Nokia 6.1 Plus (X6) review

GSMArena team, 21 August 2018.

Software

The Nokia 6.1 Plus comes with Google's Android One experience out of the box. For now, it's only running Android 8.1 Oreo, but we suppose Android Pie should be coming at some point in the future.

Android One is about bringing Google's version of Android to devices from other OEMs. It's not quite the same as having stock Android, as OEMs are allowed some customizations, but the general look and feel is very reminiscent of Google's own Pixel and Nexus series of devices.

The Nokia 6.1 Plus mostly delivers on this promise, but with a few Nokia customizations along the way. The launcher seems to be a different version or at least a different version than the one on the Mi A2 and lacks the option not to add new app icons to the home screen. Every time we installed an app, we had to manually remove the icon from the homescreen every time. The launcher is similar to the Pixel Oreo launcher, wherein the app drawer and notification shade color depend upon your wallpaper, and you can't just force it to be light or dark, a feature that was added in the Android Pie launcher.

Android One Launcher - Nokia 6.1 Plus review Android One Launcher - Nokia 6.1 Plus review Android One Launcher - Nokia 6.1 Plus review Android One Launcher - Nokia 6.1 Plus review Android One Launcher - Nokia 6.1 Plus review
Android One Launcher

The phone comes with largely the standard set of Google apps with a handful of apps. There are a few third-party apps installed, but they can be uninstalled.

The list of Nokia apps includes a custom Camera app, an FM radio app, and a Support app that contains info regarding nearby service centers, support chat, user guide, FAQs and warranty information.

Inside the Settings app, things look pretty much stock, except for the addition of a Gestures menu, which includes options such as rejecting calls by turning over the phone, mute on pickup, swipe fingerprint sensor for notifications, double tap power button to open the camera and lift to wake the phone. Also, in the battery menu, is the aforementioned background activity manager that lets you prevent all or individual apps from running in the background.

Settings and Gestures - Nokia 6.1 Plus review Settings and Gestures - Nokia 6.1 Plus review Settings and Gestures - Nokia 6.1 Plus review
Settings and Gestures

The UI experience here is overwhelmingly stock, which is good and what you expect from an Android One device. However, sometimes it feels not everything is well thought out for this particular device type.

For example, the phone has settings to show or hide the notch by turning the status bar black. However, the phone lacks the same level of notch customization we see on other phones. On OxygenOS, for example, you can individually allow apps to have access to the notch area in fullscreen mode, but that's not possible on the Nokia 6.1 Plus. None of the apps can access the notch area in fullscreen mode, including apps such as the photo gallery. However, they can work in non-fullscreen mode. This causes a jarring transition every time an image goes in and out of fullscreen mode.

The notch also isn't fully considered while designing the UI. You can see the volume bar slider buttons partially go underneath the notch area. Nokia also didn't bother adding rounded corners for the top edges of the screen when the notch isn't being used, and it just looks cut off. The problem here is that stock Android Oreo wasn't designed with notches in mind, and Nokia either didn't or just couldn't do much to fix that.

It's also weird how the phone deals with making apps fullscreen to fill its entire 19:9 aspect ratio display. Again, stock Android Oreo has no option for this built-in. Other manufacturers provide an option in the Settings app to control this on a per-app basis. On the Nokia 6.1 Plus, you have to open the app, but if it's not designed to fill the entire screen, you won't see any option immediately to fix that as on other devices. You have to first go into multitasking or the Overview mode and then wait for a button to appear on that particular app window. When you tap that button, the app then reopens and fills the entire screen.

Apps can be made fullscreen using the button on app windows - Nokia 6.1 Plus review Apps can be made fullscreen using the button on app windows - Nokia 6.1 Plus review Apps can be made fullscreen using the button on app windows - Nokia 6.1 Plus review
Apps can be made fullscreen using the button on app windows

None of these are deal breakers, but it does make the Nokia 6.1 Plus feel like a phone stuck between two worlds, where the software hasn't quite caught up with the hardware. Hopefully, these niggles will be fixed when the phone gets updated to Android Pie.

Apart from that, you are free to enjoy the Android One experience as is. For some, that's a boon as they prefer the operating system to get out of the way and just enjoy their apps and the hardware. But if you're coming from one of the other Android ecosystems, then you will find the experience here somewhat barebones and lacking.

Performance

The Nokia 6.1 Plus runs on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 platform, a reasonably powerful chipset that is popular in this price category. The 636 includes an octa-core CPU, with a combination of quad Kryo 260 Gold cores based on Cortex-A73 and quad Kryo 260 Silver cores, based on Cortex-A53. There's also the Adreno 509 GPU, good for FHD+ resolutions.

The phone also comes with 4GB of LPDDR4X memory and 64GB of eMMC 5.1 storage, which can be expanded up to 400GB with microSD.

In benchmarks, the phone performed on par with previous Snapdragon 636 devices, which is to say, it performed reasonably well.

