The wide acceptance of Android OS meant bad times for the once-loved Nokia brand name, and the company soon lost its market share thanks to its choice of Windows Phone for the operating system. But Nokia has made a much-publicized return to the market under new ownership, courtesy of a collective of former Nokia executives and employees that formed HMD Global. And until the coming launch of the flagship Nokia 8 smartphone, the current crop of Nokia devices sticks to the budget range.
We reviewed the Nokia 5, and found it to be a capable effort that’s built well, and sticks to the trademark Nokia styling and quality. However, weak specifications and a price that’s perhaps a bit too high means that it’s far from perfect. A step above the Nokia 5 is the Nokia 6, with slightly better specifications and different design. Priced at Rs 14,999, the Nokia 6 is sold exclusively on Amazon India, and promises that same Nokia reliability and trust. But it’s priced a bit higher than the current segment leader, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4, which makes this a tough competition indeed. Can a brand name trump proven quality and strong pricing? Find out in our review of the Nokia 6.
Nokia 6: The Good
As is the case with the Nokia 5, the USP of the Nokia 6 is its design and build, centered around the iconic brand name. And while the Nokia 5 has its own distinct design language and styling, the Nokia 6 is considerably different. But in a good way, and without losing any of the styling that gives it its unique Nokia character. The edges are sharp and chamfered for the shiny finish, which gives me the impression that it’s thicker, although it isn’t actually the case. The all-metal unibody build gives the phone a premium feel, and it certainly looks and feels much more expensive than it is.
With full HD screens a norm now, it was a bit disappointing to see the Nokia 5 sporting a 720p display. However, the Nokia 6 fills this gap, eliminating a potential reason to not consider a new Nokia if you’re shopping in the sub-Rs 15,000 price range. The phone comes with a 5.5-inch full HD screen, which is decent in terms of sharpness and brightness. Although the colors are a bit inaccurate, there isn’t much to complain about beyond that.
A big feature of the new Nokia smartphones is the lack of a custom skin, which will appeal to a large segment of buyers. The new Nokia phones, including the Nokia 6, feature near-stock Android, currently on version 7.1.1 Nougat. The phone comes with only a handful of non-system apps, with Nokia Support, Amazon Shopping, Amazon Prime Video, and Amazon Kindle pre-installed (without the option to uninstall). The rest of the apps are standard Google apps for all functions, including Chrome, Photos and Calendar, to name a few. This light approach helps keep the phone running smooth and properly making use of the RAM and SoC. Performance at the software level is good as a result.
Nokia 6: The Bad
Perhaps the biggest flaw with the Nokia 6 is its specifications sheet, which is pointedly weak and under-par for the price. Just like the Nokia 5, the Nokia 6 comes with specifications that don’t quite match up to what is being offered by competing manufacturers. With a massive reliance on the brand value and nostalgia element of owning a Nokia smartphone, the Nokia is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 SoC, with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage. While an offline-sales model may have served as some explanation for this due to the increased cost of distribution, the online-only Nokia 6 doesn’t quite match up to the recently launched and identically priced Xiaomi Mi A1. ALSO READ: Xiaomi Mi A1 First Impressions
As a result of the frugal hardware, you get performance that while acceptable and reliable enough, isn’t quite as capable as on similar smartphones in the category. Multi-tasking doesn’t suffer too much, but there is a noticeable waiting period when loading new apps or switching between apps. With graphics-intensive apps such as games, you’ll also find some frame-drops, and a graphic experience that isn’t quite as smooth as what you’d expect on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625-powered smartphone.
The Nokia 6 comes with a 16-megapixel camera with dual-tone LED flash, along with an 8-megapixel front camera. Both cameras are capable of shooting full HD videos, and use a software-based method for slow-motion and time lapse video. This involves manually adjusting the video resolution to allow for slow-motion, which highlights just how complicated the camera app is.
Pictures taken with the Nokia 6 are average at best, often having colors that are washed out, unnatural and too bright. While pictures are decent enough in natural light, artificial or inadequate lighting results in pictures that are noticeably poorer than what we’re used to seeing on phones in the price range. The same is the case with pictures taken with the front camera; detail suffers, and on the whole, the Nokia 6 doesn’t quite deliver when it comes to photography.
With a 3,000mAh battery under the hood, the Nokia 6 doesn’t boast anything special when it comes to battery life. In fact, despite the frugal Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 SoC powering the phone, battery life is just about average. On most days, you can get a full day of use, but you’ll struggle for more. Charging isn’t particularly fast, but it isn’t slow either, thanks to the 10W charger. The phone takes about two hours to fully charge. (Camera samples shot with the Nokia 6)
The Nokia 6, like the Nokia 5, isn’t quite as capable a smartphone in many departments when you consider the price. Furthermore, it’s an online-only phone, so you can’t really justify the price difference either. It falls short when it comes to performance, specifications and battery, and unfortunately does not have a very good camera either.
However, it looks and feels undeniably Nokia. The phone is beautiful and incredibly solid, and along with excellent stock-Android software, it makes for a great experience at the face of it. It’s also got that distinct Nokia nostalgia element to it, and will suit basic-usage buyers who want a well-built phone that can offer a reliable smartphone experience. Priced at Rs 14,999, the Nokia may perhaps be a bit expensive and not our first recommendation if specifications, performance and camera matter to you, but the premium does justify itself when you see how stunning the phone looks and feels.