Hands on: Nokia 6 (2018) review

Nokia has come more prepared this time

What is a hands on review?
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Our Early Verdict

The Nokia 6 (2018) has improved processing prowess, fast charging support, and a slightly better design than its predecessor. It costs a tad more but it feels like a solid budget competitor at first look.

For

  • More powerful chipset
  • Sturdy built
  • Fast charging

Against

  • Soft low-light photos
  • No 18:9 aspect ratio

The very first phone from the revived Nokia brand - the Nokia 6 had got an upgrade this year at Mobile World Congress (MWC). The new Nokia 6 (2018) comes more prepared and brings new upgrades that were missing in the original version. 

The highlight of the new Nokia 6 is a more powerful chipset, a better design and a fast charging, which also means that it comes with a slight bump in the price. Since we already have some really alluring options in the mid-range segment, it would be interesting to see how Nokia 6 (2018) makes its place in the market. 

The smartphone made its India entry today, and I got to spend some time with the phone soon after the release. And here's how it went - 

Nokia 6 (2018) release date and price

The new Nokia 6 (2018) will be up for grabs from 6 April. Available in Black/Copper and White/Copper, it will cost Rs 16,999, and can be purchased from the Nokia Mobile Shop (company's online shop) and select mobile retailers.

Customers on Airtel can enjoy a cashback of Rs 2,000 on Nokia 6 and own the smartphone at an effective price of Rs 14, 999. Airtel customers can also enjoy an extended free subscription to the Airtel TV app till 31 December. Additionally, consumers will get 25% instant discount on domestic hotels on MakeMyTrip. 

All new Nokia 6 consumers will also be eligible for a complimentary 12-month Accidental Damage Insurance by Servify on opening the Kotak 811 savings account and activating it. 

The new Nokia 6 will be available at zero cost EMI on credit cards and through Bajaj FinServ and Home Credit. ICICI bank will be offering a 5% cashback till 31 May.

New Nokia 6 (2018)

The new Nokia 6 is a smart, solid smartphone

Design

New Nokia 6 (2018) specs

Dimensions: 148.8 x 75.8 x 8.15mm
OS: Android 8
Screen size: 5.5 inches
Resolution: 1920 x 1080
CPU: Snapdragon 630
RAM: 3GB/4GB
Storage: 32GB/64GB
Battery: 3,000mAh
Rear camera: 16MP
Front camera: 8MP 

Nokia has been following the strategy of taking a single block of Aluminum and carving it out the insides to place the parts and components of the phone. The phone looks pretty good for its price and it easily outshines Redmi Note 5 Pro in terms of looks. 

While holding the phone, I could feel its solid, dense unibody right away. The only plastic parts used is at the top and the bottom in form of antennae bands.

The 'double anodisation' process helps it to achieve dual tone trims, which looks good aesthetically. Unlike the old Nokia Lumia phones, the Nokia 6 doesn't have bright colour accents and instead has glints of copper and silver that subtly merge in the body.

Other design changes include repositioning of the fingerprint sensor to the back, the camera design is also slightly elongated, which makes the back look more filled up. 

The front has also got a cleaner look as the physical navigation keys are now replaced with on-screen ones.  But it retains thick bezels on the top and bottom, which isn't very 2018. Competing phones have trimmed down bezels by a huge margin.

Measuring 148.8 x 75.8 x 8.15mm, the Nokia 6 (2018) fits reasonably well in the palm, but due to the blocky design and edgy corners, you might not want to hold it very tight. 

But all in all, it justifies its price and feels very durable.

Display

The new Nokia 6 comes with a conventional 5.5-inch full HD IPS LCD display. It is sharp, the colours look punchy. 

What I didn't like is the missing 18:9 aspect ratio, which has become a norm and customers actually expect it. This is the only reason why this phone looks a little dated.

The display has good sunlight legibility and can be seen from odd angles too. Also, the touch feel of the display was pretty buttery, so it scores there. 

New Nokia 6 (2018) hands on gallery

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Power, performance and interface

One area where we've seen major change is the chipset, where Nokia has upgraded it from the entry-level Snapdragon 430 to Snapdragon 630 this time. While the previous Nokia 6 used to struggle when pushed for intensive tasks, this shouldn't be the case with the new one. 

I've only taken the Nokia 6 (2018) for a quick spin at the launch, but the first impressions were good. Considering our experience with other phones running Snapdragon 630, this one should be able to handle demanding tasks. Also, the pure layer of Android on top should aid performance as well. 

It is a part of the Android One program by Google, that means there is no bloatware and it will be among the first phones to receive the latest software updates.

There's just one variant of the phone available in India, which comes with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage with microSD card support. 

We'll be testing the phone extensively for a week before we pass our final judgement about the phone's performance.

New Nokia 6 (2018)

You get the stock version of Android 8 Oreo on the new Nokia 6

Camera

While OEMs are leaning towards dual cameras even on mid-range phones, HMD Global has stuck to the single lens. It has a 16MP sensor on the back which is powered by Zeiss this time. 

I got to try the camera at the event venue, which isn't the best way to judge it. But the short encounter was enough to know that it's not the best camera I've seen in this at this price. Like the older Nokia 6, it also suffers stability issues and the pictures weren't crisp.

On the front, there's an 8MP selfie camera, that also features the 'Bothie' mode, where you can use both cameras at the same time. 

New Nokia 6 (2018)

On the back there's a 16MP camera

Battery

This is another area where I cannot judge the phone quite yet. It gets a 3000mAh battery just like the previous Nokia 6, but we have reasons to think that it will be better than what it was the last time. 

The Snapdragon 630 chipset is more power efficient and uses a 14nm process. Although Nokia promises two days' worth of battery life, I doubt it would be able to do so with the way I use my phones.

The highlight here is the inclusion of fast charging support. It's not that the previous Nokia didn't support it but Nokia is bundling a fast charger with the box this time.

Although this may not sound like a big deal to some, but note that there's hardly any manufacturer that gives you a fast charger at this price.

The 2018 Nokia 6 will get you from 0% to 50% charge in 30 minutes. While it is not the fastest around, we'll take that as sort of improvement.

New Nokia 6 (2018)

The new Nokia 6 supports fast charging, giving you 50% in 30 minutes

Early verdict

The Nokia 6 (2018) does bring some noticeable improvements that address our complaints with the last year's model. The core appeal remains the solid design and a fluid OS experience is topped by a more powerful chipset. 

At Rs 16,999, the phone sits above its competition in terms of price, but the missing 18:9 display could sway away some eyeballs. 

What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.