Nokia 6 review: Wasted potential

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Much to everyone’s delight, Finnish telecommunication pioneer Nokia is back from hibernation after completely exiting the smartphone market for a while. Nokia released (and is continuing to release) several devices to cater to all kinds of users; ranging from the enthusiast to the average Joe. The Nokia 6 falls under the mid-range segment, aiming to offer decent, if not top of the line specifications at a reasonable price.

The Nokia 6 comes in two variants; one with 3GB of RAM and 32GB internal storage and the other with 4GB of RAM and 64GB internal storage. Today, we’ll be delving into the 3GB/32GB variant. Let us take a quick look at the specifications the Nokia 6 has to offer.

  • Display: The display is a 5.5-inch IPS LCD panel with a resolution of 1920×1080(403ppi pixel density), protected by a layer of Corning Gorilla Glass 3. Powering the FHD panel is a Qualcomm Adreno 505 GPU.
  • Camera: The primary camera is 16-megapixels with dual-tone LED flash, phase detection autofocus, HDR and panorama. The secondary camera is 8-megapixels with a f/2.0 lens, lacking LED flash. Both the cameras can shoot full HD(1080p) videos at 30fps.
  • Hardware: The Nokia 6 is powered by an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 processor (just…why?) clocked at 1.5GHz, along with 3GB of RAM.
  • Memory: The internal storage of the device is 32GB and can be expanded up to 128GB via the hybrid SIM slot.
  • Battery: The battery is a 3000mAh Li-ion non-removable unit that supports Qualcomm’s Quick Charge.
  • Dimensions And Body: The Nokia 6 is 154x75x8mm in size and weighs approximately 169g. The body is all-metal and has rounded edges for better grip and aesthetics.
  • Connectivity: The Nokia 6 is a dual SIM device, with both SIM slots compatible with 4G and VoLTE. Other connectivity options include 802.11 b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth, NFC, GPS, a 3.5mm audio jack and a micro USB port.
  • Operating System: The Nokia 6 runs Android Nougat 7.1.1 out of the box and is mostly bloatware-free, with minimal customizations to the UI, which we’ll discuss later.

Nokia 6 Review: Design And Build Quality

Nokia seems to be deadly serious when it comes to living up to the standard they set with their earlier devices such as the Nokia 3310 (and all the memes that came with it). The all-metal milled aluminium body is robust and easily survived several drops from varying heights without so much as a scratch. The Corning Gorilla Glass 3 on the front also passed multiple drop tests with flying colours. The Nokia 6 is a go to if you’re clumsy and drop your phone often (like I do). Thankfully, due to the beautiful design and choice of materials, the Nokia 6 can be safely used without any protective case/glass.

Nokia 6 Review: Display

The 5.5-inch FHD panel is one of the best displays I’ve seen so far in phones costing between Rs. 15,000 and 20,000. The colour reproduction is accurate and has a wide colour gamut. FHD content streamed over YouTube and Netflix was reproduced accurately, with no visible tearing/framing. What stood out about the display, other than the colour accuracy, is the fact that the on-screen text was legible even under bright sunlight. I could easily read small print and text with virtually no eye-strain. Props to Nokia for designing one of the best displays I’ve ever seen in a smartphone (with the notable exception of the ones of Samsung and Apple devices).

Nokia 6 Review: Performance

Let me be perfectly honest here, the moment I saw the Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 as the pilot of this otherwise sturdy ship, my hopes from the device were lowered significantly. Although there was no input lag while typing, there were many occasions where the phone would simply go limp and stop responding, only to resume operation a second or two later. Games stop responding, only to resume operation a second or two later. Games such as Gameloft’s Modern Combat 5 and Asphalt 8 experienced stuttering and a frame rate loss, even at medium settings. The device also heated up slightly after a few minutes of gaming, but this is to be expected, as the body is all metal and will conduct any heat generated internally.

