Sitting atop the initial batch of Nokia phones made by HMD – the company now responsible for producing smartphones using the famous Finnish brand name – the Nokia 6 should be the most enticing of the bunch. It’s an affordable device; with a big Full HD screen, stock Android software and a classic Nokia design.
Yet, and this seems to be on ongoing problem with these new Nokia branded phones, it feels that corners have been cut in all the wrong places.
Nokia 6 – Design
When Nokia was designing phones running Windows Phone, I longed for one that ditched that awful operating system for Android. Nokia was at the top of its game when it came to industrial design, but it was always let down by software.
Yet now that there are Nokia branded phones running Android, I just feel a bit disappointed. The Nokia 6 isn’t a bad looking phone, it just feels like it’s been plucked straight from 2014.
It’s a bulky device, with sharp flat corners and a slightly domed plastic back. The large bezel around the 5.5-inch display makes for a big phone, and the lack of any curvature on the sides make it quite hard to comfortably hold without it digging into your palms. There is plentiful use of metal, especially for a phone of this price, but the back is plastic and as a result it feels quite hollow.
It’s a shame about the ergonomics of the phone, because it does actually look quite nice. My black review unit is simple and free of ugly branding, with a fast fingerprint scanner flanked by two capacitive buttons below the display. Thankfully they’re backlit, something that was missing on the cheaper Nokia 3. It looks like a Nokia phone, though maybe one that could do with a bit of modern flair..
The 5.5-inch LCD display Nokia uses has a Full HD (1080 x 1920) resolution, which is a prerequisite for a panel of that size but one that’s not necessarily guaranteed when you’re paying less than £200. It’s a nice, bright, big screen that makes the Nokia 6 a decent choice for watching movies on the go.
Unlike the Nokia 3, which struggled with colour reproduction, the panel on the Nokia 6 is heaps better.
Colours are nice and bright, while text is crisp and sharp. It lacks the deep blacks you’d get with an AMOLED, frequently found on high-end Samsung phones, but it certainly is one of the better screens you’ll find at this price.
Nokia 6 – Performance
Budget phones undoubtedly have to cut back in certain areas to keep the costs down, and Nokia has skimped in the worst possible way. The Nokia 3 was dogged by terrible performance, and the Nokia 6 is hamstrung in a similar way.
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The Snapdragon 430 CPU and Adreno 505 GPU used here has already been updated to the 435, which is used in the cheaper Vodafone Smart V8, and it simply cannot keep up with the big 1080p display.
Lag is common and constant, mostly in infuriating instances such as scrolling through websites and image-heavy apps like Instagram. It’s the sort of day-to-day performance I wouldn’t accept on a sub-£150 phone, let alone one that costs £200.
Gaming is a similar story, and that basic GPU means intensive titles are slow and full of dropped frames. It is possible to load Real Racing 3 and Injustice 2, which is something, but it’s a much better experience if you stick to simpler titles.
It seems that Nokia should have either lowered the screen resolution or gone with a processor from the Snapdragon 6-series range, which is more suited to a 5.5-inch 1080p phone. This would have raised the price, but it would have made a big difference.
In Trusted’s synthetic benchmark tests, the Nokia 6’s rather low single-core score of 600 in Geekbench shows why basic tasks are so slow.
There’s 3GB RAM on board, which sounds plentiful, but in reality there seems to be some heavy RAM management going on that makes it feel like there’s much less. Apps close constantly and they’ll need reloading even if you’ve only opened a few more.
The 32GB on-board storage is more appealing, and there’s a microSD slot for expanding that further.
The speaker sits on the bottom, next to the Micro USB port, and as a result can get easily blocked when you’re holding it landscape while watching a video. A Dolby mode suggests that turning it on will see a boost in audio quality, but in reality it seems to lower the maximum volume and not make much obvious difference elsewhere.
Call quality and Wi-Fi performance are okay, but the lack of any noise-cancellation – that I can perceive – on the microphones does make for blustery calls when you’re outside.