Nokia 6: Flagship looks at budget price

Nokia 6
Nokia 6

The Nokia 6 makes an impeccable first impression from the moment I remove it from its box.

It feels really solid, almost unbreakable. Nokia says the phone's aluminium chassis is carved from a single block of metal. It feels as premium as top smartphones, despite being a mid-range model costing about $300. The antenna lines are cleverly concealed at the top and bottom edges, similar to the flagship Nokia 8.

While the sides of the Nokia 8 are curved, the ones on the Nokia 6 are flat, making it less comfortable to hold. The Nokia 6 also has a single rear camera compared with the dual-camera system on the Nokia 8.

This rear 16-megapixel shooter is decent enough for a mid-range phone. It captures a good amount of detail, though some shots look slightly overexposed in well-lit outdoor scenarios. Indoor shots do not fare as well, with their anaemic colours.

While the camera is reasonably quick at taking a shot after the shutter button is pressed, it is dreadfully slow at processing the image with HDR enabled. Images take about two seconds to show up in the gallery. It is not quite a deal-breaker as the camera did not miss the moment, but it definitely tested my patience.

This delay is probably because of its Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 chip. The Nokia 6 feels sluggish compared with even other mid-range phones. There is a noticeable lag while scrolling through Web pages. Apps are not as quick to open, while the front fingerprint sensor is a fraction slower in unlocking the phone.

Nokia has already launched a new Nokia 6 variant in China, with a faster Snapdragon 630 and 4GB of RAM, which tells me it is aware of the lacklustre performance.

  • TECH SPECS

    PRICE: $329

    PROCESSOR: Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 (Octa-core 1.4GHz)

    DISPLAY: 5.5-inch, IPS LCD, 1,920 x 1,080 pixels, 403 ppi pixel density

    OPERATING SYSTEM: Android 7.1.2

    MEMORY: 32GB (microSD expandable up to 128GB), 3GB RAM

    CAMERA: 16-megapixel, f/2 (rear); 8-megapixel, f/2 (front)

    BATTERY: Non-removable 3,000mAh

    RATINGS

    FEATURES: 5/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 3/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 3/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

Its audio performance, however, is good, thanks to its dual stereo speakers. There is support for Dolby Atmos, which does an impressive job of simulating surround audio. Those who tune in to local radio stations will be pleased to know that the Nokia 6 has a built-in FM radio that uses the headphones' cable as an antenna.

Its 5.5-inch LCD screen is as good as any I have seen on a mid-range smartphone, with punchy colours and wide viewing angles. It is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass, which is damage resistant.

Like other Nokia Android smartphones, the Nokia 6 runs on stock Android 7.1.2 Nougat with hardly any bloatware. The firm has been on the ball with security updates and I expect an Android 8.0 Oreo update in the near future.

Its battery should comfortably last an entire day of use, but a charger will probably be needed at bedtime. In our video-loop battery test at maximum screen brightness, it lasted about 81/2 hours, which is on a par with its competitors.

•Verdict: Solid build quality that feels more like a flagship device than a mid-tier model, as well as good audio. Its overall performance could be better though.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 24, 2018, with the headline 'Nokia 6: Flagship looks at budget price'. Print Edition | Subscribe