TECH BREAK: Is the Nokia 6.1 a phone you can rely on?

Wednesday July 4 2018

The Nokia 6.1 smartphone. PHOTO | AUGUSTINE SANG

The Nokia 6.1 smartphone. PHOTO | AUGUSTINE SANG 

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As comebacks go, Nokia is doing a pretty impressive job after missing in action in the smartphone industry for a while. The manufacturer launched a series of devices including the 6.0, a pleasant device with great specs.

Today, I’m checking out the Nokia 6.1, a device Nokia has graciously themed ‘a phone you can rely on’. So can you? Well, let's dig in!

The Nokia 6.1 is one of the most aesthetically appealing smartphones I’ve tested in 2018, hand on heart. It feels very sturdy with a very nice fingerprint resistant coating at the back (two-tone anodising technology). Nokia actually crafts each back cover and the chassis from a single aluminium block into a unibody design.

The 5.5 inch full-HD screen upfront is protected by a Corning Gorilla Glass 3 with impeccable colour accuracy and brightness.

My favourite bit about this LCD display panel is the near true-blacks it produces, something that only the more expensive AMOLED panels achieve. The backside spots the camera bump and the fingerprint scanner.

But it is not flawless. The fingerprint scanner was a key concern for me, the indentation is very shallow and this makes it hard to quickly and easily locate it. It is also positioned lower than you would expect.

I feel like HMD could have made the bezels a little thinner on this version. It is 2018, everyone is getting rid of bezels.

The copper accents around the device add an extra touch of glamour, but, as I came to find out, this washes out after some time, particularly around the camera bump.

It has finger-print resistant  two-tone anodising technology coating at the back.

It has finger-print resistant two-tone anodising technology coating at the back. PHOTO| AUGUSTINE SANG

The Nokia 6.1 is powered by a snappy octa-core Snapdragon 630 processor from Qualcomm. This is a significant upgrade from the Snapdragon 430 in the Nokia 6.0.

The RAM included is 3GB, so the same size as the one in the Nokia 6.0 except this version has faster speeds since it is an LPDDR 4 RAM. The 32GB of internal storage available can be expanded to 128GB via an SD card.

The device draws its power from a 3000 mAh battery, the same size as the previous model. Battery consumption is great; the device can run an entire day without requiring a recharge on normal usage.

The choice of operating system (OS) on this device makes the user experience worthwhile. It runs on Android One based on the Android Oreo by Google.

This OS is super light and it shares a lot of features with the Android Go. The OS lacks any bloatware Apps, giving users a pure Android experience.


The Nokia 6.1 comes with a 16MP main camera at the back with ZEISS optics and dual-tone flash. The images from this lens are great although the Google Photos, which is the only gallery option on this device, may require some getting used to.

It is also capable of shooting videos in 4K resolution.

Upfront, the Nokia 6.1 boasts a decent 8MP selfie camera capable of shooting in Bokeh mode. The image quality here is average.

There is a trend among most midrange to premium smartphone manufacturers of sidelining the front flash, that continues here as well.

The Nokia 6.1 ticked most of my boxes. The performance is snappy thanks to that powerful Snapdragon processor from Qualcomm, and with a 3GB RAM, coupled with the Android One.

The experience is great, especially for ‘heavy’ users. However, I think it is about time Nokia improved the design of their earphones and discard the current ‘cheapo’ ones.

Lastly, the device retails at a not so cheap price of Sh26,999, but trust the Nokia 6.1 to justify that price tag.

The Nokia 6.1 is powered by a snappy octa-core Snapdragon 630 processor from Qualcomm.

The Nokia 6.1 is powered by a snappy octa-core Snapdragon 630 processor from Qualcomm. PHOTO| AUGUSTINE SANG

● CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 630, octa-core, 2.2 GHz
● Display: 5.5” IPS LCD, full-HD (1920 x 1080, 16:9)
● 32 GB eMMC 5.1 Internal storage, with MicroSD card slot that supports up to 128 GB
● Cameras: 16MP PDAF, 1.0um, f/2, dual-tone flash (primary) and a front-facing 8MP
● Battery: 3000 mAh
● USB Type-C (USB 2.0)
● Colour variants: black and copper, white and iron, blue and gold