Technophile

Nokia 6.1 Plus: Taking the fight to the competition

Mirza Mohammed Ali Khan | Updated on September 05, 2018 Published on September 05, 2018

Nokia 6.1 Plus

This excellent-looking phone packs in quite a bit; it also comes with Android One

As someone whose first experience with a mobile phone was a large, cordless phone-like Nokia handset in the late 1990s that my father brought home, the Finnish brand being revived put me on a nostalgia trip. Add to that the throwback phones the HMD Global-helmed brand launched — the new 3310 especially — and Nokia caught people’s attention again. But it’s tough being in a time when Chinese players like Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo, OnePlus, are dominating the smartphone market. Just ask Samsung, which is losing ground in the affordable smartphone space to Xiaomi, or others like LG and Micromax facing the heat from the competition.

Amidst all this, Nokia this year brought Android One to its smartphones. A good move, given how the stock Android software and timely updates appeal to regular users and Android geeks alike. The brand is gradually adding phones to its mid-range line-up, which is the most sought-after segment. The Nokia 6.1 Plus, which just went on sale, is the latest addition.

What a good-looker

On unboxing the phone, its sleek looks left me very impressed. The Nokia 6.1 Plus is easily one of the best-looking phones in this price range, right up there with the Moto G6. The review unit’s glossy black rear with the silver-ringed fingerprint sensor and the Nokia and Android One branding gave it a very classy, sober appeal. A welcome change from the bright, colourful backs that peers in the segment throw at us. The front has a notch, not too big, and a thin chin below. Holding the phone is easy and when you look at it, it belies its size. Thanks to maximum use of the front, it doesn’t look as big as a 5.8-inch screen phone usually would. The 3.5 mm jack stays and is on top, with a USB C port below. The dual camera assembly is vertically placed above the fingerprint sensor on the back and is also ringed by silver accents, adding to the phone’s sheen. On the specs front, the 6.1 Plus is clearly taking Xiaomi and the others head-on. A Snapdragon 636 processor powers the phone, along with 4 GB RAM and 64 GB storage (expandable). The screen is FHD+ with a tall 19:9 aspect ratio.

Display and performance

The display is bright, clear, and easy on the eye. Viewing angles are compatible with a variety of positions and sunlight legibility is quite neat. The phone initially did have a feature with which the notch display could be disabled, but the latest update during the course of using the phone took away that feature, which means you will have to live with the notch even if you aren’t a fan. I wonder what Nokia’s rationale behind this move is.

The phone is juiced by a 3,060 mAh battery, which is just about enough for the phone and the users it is targeted at. It will get you through the day, even if you throw the occasional light gaming session at it. It supports fast charge, but with the charger provided, it took me well north of two hours to charge it up fully.

The Snapdragon 636 processor is a very good proven performer. It also powers the 6.1 Plus’ direct competitors — the Redmi Note 5 Pro and the Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1. Coupled with the generous RAM, this Nokia phone handles everything that a regular user will throw at it. Some light office work on the go, social media, multi-tasking, background apps, all are handled without a glitch. The Adreno 509 GPU ensures that games run well, including ones like Asphalt 9, which is a sort of a benchmark game to test a mid-range phone’s prowess. Prolonged gaming will understandably ensure that the battery bar dips quicker, but overall, this is a phone that more than holds its own.

There isn’t much that needs to be said about the stock Android that this phone runs on (Oreo, for now, but will get Pie soon). Android One’s revival is great, especially given how we don’t have those wonderful Nexus phones from Google anymore. Timely updates and regular software patches will keep your phone running smooth and stock Android’s ease of use has a universal appeal. There’s even the app tray that can be drawn up with a swipe — something that most other phones don’t have anymore.

Camera corner

The phone has a primary 16 MP + 5 MP dual camera set, with apertures of f/2.0 and f/2.4 respectively. The camera app is simple, and we are thankful for that. It has features such as AR stickers and AI imaging, now the standard across any smartphone worth its salt. Nokia phones continue to have the ‘Bothie’ feature, with which you can use the front and the rear cameras simultaneously (picture-in-picture and split screen), and this lets users have a lot of fun with them.

Picture quality is decent. With HDR on, daylight images are good, clearly and brightly reproduced. Colours don’t look too dull, neither are they oversaturated. Images get good detail and the Live Bokeh mode works well to turn out good portrait shots. Under low light however, the noise creeps in and even while the pictures have a fair amount of detail, the noise and dull spots mar the image quality. Focus was also a little iffy, at times.

The front 16 MP selfie shooter does a good job. The Bokeh mode works well and of course, you can embellish your looks and be a little vain. It has no front LED flash, however, and this may put some off. The front camera can shoot videos at 1080p and the rear set is capable of 4K recording. Videos aren’t great, but they’ll do the job.

The Nokia 6.1 Plus will suit a regular user’s needs. Nokia fans will most probably flock to get this one and with good reason too. For the others, give it a look if you want a good-looking, capable phone within a budget. But get a case to ensure it stays good looking.

Price: ₹15,999

Pros: Lovely looks, Android One software, good hardware and specs

Cons: Can’t hide the notch display, low light camera performance isn’t great, picks up smudges easily, no front LED flash

Published on September 05, 2018

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