To be clear, the units being sold by Lazada merchant Hellotronics are the real deal; the white ones, not so much, apparently. (More on that: We’re told all the units that have been shipped so far are black.) And sure, they’re priced higher compared to those on offer exclusively in China through JD.com, but no one else is selling locally, so what do you expect?
Anyhow, we were able to spend considerable time with a retail version of the Nokia 6 (click for complete specs), and we thought you’d want to hear our candid first-hand impressions.
Nokia 6 Android phone preview
As if built by Nokia
Which is a weird thing to say about the smartphone. But hear us out: HMD Global, the Finnish company that has dibs on the Nokia branding for the foreseeable future, seems to have stuck to the brand’s playbook when it came to designing and putting together the Nokia 6, though there are original ideas here, too — ideas that work well, actually.
HMD Global seems to have stuck to the brand’s playbook when it came to designing and putting together the Nokia 6, though there are original ideas here, too — ideas that work well.
This phone is undeniably gorgeous, more aesthetically pleasing than the pictures would suggest, and ascribes to the same high build standards Nokia founded its reputation on. If you’re looking for an extreme proof of toughness, look at the video that’s doing the rounds online of a Nokia 6 substituting for a nutcracker. (Don’t get any ideas, though; improvising could crack your phone’s screen instead.)
Nokia 6 drop test
It’s also a pleasingly consistent design, from the matching antenna strips on the top, bottom, and edges of the phone to the flat metal sides and matte rear, which feels like a callback to the Lumia 930 and older Nokias. The shiny metal chamfers provide contrast against a sensible all-black paint job.
There’s a huge piece of 2.5D glass over the LCD display; combined with the extra-smooth finish on the back, this makes for a lovely handling experience, size and length notwithstanding. While the side bezels are relatively thin, the top and bottom ones are thicker than we would prefer — even with the inclusion of a front-mounted fingerprint sensor beneath the home button.
Speaking of, the button is recessed into the chin of the phone, which we like because it seems less vulnerable than the ones that stick out. It is capacitive, so navigating back to the home screen requires a tap rather than a click.
To the right is the recent apps key for getting around Android faster. And if you’re wondering about the custom overlay on top of Android 7.0 Nougat, we have one thing to say: We hope you like the color blue! It’s on wallpapers, on icons, on menus, on the recent apps window — and on just about everywhere else.
The 5.5-inch display, though not the sharpest at 1080p, looks great, with excellent contrast and viewing angles. The brightness is high enough that the Nokia 6 can be used outdoors under a bright sun.
A microUSB port is provided along the bottom edge, beside the dual-speaker cutouts. It supports fast charging, but we weren’t able to test whether the bundled charger and cable are capable of topping up the 3,000mAh battery nippily. On a more positive note, you can transfer files to and from the Nokia 6 using a USB On-The-Go [OTG] adapter.
The photographs below were taken using the cameras on the front and rear of the device. They’re already resized, but notice the sharp details and good color reproduction in photos by the 16-megapixel main camera. The 8-megapixel front-facer, on the other hand, doesn’t impress at all.
Back, but falls short
When HMD Global announced the Nokia 6, it drew widespread and warranted criticism for opting for a low-end Snapdragon 430 processor when there were better options available within Qualcomm’s portfolio and beyond. We’re more confident now standing by those observations than before.
To be fair, HMD paired the chipset with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal memory, with room for more via microSD expansion, but they don’t make up for the performance stuff that matters to many potential buyers. It goes without saying those who want a consistently smooth gaming experience on higher settings should probably look elsewhere.
Even at its reasonable price of 1,699 yuan (approximately P12,300 or $247) in China, the Nokia 6 doesn’t stack up well from a value-for-money standpoint. At just under P19,000 on Lazada, it’s a real tough sell.
However, pricing isn’t our biggest complaint with the unit we tested; the absence of Google services is (however understandable; the Nokia 6 is meant for the Chinese market, after all), the most notable omission being the Play Store. And while that might not deter experienced users, it should be a giant red flag for newbies and first-time Android buyers. It is for us, even though we’re positive we can get Google services to work on the handset.
If you’re willing to live with the shortcomings, you may have to wait a bit to get your hands on the Nokia 6, as it is currently sold out on Lazada.
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