Any new smartphone in the market is compared with smartphones from other companies. This is the usual exercise, this is how it goes. It is not too often that we find ourselves comparing two phones from the same company. But this time, it is going to be like this.
Nokia 6.1 Plus (so far known as the Nokia X6) gets compared to the Nokia 6.1.
The Nokia 6.1, initially called the Nokia 6 2018, is a pretty good phone, but it comes at a bit of a premium. Starting at a price of Rs 16,999 (for 3 GB RAM and 32 GB storage), the Nokia 6.1 puts itself in an uneasy position compared to a number of its competitors.
Now though, Nokia 6.1 will soon have a sibling in India and it’s called Nokia 6.1 Plus. So far, it is also known as the Nokia X6 (which is its name in the Chinese market). We have had the new Nokia 6.1 Plus with us for some time now and the time has come to compare it to its smaller brother, the Nokia 6.1.
Nokia 6.1 Plus and Nokia 6.1 Specifications
|Parameters||Nokia 6.1 Plus||Nokia 6.1|
|Body||Aluminium frame, Glass back & front||Aluminium body|
|Display||IPS LCD, 5.8-inch, notch, 1080p x 2280p resolution||IPS LCD, 5.5-inch, 1080p x 1920p resolution|
|Processor & GPU||Snapdragon 636, Adreno 509 GPU, 4 GB RAM, 32 GB storage||Snapdragon 636, Adreno 509 GPU, 4 GB RAM, 64 GB storage|
|Software||Android Oreo 8.1||Android Oreo 8.1|
|Camera||16 MP (f2.0) + 5 MP (f2.4). Front 16 MP (f2.0)||16 MP (f2.0). Front 8 MP (f2.0)|
|Battery||3,060 mAh battery||3,000 mAh battery, Turbo Charge (18W)|
|Price||India launch awaited||Rs 18,999|
DESIGN & BUILD QUALITY
Anybody looking for durability or longevity from his or her smartphone should try and look away from the newer Nokia 6.1 Plus. Even though it has an aluminium frame, its remaining body is finished in glass which invariably makes it more vulnerable than it would have been otherwise.
The 6.1 Plus looks good no doubt, but it is delicate as well. This is where the 6.1 has an advantage – it has an all-aluminium body, it looks smart with the matte finish (along with copper inserts at the edges, camera housing & the fingerprint ring) as well as it is sturdier and more long-lasting. Let us make it clear that the Nokia 6.1 is a good looking phone and it’s not being preferred just because of its seemingly stronger body.
Where the Plus model takes its advantage back from its smaller sibling is in the overall size. Even with the larger 5.8-inch screen (against the 5.5-inch model), the Plus is more compact to hold. This is because of low screen to body ratio compared to the non-Plus model. Using them side by side, it becomes clear that the Nokia 6.1 Plus is a little easier to use with one hand.
DISPLAY, SOFTWARE & USER INTERFACE
Display – The common thing between the displays of both handsets is that they are IPS LCD units, which means similar color reproduction and reflection properties. What is different are the size and the resolution. The 6.1 Plus has a 5.8-inch display delivering 1080p x 2280p (Full HD+) resolution while the 6.1 has a 5.5-inch display and it delivers 1080p x 1920p (Full HD) resolution. Also, the 6.1 Plus is the first Nokia phone with a notch.
Colors are vibrant enough from both the displays with good saturation. However, the 6.1 Plus has a touch higher color saturation and is slightly cooler when it comes to White Balance, or in other words, color tone. This is visible when comparing same imagery on both handsets side by side. Generally, this difference can be negligible. Secondly, and this is important, the display in the 6.1 Plus is a touch sharper – any kind of imagery, from the wallpapers to pictures, appear sharper on the Plus model. As a result of this, overall detail appears better on the 6.1 Plus. Once again, this is clear when looking at both the displays side by side. Overall, the Nokia 6.1 Plus has can be said to have a better display.
Software & UI – This is where the two phones are absolutely similar. Both have the stock Android Oreo 8.1 and come under the Android One program (for fast and regular updates from Google for 2 years minimum). The stock UI is fairly simple, there’s App Drawer where all the apps (pre-installed and downloaded) can be found. Tapping and holding down on the Home screen gives quick access to Home Settings, Widgets, Icon Theme and Wallpapers. Swiping down from the top shows notifications and a number of quick settings. Also, the Settings menu can be accessed from there as well.
