The Chinese manufacturer Nomu is a true outdoor specialist. Until now, S10, S20, S30, S30 Mini, and T10 were all outdoor mobile phones. The new NOMU M6 is also a rugged smartphone, but the robust exterior is not so much in focus anymore to win new customers. Unfortunately, the manufacturer did not tell us whether there will soon be a normal smartphone. The S10 Pro dominated the low budget range of outdoor mobile phones and was also offered by the manufacturer Archos in the same configuration (Archos 50 Saphir). Looking at the datasheet, M6 is now actually a step backward in many respects.
The battery shrinks from 5000 to 3000 mAh and also the memory is now smaller with 2/16GB (3/32GB for S10 Pro). But specifications should only be used to a limited extent, smartphones only show their real face in practical use and we have also revealed the dark side of NOMU M6. With a price of just a bit more than 100€, M6 is one of the cheapest outdoor mobile phones and competes above all with Cubot KingKong. The detailed test shows how many outdoor features are possible in the low-budget price segment.
Design and build quality
Chinese advertising slogans need getting used to and you have to keep a certain distance to avoid going crazy. Nomu calls M6 the “Most Beautiful Rugged Phone“: with 185g, NOMU M6 is almost normal for a 5-inch phone and even the 10.5mm thickness still passes for an ordinary smartphone. The only outdoor design element is a thick rubber frame. It also protects against falls and damage, but only on the frame. The glossy rear is extremely sensitive to scratches and even if the display is scratch-resistant due to Gorilla Glass 3, no protruding edge protects against glass breakage. With the beautiful design, the striking outdoor features are obviously also lost. However, NOMU M6 is slightly more robust than a normal smartphone. The other dimensions are 144 mm in length and 73.5 mm in width.
Headphone connection, Micro-USB and Dual-SIM slot (hybrid slot with memory expansion) are well protected against water and dirt by rubber plugs. Ordinary USB cables also fit, which is positive for an outdoor phone. Unfortunately, Nomu M6 is controlled by on-screen keys, although there is enough space for classic Android sensor keys below the normal 16:9 display. Power button and volume control are made of plastic, located on the right and are firmly attached to the casing, with a comfortable feedback. The front appears classic and only stands out by a silver coloring and a useless LED flash. A single camera sensor with LED flash and the Nomu LOGO on the rear are housed in 2 separate elements.
Someone at Nomu probably misunderstood the term “form follows function”. Seen as an outdoor smartphone, the design offers no significant advantage except for the thick frame. According to Nomu, the device is still IP68 certified and is therefore absolutely dustproof and protected against continuous immersion. During the test, the device survived a 30-minute water bath without damage. On the Nomu website, you will find the term “MIL-STD-810G”, which is a military standard, but should be ignored. One should criticize NOMU for the missing notification LED and also the extremely scratch-sensitive rear is a NO GO for an alleged outdoor mobile phone. On the other hand, you can use the Nomu device like a normal smartphone. It is not overly thick and heavy and lies comfortably in the hand. The build quality is also very good.
Despite the price, Nomu M6 doesn’t present a weak display. The 5-inch display is in the standard 16:9 format and has a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels. The 294 pixels per inch provide a sharp image on the Nomu outdoor smartphone. The IPS display shines with accurate color representation and good contrasts. In the options menu, MiraVision is also available for individual adjustment. The brightness of the display is also very good, you can still read the display very well outdoors even in sunlight, the reflections are only problematic depending on the angle to the sun. The automatic brightness adjustment works reliably, but is not the fastest.
The touchscreen registers 5 points of contact simultaneously and is sufficiently fast and reliable. If you don’t type very fast, you won’t have any problems. Here the processor is more limited than the display itself. As already mentioned in the design and build quality section, Nomu M6 is protected from scratches by Gorilla Glass 3. The device passed without problems the test with the screwdriver on the front side, but not on the rear side.
