Is it another hit Android One phone from HMD Global?

HMD Global has been making great strides re-establishing the Nokia smartphone brand worldwide. Their phones have been getting positive reviews, with the Nokia 7 Plus bagging awards and accolades globally for being a well-balanced Android One device. The Nokia 6.1 Plus aims to follow through the Nokia 7 Plus’ success with the same pure Android experience paired with a more premium build and more affordable price tag. Does HMD Global have another winner in their hands?

What is it?

It is the first notch-sporting phone from HMD Global. Known as the X6 in China, the Nokia 6.1 Plus is the third generation model from the Nokia 6 series, and is the most premium-looking one of them all.

It looks very elegant.

HMD Global has decided to go for a metal and glass build with the Nokia 6.1 Plus, which reminds us a lot of the Nokia 8 Sirocco save for the notable thickness. Our review unit’s glossy piano black finish screams premium all over, and the chrome trimmings on the fingerprint sensor and camera module further emphasize its elegance.

As much as we appreciate its premium looks, we’re pretty annoyed at how slippery it is. The camera bump still extends a few mm from the body but it’s not too bad. You’ll still have to have to place the Nokia 6.1 Plus on a flat surface in order to avoid mini heart attacks every time it accidentally falls off the table though.

The saving grace for the Nokia 6.1’s slippery back is the matte-finished aluminum frame that helps in keeping a good grip on the phone. You have your usual port layout on the Nokia 6.1 Plus: SIM card tray on the left, power and volume controls on the right, USB-C, microphone, and speaker at the bottom, and a headphone jack on top.

While it sports an 5.8-inch display, the Nokia 6.1 Plus is compact enough that you can use it using one hand.

How good is the display?

While some have reservations about the notch, the Nokia 6.1 Plus’ display is one of the better ones out there. Aside from rendering vibrant colors, the display is brighter than most IPS panels we tried out in other phones. During our time with it, our brightness level was just around 50%, and we barely felt the need to increase it to beyond 80% while we were using the phone outdoors.

While there’s no option to turn off the notch, all apps are optimized to avoid the annoying cut out regardless of landscape or portrait mode. Even if it is an IPS display, the Nokia 6.1 Plus has an ambient display feature that lets you display the time every time you lift the phone.

Is it fast?

It is fairly fast for a midrange phone, thanks to a Snapdragon 636 processor, 4GB RAM, and 64GB storage. While it has a lower clock speed compared to the Snapdragon 660 processor used in the Nokia 7 Plus, the Nokia 6.1 Plus performs well. We didn’t experience any hiccups while using it for our daily, and playing games is fine with the Nokia 6.1 Plus.

While you have to manually select high quality graphics settings (it goes by low quality graphics settings by default), the Nokia 6.1 Plus performs well with Asphalt 9.
At high graphics settings, the Nokia 6.1 Plus can push framerates to as high as 45FPS in some cutscenes.
At Balanced, Medium FPS, and Realistic graphics settings, the Nokia 6.1 Plus is a good performer for PUBG Mobile.

How’s the Android One experience?

It is awesome, just like our experience with other Android One phones like the Nokia 7 Plus and Xiaomi Mi A2. Having stock Android meant that the Nokia 6.1 Plus is free of bloatware and unnecessary features, all of which contribute to fast and zippy performance.

One of the key selling points right now of the Nokia 6.1 Plus is that you can update it to Android Pie beta via Nokia Beta Labs. We updated our review unit to the latest Android build, and we have not experienced any issues so far.

There are a few downsides with stock Android, however. One of these is the lack of face unlock and other nifty features such as gaming mode. While we wished Nokia added these features, the tradeoff is worth it.

Do the non-Zeiss cameras deliver?

They do, but they have limitations. We were quite impressed at how the non-Zeiss cameras of the Nokia 6.1 Plus—consisting of 16-megapixel f/2.0 RGB and 5-megapixel f/2.2 monochrome snappers—performed well. The Snapdragon 636’s AI tricks help in improving the image processing depending on scenery. Low-light performance is acceptable, though the Nokia 6.1 Plus compromises in sharpness for such scenarios.

The main issue about the non-Zeiss branding has to be the features: aside from Nokia’s trademark Dual Shot feature, the Nokia 6.1 Plus’ camera features are underwhelming. Manual mode gives you limited controls save for the macro focusing, and Live Bokeh does not perform as advertised.

As for videos, the Nokia 6.1 Plus is capable of shooting at 4K though you lose EIS. Video quality is decent, even in low light. It comes with slow motion and time-lapse, though the former produces bad output so we advice not to use it for taking slo-mo videos.

Can it last me the whole day?

Don’t be intimidated by its rather small 3060mAh battery: thanks to stock Android, along with a power-efficient Snapdragon 636 processor, the Nokia 6.1 Plus can last more than a day on a single charge. Its PCMark’s score of a little of over 9 hours, as we manage to use the Nokia 6.1 Plus for almost 1 and a half day without running to the nearest power outlet.

The Nokia 6.1 Plus has support for Quick Charge 3.0, but you will need to buy a dedicated charger to enjoy it since it comes with a 10W charger out of the box. Using the 10W charger, it takes around 2 hours to fully juice up the Nokia 6.1 Plus.

Should you buy it?

Just like the Nokia 7 Plus, the Nokia 6.1 Plus is a phone that ticks all the right boxes for any mid-range offering. While its camera features are slightly underwhelming, the Nokia 6.1 Plus makes up for it with its premium glass and metal build, along with a great display. Overall, the Nokia 6.1 Plus is a great Android One phone, especially for those who want to try out Android Pie right now.

While it certainly delivers as an affordable alternative to the Nokia 7 Plus, the Nokia 6.1 Plus’ Php 15,990 price might be a bit pricey for an Android One phone. Xiaomi’s Mi A2—the Nokia 6.1 Plus’ closest Android One rival—is priced at Php 12,990 for the 4GB/64GB variant, and comes with a more powerful Snapdragon 660 processor and better rear cameras. However, you lose memory expansion and the headphone jack on the Mi A2, along with a metal and glass build and a readily-available Android Pie build.

Nokia 6.1 Plus specs

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 processor
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 64GB of expandable internal storage
  • 5.8-inch Full HD+ IPS display with Gorilla Glass 3 protection
  • 16-megapixel f/2.0 RGB and 5-megapixel f/2.2 monochrome rear cameras with PDAF, dual-LED flash, 4K recording, AI Scene Detection
  • 16-megapixel f/2.0 front camera
  • Dual SIM
  • 3G, LTE
  • WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, A-GPS
  • USB Type-C, fingerprint scanner
  • Android 8.1 Oreo (Android One), upgradable to Android 9.0 Pie beta
  • 3060mAh battery with Quick Charge 3.0

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