Nokia 6 hands-on – So, was it worth waiting for?

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Nokia’s back! Well, the Nokia 3310 is, anyway. It’s fair to say that the Finnish company’s “dumbphone” garnered quite a lot of interest when it was announced at MWC 2017.

But Nokia has other phones too! Three new Android phones, to be precise: the Nokia 6, 5 and 3. They’re all at the budget end of the spectrum, and they’re all coming out in Q2 2017.

The Nokia 6, the most expensive of the bunch, actually made its debut in China at the tail end of 2016, and has been doing very well, thank you, ever since. While we’ve had to wait for it, it turns out our pain will be selfie fans’ gain, as the global version will arrive with a new 8MP front-facing camera.

Overall though, the Nokia 6 is still very much a mid-range Android phone, so don’t expect Samsung Galaxy or Apple iPhone specs. Thankfully, you shouldn’t expect Galaxy or iPhone prices either – at €299 (R4,150), this is more in OnePlus 3 territory. Which is slightly daunting for Nokia.

What do you get for your money? Well, a 5.5-inch 1080p display, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of storage and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 processor. We went hands-on with the Nokia 6 at MWC 2017 to see if OnePlus has anything to worry about.

SIX APPEAL

Nokia has a reputation for making somewhat rugged phones, and that tradition continues on the 6. While we’re still not sure we’d want to drop it on the pavement, it certainly feels more solid than most Android phones. That’s because it’s constructed from a solid block of aluminium, with the edges rounded off using a diamond cutting technique. As a result, those edges are sharp, which it makes it somewhat less pleasing to hold than a curved-edge phone. Whether you like the look of it will be more a case of personal taste – but we didn’t particularly.

The screen on the Nokia 6 is big at 5.5-inches, and the rather large bezels top and bottom make it feel larger still. The phone comes with 32GB of storage, which is about right for a handset in this price range, but thankfully that can be expanded with microSD cards. There’s also a headphone port (praise be!) and a microUSB slot for charging.

UPGRADE YOUR-SELFIE

Here’s where the Nokia 6 gets interesting, at least for die-hard fans who’ve been following the 6 since it was released in China. Nokia has decided to bump up the specs of the front-facing camera to 8 megapixels, which is quite a high spec for a phone at this price. It’s also now a wide-angle lens affair, so you’d better have plenty of friends to fit into those selfie shots.

The rear camera is still the same 16-megapixel model that featured on the Chinese original, though. There’s also the same dual-tone flash present on the back, which should make skin tones appear more natural in low-light.

Our impressions of the camera from MWC 2017 weren’t fantastic – the app was a little slow to open, and the phone took a while to focus on objects when using both the rear and front-facing camera. OK, so this is a mid-range phone, but our expectations of what is possible at this price have been raised by the likes of OnePlus, so it’s important for Nokia to get it right.

BOSOM BUDDIES

Android lovers rejoice! Nokia has made a big deal out of its new Google-powered smartphones being as close to the stock OS experience as possible. There’s no bloatware, no skins, and no other customisations that I could find, which is good news for those who like the cleanest Google experience possible.
It also means that the software updates should be fairly regularly, and therefore security should be tight – both of which Nokia has promised are big considerations for them when supporting the 6 in future.

INITIAL VERDICT

The standard model of the Nokia 6 comes in matte blue, black, copper or silver and will cost €229 (R3,150). However, there’s also a glossy black version that will retail for €299 (R4,150), and for the extra outlay you’ll also get 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. All of these variations will be available worldwide at some point in Q2 2017, but the Euro pricing is all that we have right now.

So, is it likely to challenge the almighty OnePlus 3 or any other too-good-for-the-price phones from the likes of Lenovo/Moto, Honor or even Vodacom?

Nah.

Well probably not, anyway. Our first impressions of it are that it’s a fairly standard mid-range Android without any real distinguishing features. And these days, that’s unlikely to cut any mustard. Still, maybe we’ll like it more when we spend a bit longer with it for a full review. Keep an eye on Stuff for more as we get it.

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