Neither phone has an option to change Display settings in terms of color and warmth. Furthermore, there’s no option in the 6.1 Plus to hide the notch. It is there… always.
Before we get into the actual user experience, let’s refresh the specs of both the phones first. The 6.1 Plus and the 6.1 come with Snapdragon 636 chipset along with 4 GB of RAM. There’s 64 GB of storage onboard which is expandable in both cases (up to 400 GB in 6.1 Plus, up to 256 GB in 6.1). The GPU is also the same, Adreno 509.
Suffice it to say that the real-world performance is nothing much to differentiate about in the two phones. Their response time to the user input is identical – from navigation on the Home screen, Settings menu and apps. There is virtually nothing to differentiate between the two when it comes usage experience.
Gaming – Given absolutely similar chipsets, gaming capabilities of both phones is more or less the same. However, the 6.1 Plus felt a touch smoother overall with respect to coping up with framerates, which is a critical aspect in gaming. Secondly, the 6.1 became warmer compared to the 6.1 Plus while gaming. In about 15 minutes time, the 6.1 was warmer than the Plus.
Observations about daylight camera samples is that the Nokia 6.1 tends to darken the HDR versions, especially the dark areas appear even darker. This goes against the idea of HDR, and it also hurts the overall detail. In non-HDR or normal images, both cameras are close in terms of detail. However, the Nokia 6.1 is a bit warmer (or perhaps a bit more realistic) making images with sunlight appear more natural. Also, the Nokia 6.1 Plus suffers from overexposure a tiny bit more even though both phones have this issue.
Regarding Portrait, Nokia 6.1 doesn’t have a “Live Bokeh” mode since there’s no secondary lens, hence, we simply decided to compare the portrait samples taken with default autofocus. In that case, the Nokia 6.1 Plus keeps the subject sharper and produces more detail as well. At the same time, the blur effect is more or less similar from the two cameras. Once again, the 6.1 is a touch warmer while the 6.1 Plus is slightly on the cold side.
We simply prefer the selfies from the Nokia 6.1 Plus even though both phones seem to have the same front camera with same aperture size. The skin tone from the Plus’s camera appear more natural as well as better detailed. The problem with overexposure remain with both cameras here as well.
This is one aspect where we expected the Nokia 6.1 Plus to remain better than the Nokia 6.1. To our surprise, our experience has been the opposite and clearly enough.
With similar and normal usage, the 6.1 (with its smaller 3,000 mAh battery) delivers a longer runtime of about 1 and a half days while the 6.1 Plus only goes up to 1 day (with its very slightly larger 3,060 mAh battery). Also, the 6.1 comes with an 18w charger and it charges the battery to full 100% in about 1 and 30 minutes, which is not bad. At the same time, the 6.1 Plus gets 10w charger and it is clearly slower in its performance. The 6.1 Plus can be charged to full in 2 hours time.
Given that the primary specifications are same, and we are talking about the Snapdragon 636 and 4 GB of RAM here, the overall performance is largely similar between the Nokia 6.1 Plus and the Nokia 6.1. However, the Nokia 6.1 Plus seems to have a slight edge in gaming, but that is a very slight edge noticeable mostly when they both are used side by side. Also, the 6.1 tends to get more warm while gaming.
Secondly, even with mostly similar kinds of display units, the 6.1 Plus manages to produce sharper imagery resulting in slightly better detail. But the 6.1 is more preferable when it comes to build quality while the Plus model is more manageable with a single hand. The 6.1 also seems to manage the battery life better. Still, the Plus is not really much worse.
Lastly, the price. The Nokia 6.1 Plus is yet to be launched in India and we are hoping that it will be soon enough (because the handset’s global rollout has already begun). And even though we originally expected the Plus to be priced around Rs 13,000 (for its own good), the logic would say that it will be priced higher than the Nokia 6.1 which is available at Rs 18,999 for the 4 GB RAM/64 GB storage variant. While the Nokia 6.1 Plus appears to be a better handset than the Nokia 6.1 (though by a small margin), it will be difficult for it to prove its worth among various other competitors like the Redmi Note 5 Pro and the Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1, if it actually launches at anything over Rs 18,999.
Time will tell, and we are waiting.