Nokia 6: The credible but uninspiring new mid-ranger from HMD : Page 2 of 2
By Edwin Yapp September 13, 2017
Battery life and performance
This is where I feel the Nokia 6 shines best. From a battery life point of view, you can easily eke out five plus hours of on-screen time (OST) – the prevailing practical standard for measuring smartphone battery life – from it.
I tested running the unit watching two YouTube videos at 80% screen brightness: One for about one hour and forty minutes; the other just under two hours, it sapped about 20% and 25% of battery life respectively.
Other activities I tested with included messaging, some voice calls, plenty of text, social media and music playback, got me easily past a 16-hour-day before it dropped to a single percentage battery life. The results suggest that it’s pretty efficient for a 3,000mAH battery. You still have to charge the unit every night but who doesn’t these days?
Charging was also pretty efficient – I had tested going from 12% to 38% in 30 minutes; throw in another 30 minutes and it had gone from 38% to 64%. That’s not bad for using a standard USB 2,000mAH charger, and no Qualcomm’s Quick Charge or Huawei’s Super Charge features found in higher end smartphones.
As for performance, I found the Snapdragon 430 adequate for most tasks although there were some other reviews that suggested it is sluggish at times, especially when playing the most demanding of games. Sure, if you’re comparing a Huawei Mate 9 with a Kirin 960 chip, an equivalent of the Snapdragon 835, the responsiveness does feel a little slow. But bear in mind, the Nokia 6 isn’t positioned as a power smartphone given its price and package.
Besides good battery life, I found the Nokia 6 performing well with its stock user interface as there isn’t any bloatware. Moving between screens, adding widgets, shortcuts, et al, showed how smooth and slick the interface was.
Being equipped with an almost stock Android also means that you can access Google’s Assistant with the Nokia 6. Now I know some aren’t thrilled about this as they don’t prefer Google’s Assistant and choose to turn it off but I found this a welcome change to the other phones out there.
Another plus point with the stock Android feel is that Nokia promises to make software updates as quickly as possible, faster than most other vendors – and this includes the monthly security updates.
Finally, the Nokia 6 does boast of a smart audio amplifier with dual speakers, which claims to deliver deeper bass and clarity while Dolby Atmos delivers a more engaging entertainment experience. I found this marketing spiel a little overstated.
True the Nokia has decent sounding speakers and is pretty loud but it isn’t a match amongst other competitors. I found the sound a tad bright for my taste, with the treble a little too jarring to my ears.
Camera and display
The Nokia 6’s camera performance on paper seem great. Endowed with a 16-megapixel autofocus camera (f/2.0 lens) with dual-tone flash and an 8-Megapixel (f/2.0) front-facing camera, and designed and built in partnership with renowned optics maker, Zeiss, you’d expect the shooter to churn out better-than-expected pics, even at this price point.
For the most part, it did but it was somewhat let down by low-light photography, given its f/2.0 aperture. Colour dynamic range was acceptable although competing shooters in this similar price range do get you better colour accuracy and dynamic range. Again, the dynamic range for images in low-light situations tends to suffer.
Another sore point for me was the prolonged picture-taking speed, especially when HDR is on. Also, if you’re an avid photographer who expects a wide variety of manual settings, or what some would call a ‘pro mode.’ you will find it rudimentary at best. There are settings to adjust white balance, macro and infinity modes, and adjustments for metering too, but that’s about it.
Selfie pictures are for the most part fine and so is video capture but you get what you pay for, as there is no optical image stabilisation at this price point.
Meanwhile, the Nokia FHD IPS display faired generally well in most conditions but under bright conditions outside, I did struggle somewhat to view the display as it’s not as bright as other phones are.
Nokia’s comeback as a brand is an admirable one. With the Nokia 6, HMD has made a decent start to bring an age-old mobile brand back into the mainstream. The phone is a testimony of what HMD can do with the Nokia brand, which I presume would improve with time especially with the introduction of the Nokia 8, which has just hit the streets in Malaysia last week. Stay tuned for that review soon.
But as I spent more time with the Nokia 6, I did feel that there are some contradictions in terms: On the plus side, a premium design and feel; stock Android slickness; good battery life; and a decent camera and display.
Yet, the Nokia 6 didn’t quite bring home the fine properties for a smartphone that is supposed to compete with other very credible mid-rangers out there today. Put simply, there isn’t anything that makes the Nokia 6 differentiate itself from a crowded field of smartphones, especially at this price range.
Should you buy it? Well, that’s hard to say. At RM999 (US$238), my sense is that if you want a stock Android feel and are not willing to shell out a great deal of money, you could give the Nokia 6 a try. But if you’re looking for a richer, fuller experience from a smartphone, just note that there are alternatives out there for you to consider.