Nokia 6 review

Nokia phones have returned. The once-iconic phone brand is back in business thanks to Finnish startup HMD signing a 10-year licensing deal to stick the Nokia name on smartphones and tablets, and the Nokia 6 is the main attraction in its trio of launch devices.

While the Nokia 6 was the most high-spec handset at its launch, it’s still firmly a budget offering, with an eye-catchingly low price tag coupled with an alluring all-metal design.

The phone boasts a 5.5-inch Full HD display, Snapdragon 430 chipset, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage, 16MP rear camera, 8MP front camera, fingerprint scanner and a 3,000mAh battery – all of which looks rather good on paper.

For those hoping for a more flagship handset sporting the Nokia name, the rumored Nokia 8 may be just days from launch, so keep it locked to TechRadar for all the latest.

Nokia 6 price and availability

  • Launch price: £199.99 ($ 229, AU$ 399)
  • Current price: £199.99 ($ 229, AU$ 399)
  • Nokia 6 release date: August 2, 2017

The Nokia 6 costs £199.99 ($ 229, AU$ 399) SIM-free, which drops it into a rather affordable category in the market, and looking at the spec sheet it gives you a decent amount of bang for your buck.

That price puts it above both the Nokia 3 and Nokia 5, but not by much, and it's worth considering this phone as well if you're looking at the other two.

In the US it’s available in three colors – copper, black and silver – while in the UK you get an additional blue option.

Design and display

  • Premium all-metal unibody design looks and feels impressive
  • Flat edges means it's not the most comfortable in the hand
  • 5.5-inch full HD screen looks good and is great for gaming

The Nokia 6 is crafted from a single block of aluminum, and the result is a phone which feels far more premium than its budget price tag.

It doesn’t do anything particularly clever or different in terms of design, though, with elements of older Nokia smartphones recognisable here.

There’s a comforting weight to the handset, and while its 154 x 75.8 x 7.85mm body makes it a sizeable presence in the hand it’s still easy to use.

We found the flat sides and sharp corners of the Nokia 6 aren’t as comfortable on the palms as phones with rounded edges – like the Nokia 5 and 3 – and this is noticeable if you hold it in one hand for an extended period of time.

Nokia 6 design gallery

Compared to the Moto G5 and Moto G5 Plus, two of its closest rivals, the Nokia 6 is much better looking, so if style is important to you then this is a phone you’ll want to consider.

The power/lock and volume keys are easy to hit on the right of the phone, and Nokia has also included a 3.5mm headphone jack up top, while a micro USB port resides next to a single internal speaker on the base of the handset.

Considering the price of the phone, it’s nice to see a fingerprint scanner (which doubles as the home key) on the front of the Nokia 6, flanked by touch-sensitive back and multi-tasking keys. The scanner is responsive and works well, although there is a momentary pause between you presenting your finger and the phone unlocking and waking.

Meanwhile, the large 5.5-inch full HD display is bright and clear with decent viewing angles, and it’s more than good enough for a handset in the bracket the Nokia 6 falls into.

It means video playback and gaming are comfortable, with plenty of space for on-screen controls.

Battery life

  • Will last you a day, just, with average usage
  • Charges slowly; 30 minutes gives you around 10%

The Nokia 6 comes with a non-removable 3,000mAh battery which can see out a day on a single charge with general usage, but don’t expect anything more than that.

Considering this handset is larger than the Nokia 5 it’s a shame that a bigger battery hasn’t been squeezed in, as you’ll find yourself running out of juice before the day is over if you spend a couple of hours streaming music and playing games.

From taking the phone off charge at 7am, and spending around 90 minutes streaming Spotify while also playing games for roughly 40 minutes of that time, the Nokia 6 generally dropped about 20% of its life by 9am.

During the day, when the phone was mostly left on standby on a desk and used for just the occasional phone call and WhatsApp message, the battery drain was much reduced – but leaving the office with less than 50% was common.

We put the Nokia 6 through our standard battery test, which involves playing a 90-minute Full HD video, with screen brightness on full and accounts syncing over Wi-Fi in the background, and it lost 22% of its battery life. That’s not a bad result, putting it on a par with the Moto G5, but it’s not as good as the Moto G5 Plus, which lost just 12%.

Fast charging would soften the blow of the uninspiring battery life, but the Nokia 6 doesn’t offer that through its micro USB port. On the contrary, charging is incredibly slow, and you’re looking at up to six hours to fully charge if you plug in below 10%.

In general we found the Nokia 6 took around 30 minutes to restore 10% of battery when left on standby, with three hours of charge timing getting you to 60%. These charging speeds can be increased by switching the handset off, but then you lose all connectivity.

This means that if you use the phone more frequently you’ll need to plan a charge an hour or so before you leave the office to ensure you can last until bedtime.

Charging via the micro USB port is slow

Camera

  • 16MP rear camera is a solid snapper for the price tag
  • 8MP front camera suffices for Snapchat and selfies

The Nokia 6 boasts a 16MP camera on its rear, which for a low-cost handset isn’t a bad spec to have on the sheet, and for the most part it’s a solid snapper.

The camera block, which also houses the dual-tone LED flash, protrudes slightly from the back of the phone, which did make us nervous when plonking it down on a hard surface, so we’d recommend treating it with a little care to protect the lens.

