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Nokia 6 review: HMD Global isn't strutting its stuff yet

HMD Global takes the plunge. After debuting at the MWC in February, one of Nokia's three smartphone newcomers has finally arrived on the US market. For now, the Nokia 6 is the most high-end model offered by the brand, and its price, around $230, is a declaration of war on the competition. But will this battle cry be heard? That’s what this Nokia 6 review will find out.

Rating

Good

  • High-contrast, high-resolution display
  • Solid craftsmanship
  • Early software updates

Bad

  • Chipset too weak
  • Bad multitasking
  • Noticeably slow charging

Nokia 6 release date and price

Initially sold only in the Chinese market, the Nokia 6 is now available in the US and can be purchased from Amazon.com. The Matte Black and Copper color variants are available for $229 for the standard version and $179 for the Prime Exclusive version with offers and ads. The Silver color variant is only available in the standard version, and it sells for $229.

 

Nokia 6 design and build quality

The Nokia 6 is robust, relatively easy to repair, resists water baths and looks good as well. If you value good design and need a device that can withstand drops without a protective case, then the Nokia 6 is a good option for you.

AndroidPIT Nokia 6 002
An aluminum back can also be delightful. / © AndroidPIT

When it comes to design, the Nokia 6 knows how to be appealing at first sight. Slightly rounded edges, a home button with an integrated fingerprint sensor on the front, and a slightly curved display make a good impression. The rear sports matte metal and the typical Nokia logo. The rear camera protrudes somewhat, and you can quickly make out the antennas on the top part of the smartphone. The bottom of the Nokia 6’s bezel sports a now-outdated micro-USB port.

AndroidPIT Nokia 6 009
The shiny polished edges are stylish and clear-cut. / © AndroidPIT

The top edge has a 3.5-mm headphone jack, making it no problem to use your regular headphones with the Nokia 6. At 8.4-mm, the Nokia 6 is definitely not among the thinnest smartphones on the market, and this teardown video by JerryRigEverything will show you why: Several layers of metal and quite a number of screws hold the components together and, as a matter of fact, in such a way that makes quick repairs possible.

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It still has the good ol’ headphone jack. / © AndroidPIT

Nokia 6 display

The Nokia 6’s display measures 5.5 inches and features full HD, giving it a pixel density of 401 ppi. The display, which is an IPS LCD panel, is protected by Gorilla Glass 3 and has good viewing angles. All in all, the display makes a good impression, particularly for a smartphone in this price range.

AndroidPIT Nokia 6 001
The display leaves a good impression. / © AndroidPIT

GSMArena conducted some measurements and obtained a maximum brightness of 522 cd/m². The color black measures 0.38 cd/m² at full brightness, producing a contrast of 1395:1, which is an above-average result. When brightness is set to a minimum, the color white shines at 1.9 cd/m², making it exceptionally great for nighttime reading.

Nokia 6 special features

The Nokia 6 is a dual-SIM smartphone if you purchase it unlocked. Providers avoid dual-SIM variants, since customers can use an additional SIM from a competitor in the second slot instead of purchasing the carrier’s plans.

AndroidPIT Nokia 6 008
Dual-SIM or removable storage. / © AndroidPIT

As often seen, the hybrid slot presents you with a choice: Either you use a second SIM card or you have a MicroSD card for your pictures. A MicroSD could also be formatted as internal storage in the Nokia 6, but it would have to be a really fast one. Here's how to pick the best MicroSD card for your phone.

Nokia 6 software

The Nokia 6 runs the latest Android version, 7.1.1 Nougat. HMD Global has opted for stock Android on its Nokia smartphones, which means no flashy bloatware, early security updates and maybe even quicker version upgrades.

nokia 6 scareware
This pop-up survey is very annoying. You can’t get rid of the background services. / © AndroidPIT

However, the pop-up of a customer survey app caught my attention. It runs as a background service and cannot be deactivated. When the survey appears for the first time, it looks similar to typical scareware, which will irritate inexperienced users.

Nokia 6 performance

The Nokia 6 sports an octacore Snapdragon 430—each core running at up to 1.4 GHz—and an Adreno 505 GPU, the smallest one with Vulkan support. 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB internal storage look good on the Nokia 6’s data sheet, although they cannot make up for the defects in the undersized chipset.

