Nokia 6.1 is the successor to last year's Nokia 6.
It is priced at Rs 18,999.
It faces stiff competition from devices from companies such as Xiaomi and Asus, among others.
Last month, HMD Global launched the Nokia 6.1 a.k.a. Nokia 6 (2018), which as the name suggests, is the successor to last year’s Nokia 6. While the clear focus seems to be improving on the great design, the Nokia 6.1 also brings about a bunch of internal improvements over the device it is succeeding. Having spent a few days using the Nokia 6.1, here’s my review.
Designed like a tank
If there is one thing you expect from Nokia smartphones, it is beautiful design with tank-like build quality. On these accounts, the Nokia 6.1 doesn’t disappoint. The unibody metal body instills confidence in the device’s survival capabilities, while the glass front, chamfered edges and the copper-colored trim add to the premium-ness.
Most companies these days are scampering to offer smartphones with tall displays sporting a notch. HMD Global though has decided to remain a bit old-school with this device. The Nokia 6.1 flaunts a 5.5-inch 16:9 display with full-HD resolution (1920×1080 pixels).
While some might say this is a compromise, in day-to-day use it doesn’t feel like one. The display is sharp and bright with good color reproduction. Viewing angles are decent, but visibility under direct sunlight could have been better. Also with a wide display and sharp corners, this isn’t a device that is comfortable to use with one hand.
Stock OS-driven performance
Under the hood is a capable Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 chipset, which is a big upgrade when compared to last year’s Nokia 6. Coupled with 4GB RAM, the smartphone has been able to offer smooth performance throughout my time with it. There aren’t many issues while opening of shutting apps, or while having multiple apps open in the background.
Much of this smooth performance is down to the fact that the Nokia 6.1 runs stock Android 8.1 Oreo. Being a part of Google’s Android One program is also among the device’s highlights. This means you get a device with no bloatware or unnecessary animations affecting the performance. Further, being on the Android One program also means that this device will be among the first to get the software updates.
However, there are times when you feel that the device is a tad underpowered. When playing graphic-intensive games like Asphalt 8: Airborne or Fortnite, you can see the internals struggling to cope. The only option then is to tone down the graphic settings.
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Making sure everything ticks is a 3,000mAh battery underneath. While it may not be the biggest unit out there, it does offer enough juice to power the device throughout the day. What also helps is the reversible USB Type-C port, which helps in charging the battery from zero-100 percent in just under two hours.
A photographer’s dream it is not
Another big upgrade over the Nokia 6 is in the photography department. On paper you still get a single 16-megapixel snapper at the back with f/2.0 aperture and LED flash. This comes as a bit of a disappointment, since many devices out there offer two cameras. Nokia has however opted for Carl ZEISS optics, and also included a Pro camera mode to give you more control over the photos you shoot.
Despite all this, there just seems to be a marginal improvement over last year’s smartphone. Under ideal lighting conditions, the Nokia 6.1 continues to click good enough photos, but I must admit, they do look a bit dull. As the lighting conditions deteriorate, so do the quality of the photos. Even with all the controls at hand, it is difficult to shoot photos that will excite people.
The 8-megapixel selfie camera up front is no different. You will only be able to click decent selfies when lighting conditions are optimum. Indoors, there is a visible drop in the quality of the photos. You also get camera features like ‘Bothie’ (simultaneously clicking a photo using the rear and front cameras), and PIP. But they are somewhat gimmicky, and you are unlikely to use them on a day-to-day basis.
Should you buy?
With a price tag of Rs 18,999, the Nokia 6.1 is also placed in a highly competitive segment. Unlike last year’s Nokia 6 though, the new smartphone feels a tad overpriced. While its highlights include a good design, solid build quality, stock Android OS, and the promise of timely software updates, there is little else that really stands out.
With the sheer variety of options available out there, buyers will no doubt feel a bit underwhelmed with the Nokia 6.1 Instead, smartphones like the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro, Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1, and the recently launched Oppo Realme 1 all offer more at a lower price. Even the newly launched Moto G6 will garner some attention.
Asus’ smartphone (prices start at Rs 10,999) features a massive battery, dual cameras, face unlock feature, and stock Android OS. Xiaomi’s smartphone (prices start from Rs 14,999) too comes with a dual-camera setup, face unlock, and AI-powered camera. Lastly, Oppo’s sub-brand is offering a smartphone with up to 6GB of RAM and 128GB storage at a price tag that starts considerably lower (priced at Rs 8,999). The Nokia is therefore an expensive option that’s worth considering only for its superior build quality and software, and the nostalgia that comes with owning a Nokia phone.