Nokia 6 first look: Latest Android software and security, sub-$200 price, excellent fit and finish

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Microsoft purchased Nokia’s devices and services unit in 2013, but there was hope we would see future Nokia devices starting in January 2016. Thanks in part to Amazon’s Prime exclusive phones program the new Nokia 6 is available today for as low as $179.99.

The new Nokia 6 comes to us from HMD Global and offers a high level of specifications, an attractive design, and the latest Android operating system for less than $200. As a person who started using Nokia devices in 2001, it’s nice to see the Nokia brand back on smartphones 16 years later.

HMD Global is also a Finnish company that licenses the Nokia brand to also design, market, and sell the devices. HMD Global announced four Nokia-branded phones at MWC in January and this Nokia 6 from Amazon is the first to launch in the US.

Specifications

  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 430
  • Display: 5.5 inch 1920×1080 pixels resolution IPS LCD with Corning Gorilla Glass 3
  • Operating system: Android 7.1.1 Nougat
  • RAM: 3GB
  • Storage: 32GB internal with microSD expansion card slot
  • Cameras: Rear 16 megapixel with 1.0µm pixel, f/2.0 aperture camera. Front 8 megapixel with f/2.0 aperture and 1.12µm pixel
  • Battery: 3000 mAh
  • Wireless connectivity: WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1, NFC
  • Sensors: Fingerprint, G-Sensor, Gyroscope, Compass, Ambient Light, Proximity
  • Dimensions: 154 x 75.8 x 7.85 mm and 167 grams

The Nokia 6 dimensions, including weight, are almost the exact same as the HTC U11. Interestingly, the Nokia 6 also has a similar dual speaker setup with the lower speaker powering most of the sound and the headset speaker, above the display, contributing to the audio experience. The Nokia 6 audio is branded Dolby Atmos.

The Nokia 6 is a GSM unlocked device that works on T-Mobile and AT&T in the US, in addition to other GSM carriers.

Hardware first thoughts

In addition to the similarity in size to the HTC U11, the Nokia 6 has the same style oblong front fingerprint scanner and seems to perform just as quickly. There are also two capacitive buttons below the display, left one for back and the right one for the task manager.

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The Gorilla Glass display is curved at the edges to flow down nicely into the sides. The 6000-series aluminum unibody shell looks great with its polished beveled edges. The antenna lines are integrated near the top and bottom of the back so are not unsightly.

The 1080p display looks great and is perfectly fine for reading ebooks or watching videos. The dual speaker setup cannot beat the HTC U11, but the Nokia 6 sounds great and for less than $200 you cannot complain.

Thankfully, there is a 3.5mm headset jack positioned at the top of the phone. A microUSB port is centered on the bottom for charging, but I would prefer to have seen USB Type-C in 2017.

In my limited testing, the camera appears to perform well. With the new Carl Zeiss relationship with HMD Global, we are likely to see some high quality cameras on future Nokia phones.

I have only spent a few days with the Nokia 6 so am not yet ready to judge the battery life, performance of the reception or call quality, or ability to perform with several apps running.

Software first thoughts

The Nokia 6 launches with Android 7.1.1 and the June Android security update. This is a newer version of Android than we see on many new Android smartphones, including the Samsung Galaxy S8. The launcher is the Google Launcher so a swipe to the right takes you to the Google Now cards interface. Google Assistant is present, as well as all the great Google apps you expect to see on an Android phone.

Amazon also includes several Amazon apps, including Prime Photos, Prime Videos, Amazon Kindle, Audible, Prime Now, IMDb, Goodreads, Amazon Drive, Amazon Music, Amazon Alexa, and the Amazon shopping app. These cannot be removed from the device. Amazon single-sign on is supported to make it easier to use these apps too.

It was great to see a FM radio is also present on the Nokia 6 as I enjoy listening to local sports via local radio stations.

I asked to check out the Amazon Prime Exclusive version that comes with offers and ads since that is available for $179.99 and is likely the most popular choice. If you do not want ads and offers, then you can pay $50 more, $229.00. The extra $50 gives you a phone without all of the Amazon apps installed by default. The Prime Exclusive one has Amazon ads on the lock screen, but after you unlock it then the phone is basically the same as the more expensive one.

Summary

The ads on the lock screen never bothered me or seemed to slow down the device so if someone was to ask me I would recommend saving $50 to pick up the Prime Exclusive model. As an Amazon Prime member, it is convenient to have the Amazon apps installed on the device, as I install them on my smartphone anyway.

Phones as good as the Nokia 6 make me question spending three to four times more for flagships from Samsung, LG, HTC, and Apple. If I wasn’t in the business of writing about smartphones, I am very curious if I could do everything I desire with a $200 smartphone. For just $180, the Nokia 6 is an excellent option for a backup phone if you just cannot give up paying $700 to $900 for a flagship.

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