Does the Nokia 6 have what it takes to compete with smartphones like the Moto G5 Plus and the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 which has long been considered as the budget smartphone king? Will the Nokia 6 resurrect the Nokia brand name and wash away the wounds that Windows Phone inflicted years ago? Every ardent Nokia fans wants to know if the smartphone is truly worth all the hype and hooplah surrounding it.
The Nokia brand holds a very special place in the hearts of millions of Indians – to this date it commands a lot of respect and admiration and a level of trust not enjoyed by most manufacturers. That is why expectations around Nokia’s comeback have been simply enormous. The Nokia 3, Nokia 5 and Nokia 6 have been one of the most widely anticipated devices in smartphone history.
The Nokia 6 has the most expectation upon its shoulder as it is the flag bearer of Nokia’s current Android line-up. At Rs 14,999, the Nokia 6 finds itself in arguably the most cut-throat segment of the smartphone market where a smartphone has to look premium, have decent performance and cameras and a nice screen all whilst being affordable. Plus the Nokia 6 is not just another phone, it is a device that might make or break the future of HMD Global in India and the yardstick to which all future Nokia devices will be judged.
A walk down memory lane
Back in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, the name Nokia was synonymous with phones and represented a new age of communication. HMD Global, the company behind Nokia’s comeback into the smartphone game understands the level of nostalgia associated with the brand. In fact, their whole comeback strategy has revolved around invoking people’s nostalgia for the brand and reminding them of the good old days so as to speak.
There are no two ways about it – the Nokia 6 is gorgeous and is surely the best looking device in its price range
The frenzied reaction to the launch of the re-incarnated Nokia 3310 was proof of how well this strategy is working and how much love people still have for the brand. However, Nokia cannot ride on this wave of nostalgia forever. The products have to deliver as well. There have been various instances of companies, actors and products coming back after years, seeing a lot of success initially but then eventually fizzling out after the initial hooplah around their comeback dies.
They don’t make them like this anymore
What stands out first and foremost when you pick up the Nokia 6 is the design. There are no two ways about it – the smartphone is gorgeous and is surely the best looking device in its price range. The smartphone looks and feels incredibly premium – much more so than its Rs 14,999 price indicates. The build quality is also phenomenal – the phone feels like a tank without being too heavy and chunky.
The capacitive keys for home, back and recent apps are thankfully backlit and are fairly responsive. The volume rocker and power button are also made out metal are not mushy and have a sufficient amount of travel. One slight complaint is that the fingerprint sensor, while accurate, takes a little time to read your fingerprint.
What prevents the design from getting a perfect score is the fact that the smartphone feels a bit too wide in the hand and the edges are bit too sharp and tend to dig into your fingers. The shiny finish around the camera lens and around the frame might also put off some people. All in all, it seems that Nokia has pushed the goalpost a bit further when it comes to design in this price segment with the Nokia 6.
Software optimisation matters
It is pretty well known by now that the Nokia 3, Nokia 5 and Nokia 6 run a completely untouched version of Android. While the Nokia 3 and 5 ship with Android 7.0, the Nokia 6 comes with the latest version of Android – 7.1.1 Nougat right out of the box. Nokia has skinned some of the icons in their trademark blue colour but other than that, Android is mostly untouched.
The Nokia 6 has faced criticism from some quarters for being powered by the relatively low-end Snapdragon 430 processor instead of the Snapdragon 625 SoC that the Moto G5 Plus comes with. However, in day to day use, primarily due to the well optimised build of stock Android, the Nokia 6 is quite fast and snappy. The smartphone zips along nicely and does not show signs of any major lags or slowdowns.
Stock Android ensures that the Nokia 6 is quite fast and snappy despite the slightly low-end Snapdragon 430 processor
I will have to wait till I use the device more extensively to see whether Nokia’s decision to equip the Nokia 6 with a Snapdragon 430 processor has compromised the phone in any serious way. For now it seems that in day to day use at least the Snapdragon 430/3GB RAM + stock Android combo is more than good enough. There were some lags during scrolling heavy pages in Chrome but nothing major.
The battery life also seemed quite impressive in the few days I used the device. In the Nokia 3, the company managed to squeeze every drop out of the fairly small 2,650mAh battery. It seems that that it will be the same case with the 3,000mAh unit on the Nokia 6.
The 5.5-inch Full HD display is crisp and vivid. Colours are punchy and I am glad that Nokia has not committed the folly of quipping a smartphone in this price segment with a 720p display – a sin many of its competitors commit. Even though the maximum brightness is not as high as I would have liked, the good quality polarization filter ensures the device is visible even in harsh sunlight. The viewing angles though are not that great.
Fairly impressive cameras
In the short time I had with the Nokia 6, the cameras managed to win me over. The 16MP rear camera has an aperture of f/2.0 and produces fairly impressive results. Images have a lot of detail, object outlines are sharp, colors are natural and noise is controlled. Shutter lag is normally quite low but sometimes the phone stops to take a breath or two whilst saving images to the disk. This is most probably the Snapdragon 430 processor rearing its ugly head.
The rear camera’s low light capabilities are also good (if not best in class) – photos have good detail and minimal noise. A proper test of the camera’s low light capabilities and video prowess will have to wait till the full review. On the front, there is an 8MP sensor with an aperture of f/2.0 which is also great for its class. The shutter is fast, focus is precise and images are crisp and detailed. While I am yet to test it out fully, low light performance seems a bit hit and miss.
Early verdict: Back to the good old days
The Nokia 3 was a good, if not great device that really made me excited for what HMD Global can deliver in the future. With the Nokia 6, in the limited time I have had with the device, it seems like the diminutive Finnish company has managed to do the impossible – meet the incredibly high expectations surrounding the device.
Is the phone a game changer? Maybe not. At least it does not seem so – it might surprise me as I use it further. However, for a company that has come back after so many years and is under so much pressure to deliver – they seem to have done extremely well with the Nokia 6.
The Nokia 6 has an incredible design, smooth and fluid software and impressive cameras. It also continues Nokia’s tradition of making phones with absolutely tank like build quality. The big question is how much the under-powered processor compromises the phone. For that we will have to wait till the full review. Till then, Nokia can bask in the glory of what it has created here. Once again – welcome back Nokia.