HMD has announced that the Nokia 6.1 smartphone is now officially available in the US for $269. This device was originally announced for other territories as the Nokia 6 (2018) in January, but somewhere along the line it got a name change. The phone also been trickling out to US retailers since April, but now HMD says this is the “official” launch, so stock should be readily available.
The Nokia 6.1 is an important smartphone because, well, how many other $200 to $300 devices can you name? In the US, there’s this one, the Moto G6, the Xiaomi Mi A1, and that’s about it. With more and more companies focusing mainly on the $800 to $1,000 price ranges, anything less than that immediately has our attention.
HMD is providing a good amount of hardware for $269. You get a Snapdragon 630 SoC—a big upgrade over the Snapdragon 430 in last year’s model— and a 5.5-inch 1080p LCD. There’s 4GB of RAM, a 3000mAh battery, 32GB of storage, a 16MP rear camera, and an 8MP front camera.
It has all the ports you could want, with a USB-C port, a headphone jack, and MicroSD slot. There’s also a fingerprint reader on the back. Overall the design looks great—it’s not an ultra-modern slim-bezel flagship, but with an aluminum body and on-screen buttons, it’s good enough for the price.
HMD has the best software policy of any Android OEM (next to Google, at least), shipping “Pure Android” with regular major updates and monthly security updates. Whoever is writing HMD’s ad copy really with the software description, saying “Since it runs pure Android, the Nokia 6.1 comes with no unnecessary UI changes or hidden processes that would eat up your battery life or slow it down.” Out of the box, the US version of the Nokia 6.1 ships with Android 8.0 Oreo.
We’ll have to save our full judgment for the review, but on paper this really seems like a well-made, reasonably priced device that will actually get software updates. As a GSM device, this will work on AT&T, T-Mobile, and a ton of MVNOs, but Sprint and Verizon still rely on CDMA and aren’t compatible. HMD says Best Buy and Amazon will have the device in stock May 6.