Fresh from reviewing their 2018 flagship, the impressive €399 7 plus, Nokia sent us the (2018) to review. Nokia are staging a bit of a comeback these days, pitching their tents in the Android camp with their smartphone line.

Nokia 6 (2018) or Nokia 6.1 is an outrageously attractive €249 handset

At €249, Nokia 6.1 occupies the lower end of the ‘mid-range’ but offers a good feature set in a physically attractive handset. It’s worth noting that the handset is also known as Nokia 6.1.

Nokia 6.1 might be an even better looking smartphone than the eye-catching 7 plus

A Timeless Beauty

Nokia released their Nokia 6 (2018) and 7 plus at more or less the same time in this region. A smart move when it comes to building a harmonious look around which to base a brand. The two could are certainly cut from the same cloth with their distinctive copper details, a choice of black or white and understated branding.

Press shots simply don’t do the Nokia 6.1 justice

Nokia 6 (2018) might be an even better looking smartphone than the eye-catching 7 plus. The copper is used a little more judiciously; the epitome of ‘less is more’. Where the 7 plus was happy to wear a belt a wealth-flashing copper, the 6.1 uses its metal for bevelled edges and highlighting its lines. Our black review is probably the best-looking handset available for under €300.

The slim 8.2mm chassis feels good in the hand and Nokia 6 (2018) is easy to hold and operate in one hand. There is a subtle hump for the camera and dual-LED flash but it won’t worry your pockets.

The build quality of old Nokia phones is legendary and this round of Nokia smartphones continues that tradition

A Screen of Two Halves

The entire front of the device sports a gently curving Gorilla Glass 3 panel. The screen is painted on the underside of this, giving a ‘2.5D’ effect. The 1080 16:9 5.5″ IPS LCD panel is sharp and adequately bright for most applications. Contrast is impressive enough to be out-of-place at this price. The high contrast and strong peak brightness offer excellent sunlight viewing.

The screen colour temperature is very cold and there is no way to fix it bar switching to night-mode permanently. Nokia 6.1‘s screen shades its whites a faint but visible blue and it is enough to distract a keen eye.

A screen-body ratio of 73.2% is quite impressive, moving the fingerprint scanner around the back was a great choice.

Weaponised Handset

The build quality of old Nokia phones is legendary and this round of Nokia smartphones continues that tradition. Although the GG3 screen is less shatter resistant than later Gorilla Glasses, Nokia 6.1 has the solid feeling of a hammer. The anodised aluminium unibody and overall density mean this is another Nokia that can moonlight as a bludgeon or throwable melee weapon. Do not sell Nokia 6.1 to Naomi Campbell.

The handfeel and balance are beautiful. The fingerprint scanner is placed exactly where my either of my index fingers land and the brushed feel of the device clings steadfastly to the palm. Nokia 6.1 looks and feels like a handset of twice its price.

The ability to capture 4K30, dual-cam video and 1080p selfie-video is healthy set of features for €249

Full-Featured Camera With an Achilles Heel

Sporting a ZEISS lens and logo, Nokia 6.1 means business when it comes to capture despite the same sensors as last years Nokia 6. When the conditions are OK, the main cam takes a bright shot with excellent detail, high contrast and a decent dynamic range. Focusing is quite quick and very accurate for a single-lens setup at this price. Unaided ‘auto’ shots are well-able to adjust for most conditions.

 

The ‘auto’ mode is a little feature-shy like the 7 plus but ‘pro’ mode is well-serviced. HDR is applied automatically by default but can be switched on or off if desired – it is definitely not the most robust HDR capture in in its range.

The ability to capture 4K30, dual-cam video and 1080p selfie-video is healthy set of features for €249. The handset sometimes seems a little underpowered for swift 4K video recording and can hang for a moment on finishing a clip.

The entire camera arrangement, front and back, stills and video, is undermined by a noisy lower-light performance. A grainy fog descends on indoor shots or those that are inadequately lit by the flash. This noise disappointed me often and eventually discouraged me from attempting certain shots.

The choice of chipset and 3,000mAh battery delivers a strong battery life

Balanced Performance

The Snapdragon 630 is adequate for everyday use and 3GB of RAM should handle split-screen and other multitasking with ease. Some of the heavier lifting can bother the handset. 4K video recording can be sluggish to start and finish, the handset doesn’t like my plethora of media-rich Opera tabs or my panic-inducing email stacks. Nokia 6.1 still performs admirably despite the odd stutter under pressure.

Gaming is surprisingly decent with a little adjustment to settings. The step down from max. settings shouldn’t be too hard. For €249, not immediately melting while playing Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds is a win. Nokia 6.1 does get a little warm under moderate gaming loads though it never gets worryingly hot.

The choice of chipset and 3,000mAh battery delivers a strong battery life. This writer made it well into day two with his above-average use. Light users will definitely make it to bed on day two while power users can expect to make it to bed every night.

Sounding Down

Nokia removed the stereo speaker arrangement from 2018’s 6. This brings it in-line with the mono flagship 7 plus and it is not a pretty sound. The chassis speaker’s din is quite hollow; lacking bass with a harsh upper-mid bias.

Nokia 6.1 struggles with distortion at higher volumes with most genres of music and ‘hotter’ non-musical content. Watching video in landscape mode is a little odd due to the mono setup pumping all the sound from one side.

The included earphones are of poor quality but still a nice inclusion.

Specifications:

  • Chipset: Qualcomm SDM630 Snapdragon 630; Octa-core 2.2 GHz Cortex-A53, Adreno 508
  • Memory: 32GB Storage, 3GB RAM (64GB, 4GB model available in other regions)
  • Display: 5.5″ IPS LCD, 1080 x 1980 pixels, 16:9 ratio, scratch/grease resistant coating
  • Rear Camera: 16 MP f/2.0. 1.0µm; phase detection AF, Zeiss optics, dual-LED flash, HDR (stills only)
  • Front Camera: 8 MP (f/2.0, 1.12µm), 1080p30 video capture
  • Video Capture: 4K@30 fps, 1080p30
  • OS Version: Android One programme – currently Android 8.1
  • Connectivity: LTE (150Mbps download), USB-C, 802.11 a/b/g/n 5GHz, A-GPS,       GLONASS, NFC, Bluetooth 5.0 A2DP, MicroSD card slot (up to 256GB)
  • Battery: 3,000 mAh
  • Dimensions: 148.8 x 75.8 x 8.2 mm
  • Colours Available: Black, White

All-Rounder with Elegance

Low-light camera noise and sub-par chassis speaker aside, Nokia 6 (2018) lacks any real issues. The incredible look, capable chipset and impressive battery life are easy-sellers at this low price. Android One comes bloat-free and the immediate updates are a bonus. Competition is always hot in the middle of the market but Nokia 6 (2018) stands out for its design and build quality.

Review handset provided by PR; Nokia 6 (2018) is available at €249 sim-free or from free exclusive to Three in Ireland

Nokia 6.1 (AKA Nokia 6 (2018)) and Nokia 7 plus come with a free Google Home Mini