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Nokia 6 review: hands on with the comeback flagship

MWC 2017 felt oddly nostalgic for a future-looking event. Not only did BlackBerry splutter back to life after hitting 0.0% of the world’s mobile market share, but Nokia too was on the comeback trail. True, much of Nokia’s thunder was stolen by a handset that boasted the great innovation of a 2 megapixel camera and a colour version of Snake, but for the Finnish company – AWOL after selling its mobile operation to Microsoft – any publicity is good publicity.

But it’s not just a feature phone revival: Nokia is back with smartphones too, and leading the pack is the Nokia 6. No longer hamstrung by having to use Windows as the operating system, and free to join the Android party, is this a flagship that’s going to make Apple and Samsung lose any sleep?

Nokia 6 review: Key specifications and release date

The term “flagship” is, of course, relative. And to answer my question above: no. This may be the most advanced smartphone Nokia will be selling at the start of their comeback (though there were plenty of hints of a Nokia 8, so watch this space), but it’s mid-range by everyone else’s standards.

You’re looking at a 1.1GHz Qualcomm octa-core Snapdragon 430 processor, backed up by 4GB RAM and 64GB storage. Those are mid-range specs, and no mistake, but Nokia has been generous with the pricing, accordingly. It’s due out in the UK in March, and its price on the continent has been set at a wallet-friendly €229. That’s just under £200 in pounds and pence, which is hard to argue with.

Rounding up the key specifications: a 16-megapixel rear camera with an f/2.0 aperture and a 5.5in IPS Full HD display. The whole thing will run Android Nougat: Nokia 2.0 is no longer in bed with Microsoft in the smartphone market.

Nokia 6 review: Design, key features and first impressions

All of that might sound very familiar, and there’s good reason for that: this is the same phone that launched in China last month. Still, this is the first time we’ve had it in our hands, and our first impressions are pretty good considering the mid-range price point.

The 5.5in IPS display has a pixel density of 403ppi, and while it wasn’t as flashy as some of the other handsets vying for attention in Barcelona, it’s undeniably a decent screen. It’s both bright and clear, and you can’t really have any complaints.

Just because a phone’s innards aren’t the most flashy, doesn’t mean you can’t make the handset look good, and Nokia has done an excellent job with the Nokia 6. It’s chamfered edges are amongst the best we’ve seen recently, and it fits pleasingly snuggly in the palm of the hand – no mean feat for a 5.5in handset. And what’s this? A fingerprint reader! Welcome to 2017, Nokia, you’re going to like it here.

It’s also got Dolby Atmosphere certified speakers at the bottom, which is promising. How good they are, we can’t really say at this point – suffice it to say that busy conference halls don’t make ideal testing grounds, but we’re looking forward to putting them through their paces in time.

Nokia’s most recent attempt at smartphones always had impressive cameras built-in, so we’re optimistic for the snapper on this one. The rear camera is a 16-megapixel affair with a f/2.0 aperture with phase detection autofocus. The front camera is half the megapixels, but even that is overkill for Skype and selfies.

64GB of storage is generous – and if that’s not enough, there’s room for a microSD card of up to 128GB in size. Inside is a 3,000mAh battery, though sadly it’s not removable like the good old days.

Nokia 6 review: Early verdict

It’s safe to say that Nokia’s return to the world of smartphones isn’t going to set the world alight, but that’s probably quite a smart move. The high-priced top end of the market is saturated with wannabes, and yet barely any can land a punch on Samsung or Apple – the mid range area is a far softer target for Nokia to make its second mark on.

And the Nokia 6 is in a good place to do this. It looks the part, and if the Euro price translates to a sub-£200 launch in the UK, I think it’ll be in a good place to surprise a few people when it launches next month.

Stay tuned to Alphr for more thoughts, when we get our hands on a review model very soon.

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