Nokia 6 Review: Does this phone put Nokia 6 feet under?

Nick Broughall 1 August 2017

Quick Verdict
The Nokia 6 is slightly bigger than the Nokia 5 and has a higher res screen, but is uncomfortable to hold and outclassed in benchmarks, making it hard to recommend.

Strengths

  • Clean Android OS
  • Decent camera
  • Included fingerprint sensor

Could be better

  • Uncomfortable to hold
  • Disappointing performance
  • Uninspiring battery life


The Nokia 6 is outclassed by its smaller sibling and offers very little justification for its existence.

It has been 10 years since Apple announced the original iPhone, and while the house that Jobs built may be sitting on top of the smartphone mountain now, back in 2007 the king of phones was Nokia. At the time Nokia refused to acknowledge the threat of Apple's simple smartphone with an easy to use operating system, and that hubris saw the company collapse, get bought by Microsoft and ultimately disappear until HMD Global decided to resurrect it this year.

The Nokia 6 is the top model in the trio of Android devices that have recently launched in Australia, both in terms of specs and cost. But it still rests squarely in the budget spectrum, which is reflected in its overall performance.

nokia 6 back

Design

As the biggest of the three new Nokia devices, there is a definite heft to the Nokia 6. There's a 5.5-inch 1080p screen and a 16MP rear camera to house in that body, plus 3GB RAM and 32GB of on-board storage, expandable via microSD slot. Not to mention the 3,000mAh battery, plus dual Dolby Atmos speakers and precision-milled aluminium body.

Nokia 6 Dual Sim from DWI (Digital World International)

Enjoy your favorite apps on a stunning display – with a superb 16 MP camera to match!

View details

It's a fairly heavy phone at 167 grams, but it's not the weight that makes the Nokia 6 uncomfortable to hold. Instead, it's the hard back edges. While the Nokia 5 at least had the decency to soften the aluminium corners with a rounded edge, the Nokia 6 is all about the square lines, which digs into your palm and makes single-hand use a step away from painful.

Below the screen sits an integrated fingerprint scanner, as well as the standard Android Back and Menu soft keys. While it should be commended that a phone at this price point features an integrated fingerprint sensor, the placement is cumbersome to actually use unless you employ two hands for the job.

nokia 6 camera

Camera

On the back of the Nokia 6 is a 16MP camera with a dual-tone flash and a phase detection autofocus built in. And in perfect lighting conditions, that sensor is perfectly capable of snapping decent shots.

But when things get a litter darker, the camera struggles to compete against the likes of Apple or Samsung. The focus is slow and generally a little soft, while the time to actually take a shot seems like forever.

The 8MP selfie camera is even worse. If you're hoping to be able to see the focus point on your face on the 1080p screen, you're bound to be disappointed, as even the focusing process looks blurry.

Like its siblings, there's not much to be said for the camera app either. It functions fine, with simple control of the flash and designated modes for panoramas and a beauty mode for selfies, but the camera doesn't preview just how much the mode will change your photo. Instead, you just have to snap the shot and hope for the best.

Nokia 6 camera shots1Nokia 6 camera shots2
Nokia 6 camera shots3Nokia 6 camera shots4

Performance

It's quite fascinating that HMD Global decided to pack the Nokia 6 with the same processing guts as the slightly smaller Nokia 5. Both phones run on the entry-level Snapdragon 430, but the 6's slightly larger 5.5-inch (and 1080p) screen mean that when it comes to benchmarks, the Nokia 5 has a slight edge.

The Nokia 6 does have 3GB of RAM inside, but it doesn't seem to make too much difference to the phone's overall performance.

HandsetGeekbench 4 CPU Single Core (higher is better)Geekbench 4 CPU Multi Core (higher is better)
Moto G5 Plus8424180
Motorola Moto X Force13523581
Huawei GR5 20178143398
Huawei Nova Plus8432985
Nokia 56622833
Nokia 66642832
Moto G56302605
Nokia 35521527

That extra RAM doesn't even help the Nokia 6 when it comes to 3D rendering, so it's probably not going to cut the mustard for the latest and greatest mobile gaming experiences. But given the price point, you probably wouldn't expect it to anyway.

Handset3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited Result
Huawei Nova Plus13969
Moto G5 Plus13753
Huawei GR5 201711859
Moto G59532
Nokia 59483
Nokia 69435
Nokia 33676

The Nokia 6's 1080p screen is a highlight of the device. Again, it's not going to compete with the AMOLED screens from Samsung Galaxy devices, but the 1080p resolution is clean and clear and does a solid job even in bright sunlight.

Also on the positive side of things is HMD Global's commitment to keeping the Nokia devices up to date for at least two years. The Nokia 6 is running Android 7.1.1, and the experience once you turn it on is akin to what you get from a pure Android device.

That includes access to the Google Assistant voice control function, as well as the Google Now style news feed, tailored to your interests and search history.

The spec sheet for the Nokia 6 proclaims Dolby Atmos support from its dual speaker system, but unfortunately the experience is underwhelming. The audio quality is tinny and empty, which isn't a quality you would expect to see aligned with the Dolby brand, and is even a far cry from the Atmos speakers we saw in the ZTE Axon 7.

So when it comes down to it, this isn't a phone that's going to deliver an impressive experience. On a pure performance front, you'd be better off opting for the slightly smaller Nokia 5, although in reality, it's still essentially the same device.

Nokia 6 review

Battery life

Given the low-powered processor and the somewhat disappointing performance results, there were high hopes that the Nokia 6 would stand up in the battery life department.

And while it didn't disappoint, it didn't really blow us away either, and was again trumped by the slightly smaller Nokia 5 in our Geekbench 3 battery life tests:

HandsetGeekbench 3 Battery Test DurationGeekbench 3 Battery Score
LG X Power14:50:305714
Huawei Nova Plus13:21:208013
Huawei GR5 201711:33:506938
Motorola Moto G5 Plus11:15:406756
Motorola Moto X Force9:46:503914
Nokia 58:42:305044
Nokia 68:19:104833
Nokia 37:34:103028
Motorola Moto G56:32:503833

Again, that smaller display makes the Nokia 5 the standout in the Nokia pack if you're very brand-conscious, but there are many other budget options with better overall battery performance.

Verdict

The Nokia 6 is a disappointment. Admittedly it isn't claiming to be a revolution in smartphone engineering, but anyone looking for the return of Nokia the Great will be disappointed.

HMD Global has managed to build a robust device, and the screen is nice to look at even if the phone itself is uncomfortable to hold.

The commitment to the cleanest version of Android does make for a nice change in the budget space, where many manufacturers choose to preload their bloatware onto the device. But it's not enough.

The simple truth is that if you're looking for an affordable Android smartphone, there are better options out there. In fact, there are better Nokia options out there – the Nokia 5 has almost all the same internal parts, performs better in benchmarking and feels much more comfortable in the hand, all for $50 less.

At this price point, you'd be better off pointing your dollars at the Moto G5 or something from Oppo or Alcatel.

Specifications

Product Name
Nokia 6
Display
5.5in
Resolution
1080 x 1920 pixels
ppi
403ppi
Software
Android 7.1.1
Storage
32GB
RAM
3GB
Battery
3000mAh
Front camera
8MP f/2.0
Rear camera
16MP f/2.0
Processor
Snapdragon 430
Size
154 x 75.8 x 8.4 mm
Weight
167g

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