Nokia's New Phone Looks Really Good for the Money

Nokia returned to the U.S. mobile market last year with the Nokia 6, a solid midrange offering that delivered a clean, albeit somewhat forgettable Android experience. A new version is about to arrive that looks to fix the Nokia 6's most significant flaw.

Credit: HMD Global

(Image credit: HMD Global)

Today (May 3) Nokia announced the $269 Nokia 6.1 — a more powerful version of last year’s 5.5-inch device with a host of critical improvements. The old Nokia 6 used a Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 processor, but this new one replaces it with a 630, which should make a huge difference for power users who multitask, or those who enjoy gaming on the go. The company is touting 60 percent better performance than the previous model.

Nokia has also bolstered that commitment to a better user experience with an extra gigabyte of RAM — the Nokia 6.1 has 4GB, rather than 3GB in its predecessor. Additional updates include a switch from Micro USB to USB Type-C, which should improve charging speed, as well as a relocation of the fingerprint sensor to the back of the device.

But the other major change with the new Nokia 6 is that it’s an Android One-certified device, meaning users can expect a Pixel-like clean installation of Android Oreo 8.0 with no bloatware, as well as timely software updates for two years. No other budget handset sold in the U.S., save for the Project Fi-ready Moto X4 Android One, can claim those perks.

The Nokia 6 successor was first previewed at Mobile World Congress in February by HMD Global, which develops phones under the Nokia brand.

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Nokia’s latest will inevitably draw direct comparisons to what Motorola is cooking up. We recently went hands on with the upcoming Moto G6, and while there was a lot to like about that device, we were dismayed to learn Motorola opted for a Snapdragon 450 processor rather than 600-series silicon as was used in the G5 Plus. Perhaps the Nokia 6.1 will add a desperately-needed dash of healthy competition to the American budget phone space.

It’s also worth noting that the Moto G6 will command a price of $249 unlocked when it launches. For our money, we’d rather spend the extra $30 on the Nokia 6.1 and get what looks to be (on paper, anyway) a considerably more powerful phone. However, we won’t know for sure whether Nokia has the advantage until we review both devices — something you can look forward to over the next few weeks.

Nokia 6.1

At the time of writing, the Nokia 6.1 has already sold out at Amazon, but can still be purchased from Best Buy. The device comes in a single 32GB configuration in either black or white, and exclusively supports GSM carriers including T-Mobile and AT&T.

Adam Ismail is a staff writer at Jalopnik and previously worked on Tom's Guide covering smartphones, car tech and gaming. His love for all things mobile began with the original Motorola Droid; since then he’s owned a variety of Android and iOS-powered handsets, refusing to stay loyal to one platform. His work has also appeared on Digital Trends and GTPlanet. When he’s not fiddling with the latest devices, he’s at an indie pop show, recording a podcast or playing Sega Dreamcast.