Damir Franc adequately expounded this point in his rant: The Nokia 6’s performance is severely unbalanced. This chipset is often found alongside displays with lower resolutions, making the GPU not work as hard. It also prevents lag, like the one you almost inevitably experience on the Nokia 6.

Alternatively, Nokia would have been better off equipping the Nokia 6 with a Snapdragon 650, which would have been up to the task thanks to the stronger GPU and a true performance cluster in the CPU. But even the similarly equipped BQ Aquaris X shows that something is simply not right with the Nokia 6’s performance.

Nokia 6 vs. BQ Aquaris X in Benchmarks

  3D Mark Sling Shot Extreme ES 3.1 3D Mark Sling Shot ES 3.0 3D Mark Ice Storm Unlimited ES 2.0 Geekbench 4 - single core Geekbench 4 - multi core PC Mark Work 2.0 PC Mark Storage
Nokia 6 289 571 9596 655 2772 3562 2967
BQ Aquaris X 465 845 13589 923 4531 5354 4404

Apart from benchmarks, the lower performance is almost always noticeable. Videos in Facebook stutter, and simply browsing through streams is a giant lagfest. The aggressive RAM management closes background apps, making it necessary to constantly reload them when multitasking. Other smartphones are far less stingy with 3 GB RAM and provide a better user experience.

HMD Global urgently needs to make some improvements here. One option would be to lower its operating resolution to 720p as permitted by Samsung smartphones in some modes. But we are eagerly waiting to see if HMD will do something about it.

Nokia 6 audio

The Nokia 6 has stereo loudspeakers, but the effect is not audible since they are situated directly next to each other. A Dolby option in the audio settings is supposed to improve the sound. However, the optimization mainly decreases the maximum volume.

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The stereo speakers are situated directly next to each other. / © AndroidPIT

A second microphone is located above the camera on the back of the smartphone. It has two jobs: On the one hand, it handles noise cancellation during phone calls. On the other hand, it records the mono sound in videos. The microphone on the lower edge, on the right next to the micro-USB port depicted above, is apparently used in phone calls only.

AndroidPIT Nokia 6 007
The hole above the camera houses the video microphone. / © AndroidPIT

Nokia 6 camera

The Nokia 6’s rear camera has 16 MP, dual LED flash, an f / 2.0 aperture and 1-µm pixel size. Microsoft’s Nokia phones were famous for having good cameras, but we still must wait for the Nokia 8 manufactured by HMD Global. It is expected to feature Zeiss optics and therefore shouldn't be a disappointment.

Neither the rear camera photos nor the 8 MP selfies (f / 2.0, 1.12 µm pixels) make a positive impression. Colors come out strong and beautiful in daytime shots, but the contrast is almost always weak, and HDR mode does not help matters either. Due to a lack of any form of stabilization, exposure times are brief and videos are blurry. Phase detection focus fails indoors with weak light and images turn out blurry.

Nokia 6 battery

The Nokia 6’s battery has a 3,000 mAh capacity and cannot be replaced without tools. Battery life heavily varies from user to user. If you are on the go a lot and use mobile data, power consumption will increase. Conversely, if you commute directly to the office from home and vice versa, the battery can last 36 hours with mixed use.

nokia 6 battery usage
The display time is decent, but stand-by consumption is puzzling. / © AndroidPIT

Ordinary charging takes three hours with the Nokia 6. Many competing devices now have quick-charging technology, which at least allows for quick recharging from zero to 50 percent in a few minutes. However, HMD Global has opted to forego the Quick Charge driver for the Nokia 6’s chipset, which would have been available for a license fee.

Nokia 6 technical specifications

Dimensions: 154 x 75.8 x 7.85 mm
Weight: 169 g
Battery size: 3000 mAh
Screen size: 5.5 in
Display technology: LCD
Screen: 1920 x 1080 pixels (401 ppi)
Front camera: 8 megapixels
Rear camera: 16 megapixels
Flashlight: LED
Android version: 7.0 - Nougat
User interface: Stock Android
RAM: 3 GB
Internal storage: 32 GB
Removable storage: microSD
Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 430
Number of cores: 8
Max. clock speed: 1.4 GHz
Connectivity: HSPA, LTE, Dual-SIM , Bluetooth

Final verdict

The Nokia 6 is robust, looks good and is affordable. However, HMD Global makes compromises by foregoing some options and not choosing the right components, therefore it squanders its chance at the Nokia 6 becoming a recommended purchase. Lenovo’s Moto G5 delivers slow motion and fast charging for only about $215. For $199, the Honor 6X provides an even bigger battery and, above all, better performance for less cash.

