HEADLINES

Nokia 6.1 (2018): How to try hard to make a comeback

Getting past that too-common and even confusing naming/numbering, is this unit worth considering?

So Nokia is (sort of) back, with the once-giant-of-a-phone-company trying to re-enter the smartphone biz with new(er) offerings; and many of them targeting the mid-entry to upper-entry level markets.

And here, its 2018-released Nokia 6.1 enters the picture, part of the second wave of the new Nokia smartphones.

Let’s get something straight first: There are those who just refer to this as the “New Nokia 6” (in lieu of the earlier Nokia 6 model); though the box itself says it’s “Nokia 6.1”.

And so notice – right at the start – that Nokia seems to be… still finding it’s groove back. Except for Apple (which really just has one unit anyway, though this unit is “presented”/packaged in up to three forms), what Apple-competing company would – after all – just name its phone the iteration/number, instead of using often-pretentious words/names (e.g. Samsung “Galaxy”)?

But – getting past that too-common and even confusing naming/numbering – is this unit worth considering?

We check…

FIRST IMPRESSIONS/LOOKS

A few things are immediately noticeable when you unbox 6.1.

First, the unit is… sorta heavy at 172g. Which, I suppose, is to be expected, since it is made of Series 6000 aluminum unibody. It has flat diamond-cut sides, rounded corners and a highlight color on the outlines. On the one hand, the overall appearance actually gives the unit an expensive look and the weight even gives it that expensive feel, as if belying its approx. P15,000 price tag. But, on the other hand, should this unit fall, expect heavier damage to happen too…

Second, obviously it’s still a rectangle, though I’d say this one’s leaning towards square-ish, with the unit having 5.5” IPS full-HD display with Corning Gorilla Glass 3. Total size excluding camera is 148.8 x 75.8 x 8.15mm; or including camera is 148.8 x 75.8 x 8.6mm. Placed beside iPhone, HTC, Samsung, and so on, this looks… “stumped”/dwarfish/plump-y even if, really, it’s still just another 5.5” unit.

Third, there are three color combos available: black and copper, white and iron, and blue and gold. Any of them are better-than-good, actually, since (check first point above) the phone does look classy…

Fourth, under the flashlight at the back (which is under the cam), there’s a fingerprint sensor. I am not the biggest fan of back-located fingerprint sensors, mainly because when using any phone, the thumb is the handiest finger there is, so that it just really makes more sense having ANY sensor in front where the thumb can comfortably and realistically easily access it. Here, for unlocking, you’d be forced to use other fingers; but… to each his own, I suppose…

Fifth, the front has 8MP FF, 1.12um, f/2, FOV 84 cam; and the back has 16MP PDAF, 1.0um, f/2, dual-tone flash cam with ZEISS optics. Front cam suffices; the back more-than-suffices. For instance, I immediately tried taking ECU (extreme close up) shots, and the clarity is better-than-expected. This isn’t iPhone or Galaxy or Xperia; but this is not shitty either…

Sixth, screen reso is 1920 x 1080, 16:9. Truth be told, I was initially underwhelmed when I first turned on the phone and that horrid “androidone” logo appeared. The screen looked… cheap. But then once completely turned on, it was crisp enough to make it look more expensive than it is…

Seventh, for audio, there is a connector for 3.5mm headphone jack atop the phone. The accompanying earphone looks cheap [with the accompanying USB Type-C (USB 2.0) cable]; so I don’t think that’s the best way to “experience” the sound quality of this unit. NOT that the same sound quality is great, either, since 6.1 only has a single speaker with smart amp. But then again, I always end up thinking of the price this unit sells for…

Eighth, there are two microphones with Nokia OZO audio; talking sound’s clear enough, ditto talking with the phone (e.g. I was whispering “Okay Google” yet the phone still picked up my voice).

And ninth, the left edge holds the SIM tray, accented volume rocker and power key on the right edge, and a centered USB-C charging port on the bottom next to that left-mounted speaker.

UNDER THE HOOD

Available as both single SIM and dual SIM variants (the review unit is the latter), 6.1 runs on Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 mobile platform; meaning this is on the same league as – say – Moto G5 and Honor 7X. It is nowhere near iPhone X; but hey, we go back to that price…

There’s 4 GB RAM/64 GB ROM, and 64GB mass storage (with the MicroSD card slot supporting up to 128 GB).

6.1 runs on Android Oreo; and – as part of the horribly-logo’d “androidone” (Android One is a special OS developed by Google supposedly to bring the pure Android experience to smartphones), it’s supposed to have improved security through frequent updates and Google Play Protect. But be warned: the updating is so regular it can get annoying already…

PERFORMANCE

Setting up the 6.1 is easy; at almost every move, a notification is received (e.g. such and such needs such and such approval). But here, it’s worth noting that not everything works… perfectly (e.g. some widgets that work on others don’t work as well here, like the clock of Fancy Widgets that just won’t center, so that if you’re O.C., you’ll have to look for other options or stick with 6.1’s own). For non-appearance-focusing peeps, this is nitpicking, so let’s move on…

The battery life is… so-so. Battery type is integrated 3000 mAh battery, but for a phone to just last its user for a day, it sucks. This is the same issue with the “Old Nokia 6”, actually; and it seems that not much has changed here…

Re battery life, if there’s a “good” thing about 6.1, though, is that it is faster charging – e.g. an hour’s charge increased power by 40%. I suppose that particularly when charging outlets aren’t available, you just have to use 6.1 sparingly, HA HA!

The cam – as initially mentioned – isn’t all that bad. BUT since this is not a high-end unit (with the accompanying tech), there are issues worth mentioning – e.g. overexposure in bright light, disappearance of some areas when in low light, and slow-to-focus cam. I suppose this is also why we need filters (i.e. some cams just don’t have the chops)…

Audio – again as already mentioned – isn’t the best. From that solo speaker on the left bottom edge of the handset, the sound gets thin at higher volumes (tunog lata). Also, when holding the unit, you could cut off the sound; so watch where those fingers are placed…

For videos and gaming, the octa-core Snapdragon 630 chipset (clocked at 2.2GHz) and 3GB of RAM will fulfil just about everyone’s needs. But particularly with gaming, push it too hard, and lags happen… meaning, this isn’t designed with players in mind.

IN THE END…

The 6.1 isn’t perfect (but then, what is?). Other “wants” that aren’t there include: wireless charging, dual-lens rear camera, waterproofing or an 18:9 display.

But considering its price (again, approx.. P15,000), this isn’t bad at all (it even has fingerprint scanner and NFC that others in this same price range may not offer). So, obviously, this isn’t gonna be for everyone. Meaning, if you have money, go spend it on something more higher-end (particularly in specs). But for those short(er) on cash, this somewhat sexy (and pudgy-looking) phone is worth considering…

Nokia 6.1 (2018): How to try hard to make a comeback
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