However, benchmarks only tell part of the story. In the real world, the performance is respectable for a phone in this price range, but it does seem like Nokia could have done better.

The 636 is powerful enough to run everyday applications with ease. The phone can launch them quickly enough and the 4GB RAM is also sufficient for multitasking. The performance, in general, is satisfactory. However, there is the occasional hitching while scrolling in some apps. It's nothing uncharacteristic of devices in this class, however, and the overall performance in apps is exactly what we'd expect it to be.

In games, the performance again was as expected. Expectedly underwhelming, that is. This is not the class of devices you buy if absolute image quality and frame rates are what you're after. You can, of course, install and run something like PUBG or Asphalt 9 but only at the lowest setting. But if image quality isn't your concern and you just want a playable experience, then that's perfectly possible on the Nokia 6.1 Plus.

GeekBench 4.1 (multi-core)

Higher is better

  • Oppo F7
    5901
  • Nokia 7 plus
    5893
  • Oppo Realme 1
    5741
  • Nokia 6.1 Plus
    4929
  • ASUS ZenFone Max Pro
    4910
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro
    4696
  • Xiaomi Mi A2
    4625
  • Xiaomi Mi A2 Lite
    4388
  • Xiaomi Redmi S2 (Y2)
    4313
  • Nokia 6 (2018)
    4225
  • Huawei P20 Lite
    3756
  • Motorola Moto G6 Play
    2328

GeekBench 4.1 (single-core)

Higher is better

  • Nokia 7 plus
    1634
  • Xiaomi Mi A2
    1617
  • Oppo F7
    1531
  • Oppo Realme 1
    1511
  • ASUS ZenFone Max Pro
    1340
  • Nokia 6.1 Plus
    1331
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro
    1327
  • Huawei P20 Lite
    938
  • Nokia 6 (2018)
    882
  • Xiaomi Mi A2 Lite
    881
  • Xiaomi Redmi S2 (Y2)
    848
  • Motorola Moto G6 Play
    639

AnTuTu 7

Higher is better

  • Nokia 7 plus
    140820
  • Oppo F7
    139414
  • Oppo Realme 1
    138524
  • Xiaomi Mi A2
    130927
  • Nokia 6.1 Plus
    115571
  • ASUS ZenFone Max Pro
    115509
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro
    107737
  • Nokia 6 (2018)
    90918
  • Huawei P20 Lite
    87431
  • Xiaomi Mi A2 Lite
    77964
  • Xiaomi Redmi S2 (Y2)
    77488
  • Motorola Moto G6 Play
    58757

GFX 3.0 Manhattan (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Nokia 7 plus
    23
  • Xiaomi Mi A2
    22
  • Oppo F7
    20
  • Oppo Realme 1
    20
  • Nokia 6.1 Plus
    16
  • ASUS ZenFone Max Pro
    16
  • Nokia 6 (2018)
    14
  • Xiaomi Mi A2 Lite
    9.9
  • Xiaomi Redmi S2 (Y2)
    9.7
  • Huawei P20 Lite
    8.7
  • Motorola Moto G6 Play
    7.1

GFX 3.0 Manhattan (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Xiaomi Mi A2
    21
  • Nokia 7 plus
    21
  • Oppo Realme 1
    20
  • Oppo F7
    18
  • Xiaomi Redmi S2 (Y2)
    18
  • Nokia 6 (2018)
    15
  • Nokia 6.1 Plus
    15
  • ASUS ZenFone Max Pro
    15
  • Motorola Moto G6 Play
    13
  • Xiaomi Mi A2 Lite
    9.4
  • Huawei P20 Lite
    8.1

Basemark X

Higher is better

  • Xiaomi Mi A2
    21378
  • Nokia 7 plus
    21063
  • Nokia 6.1 Plus
    14903
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro
    14897
  • Nokia 6 (2018)
    14365
  • Oppo F7
    11873
  • Oppo Realme 1
    10880
  • Xiaomi Redmi S2 (Y2)
    10453
  • Huawei P20 Lite
    9090
  • Motorola Moto G6 Play
    7620

Basemark OS 2.0

Higher is better

  • Nokia 7 plus
    2376
  • Xiaomi Mi A2
    2240
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro
    2030
  • Oppo F7
    1953
  • Nokia 6.1 Plus
    1951
  • Oppo Realme 1
    1940
  • ASUS ZenFone Max Pro
    1893
  • Nokia 6 (2018)
    1517
  • Huawei P20 Lite
    1455
  • Xiaomi Redmi S2 (Y2)
    1186
  • Motorola Moto G6 Play
    922

Reader comments

  • AK

nice look

  • Anonymous

It's a great phone. I just wish the bezels were smaller and the notch is pretty ugly too. A waterdrop notch should make it more bearable. I especially love the compactness of the phone which you really can't find these. I just wish it was even smalle...

  • Faraz

Nice work my Nokia second sill phone my Nokia 6.1plus