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Nokia X6 Review – The Notch Goes to Finland

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It seems, as if a number of phone manufacturers have found a way to make people talk about their phones without really adding anything significant. This is mostly true for mid-range and lower segment devices. And that ‘way’ is the way of the Notch.

Nokia couldn’t resist the temptation and appears to have finally given in to this latest industry style statement. The Finnish company recently launched the Nokia X6 in China and with that, joined a long list of smartphones whose displays are crested with the cut-out at the top.

After all, why not, if you haven’t got anything special in your smartphone, just give it a notch and it will at least be talked about in terms of how close it looks to that American flagship! And if you’re still proud enough, you’d try and justify the presence of it and how it is better. Thankfully for us, Nokia didn’t really make a huge fuss about it. They just did it and silently acknowledged that it’s cool to have a notch.

Nokia X6 fingerprint sensor

The Nokia X6 is the first Nokia with a notch and below are its specifications:

Aluminium frame with front and back glass body

5.8-inch IPS LCD, 1080p x 2280p, 19:9 aspect ratio, 435 ppi

Android Oreo 8.1

Snapdragon 636 octa-core chipset, Adreno 509 GPU

4 GB RAM, 32 GB internal storage (expandable up to 256 GB, 4/6 GB RAM with 64 GB storage also available)

Dual camera with 16 MP + 5 MP primary and secondary lenses respectively. Primary lens gets f2.0 aperture, PDAF, gyro-EIS. Secondary lens is the depth sensor with f2.2 aperture

Front 16 MP camera with f2.0 aperture

Fingerprint sensor, Face unlock system

3,060 mAh battery

Let’s find out how does the Nokia X6 performs on various aspects…

 

DESIGN & BUILD QUALITY

Nokia X6 USB-C

The first thing that anyone would notice on holding the Nokia X6 is it’s quite manageable for single-hand use. We are not saying that your thumb would reach to the farthest corner irrespective of your hand size, it will likely not, but overall, the phone is pretty easy to manage with one hand. With 5.8-inch display along with a notch, the phone feels very iPhone X-like to hold – compact body, yet the display is big enough for an enjoyable viewing experience.

Nokia X6 3.5 mm jack

The Nokia X6 has an aluminium frame while the backside is finished in glass along with the front of course. Usually, the backside is made of glass in order to make the phone capable of wireless charging. But the Nokia X6 doesn’t have this feature. We aren’t sure why would Nokia do this because having a glass back invariably increases the physical vulnerability of the phone. At least with wireless charging, the phone would have had a reason for sporting a glass back.

Nokia X6 volume and power buttons

Secondly, because of the compactness of the phone (which is a positive aspect in general), accessing the fingerprint sensor is a little bit cumbersome. Usually, the user will have to adjust the phone while holding by shifting it slightly upwards to properly touch the fingerprint reader. But frankly, it is not a big deal and usually, we don’t really notice making such adjustments.

Overall, the Nokia X6 looks good and has an up-market feel to it. One more positive thing is that the phone is not really slippery to hold which helps in keeping the grip firm.

 

DISPLAY, SOFTWARE & UI

Nokia X6 display

Display – Starting with the display, it is a 5.8-inch IPS LCD unit and it comes with a notch. Some phones have the option to hide the notch making the display appear typical, but there’s no such option in the Nokia X6. If you’re someone who hates the notch, like so many out there, you’ll probably not enjoy looking at the phone. But personally speaking, I do not have any issue with it.

Nokia X6 screen

On the quality of the display, it is good in general with good color saturation and overall vibrant imagery. There are no options for display color, warmth or the white balance. It is what it is. Nokia has kept it simple. However, there’s an ‘Eye Protection Mode’ which turns the white balance towards warm. Once this option is enabled, the intensity of the warmth can be adjusted using a slider. This Eye Protection mode is basically the Night mode which is available in many other smartphones. The warm white balance is said to help in relaxing the eyes of the viewer (which eventually helps in falling asleep).

Software & UI – The Nokia X6 comes with the Android Oreo 8.1 out of the box and it is a pretty straightforward affair. Since X6 is only a Chinese-exclusive device currently, it is missing some important OS features like – the App Drawer, Google Play Store and all other services related to Google. Other than that, the User Interface is quite familiar as a stock Android OS. However, there are a number of pre-installed apps like Weibo, App Store and such since it is a Chinese-market phone. But of course, you can install the Play Store separately and then go about using the phone normally.

Nokia X6 user interface
Home Screen | Settings menu | Navigation bar options

One feature that I am currently enjoying using is the option to toggle the Navigation bar on/off. We are talking about the three Android function keys. You can toggle the navigation bar off and then simply swipe up from the bottom of the screen, at the place where each of the three Android function keys reside, to perform the Back, Home and the App Switcher functions.

 

PERFORMANCE

Nokia X6 benchmarks
3D Mark | Geekbench 4

Powered by the Snapdragon 636 processor along with 4 GB RAM onboard, the Nokia X6 delivers a performance typical of any lower mid-range device with similar specifications. Normal functionality like navigating the Home screen(s), app folders and the Settings menu is quite trouble-free. The response and smoothness in these basic situations is satisfactory, although, you’d understand that it’s a mid-range processor at work.

Switching between apps is not a problem as such unless there are some heavy apps opened in the background like the camera and/or YouTube. Scrolling a page on any of the social media apps is smooth enough. However, there is a sense of heaviness in the entire operation. You’d feel as if a page or a screen is not scrolling entirely freely. There’s a tiny sense of restrain here and there in the entire smoothness.

