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Nokia 6 Review: Return of the King?

After enduring months of news, speculation, and leaks, HMD Global finally made Nokia’s return official with their first smartphone release, the mid-ranged Nokia 6. The device made its way on to our shores and onto Lazada, courtesy of Hellotronics, who allowed us some time with the first Nokia branded smartphone to be released in awhile. Has the brand reclaimed its former glory? Or does it fall short of being a contender for the throne amongst its stiff competition? Let’s find out out in our full review for the Nokia 6, but first a quick reminder of its specs.

Nokia 6 Specifications

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 octa-core processor
  • Adreno 505 GPU
  • 5.5-inch full HD display, 2.5D glass, 1920 x 1080 resolution
  • 4GB RAM
  • 64GB internal storage expandable storage up to 128GB via microSD
  • 16-megapixel rear camera, f/2.0 aperture, PDAF, Laser AF, Dual-tone LED flash
  • 8-megapixel front camera, f/2.0 aperture
  • Dual SIM (Hybrid Tray)
  • 3G, LTE
  • WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, A-GPS, Fingerprint scanner
  • 3000mAh battery with fast charging
  • Android 7.0 Nougat

A Far Cry from the Microsoft Era

There’s simply no denying it. We love the design of the Nokia 6, and its a far cry from the Lumia smartphones we’ve seen in the past. While the phones that Microsoft produced under the Nokia name came in bright, vivid colors wrapped in polycarbonate plastic, the Nokia 6 follows today’s standard for mid-ranged devices — a full metal build. Its metal body comes in an elegant, matte black finish that hides the antenna bands on the top and bottom portion of the device and the chrome accents along its frame do a lot to make the device stand out in a crowd. The only downside to the matte finish on the phone is that it tends to be a smudge magnet. As of now, we haven’t seen any accessories and cases sold for the Nokia 6, so we’ve been wiping it down to keep it pristine.

Let’s take a quick tour around the device. On the right side of the Nokia 6, you’ll find the volume rocker and power button that are also lined in chrome. On the bottom are the speaker grilles and the microUSB port, and up on top is the 3.5mm jack. You’ll find the hyrbid SIM tray on the left side of the Nokia 6 that is accessed via a SIM ejector tool. You can expand upon the device’s 64GB of storage by up to 128GB via a MicroSD card.

The Nokia 6 has a 5.5-inch Full HD display, giving it a pixel density of 403 pixels per inch and a screen-to-body ratio of 70.3 percent. That’s right! You’ll find no ugly black borders around the display here and its forehead and chin are an acceptable size as well. The fingerprint scanner is embedded in the Nokia 6’s home button and its accurate but unlocks the phone with a tiny bit of delay.

A Great Device for Watching Content

There’s nothing truly special to say about the display, but it does perform well with a great amount of color saturation (if you want colors to pop more, you can tweak it a bit in the display settings) and good viewing angles. It’s great for watching YouTube videos, but what makes the Nokia 6 a great device for watching content are the speakers it has on board.

We mentioned above the that its speaker grilles are located at the bottom, but what the folks at HMD have done is actually used the speaker grille for taking calls as a front firing speaker as well. While front firing speakers in stereo aren’t exactly a new feature on smartphones, it’s something we weren’t expecting when we started watching a video on the Nokia 6. They pump out a decent amount of volume and sound pretty good too; just keep it within the 70-80% mark though.

No Google Play. T_T

In our update for our Nokia 6, we told you that we’ve had no luck trying to install Google Play and its services and, well, we still couldn’t find away to load it on without tinkering any further. This means we weren’t able to really push the Nokia 6 and test out the device as much as we’ve wanted to as a daily driver. The fact alone that we couldn’t install Gmail meant that we’d have to use it more as a secondary device. We were able to install most of our social media and messaging apps on the Nokia 6 and used the browser to hop on to YouTube to watch videos, however, and it performs as well as any device out in the market armed with its processing package: a Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 with an Adreno 505 GPU, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of internal storage.

Again, the fact that it didn’t have Google Play meant that we’ve had to sideload most of the games on the Nokia 6. We were able to play Asphalt 8 with no sign of frame rate drops on high settings, but you will need to turn them down if you want to play games like NBA 2K17 smoothly.

There’s also a bit of a funky UI overlay on the Nokia 6. Out-of-the-box it seems as if they’ve done away with the app drawer, but you can toggle that on and off in the home screen preferences if you like keeping minimal icons on your device. It doesn’t really get in the way of the phone’s overall performance, but we would have loved to see stock Android instead. Since the unit we have on hand is meant for the Chinese market, some of the apps still contained Chinese characters despite switching the phone’s language settings to English too.

Capable Mid-Ranged Shooter

The Nokia 6 rocks a 16-megapixel rear camera with an aperture size of f/2.0 and is equipped with PDAF and Laser AF. For selfies, it has an 8-megapixel front camera at f/2.0. We’ve got to say that we like what we’re seeing with the camera of the Nokia 6. It has a bit of an issue with its white balance, preferring warmer tones most of the time, but generally speaking the images look great. In low light conditions, noise is to be expected but it’s within a respectable amount; all things considered, of course.

Standard Battery Life for 3000mAh

Thankfully, we were able to get the PCMark Benchmark app installed the device but the Work 2.0 test would come to a halt at the midway point. The Work 1.0 result, however, gave us a time of 10 hours and 19 minutes. With the light use that we’ve put the Nokia 6 through, it lasted through out the day without the need to plug into a power bank or the wall till we got home. We’re figuring that given its battery capacity, you’ll most likely have to top up the Nokia 6 before leaving for work if you’ve managed to install the apps you need and are a heavy user. The Nokia 6 supports fast charging with the included wall charger and we were able to get 35% of juice in 30 minutes of charging, which isn’t bad at all.

Verdict: A Triumphant Return?

So we’ve finally come to this portion of the review. Is it worth it?

In all honesty, if you’re a novice at tinkering with smartphones, we’d recommend that you hold off till the official release of the device since you won’t be able to maximize the use of the Nokia 6. The lack of the global ROM that includes Google Play and other Google services is just too much of a hit to really let us recommend the device for now. Plus, it has a pretty steep asking price at Php 18,590 as well.

That being said though. the Nokia 6 is a gorgeous device that performs well for a mid-ranged phone. The price given at Mobile World Congress had it pegged somewhere along the Php 12k mark and even if it were to retail somewhere around Php 14k after all the fees HMD would have to pay for its official release in the country, we would highly recommend that you consider the Nokia 6 for your next purchase.

If you do, however, have the cash to spare and the experience of installing a custom OS on the Nokia 6 plus want to have the bragging rights of being one of the first to have the new Nokia phone, then by all means — go for it! We definitely won’t stop you and understand the allure.

Jamie Inocian

A self-confessed geek. Jamie started out helping out on the Unbox Podcast and became the Digital Sales Manager when he joined the team full time. He has since then transitioned into one of our Senior Editors and Head Video Producer.

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5 Comments

  1. Return of the king? Owwwssss sa price range nya di na makakabalik yan for sure ngayun pa madaming magagandang spec na mas mura pangalan nlang babayaran mo dyan…nokia dynasty is over sad to say…?

  2. P11,990.00!!! andito na yan sa PH! sino kaya kay smart at globe mauunang ilagay sa postpaid plan ang nokia 6

  3. 11,990! Same price din sa huawei GR5 2017. Which one do you think is better? Nalilito ako sa dalawa eh. Please help me. Hahaha

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