Nokia – the once household name in the phone industry made a comeback just a few years ago. And Nokia phones were all about durability. But the Nokia 6.1 Plus tries a different approach. The phone, although appearing premium, is not as durable. Now Nokia is a name trusted by many. But, does the Nokia 6.1 Plus bring enough to get a seat in the almost full table of smartphones?
Nokia 6.1 Plus Specifications
- Design: Glass back and front in Aluminum Frame, Corning Gorilla Glass 3
- Display: 5.8″ IPS LCD, Full HD+ resolution (2280 x 1080) pixels, 432 PPI pixel density
- Rear Camera: Dual cameras, 16 MP primary lens with f/2.0 aperture & PDAF + 5 MP depth sensor, capable of 4K videos @30 fps
- Front Camera: 16 MP lens with f/2.0 aperture
- Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 636
- CPU: Octa-core 1.8 GHz Kyro 260
- GPU: Adreno 509
- Storage: 64 GB internal, expandable up to 400 GB via microSD (Hybrid SIM slot)
- Battery: 3060 mAh
- Price: Rs. 37,635
As usual, first, let’s talk about the design. This phone has a glass back sandwiched in an aluminum frame. The glass body feels premium in the hands, with just the right weight. It also feels quite sturdy, but I think Nokia is swaying away from its origins.
Now Nokia phones are known for their build quality. Their phones are built to last. If you hold a Nokia 7 Plus in your hands, you’ll know what I’m talking about. But the Nokia 6.1 Plus has glass, which isn’t as durable as metal, is it? Or even plastic for that matter.
However, in other aspects, the phone does well. Its small form factor makes it quite easy to hold. The phone has dual cameras at the back, which very slightly protrudes out, but it won’t be that much of a problem. There’s a fingerprint scanner underneath it with the Nokia logo. There’s also the Android One logo, mentioning that it runs on the stock Android platform.
The right has the volume buttons and the unlock button, while the SIM tray rests on the left. Good thing, you can still find a headphone jack on it. Also, another good thing is that it has a USB-C port, and beside it, there’s a single speaker grill. The speaker quality is like any other mid-range phone – above average. But, the sounds don’t get distorted even in high volume levels, which is another good thing.
The glass back, like any other glass back, attracts quite a lot of finger smudges. It’s very slippery, so, if you’re one of those who use their phones while laying down, be careful not to let it slip. I’ve had quite a few instances of this one dropping on me. But with its small form factor, it is highly ergonomic and fits in your hands quite well. While others are making their phones larger, the Nokia 6.1 Plus brings something new to the menu.
This phone has a 5.8” IPS LCD display with a Full HD+ resolution. The 5.8” screen might be small by today’s standards, but for a small form factor and an ergonomic design, this is a worthy sacrifice.
I don’t mind the small difference in screen size between this phone and the others. The display is protected by Gorilla Glass 3 and has a small notch up top. The small notch houses a front camera, a speaker and a proximity sensor. There are no LED notification lights, which is a bummer. LED lights are one of the most under-rated features in a smartphone. You only realize their importance when you don’t have them.
Also, there is a chin at the bottom with the Nokia logo on it. I don’t know why they did this, as the logo is at the back as well. If this wasn’t there, we probably could’ve gotten a slightly larger screen. But even so, the small screen makes for a better pixel density. With about 430 PPI of pixel density, the display is crisp and vibrant. The colors look pretty good, and it has good sunlight legibility as well. You can also hide the notch if it bothers you. But with the latest security update, the option to remove the notch isn’t there anymore. It might make an appearance, but they don’t seem to be going away anytime soon.
In the camera department, the Nokia 6.1 Plus has a dual camera setup at the back and a single selfie camera. The rear camera setup consists of a 16 MP lens with f/2.0 aperture and a 5 MP depth sensor. In terms of images, the camera is slightly above average. In daylight, or good lighting environments, the images will impress you. Colors come out punchy, and vibrant, and the details are well preserved. The HDR feature also does a pretty good job.
Low light images, on the other hand, are not pleasing. They gather a considerable amount of noise and lose details. Colors appear washed out, and it gives you the impression of a low-quality camera.
For high-res image samples of the Nokia 6.1 Plus, click here.
The portrait mode on this camera, known as the Live Bokeh, here, is just average as well. You can set the level of depth effect before you take the pictures, but the edge-detection is hit-or-miss. The subject in the images get good focus, but it suffers in the border areas, and sometimes, some aspects in the background get focus unintentionally while ignoring some parts of the subject. Bokeh mode, in low light, is a straight NO. But bokeh mode is not meant for low lighting conditions anyway.
As for selfies, it’s the same story. Under well-lit environments, it produces impressive results, while it struggles to gather details in low light. However, the software-based bokeh portrait in the front camera impressed me more than the rear ones. Edge detection seemed better in selfies than from the rear cameras. The screen flash also makes up for the absence of a front flash in selfies. The beauty mode does a good job in both front and back and does not overstep the facial features like in some Vivo or Oppo phones.
