Six months into 2018 and we have seen some pretty interesting smartphone launches already. There are also some pretty evident trends being set such as adopting the controversial notch, something that has become a common sight on flagship phones this year. In addition to the Galaxy S9s and the P20 Pros this year, we have also seen some pretty impressive low-cost mid-range smartphones as well. And this is an important segment, especially in India, which is why companies are focusing on bringing phone that not only perform well but look as attractive as possible.
This is where phones like the Moto G6 and the 2018 Nokia 6 or Nokia 6.1 come in. Both the phones slot in the sub-Rs 20,000 segment in India and both give a bunch of compelling reasons on why they should be considered if you’re in the market and looking for something other Redmi devices.
Lo and behold
In a lot of ways, the phones are similar in that they both try to offer terrific looks at an affordable price. Take the Nokia 6.1, which comes with terrifically sold metal unibody design that is crafted out of a solid block of aluminium. This phone is built like a tank and will withstand drops and the usual wear and tear with confidence. But at the same time the copper accents lined around the frame and around the buttons, rear camera and fingerprint sensor helps it look elegant, classy and quite appealing.
When the Nokia 6.1 came out, I found it to be one of the more attractive and well-built phones in this segment. But as classy and elegant the phone looks, I can’t help but call it a bit outdated. Last year, companies adopted 18:9 display and started thinning down the bezels and this year some companies have taken it a step further with 19:9 displays and the notch. Among a bustling number of full-screen phones, the Nokia 6.1 looks like a phone out of the past thanks to its 16:9 display which brings significant bezels on all sides. In a similar nature, the phone also brings a single rear camera at a time when dual cameras are the new standard even in the mid-range segment. These are a couple of reasons why the Nokia 6.1 may look a little bland in front of the Moto G6.
Motorola, on the other hand, has managed to reinvent itself and has adapted to new trends pretty quickly. The Moto G line has been known for offering dependable, durable phones with enough firepower at an affordable price. But the Moto G6 tries to take things a step further. The phone is the first in the Moto G line to bring an all-glass design. So you have glass on the front and a 3D glass on the back that curves nicely around the sides that feels great to hold. Add to this a compact form factor, a full screen display on top and a dual camera setup on the back and you’ve got a phone that looks and feels like it belongs in 2018.
What makes the Moto G6 look so good is that it’s a design that is unique to the company’s aesthetics. As attractive as a glass phone looks, it also very much feels like a Moto G phone with a sturdy build. It’s a design that stands out among a crowd of similar-looking metal phones in the mid-range segment and that’s perhaps the biggest selling point here.
So when it comes to the Moto G6 and the Nokia 6.1, I would say that Motorola’s phone looks more polished and appealing compared to HMD’s phone which still has a boxy look that feels a little uncomfortable to hold. That being said, the Nokia 6.1 is definitely for those who are prone to dropping their phones often because the Moto G6 will not survive a drop on a concrete surface for sure.
Performance is key and the Nokia 6.1 has the edge
In a segment where Xiaomi has proven itself to be the undisputed leader with the Redmi Note 5 Pro, both the Moto G6 and Nokia 6.1 feel a little wanting. But we’re not comparing the phones with the Redmi Note 5 Pro today. Let’s get one thing clear, I feel both the phones are priced a notch too high for what they offer. The reason being that one tends to feel something is missing that makes it fall short of an all-rounder. The Moto G6 misses a good processor, while the Nokia 6.1 misses a dual camera setup.
At Rs 15,999, the Moto G6 offers a Snapdragon 450 chipset that sounds underwhelming on paper. However, in real world usage, the Moto G6 was pretty smooth and handled basic day-to-day tasks with ease thanks partly due to a pure Android software and some neat optimisations. But this is not a phone for those who like to play the occasional graphic-intensive games.
The Nokia 6.1 for Rs 16,999 for the base model may still fly for some people, but the company followed it up with a 4GB + 64GB variant at Rs 18,999, which seems a bit too steep. The Snapdragon 630 chipset inside is definitely more powerful and efficient than the SD450 powering the Moto G6. The phone is smooth and performs impressively with pretty much anything that you throw at it. In my time browsing through the UI and apps, I found it to be fast and snappy with no noticeable lag. In terms of performance, I would say spending a little extra on the Nokia 6.1 makes sense.
When it comes to cameras, however, both are pretty much on the same boat. Despite a dual camera setup the Moto G6 doesn’t do so well in low-light. Same goes for the Nokia 6.1, which handles low-light poorly despite a Zeiss-branded lens. You’ll manage good photos in bright light on both the phones. The only advantage I see here is that the Moto G6 is able to capture bokeh shots thanks to a secondary depth sensor, which makes it more relevant in today’s day and age.
Android One or near stock Android?
It’s a subjective matter but I typically prefer stock Android or close to stock Android software rather than one with a heavy skin on top like Redmi phones with MIUI. Again, this is just me because if everyone felt like I did then Xiaomi wouldn’t be selling phones like hotcakes. A light skin never hurt anybody like say OnePlus’ OxygenOS. But for Android purists, the Moto G6 and the Nokia 6.1 are among the closest to stock Android one can find the affordable mid-range segment.
he Moto G6 offers an almost pure version of Android 8.0 Oreo, and I say almost because there are a few pre-loaded apps like LinkedIn and PhonePe as well as some Motorola customisations like Moto Actions and Moto Display, both of which are pretty neat and useful features that improves the overall user experience. I’ve found that a clutter free software here helps the Moto G6 work pretty smoothly even with an underwhelming processor.
But here’s the thing, and this is quite important – Motorola doesn’t have the best track record with timely Android updates. While the Moto G6 comes with Oreo out-of-the-box, do not expect regular monthly security updates (it’s yet to receive the May security patch), and there is no telling when and if the phone will receive Android P in the future. This is where the Nokia 6.1 gets an edge.
HMD Global this year announced that all its phones from Nokia 3 and upwards will be part of the Android One program. And so the Nokia 6.1 is an Android One phone as well, running absolutely pure and unadulterated Android Oreo. Since its launch, the phone has received the Android 8.1 Oreo update and security patch as latest as May. More importantly, as an Android One phone, the Nokia 6.1 is expected to get at least two major updates, which means you can expect Android P and Q in the future. So in terms of Android software and security, the Nokia 6.1 promises the latest and best from Google.