After having covered personal technology for almost five years, I have seen several brands rising to the top from almost nothing, many getting forgotten while new names making the headlines almost every other day. Such has been the topsy-turvy industry of smartphones in the last couple of years. But then some have made a comeback from the dead. After Motorola, another name that is looking to revive its glory is Nokia. Once everyone s favorite phone brand, something that only 90s-kids-will-only-remember, is back into the smartphone space. And boy, the buzz it has generated in last few months, especially after it showed off the nostalgia-bleeding Nokia 3310 redux! Also Read - Nokia C20 Plus budget smartphone launched: Check specs, price and other detailsAlso Read - Nokia C01 Plus with an upgraded processor and bigger battery launched
At this year s MWC 2017, Nokia stole the show with its three new smartphones – Nokia 3, Nokia 5, and Nokia 6. And months later, HMD Global, the company that has the global license for the Nokia brand, introduced the three smartphones in India today. Ahead of the launch, I got to spend some time with the new Nokia smartphones, and here are my first impressions. Also Read - Apple’s Craig Federighi admits the level of Mac malware is not acceptable, iOS fairs better
The Nokia 3, Nokia 5, and Nokia 6, as the nomenclature suggests, are targeted at the different price categories, ascending from budget to mid-range category. The specifications to go in the same order as well. The Nokia 3 is priced at Rs 9,499, and the Nokia 5 is priced at Rs 12,899. Both smartphones will be available to purchase offline. The Nokia 6, on the other hand, will set you back by Rs 14,999 and will be available exclusively via Amazon India.
Let me first elaborate and stress on the element that makes Nokia s comeback smartphones more special. For years, fans longed for a Nokia smartphone that runs on Android, but back then the company put excessive faith on Microsoft s Windows mobile OS. Even under the Microsoft-ownership, the Nokia Lumia series could not make any impact. But this time, Nokia has embraced Android to its full glory. And is even step ahead with the competition with offering Android 7.0 Nougat out-of-the-box.
HMD Global told us that the Nokia smartphones are future proof as well as they will not only receive future major Android updates but will keep regularly up to date with timely patches. This, in my opinion, is kind of a big deal. Take OnePlus for an example. The company launched the so-called OnePlus One and OnePlus 2 with the flagship killer gimmick. And an approximately couple of years later, we find out that the OnePlus 2 won t get Android Nougat update. While I do echo the sentiment that the past two Android versions have been good enough, but users shouldn t be missing out on new and improved features for at least couple of years, taking into account of the average smartphone replacement cycle. I think Apple did a commendable job by including a smartphone as old as iPhone 5S with its latest iOS 11 software update.
That being said, the software experience on the Nokia 3, Nokia 5 and Nokia 6 is quite fluid. There s no app launcher and the fingerprint scanner on the front (the capacitive touch button on the Nokia 3) double as the home button. During the brief time I spent with the devices, the experience was pretty fine. There was no stutter or noticeable lag. From switching between one app to another to taking a quick burst of photos, the phones did a pretty good job. The phones rendered pretty decent legibility in the indoor light conditions. Do note that the smartphones were demo units, so the experience may vary on the commercial units. However, based on my first impressions, I don t think there will be a much of difference. Though I will like to reserve my final verdict under we have run these devices through a barrage of tests.
Besides the pure Android experience and timely updates promise, what I was most impressed with was the emphasis on the design. First up, the Nokia 6 is perhaps one of the most good looking phones out there. With uniformity in design and shiny metal sides, the Nokia 6 in silver color looked pretty cool. The phone is quite compact at 5.5-inch, though slightly a broader back panel reminded me of the Qiku Q Terra.
The antenna lines fluidly merge with the top and bottom panels. There s a vertical camera and LED flash on the back followed by a subtle Nokia branding. The volume and power buttons are on the left, and comfortable within the reach. The front has the usual display with the front camera sensors on top and capacitive navigation buttons. The fingerprint scanner sits between these two buttons. At the base of the smartphone are the micro USB port (No Type-C in case if you were wondering) and speaker, which by the way seemed pretty cool, thanks to Dolby Atmos integration. There s 3.5mm audio jack on the top.
The Nokia 5, on the other hand, seems to be a mini version of the Nokia 6 with a relatively smaller 5.2-inch display. The look and feel of the smartphone is very much similar, which is a good thing I d like to believe. The most affordable in the lot is the Nokia 3. Unlike the Nokia 5 and Nokia 6 that sport a metal and glass combination, the Nokia 3 has a polycarbonate body.
Of course, there are tons of smartphones with the metal body at this price point. But guess what they all look more or less the same. The Nokia 3, on the other hand, looks quite different with a very flattish design. And there’s anodized aluminum frame to give it further sturdiness. But what I liked the most was the equal weight proportion and uniform symmetry. The only thing I am apprehensive about is the relatively sharper corners, but I think you can get used to while spending time with the device. Also, I think the smartphone with a fingerprint scanner would have made a more compelling proposition that it is at the moment. ALSO READ: Nokia 3 hands-on and first impressions
Overall, the Nokia 3, Nokia 5 and Nokia 6 smartphones are quite good looking and promising devices. With Nokia branding on the back, you and your smartphone will certainly get noticed. I think for HMD Global it comes down to this only – the brand value. While the smartphones have got a lot of things right for their first outing, the competition is more intense than ever before. DON’T MISS: Can Nokia s Android smartphones compete in the Indian market?
Sadly, it s all about the specs + price game at the moment. On that front, HMD Global s Nokia smartphones with underwhelming specifications may face a lot of challenges. I am sort of positive the company could ride on the buzz and nostalgia factors for the initial outings, but it will be interesting to see how the company will sustain the momentum. With the likes of Xiaomi and Lenovo coming out with one good after another, Nokia s nostalgia charm can take it to a certain distance. After that, elements like price, specifications, experience, and after sales support will be under the scrutiny. ALSO READ: Dear Nokia, it s good to have you back, but the world has changed!