HMD can make some improvements over the long term, however. The software has ways to eliminate the performance problems and improve the post processing of photos. Then the device will at least become competitive as a newcomer in the smartphone world. However, there is one more thing that needs fixing: the price needs to fall below $230 to compete.

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20 comments

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  • Fred Wong 2 months ago Link to comment

    What appeals to me is that it produces acceptable photos and more importantly Nokia promises to update the software regularly. Unlike many other big names which only give you one update if any.


  • Watched the you tube review on the Nokia 5,and it sounds alot better offer than the Nokia 6,HMD better get there phones more of a premium phones or they will end up struggling to compete,people thought the purchase of Nokia would mean better phones than the windows phones,but up till now they are not showing they can compete with Samsung,Sony and the other android phone produces


  • Nokia seems to be pretty late to the party...never the less since it's here lets hope for the best. Unfortunately, they still have the stock issue..which is disappointing for the real fans..even than in India at least, it will be going on a flash sale sort of a thing ala Xiaomi..even Xiaomi has ditched this flash sale thing.


  • I see the nokia 6 will only have a snapdragon 430 processor with 3 gb Ram. For the top of the range model I'm afraid it's not going to be premium in my opinion.


  • I went Nokia mobil plz give me a mobil I m not a poor but plz NokI owner give me a mobil I wil give pamant ok


  • Thanks noki


  • processor should have been snapdragon 650.


  • I will buy a Nokia phone once they could produced a compact phone like what Sony is doing. Display size is really a big deal for me. I am really not a fan of phone that has 5 inches and above display screen.


  • I see no reason to be happy with this. Nokia is a brand that is dear to the hearts of most people. But this is not a Nokia comeback. Just because some unknown company has bought rights to the Nokia name and decided to make an Android phone and christened it Nokia doesn't mean it's the same Nokia we love. No it's not. Microsoft saw that it would be okay to make a quick buck out of selling a brand that it had deliberately killed with meticulous planning. It had thrown the Nokia name into the dustbin after killing it. Now some company whom nobody has ever heard of comes knocking and offers money for a piece of scrap paper in the dustbin. Nonsense. Something which is gone is gone. Just be nostalgic about it but don't attempt to resurrect it. The people and sentiments and time in which we had Nokia are gone. This vain glorious attempt to resurrect the Nokia brand is only going to create a ghost, a zombie, a Frankenstein.


    • Too early to say that bro.
      Why don't we give them a chance?


    • Reg Joo 6 months ago Link to comment

      Most of the comments are for this company to be successful again. The ties to the old company may not be many, but from reports, there are some. Just the name will get other mfgrs sweating( granted, the top 5 have nothing to worry about).


    • You've got no effing idea what you're talking about. HMD Global is a company created by Nokia, and most of it's employees are former Nokia employees.


  • Welcome back Nokia! The mobile World has been really quiet without Nokia's outstanding and innovative devices. Previous Nokia phones I owned was Nokia 3310, Series 40/ S40 was Nokia 7110, Symbian 60/ S60 are Nokia 6600, Nokia 7650, Nokia N80IE, Nokia 95 8GB, Nokia N97 and last Nokia smartphones running Windows are Lumia 900 and Lumia 920. Didn't have the privilege of owning a Lumia 1520. But then, software and app support was mediocre under Microsoft.


    • Reg Joo 6 months ago Link to comment

      Microsoft should never had put their hands on nokia. How to kill mobile? let microsoft get their hands on it. Death, by association.


    • Hahaha so glad that I'm not the only one attached to this brand. For some unknown reason even when the world is swept by iPhone and Android (the period when Nokia was a Windows phone), I still chose Nokia over other brand. I started with a silver 3310, then black-blue 3510, then a champagne gold 6200, switched to black-red 5320 xpressmusic, kept it for long time until it literally dead, and then started using black Lumia 800 and ended with black Lumia 1020...the latter of which matter-of-factly just dead a couple of days ago. Lumia was bitch...but I still loved it. T-T both were beautiful and kept people curious about 'em. I miss Nokia.



  • Mark
    • Admin
    7 months ago Link to comment

    Yes, welcome back Nokia. Can't wait to see your flagship phones released.


  • So Glad Nokia is back in the mobile market,they must be seeing how there Budget phones sell before releasing there Top range phones,

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