It is always good to have an overall idea about a smartphone’s performance capabilities, especially when its launch is inevitable. In this case, we are talking about the new and improved Nokia 6 (2018). Announced at MWC 2018 last month, Nokia 6 (2018) is the successor to last year’s Nokia 6.
The iconic Nokia brand has being seeing a resurgence, thanks to HMD Global, the Finnish company that holds the license to manufacture Nokia-branded smartphones. HMD Global did quite well in 2017, and a major portion of the credit for that goes to the Indian smartphone market, where the cult of Nokia is very much alive and kicking.
We recently pitted new Nokia 6 (2018) against Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 in a comprehensive camera comparison, in which the Zeiss-equipped Nokia 6 (2018) emerged as a winner. And even though there’s no word (yet) about the launch of Nokia 6 (2018) in India, we think it only makes sense to compare its gaming and general performance with that of Xiaomi Redmi Note 5.
The Redmi Note 5, which was also launched in India recently, comes at an impressive starting price of Rs 9,999 (for the 3GB RAM/32GB storage version). Our test unit, however, is the 4GB RAM/64GB storage version that costs Rs 11,999.
The Nokia 6 (2018), on the other hand, certainly won’t be this affordable when it launches in India. However, even at the price of about Rs 16,000, Nokia 6 (2018) would be a very good option.
Before we get started, here’s a spec-by-spec comparison between Nokia 6 (2018) and Xiaomi Redmi Note 5.
Nokia 6 (2018)
Processor & GPU: Snapdragon 630 Octa-core 2.2GHz & Adreno 508
RAM & Storage: 4 GB & 64 GB
OS: Android 8.0.0 Oreo
Display: 5.5-inch Full-HD IPS LCD, 1080×1920 pixels resolution, 403ppi pixel density
Xiaomi Redmi Note 5
Processor & GPU: Snapdragon 625 Octa-core 2.0 GHz & Adreno 506
RAM & Storage: 4 GB & 64 GB
OS: Android 7.1.2 Nougat with MIUI 9.2
Display: 5.99-inch Full-HD+ IPS LCD, 1080×2160 pixels resolution, 403ppi pixel density
Benchmark Scores: Nokia 6 (2018) Edges Ahead of Redmi Note 5
For the geeks, benchmark scores matter and are indeed a parameter based on which an educated guess about a smartphone’s real world performance can be made. So here we go.
If the figures from 3DMark (meant to test gaming performance) are any indication, Nokia 6 (2018) seems to be capable of destroying Xiaomi Redmi Note 5. But whether these scores actually translate into impressive performance, is something that’s discussed later in this article.
When it comes to GeekBench 4 results (see above screenshot), both smartphones are more or less identical in performance. Still, Nokia 6 (2018) appears to have a slight advantage over Redmi Note 5 in terms of single-core performance, and vice-versa in case of multi-core performance.
Real World Performance (Including Gaming)
Personally, I was expecting the updated Nokia 6 to perform better than the Redmi Note 5 in day-to-day performance. And during my testing, I wasn’t disappointed.
Daily Usage: Over my test period, the Snapdragon 630 chipset used by Nokia 6 (2018) noticeably outperformed the Snapdragon 625 SoC that powers Xiaomi’s Redmi Note 5. That said, one thing that’s clear is that both smartphones are consistent performers. They maintain overall speed and smoothness, it’s just that Nokia 6 (2018) runs better. That’s not to say Nokia’s offering is completely devoid of stutters, they are very much spread throughout the UI; it’s just that they can be easily ignored.
While hiccups are there (for instance, while scrolling through Facebook feed) on Nokia 6 (2018),they are lesser than those experienced on Redmi Note 5. We might be nitpicking a bit here, because none of the two smartphones feels bad during usage. Only a side-by-side comparison reveals such minute differences.
Nokia 6 (2018)’s impressive performance showed throughout our usage, as switching between apps was found to be smoother and faster than in the case of Redmi Note 5.
Frankly, Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 is a fine-performing handset on its own. However, seeing it side-by-side Nokia 6 (2018) makes Xiaomi’s offering look a little less refined. And this is where software optimization and hardware upgrades make their importance felt.