On-screen, the camera app is pretty straightforward, with a centralized shutter key flanked by a video recording button and a link to your gallery. At the top of the display quick settings for HDR, flash and timer are joined by the toggle that switches you between the front and rear cameras.

The 16MP rear camera is a solid offering

Delving into the settings menu there’s not a great deal to write home about, and there’s no pro or manual mode for those who like to tweak settings such as ISO or shutter speed.

The large 5.5-inch Full HD display works well as a viewfinder, while you can use the volume keys on the side of the handset as a shutter button, which is sometimes easier than stretching for the on-screen button.

It’s a simplistic offering then, but one that works well in most scenarios. Images shot in good light tend to have good detail and depth, but the Nokia 6 can struggle a little in low light and indoors. Its camera is comfortably better than those on the Nokia 3 and Nokia 5 though.

Round the front the 8MP selfie snapper is more than serviceable for the occasional vanity shot, or a quick video chat or Snapchat recording.

Nokia 6 camera samples gallery

A pure Android experience

Android purists will be happy here. The Nokia 6 runs Android 7 Nougat and… that’s it. There’s no clunky overlay, and no pre-installed bloatware. Nokia has opted to stick with the stock Android interface, and it’s a choice we’re happy with.

It makes the Nokia 6 easy to navigate and performance is smooth for most tasks, but it can slow down a little if you try and push it with intensive applications and games.

There’s a Snapdragon 430 processor under the hood along with 3GB of RAM, which provides more than enough power for general usage and the camera.

We ran the Geekbench 4 app on the Nokia 6 and it achieved an average multi-core score of 2,736, putting it above its sibling, the Nokia 3, and the Moto G5, and on par with the Nokia 5, but below the more powerful Moto G5 Plus.

Pure Android keeps things simple on the Nokia 6

A media machine, of sorts

The internal speaker located on the base of the phone can be easily muffled by your hand, while sound quality isn’t great either. If you want decent audio we’d recommend plugging in a set of headphones or external speakers.

The Nokia 6 comes with 32GB of internal storage, of which around 22GB is actually available for you to use once you’ve taken the operating system into account. For most, that offers plenty of room for your apps, games, photos and music.

And if the 32GB of space inside the Nokia 6 isn’t enough, there’s a microSD slot in the phone which supports cards up to 128GB, giving you plenty of flexibility to add more to the handset.

The storage card can also be ‘adopted’ by the Nokia 6, which will result in the phone viewing it as internal storage, and thus making things easier to find. However, you’ll then need to format the card if you want to use it in another device.

While its screen and performance don’t put the Nokia 6 up there with the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S8 and iPhone 7 Plus, for its price point the large 5.5-inch Full HD display and reasonable power provide all you need to enjoy music and movies on the go.

Of the launch trio of new Nokia phones, the Nokia 6 is comfortably the most accomplished offering.

If you can stretch to the quite reasonable price tag it’s the Nokia phone we’d recommend you go for, thanks to its large Full HD display, tidy performance and solid camera.

The only real negatives are that the phone isn’t as comfortable to hold as the rounded Nokia 5 and Moto G5 Plus, and we’d have liked the battery life to last a full day on a single charge more comfortably.

Overall then, the Nokia 6 is like a really good, affordable smartphone. It’s got a decent spec sheet and a great design, while the stock Android interface should mean it gets software updates promptly.

Who's it for?

The Nokia 6 will appeal to those who are on a budget, but who don’t want to skimp on style. The premium metal unibody makes the phone look and feel more expensive than it is, plus the 5.5-inch full HD screen is a decent bonus.

For those wanting to spend even less Nokia offers the 3 and 5, but if your budget can stretch to the 6 we’d highly recommend you go for the bigger phone as it’s a much better all-round performer.

Should I buy it?

The Nokia 6 is a solid buy when you consider its price, and while power users may want to steer clear due to the battery life, most will find the Nokia 6 fits the bill nicely.

However, if you're less concerned about design, the Moto G5 and G5 Plus offer better all-round performance for a similar price.

There's a whole host of top-notch affordable smartphones out there right now, so make sure you check out the Nokia 6's competition below.

Moto G5 Plus

The Moto G5 Plus is slightly more expensive that the Nokia 6, but offers more comprehensive performance and better battery life.

Its metal body isn't quite as impressive as the Nokia, but with a Snapdragon 625 chipset and 4GB of RAM it's more accomplished under the hood.

Like Nokia Motorola also opts for a relatively stock Android experience, keeping things simple on screen and just adding a few of its own handy features, such as standby screen notifications.

Nokia 5

If you're thinking the Nokia 6 may be too expensive, too big or too uncomfortable in your hand, but you want a taste of the new Nokia phones, then the Nokia 5 could well be right up your street.

Its curved unibody metal design looks and feel great, and it's easier to use one-handed thanks to the smaller 5.2-inch, 720p display.

The two main things you need to consider here though are performance and storage. The Nokia 5 is noticeably slower on-screen than the 6, and its 16GB storage fills up in next to no time, making a microSD card an essential purchase.

Wileyfox Swift 2 X

One for our UK readers here. British brand Wileyfox deals in some impressive low-cost smartphones, and the Swift 2 X is its flagship (of sorts), and while it may not boast a metal design it is slick and feature-filled.

There's a 5.2-inch Full HD display, 16MP rear camera, 32GB of storage, 3GB of RAM and a fingerprint scanner, ensuring it more than matches the Nokia 6 on paper.

TechRadar – Technology Reviews

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