[dropcap]S[/dropcap]o remember back in the days of candybar phones and Nokia ruled the roost with their range of phones?
There were a number of factors involved but over time Nokia slipped from their (at the time) rightful place at the top of the totem pole to barely rating a mention as an also ran. With their recent release of devices, the Nokia 3, Nokia 5 and Nokia 6 they’re hoping to make amends for this and from my experience they’re doing a great job.
I was quite excited to see what Nokia has to offer with their line of Android phones, particularly with the promise of a “Clean Android Experience”.
Nokia 6 is labelled as a mid-range phone, but in my time with the device it deserves far more than just a “mid range” tag.
Being a mid-range device you don’t get a lot of pomp and ceremony the same way you do in the retail packaging of the top flight devices. There’s the phone, charger, earphones and… well that’s it. It’s a really simple packaging but well presented. Most importantly, it will look quite good on retail shelves and will appeal to you, the customer.
The feel in hand really struck me, I suspect people will either love it as I did – or hate it. The shape is familiar, not unlike most other smartphones really. The transition from the edge of the phone to the front has quite a “sharp” edge to it. I like this feeling particularly on some of the newer devices with really smooth finishes because it means you have a point of friction to hold onto the phone with and also means you’re less likely to knock the screen around on your desk.
I’m pleased to say for those that use them regularly that the fingerprint reader responds quickly and although it does mis-read occasionally, it’s quick to read a second time. The placement isn’t quite natural for me, being the home button on the front of the device. Coming from the Pixel XL which has it on the rear of the device, the Nokia 6 took a little bit of adjustment. For those who leave their phones on their desks during the day, though, a front-mounted fingerprint sensor is a godsend.
The Nokia 6 has a lot to like about it, the specs aren’t top end but the performance is more than enough for the vast majority of users. The software doesn’t have any invasive manufacturer skins on it, the sound quality is excellent and the battery life is outstanding.
When you start looking at the innards of the Nokia 6, the specs aren’t really anything to scream from the rooftop about as you can see. There’s the expected suite of connectivity, a solid screen, decent battery and bands to support the carriers in Australia
|Nokia 6||Release date||—||Screen size||5.5-inch||Screen technology||IPS LCD||Resolution||1,920 x 1,080||PPI||400||Rear camera||16MP||Rear aperture||f/2.0||Front camera||8MP||Front aperture||f/2.0||Chipset||Snapdragon 430||Core config||—||Ram||3GB||Storage||64GB||MicroSD||Yes, up to 128GB||Battery||3,000 mAh||Battery removable||—||Connector||MicroUSB||Headphone Port||Yes||Headphone Location||—||Speaker Configuration||—||WIFI standards||802.11 a/b/g/n||Bluetooth standards||4.1||NFC||Yes||Location||Android OS||Android 7.0||Vendor skin||—||Dimensions||154 x 75.8 x 7.85 mm (camera protruding part 8.4 mm)||Weight||—||Colours|
Despite the specs that could (should?) be better, the user experience is superior to phones that cost twice as much in some instances.
I’d like to focus on the screen briefly because at 5.5 inches, running 1080 x 1920 and 403 ppi it’s hardly the most impressive screen on the market. What I liked about it is the colour reproduction and the touch response. Both were in my thoughts, rivalling some of the last generation of flagships which is quite an impressive feat of a phone that costs less than half what most of them did at the time of release.
Performance of mobile phones can often be dependent on your use case. A basic user who has one email running, probably Facebook, maybe Twitter and a few other apps intermittently throughout the day isn’t going to have any issues with this device.
The inclusion of 3GB of RAM has made quite a difference to the day to day performance of the phone. Switching between apps was reliably fast when they were loaded into cache. The only real issue I found with the performance of this phone is that the CPU is lacking a bit of grunt which affected load times when opening apps for the first time on a given day.
Nokia 6 is an Android phone, and better still, it’s pretty much stock Android too. In fact, Nokia are using stock Android 7.1.1 and side by side with my 2016 Pixel XL (running stock ROM) it was, in terms of software at least – impossible to spot any differences. For buyers who hate bloat, there just wasn’t any. No extra “cleaners”, manufacturer web clients… Nothing!
Sound and call quality
I listen to a lot of music and podcasts and consequently use a combination (depending on my location and if I remembered to bring my headphones) of speakers, headphones and the speaker on my device. I was impressed with the clarity of sound on the Nokia 6. It would be easy for them to just have a really cheap, shrill speaker in a mid-range device but the delivery of sound is excellent for quite a variety of music and voice reproduction.
Taking this a touch further, the call quality was excellent and I had a number of HD voice calls from other Telstra customers which had really crisp and clear sound throughout the calls.
Despite my heavy use on mobiles I’m actually quite astounded to say I consistently got 2 days out of the battery. I was running pretty low by the time I got home on day 2, but consistently 38 + hours out of the battery is quite brilliant out of a 3000mAh battery in real world use. Undoubtedly the screen specs mentioned earlier will be assisting this greatly, the lower resolution and ppi means the gpu doesn’t have to work as hard to keep the display running.
The main point where the Nokia 6 falls down is the camera. It’s not a brilliant camera but being honest, that’s ok when you take a serious look at the target market for a sub $400 phone. The points of frustration, borderline aggravation for me weren’t the photo quality but more the speed of operation.
I counted out several times the launch speed of the camera app at over 5 seconds which can be the difference between capturing a moment or not, particularly with young kids running around like mad things. The other issue that is somewhat less of a frustration is the inconsistent time it takes from pressing the button to a photo capturing, on several occasions more than 2 seconds to capture a photo where others it’s near instant.
Pros and Cons
There’s a bit to like and a bit to be dubious about with any mid-range phone. As has been outlined already, the Nokia 6 is a really sound device with good specs for a mid-range device with reliable and predictable performance.
- The battery life is excellent
- The design is really slick with a good in hand feel
- Stock Android!!!
- The price is excellent for what you’re getting
What could be improved:
- The camera is slow to load and at times take photos
- The CPU lacks a bit if you’re a heavy user
- The screen resolution may be a bit low for budget conscious, heavy users
Because we’re often lucky enough to review high end phones at Ausdroid, it can be difficult to review a low to mid-range device “fairly” while focussing on what would be the target market. But when you’ve got a device like the Nokia 6 in your pocket that often makes you forget that you’re not dealing with a top flight device, in fact a sub $400 phone it’s far easier to do.
Out of everything that the 6 has to offer there were really only the two negative points that reared up at me during testing. The camera which has already been mentioned and at times, the lack of CPU made load times on apps noticeably longer than on other devices I’ve recently used.
Putting those aside and focussing on the intended market, this is a ripping device. It’s not going to empty your wallet, you’ll get reliable performance from it, the battery life is outstanding and if that’s not enough it’s running stock Android.
Should you buy one?
The short answer is: If you’re a really heavy user who needs the grunt, then perhaps this isn’t for you. But if you’re looking for a cheap phone that’s going to be a really good device for you for about 12 months then yes. If you’re looking for a spare or secondary phone, yes. When you look at the price, performance and reliability – the Nokia 6 is a winner in my books.
The Nokia 6 is available outright through multiple retail channels at prices ranging from about $360 through to the RRP of $399 at the major chains like Harvey Norman and JB Hifi. So if you’re in the market for a new phone, it’s absolutely worth the time for you to head to your local store and check it out.
If you’re hunting for a mid-range device: What are your must have features?