PerformanceAntutu Result Geekbench Multi Result 3D Mark Result
Nomu M6 houses a MediaTek MT6737T processor with 4 x 1.5 GHz. In Cubot Note Plus, the processor even works in combination with an FHD display; in M6, it only resolves in HD. The Mali T720 GPU provides the graphics performance and, unfortunately, only 2GB of RAM are provided. Nomu M6 is hardly really fast with this hardware, but the almost unchanged Android 7 system runs smoothly. Normal games from the Play Store can be played and some multitasking is still possible. Of the 2GB RAM, 1.2 are available for background apps and the speed of 2.5 GB/s is just fine. The internal memory measures 16GB and can be expanded to 128GB, if you go without the Dual-SIM function (hybrid slot).
The speed of the internal memory with 96/25 MB/S reading/writing speed is sobering. Nomu M6 is far from the term “powerful”, but in the low budget range a smooth operation is always sufficient. You have to be patient, but then the Nomu device usually masters any task.
While many small manufacturers already ship smartphones with Android 8, such as Cubot X18 Plus, Nomu M6 still runs with an old Android 7.0 system. The Google security patch will probably remain that of January 2018 and you should not expect an Android 8 Oreo update. However, some bug fixes are necessary: if you hide the onscreen keys, for example, it is very difficult to retrieve them. You have to pull up several times at different places on the bottom of the display.
It’s nice to see that Nomu offers the Google Now Launcher for selection. System modifications are limited and no antivirus app found any threats. There is also no bloatware pre-installed, only the Google Guard is available. In the settings, you can find intelligent wizards that also work partly, such as a 3 finger screenshot or a pocket mode (automatically high volume for ringtones when the Nomu device is in the trouser pocket). Nomu M6 is easy to navigate and the system is also predominantly fluid and stable.
The 8 megapixel Sony sensor IMX219 used in Nomu M6 is a big surprise. Instead of a fake dual camera, you will find a proper sensor which provides the necessary sharpness for images. The shutter release time of 1.5 seconds is quite long, but the focus is fast and usually accurate. In low light conditions, the images are very coarse-grained and image noise occurs. But as soon as enough light is available, the Nomu device takes pictures with 12 megapixels in quite nice quality. The images are usually sufficiently sharp, the focus is set correctly and the color balance is kept accurate. The front camera also provides nice selfies with sufficient sharpness and acceptable color reproduction for the low price. The front flash is absolutely useless, but the flash on the rear provides support for close-ups.
Videos are theoretically possible with 30FPS at FHD, but in practice you only reach just over 20 FPS and even the lack of stabilization makes videos not look good. The sound quality is also not convincing.
Communication and connectivity
Your own voice is passed on a bit dull in the conversation but there were no communication problems. The speakerphone produces a clear echo and can hardly be used.
Wi-Fi reception is only possible in the 2.4GHz network and only supports the n-standard. Range and data throughput are unfortunately only average and not as strong as one would like in an outdoor mobile phone. The Bluetooth 4.0 works faultlessly and the phone is also equipped with an FM radio receiver.
The speaker is loud but very flat and free of bass. At the highest volume, ist also oversteers. For ringtones and notifications, the speaker is just the right thing. The jack connector provides loud and clear sound with connected mid-range headphones.
Besides the 3 standard sensors (accelerometer, proximity and light sensor) there is also a compass. The latter also works reliably with occasional calibration. GPS reception is not the strongest, but it is sufficient for reliable car navigation. But you can’t tell which side of the street you’re on as a pedestrian.
BatteryBattery lifetime Result Unit: hours
Nomu M6 houses a 3000 mAh battery, which is OK, given the HD resolution of the 5-inch display. Nevertheless, compared to an S10 Pro you simply have 2000 mAh less. In practical use, one battery charge is sufficient for 1.5 days of intensive use (7-8 hours with the display switched on). This means that the battery life is good and actually quite close to that of Nomu S10 Pro, although the battery is much smaller here. Quick-Charge and so on is not supported; the phone is fully charged in 3.5 hours.