News: The New Nokia 6.1 Is a Solid Upgrade to One of Last Year's Most Durable Budget Phones

The New Nokia 6.1 Is a Solid Upgrade to One of Last Year's Most Durable Budget Phones

HMD (the company currently making Nokia-branded phones) only released one flagship device last year, with the rest of the phones falling in the mid-range and entry-level tiers. However, at Mobile World Congress 2018, HMD announced their ambition to become a top five smartphone maker in 3–5 years. Meeting this goal will require penetration in all markets — especially the United States — and it looks like Nokia will get the ball rolling early this year.

Nokia wasted no time, announcing in January five new devices slated for 2018. Three of these devices are coming to the United States, including the global availability of a phone which released in China in December 2017, the Nokia 6.1. Read up on this phone below.

Specs

  • OS: Android 8.0 Oreo
  • CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 630
  • GPU: Adreno 508
  • RAM:4 GB
  • Storage: 32 eMMC 5.1, microSD (up to 128 GB)
  • Rear Camera: 16 MP f/2.0 Carl Zeiss optics
  • Front Camera: 8 MP f/2.0
  • Display: 5.5" 1920 x 1080 IPS LCD
  • Ports: 3.5 mm headphone jack, USB Type-C
  • Fingerprint: Rear-mounted
  • Battery: 3,000 mAh
  • Bluetooth Version: 5.0
  • Other: FM radio with RDS

Qualcomm Snapdragon 630

Gone is the Snapdragon 430 from last year's model, Nokia upgraded the 6.1's SoC to the respectable Snapdragon 630. With this upgrade, the Nokia 6.1 can compete with phones like the Moto X4, Moto G6 Plus, and ASUS Zenfone 4. While this processor isn't the best offering from Qualcomm, it offers reliable mid-range performance which works well for its price (more on that later).

16 MP Carl Zeiss Camera

Besides their iconic design, Nokia has a long-running association with Carl Zeiss lenses. Almost every well-regarded and high-selling Nokia device has used these lenses to offer industry-leading camera performance for its time.

Back in July 2017, we learned that HMD revived this connection with Carl Zeiss to return the iconic lenses to the Nokia brand. After much anticipation, Nokia has used 2018 to reveal the products of this partnership, including the Nokia 6 earlier this year.

Image via Nokia

The hardware of the camera was carried over from last year's model and enhanced with the Carl Zeiss optics. Additionally, Nokia added the camera app from its Lumia lineup (RIP Windows Phone), called the Pro Camera. The Pro Camera provides full manual control in an intuitive menu that fans of the brand love.

Image by Nokia Mobile/YouTube

Nokia brings back its feature Dual-Sight, which activates both the front and rear cameras to create "Bothie." "Bothie" is an image using both lenses, a unique twist to typical photos. Additionally, both lenses can live stream, allowing you to share both what you see and your reaction to it.

Android One

Nokia 6.1 will receive somewhat of an upgrade to the Android One program. With this label, it gains a few things. One, it will have pure stock Android. While the last model ran an almost stock version itself, this device will run a completely unaltered version of Android.

Second, upgrades will be handled by Google instead of Nokia. Google's involvement typically translates into faster updates and security patches — usually, just days after they're made available (only the Pixel lineup will be receiving them faster). Nokia was already excelling at sending out timely upgrades and security patches (last year's model is even running on Android 8.0 Oreo), but with Google handling the software side, updates will be even faster.

Additionally, the Nokia 6 will run Android 8.0 Oreo out the box, giving it Project Treble — including great custom ROM support for our readers who like to tinker.

Pricing & Availability

The Nokia 6.1 will be available to US customers starting May 6. The new device will be available in both black and gold versions, with 4 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage, on Amazon and Best Buy for $269.99. The phone is GSM unlocked, meaning it will only work on T-Mobile and AT&T networks.

While the Nokia 6.1 isn't a significant upgrade from last year, it does offer a few key benefits over last years' model. Along with the improved camera and processors, the bezels are smaller, the fingerprint scanner is moved to the rear, and it will no longer have Amazon's lock screen ads. With another solid entry in the budget category of phones, it looks Nokia's aspiration for return glory might not be such a long shot. What do you think of the Nokia 6.1? Let us know in the comments below.

Cover image by Nokia.

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