As an Apple iPhone SE user, I find iOS to have one of the smoothest UI experiences around. As such, my expectations about the UI’s responsiveness might be considered a little higher. But for users who prefer mid-range smartphones, the slightly jittery experience shouldn’t be that big of an issue.
Gaming: When it comes to gaming, Nokia 6 (2018) leaves Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 trying to play catch up. During my testing, the gap in performance was visible when playing graphics-heavy games like Asphalt 8. While it’s an enjoyable experience on Nokia 6 (2018), things are a mixed bag in case of Xiaomi Redmi Note 5. While the latter is normally acceptable during gameplay (with noticeable but mostly negligible lag), things get a little irritating during navigating in-game menus. The intensity of lags increases, with some ending up being a second or so long. The Adreno 506 GPU in Xiaomi Redmi Note 5, although only marginally less capable on paper than the Adreno 508 of Nokia 6 (2018), struggles to keep up with the power requirements of running graphics-heavy games. What’s a little surprising is that there is more lag while moving between the menus, than there is during gameplay.
Nokia 6 (2018), on the other hand, runs heavy games smoothly and navigating through menus is also not irritating in its case. Tapping on an option prompts instant response from the game, including transitional animations that occur while moving from one menu to another.
More importantly, Nokia 6 (2018) runs noticeably cooler than Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 when used for game-play for about half an hour or longer. However, even in case of Redmi Note 5, it is not really an issue. As for the battery consumption, both handsets used up around 10% of battery (during our testing), so they are quite evenly matched on this front.
Standout OS Features
The best thing about Android operating system is that its customization capabilities allow extensive optimization on any targeted hardware, thus making for a smooth user experience. It’s something that a lot of Android manufacturers find difficult to do, even when the Android experience is getting smoother and better with each passing year.
On that note, what can possibly make the biggest difference is whether the Android OS being used is stock or one with UI customization. A lot of companies prefer to use an Android version with their own custom skin layered on top, to deliver a set of unique features and the intention of giving more options to users than what they would get from pure Android experience.
The Redmi Note 5 runs Android 7.1.2 Nougat with Xiaomi’s MIUI 9.2 skin. The result is a different look throughout the OS, in addition to a number of extra apps that serve more or less the same purpose as the default ones. In comparison, Nokia 6 (2018) runs near-stock Android 8.0.0 Oreo, just like rest of HMD Global’s Nokia-branded smartphones.
This is a big reason why Nokia 6 (2018) runs better than the Redmi Note 5. Of course, its faster Snapdragon 630 SoC and better GPU also play their part to an equal or larger extent, but it’s the overall optimization between all of these which results in a mostly stutter-free experience.
Furthermore, and this is specific to Nokia 6 (2018), the fingerprint sensor at the back can be assigned the functionality to bring the notification screen up and down. This is done by swiping up and down on the sensor. This feature can be enabled from the ‘Apps & notifications’ option in the Settings.
Overall, we found the Nokia 6 (2018) to be a better handset than the Redmi Note 5, and that’s not a surprise. Our expectations about the Nokia being better were set right from the moment we noticed its faster chipset and smaller screen. Also, as mentioned earlier, pure Android makes its advantages felt during the smartphone’s usage. And this can be considered true for all the devices in different price categories, and not just Nokia 6 (2018) and Xiaomi Redmi Note 5.
Secondly, the new Nokia 6 (2018) does look better. Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 is also a very good looking handset by all means, but the sharp edges of the Nokia 6 (2018) that are finished in shiny copper make it look more premium. Putting the two smartphones side-by-side virtually robs the Redmi Note 5 of all the limelight that it deserves. Lastly, even though both handsets have Full-HD displays, the Nokia 6 (2018)’s screen looks sharper.
We are eagerly waiting for HMD Global to launch Nokia 6 (2018) in India. And even though there is no information (of course) about the smartphone’s pricing, if it’s priced at around Rs 16,000, it would make an excellent deal for the 4GB RAM/64GB internal storage variant. The 3GB RAM/32 GB storage variant should be priced even lower.