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On the contrary, for example, the Redmi Note 5 Pro feels quite snappy in comparison and it appears that it responds a hair-touch quicker to the user input compared to the Nokia X6. The Pro has the same Snapdragon 636 processor as well as 4 GB RAM, but in this phone, actions like navigation and scrolling do not have the same sense of restrain. Actions appear to happen with a touch of lightness even though the Pro isn’t really any quicker than the X6. Really though, this observation has virtually zero negative effect, so far, on my experience with the X6.

Coming to the security, there’s a fingerprint sensor as well as a face unlock feature. Both work as intended, however, we observed that the fingerprint reader is a touch slower than some of the phones in the same category, for example, the Honor 7X and the Redmi Note 5 Pro. It is not at all an issue, it is just an observation.

Nokia X6 fingerprint reader

Issues Faced – I haven’t faced any issues yet related to the phone’s performance as such. Sure, it feels a little heavy here and there but nothing has really affected its performance adversely.

However, on its 2nd day itself, the phone hung during the boot-up sequence on the ‘Powered By Android’ screen. It hung completely, I waited for 10 minutes on this screen and then I couldn’t wait any longer. I forced-restart it by long pressing the UP volume button along with the Power button. This happened nearly a week back and it hasn’t happened again. It was quite a serious issue and led me to question the phone’s performance in the days to come, but it’s going pretty good so far.

Gaming – Gaming, mostly, has delivered a similar experience as in the case of the phone’s normal usage. Playing a graphic-heavy game, like a modern car racing Asphalt 8: Airborne, is smooth enough and the phone’s entire chipset (including the Adreno 509 GPU) is able to handle the framerate requirement quite well. Usually, I didn’t miss a beat or lose a tackle because of any drop in the framerate. The experience has been quite satisfactory so far. And like it is mentioned earlier, the colors are vibrant with good neutrality in contrast.

Please understand that since the Nokia X6 is a brand new unit with us, the phone’s chipset is possibly at its peak of performance right now. It would be interesting to see how the phone performs in general, and especially in gaming, after a few months down the line. Depending on the OS updates, the performance may or may not improve.

 

CAMERA

Daylight Images:

Nokia X6 daylight sample

Nokia X6 daylight sample 2

Nokia X6 daylight sample 3

First, the best thing about the Nokia X6’s camera is that it maintains good color neutrality, which means colors are realistic. But it seems this is possibly the only best thing about it. The camera tends to overexpose the bright areas in an image especially the ones with sunlight (see the metro station image above). Secondly, the overexposed parts remains unaffected even in the HDR versions. Ideally, the HDR version should be able to neutralize the overexposed parts and reveal the otherwise hidden detail.

Coming to the detail itself, it is alright, nothing impressive about it. The HDR versions slightly improvise on the detail though.

Night and Low Light Samples:

Nokia X6 low light sample

Nokia X6 night sample

Nokia X6 night sample 2

Nokia X6 night sample 3

The tendency to overexpose bright areas continues in the images taken in the night or low light conditions as well. The HDR versions hardly do much to change that, there’s no improvement in the details that are lost due to overexposure. The biggest difference we have noticed in the night HDR samples is that they are slightly more vibrant compared to their non HDR versions. However, there is visible grain or the noise especially in the HDR versions.

Bokeh or Portrait Samples:

Nokia X6 Portrait sample

It is difficult to find any noticeable difference between the Live Bokeh mode versus the Bokeh with the default autofocus. Actually, the Live Bokeh has done a pretty decent job in creating the depth effect without really affecting the subject outer boundaries (for example, the boundaries of the subject bleeding into the background or vice-versa). Overall, color accuracy is pretty nice as well.

Selfie Sample:

Nokia X6 Selfie

Once again, the bright background is very overexposed and it is impossible to find any details in there. At the same time, the colors continue to remain quite realistic keeping the overall image quite acceptable. The beauty mode, in its default middle setting, only slightly enhances the texture of the face which can be preferable.

Overall, the camera needs improvement in terms of controlling the Exposure, first and foremost, and then aspects like detail and overall sharpness (especially in the HDR mode) need to be improved as well. All this is applicable even more when clicking images in low light conditions (including the noise or the grain effect).

 

BATTERY

Nokia X6 battery

The Nokia X6 comes with a 3,060 mAh battery which is decent enough at least on paper. Maximum phones in this segment are bundled with batteries whose capacities revolve within 3000-3800 mAh. There are some exceptions though, like the Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1, which comes with a large 5,000 mAh battery.

Coming back to the X6’s battery performance – it is good enough so far. With moderate usage, the phone stays on for 1 full day or so before needing a charge. The phone comes with a typical 5V-2A battery and it does an acceptable job of charging the phone. The battery gets charged up to 60% in 45 minutes while the 100% charge comes in around 2 hours. These are all quite satisfactory timings.

 

CONCLUSION – SHOULD YOU BE EXCITED FOR THE NOKIA X6 IN INDIA?

Nokia X6 performance

Nokia X6 is currently only available in China and Nokia (or HMD Global) hasn’t made any official announcement if or when the phone will be launched in India. However, there’s heavy speculation that the phone will be launched in India in July (on or around July 18) itself. Anyways, if or when the Nokia X6 is launched here, we are expecting it to be priced around Rs 13000-14000. This will keep its prospects good among its peers like the Zenfone Max Pro M1, Redmi Note 5 Pro and especially the Nokia 6.1. While the M1 and the Pro are closely priced (Rs 12,999 and Rs 14,999 respectively), the Nokia 6.1 is a bit less budget-friendly at Rs 18,999.

Nokia will have to be careful while pricing the Nokia X6 in India as it already has the Nokia 6.1 in this segment. The X6, compared to the 6.1, looks more up-market and trendy. Nevertheless, we are certain to find out soon enough. On its own, the Nokia X6 is a pretty good phone, but there’s nothing special about it other than the Notch (which in itself is nothing special anymore).

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