Nokia is back. Well, sort of. The Nokia name is now owned by Finnish startup HMD and it’s going to be using the iconic brand to launch a new line of smartphones. As a former Nokia die-hard, this is music to my ears.
And the good news is that HMD's reason for doing so is far more than just a money-grab; the company appears to be genuinely enthusiastic about bringing Nokia back, but without ruining what we loved about it before.
Watch: Nokia 5 & Nokia 6 hands-on
The Nokia 6 isn’t technically a new phone – it was released in China in late 2016 – but this is the first time it’s making its way over here. It will sit atop Nokia’s new Android line, which also includes the Nokia 3 and Nokia 5, but it won’t command a true flagship price.
Holding the phone for the first time, it feels like a Nokia. It's machined out of a single-piece of aluminium and then anodised; it feels superb. It’s quite big, as a result of the 5.5-inch display, but there are some really nice touches here.
The screen separates itself from the bezel and curves, providing a smooth motion when you swipe across. The sides are flat and intricately cut, and all the antennas are packed into the top and bottom of the device. This results in giving the rear of the phone a clean look, again with a slight curve to help it sit comfortably in your hand.
Look at the Nokia 6 in pictures and you’ll be of the opinion that it looks fairly pretty, but pick it up and the design nuances become all the more apparent. The phone is available in some great colours, too. A copper hue is far more appealing than any gold phone I've seen, and the Tempered Blue more interesting than solid black. Black is still available in the lineup, though, as is silver.
Instead of going in head-first and taking the fight to the iPhone 7 and Samsung Galaxy S7 right out of the gate, Nokia is first looking to conquer the equally tough mid-range market. With the Nokia 6 selling for less than £300, it’s cheaper than the OnePlus 3T and Samsung Galaxy A5, but slightly more expensive than the excellent Lenovo P2 and Honor 6X.
The Nokia 6's specs are similar to those latter two phones, but I’m not entirely convinced by the CPU at work here. It’s a Snapdragon 430, which is Qualcomm’s lower-end chip, and I've found it lacking when paired with a 1080p display. There’s 3GB of RAM to help with multitasking and 32GB of internal storage.
Thankfully, there’s a fingerprint scanner built into the capacitive home button on the front of the handset. There’s also a decent-sized 3,000mAh battery inside, but the lack of USB-C is a touch frustrating.
The display, however, it fantastic; it’s 5.5 inches with a 1080p resolution, and it’s seriously bright. Colours look accurate and there’s enough punch that it doesn’t instantly look drab when compared to an AMOLED panel. Nokia says it has optimised the screen for outdoor use and to try to minimise reflections, which is always a good thing.
It should prove to be a decent little media machine when that screen is paired with the Dolby Atmos-certified speaker setup that includes a "smart amplifier" for deeper and more immersive bass.
On the rear of the device is a 16-megapixel camera with an f/2.0 aperture and 1.0um micron pixels. There’s phase-detection autofocus too, and a dual-LED flash. My time with the camera was limited, so I’ll save my judgement for the full review, but the camera app is clean, and focusing appeared pretty fast. The front camera sits at 8 megapixels, again with an f/2.0 aperture for hopefully decent low-light selfies.
While so many OEMs choose to cover Androidwith a skin, Nokia has left it alone. The version of Android 7.1.1 you get here is very similar to the one you’d get on the Google Pixel; it even has the same Pixel Launcher with the swipe up app drawer and circular icons. Plus, Assistant – Google’s answer to Siri – is built in, something rarely seen on phones yet.
Nokia’s simple approach is refreshing, and while the 6 isn’t going to revolutionise the mobile space, it seems like it might be a great option for those on a budget. It's attractive, has the best version of Android, and should have ample power to get things done.