By Ajay Joseph
The third device from HMD Global as it rejuvenates the Nokia brand is the Nokia 6. It was initially released in 2017, updated in 2018 (Nokia 6.1), and followed up with the 6.1 Plus, with improved specs and design. As with its other releases, Nokia sticks to its mantra of sophistication, even with its midrange offerings.
Design and Ergonomics
The design is clean and simple, a slick black bar styling; shiny both at the front and back, with an all-glass feel. The edges are curved aluminum, which makes it comfy to hold. Owing to the glass rear, it is a little slippery though, especially when resting against something at an incline.
Similar to the Nokia 7 Plus which has copper accents, the 6.1 Plus has chrome accents; on the rear outlining the dual camera module, and the fingerprint scanner below it, as well as on the edges of the buttons on the side.
It’s worth mention that the unit includes a 3.5mm headphone jack, and features a USB Type C connector, absent in other more expensive midrange phones, such as the Oppo F9.
Specs and Performance
Powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 processor, and coupled with 4 GB of memory and 64 GB of storage, the spec sheet is pretty ample for everyday use. Storage can be expanded via a Micro SD card. The SIM tray can house 2 SIM cards and 1 micro SD card.
I found day-to-day use pretty spiffy, though there were some slow-downs when using the device after long periods of inactivity. Gaming was also smooth, with quick load times and fluid play in demanding first-person shooters. I did notice an initial stutter though just after loading a new level. During gaming, the phone got a little warm, but it was nothing crazy.
The display is a 5.8 inch full-HD LCD screen. Colors are vivid and the included stock wallpaper of the volcanic crater does well to show of the screens prowess. The speaker is good, with a crisp sound and good highs, lows are weak but expected.
On the battery front, it houses a 3060 mAh battery. With the included charger it got from 1% to 60% in just under an hour. In the high 90’s the charging gets really slow, taking around 3 hours to touch 100%. The device supports fast charging, but the suitable charger needs to be purchased separately.
As with other Nokia devices, the 6.1 Plus also runs Android One, giving users a clean, stock Android experience. The OS is the now familiar 8.1 Oreo, and thanks to Android One it means quick updates from Google, and no bloatware.
I found the software experience to be a little underwhelming, with routine app updates taking very long. It was certainly not the connectivity, as I was on a 50 Mbps Wi-Fi network. It had more to do with the install times post the download.
Similarly, there were issues connecting to previously used and saved Wi-Fi networks. The device refused to connect, even with manual intervention, and needed to be restarted, post which it auto-connected.
The default photo app hung a couple of times when doing simple image cropping, which surprised me. There was also a few instances when the flashlight turned on while the device was in my pocket.
Camera optics comprise 16-megapixel sensors at both the front and the rear, with a second 5-megapixel camera at the rear for depth sensing. This coupled with Nokia’s superb camera app provides for a good photo-snapping experience. Focus adjusting and brightness tweaking are possible on the fly.
Daylight outdoor photography is pretty good, with accurate colors, and decent detail. Sadly as expected with a midrange phone, low light and indoor pictures are not great. Selfie pictures are quite good, having both detail and good skin tones. Also impressive is the slight depth of field even with just 1 camera.
With midrange phones now packing potent cameras, the 6.1 Plus is about okay, but nothing special.
With a retail price of P15,999, the Nokia 6.1 Plus is not a cheap device. The Oppo F7 currently retails for about P1,000 less and is pretty competent, too. But in terms of sophistication, the Nokia is clearly in a different league, and that is their USP (unique selling proposition). The marginal difference is perhaps worthwhile if you’re looking for something with finesse at a midrange price point. At the time of writing, there are online retailers selling the device for P10,000, making it an absolute steal.
The midrange is a highly competitive space, and now with midrange phones offering so much, it’s not surprising why. While the Nokia 7 Plus was quite a remarkable device, I won’t say the 6.1 Plus has the same level of appeal for me. It’s a good looking device with competent specs, but some of the software niggles disappointed me. At the end of the day, if you’re looking for something stylish, with good hardware, backed by the Android One experience, the Nokia 6.1 Plus is a good option.