What struck out the most, however, is the absolute degradation of performance in battery saver mode, with multiple keystrokes/touches not being registered. Multitasking was not much of a problem, as the 3GB of RAM was able to handle whatever I threw at it. In the vast desert of disappointment that is the performance of the Nokia 6, there was one oasis; the front-facing fingerprint scanner. The scanner missed my fingerprint no more than one time out of a hundred and unlocked the device near instantaneously. In my opinion, the Nokia 6 would have been an absolute beast had it featured a more recent SoC such as the Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 or the 626. Following are the results of some benchmarks that I ran on the Nokia 6 (which took an eternity to run).

 

Nokia 6 Review: Camera

Here’s the part most of you are waiting for, the camera quality of the Nokia 6. The 16-megapixel shooter on the back has an f/2.0 lens, 1.0-micrometre pixel size, phase detection autofocus, dual-tone LED flash and is capable of recording 1080p videos at 30 fps. The secondary camera is 8-megapixels also with a f/2.0 lens, 1.12-micrometre pixel size and 1080p video recording capability. Despite running an ancient Snapdragon 430, the quality of full HD videos shot was crisp and lag-free. The slow-motion videos had to be shot at a lower resolution(480p).

The quality of images captured by the primary camera was nothing out of the ordinary, with some images turning out crystal clear and others not so much. The dual-tone LED flash was underwhelming and did a poor job at illuminating objects in the dark, which in turn affected the quality of low light images. The primary camera was a hit and a miss, and was disappointing to say the least.

 

Following the primary camera’s lead, the secondary camera was just as disappointing, with the image sensor rendering my skin a few hues darker or lighter, depending on lighting conditions. The secondary camera does away with the LED flash and chooses a rather unconventional method to assist in low light photography instead. The screen lights up to a brilliant white colour just as you click the photo, which in turn is used as a source of illumination for the camera. Although I wish they stuck with a conventional LED flash, as the low light image quality of the secondary camera is abysmal.

 

Nokia 6 Review: Connectivity And Software

Thee Nokia 6 runs stock Android Nougat 7.1.1 out of the box, just the way I like it. The UI is your garden-variety Material Design with minimal customization and a native diagnostic app that serves as a guide for the device. The only notable change in the UI is the blue buttons in the settings menu and the lack of a Google search bar on the home screen. The device received a software update ten days after I booted it up for the first time. The update consisted largely of bug fixes and other minor tweaks. The feature set is standard, with an integrated Google Assistant that pops up on long pressing the home button, along with other Nougat utilities.

The Nokia 6 opted for a hybrid SIM slot, as opposed to a dedicated SD slot, which disappointed me as I am old-school and prefer to lug my music around in a micro SD card. The network reception of the device was above-average, with it receiving a signal where other devices could pick up none. There was no remarkable difference in the quality of audio over a traditional 3G network and the more recent VoLTE network. The throughput capped out at a dismal 13Mbps on mobile data, tested at 4:30 AM in the morning at several locations.

Nokia 6 Review: Battery Life

The Nokia 6 has a non-removable 3,000mAh battery that supports Quick Charge. I’m going to say it as it is, the battery life of the Nokia 6 is absolutely atrocious, out of the box, at least. It barely lasted me fourteen hours on a single charge with approximately three and a half hours of screen on time. However, the battery life did improve marginally after the software update. Despite support for Quick Charge, it took nearly an hour and a half for the battery to charge from five to ninety-five percent, and an additional half an hour for it to charge completely.

 

Nokia 6 Review: Verdict

The Nokia 6 experience for me was similar to the one I had while viewing J.J. Abrams’ Lost. It started off with a blast, set my expectations sky high, peaked at a point and went tumbling down thereafter. Make no mistake, the build quality and the display of the Nokia 6 are excellent, but that’s about it. HMD Global’s choice to go with the hand-me-down Snapdragon 430 was a poor one and I hope that it is rectified in future devices.

Nokia 6

Rs. 14,990
Nokia 6
7.1

Design and Build Quality

9/10

Camera

7/10

Software

7/10

Performance

5/10

Battery

5/10

Display

9/10

Value for Money

8/10

Pros

  • Build quality is robust
  • Display is excellent
  • Fingerprint scanner is quick
  • Slow motion video recording is impressive

Cons

  • Performance is sub-par
  • Battery life is dismal

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