled with a high-capacity charger. The company didn't mention much about the battery life and I expect it to last a day at most. Of course, I need to test it properly.

Connectivity options offered on the Nokia 6 include 4G LTE with VoLTE support, dual-SIM card support, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, FM Radio, GPS/A-GPS/GLONASS, a 3.5 mm audio jack and microUSB 2.0 with OTG support.

Verdict and price

HMD Global is banking upon some factors which may or may not work for the company. Firstly, it hopes to pull customers through the Nokia brand name, which you have to admit, still has value. There is no doubt that there is still respect for Nokia and a huge customer base will definitely trust the name.

Secondly, the company is offering a large retail and service network across India, which is crucial for selling as well as for after sales support. It already has 400 exclusive distributors and over 80,000 retail locations. Lastly, the part I am a bit skeptical about, is the experience of using the device. Yes, it's a good phone, but is it the best option for its price?

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At Rs 14,999, the Nokia 6 is positioned in a very competitive bracket. At the same price, one can go for a Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 which offers a much more powerful platform. Even the Moto G5 Plus or the Coolpad Cool 1 are very strong competitors.

I think the only two features that really impressed me were the design, and the fact that this is a 'Nokia' device. There is still some proper testing left to actually come to a verdict on whether this is a worthy phone or not. Personally, I think this is a good start for the return of Nokia, but there is scope for improvement. It is definitely going to face some tough competition in the market, however.


Published Date: Jun 14, 2017 09:35 am | Updated Date: Jun 14, 2017 09:35 am