Review: Nokia 6 with Amazon Prime Exclusive Ads
Amazon Prime Exclusive Lock Screen
You can save $50 off the Nokia 6 if you buy the Amazon Prime Exclusive version. Why is this variant less costly? It includes advertisements on the lock screen. It's also packed with Amazon apps and services. I'll be honest: when I first learned of Amazon's intent to serve ads on smartphone lock screens last year I bristled at the notion. The very idea made me angry. I despise intrusive advertisements. How dare Amazon plaster my phone with ads!
In reality, it's not so bad.
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Basically, ads replace whatever your lock screen wallpaper would have been. Press the screen lock button to wake the handset and you'll see the large digital clock at the top of the display just as you would on any other Android phone. If you don't have any notifications, the Amazon ad fills the entire screen behind the clock as a full-screen wallpaper. If you do have notifications, the ad shrinks down to the size of a notification alert and fits in below the last notification. As always, you can dismiss your notifications (including the ad), shut the screen off, and move on.
The lock screen itself does not feature an always-on / active display mode. You can't double tap the screen to turn it on. The only way to view the lock screen is to press the screen lock key or the fingerprint reader / home button.
How do the ads work? Most ads include a button that says "tap to see deal". Tapping the button does one of two things: it either opens the Amazon shopping application (which is preinstalled) and takes you directly to the advertised item, or it opens the web browser on a page related to the item. Ads that don't have a button (usually the full-screen ads) will open the Amazon app if you press anywhere on the screen. If you've protected your device with a PIN, pattern, password or fingerprint, you'll have to unlock the phone before jumping to the advertised item in the Amazon app. That means people won't be able to buy stuff from the lock screen if they find your phone in the back seat of a cab.
After using the phone for several days I began to notice the ads less and less. Rarely did I see anything that I wanted to click on, so I just ignored them. If you simply view them as rotating wallpapers, the ads aren't all that much to get bent out of shape about. The only time they aggravated me was when I was in a hurry to respond to a notification and accidentally fat-fingered the ad instead of the notification. This cost me all of two seconds to close the Amazon app.
As for the fingerprint reader: I had no trouble with it. It recorded several prints and accepted them as proof of identity on the first touch most of the time
The Nokia 6 runs Android 7.1 Nougat and features a stock version of Google's mobile operating system. Everything about the home screen experience is exactly what you'd see on any other stock Android device.
The Amazon Prime Exclusive variant of the Nokia 6 is loaded with Amazon apps and services; in fact, much of the home screen real estate is dedicated to those apps. The most egregious element is a widget placed on one of the home screen that doubles up on serving Amazon ads to you. Not to fear, however, because you can wipe this all away and customize the home screens however you wish.
The Quick Settings shade, settings menu, and app drawer all function exactly as they do on Google's own Pixel phones. You can edit the Quick Settings toggles, easily search through settings, and view suggested apps in the app drawer.
Amazon's apps are the only bloatware on the phone. It comes with all of the standard Google-made apps you're used to seeing on Android handsets.
Performance was a bit uneven. The Nokia 6 is powered by a 1.4 GHz octa-core Snapdragon 430 processor with 3 GB of RAM. At times the phone ran smoothly and other times it felt sluggish. It does come across as a bit underpowered.
The camera app is a simple affair. You can open it with a quick double-press of the screen lock key, or via the lock screen / home screen shortcuts. It takes half a second too long to open.
You won't find any surprises in the layout of the viewfinder. Simple toggles line the left side of the screen that allow you to make use of the flash, HDR, timer, and front camera. You can set the flash and HDR to on, off, or auto, which is always nice to see. The shutter controls are positioned on the right side of the screen.
Shooting modes are fairly limited. A small camera button floats in the viewfinder directly next to the shutter button. Tap it to access to the shooting modes, which include beauty, auto and panorama. That's it. These modes work about as you'd expect. The beauty mode includes a slider tool that allows you to adjust the strength of the beautification effect.
If you switch to the video camera, you'll find access to the time-lapse and slow-motion capture modes. The time-lapse mode forces you to select either 2x or 3x speeds before shooting. Similarly, the slow-motion mode requires to you to choose one-half speed or one-third speed before you can hit record.
Oddly, you have to forcibly change the video capture resolution in the settings menu from 1080p to 720p before you can capture slow-motion; this should be automatic.
The full camera settings menu lets you turn on/off location, the grid, some capture settings, burst mode, shutter sounds, zooming and capturing behaviors, aspect ratio and resolution, and control a watermark.
The camera is a hair slow to use. I wish it were faster. I blame the processor.
The 16-megapixel main camera is adequate. I saw good and bad photos in the samples I shot; there was inconsistency across the board. Some shots were in perfect focus, while others were soft; some shots were properly exposed, while others were under/over; and some shots showed perfect white balance, while others skewed blue. I could not discern any rhyme or reason behind the inconsistencies. Finding shots that perfectly merged focus, exposure, and white balance was difficult. More often than not, at least one of these three elements was off.
The 8-megapixel selfie camera did an acceptable job. I thought focus was a bit soft in the selfies I took, but exposure and white balance were more often on point. The beautification tool is available when shooting in selfie mode, and it can help eliminate warts if you don't mind looking a bit pasty.
You can capture video up to full HD resolution and, as is often the case, the video results outperformed the camera. It did a better job of managing focus and white balance, though I did notice instances of underexposure.
The Nokia 6 may suffice as an everyday shooter for some, but I wouldn't rely on it for vacations or other important events.
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