The phone is also capable of recording 4K videos at 30 fps. But with no image stabilization, the applicability of this feature seems pretty limited. Also, the video quality in normal mode is sub-par. There’s slow motion on it as well, but the quality of the Slow-Mo videos is aggressively average.
The Dual Sight feature also makes its appearance here as well. This means you can take pictures and record videos with the rear and the front cameras simultaneously. But if you ask me, I don’t see the point of this. What are you going to do with those pictures, anyway? If you have any ideas, please let us know too.
The camera interface is also not as simple as I’d like it to be. You have to really get inside the camera UI to access all the features. This may not be a big deal for some, but when you’re used to simpler camera interfaces, it is a bit off-putting. Overall, the performance of the camera mostly depends on the light, and with some good features, it places the camera on the above-average section of the shelf.
Under the hood, this phone is powered by a Snapdragon 636 chipset. This chip falls under the mid-range section, and so, the phone performs accordingly. With 4 GB of RAM, browsing through everyday tasks is breezy enough. The transitions are smooth, but it will take some time to load heavy apps. It handles almost everything you throw at it – browsing the web, social media apps, light gaming, etc. Multi-tasking is also smooth enough to some extent. However, it cannot keep the apps open for a long time in the background.
As for gaming, the phone handles its own. Asphalt 9 ran quite smooth, without any stutters, or dropped frames, and in medium graphics settings. PUBG, too, is playable in low settings and low frame rates, but without any stutters or lags. The loading time is considerably long, but once you get through that, you won’t face any problems while playing.
On top of it, the Android One OS is a bliss. Android One is Google’s platform for certain phones, with which you get a clean and fluid software, the genuine stock Android experience. Google’s own AI features and security features are embedded into it. Plus, there’s no bloatware and includes soft nifty features like an Ambient display that turns the screen on when you get notifications. Also, you can pick up the phone to see if you have any notifications. Now, this isn’t as convenient as LED notification lights but somewhat makes up for an absence of the LED lights.
The fingerprint sensor at the back is fast and reliable too. It is not as fast as some other phones, but half a second of difference is barely noticeable, is it? But you can’t say the same for its facial recognition feature, which is purely software. We have seen software-based facial recognition in a lot of other phones too, and they do a much better job than on this. The facial recognition takes some time, even under favorable lighting conditions. And you have to swipe up to fully unlock the device once your face is recognized. But in its defense, this is Android’s Smart Lock feature, and not the phone’s Facial Recognition security feature itself.
The one thing that does seem like a problem is that the phone’s screen gets unresponsive at times. You can’t press certain buttons on the screen, and even when you do, nothing happens. This is particularly annoying when taking pictures, as it didn’t even click photos, no matter how hard I pressed.
I would’ve thought nothing of this if I hadn’t faced some losses in PUBG due to this very issue! But frankly, I don’t know it was a problem on my review unit only or all the models in general. If any of you have faced, or face similar issues, do let us know in the comments too.
Battery and Storage
This phone has a 64 GB internal storage, with a microSD card slot as well, which uses a dual SIM slot. But I don’t think you’ll need to expand the memory, as Google Photos gives you unlimited backup for all your photos and videos.
As for the battery, it has a 3060 mAh unit, which is not as per the standards of 2018. However, given its small screen, the battery does last. It may be the stock Android optimization too, but the battery doesn’t disappoint. With a full charge, you can get through the day in normal usage. This phone also supports fast charging with Quick-Charge 3.0, but it does not come with a Quick Charger in the box. I find this to be very unusual and Apple-like, but it is what it is.
Conclusion and Verdict
To sum up, I’d call this a practical device. Its compact size and ergonomic design with a good screen size and aspect ratio set it apart from the large phones these days. The display is vibrant, and the battery lasts. On top, the Android One experience is very elegant and it promises timely software updates.
Cameras do need some improvement in a few areas. And it’d be great if they could optimize the camera UI in future software updates. Performance is good enough for a normal user. But, I, personally think Nokia going with a glass back is like moving away from its direction. A glass back phone is certainly not built-to-last, which was the main focus of Nokia.
Also, the most depressing thing about this phone is the price! It is supposed to be a budget phone internationally, costing some $250 in the US, and INR 16000 in India. With all that it packs and its price, it is a good buy for an Indian and international market. Now, that should have been able to put the phone under Rs.30000 in Nepal. It actually would have been worth it for that price. But no, the price is a whopping Rs.37635 here! And that, my friends, is enough for me to decide to not get this phone.
There are so many options in that price segment out there, and even if you want Android One, you can get the Mi A2 which is more powerful than this! The Nokia 6.1 Plus, is a good phone weighed down by its exorbitant pricing, in Nepal. So, unless the price goes down, I’d advise you to think twice before getting this phone. It’s that simple!
- Compact size and ergonomic design
- Premium feel
- Vibrant display
- Android One Software
- Good battery life
- No more built-to-last
- No LED notification lights
- Sub-par low light camera performance
- Less value for money (in Nepal)