Hands-On

Nokia 6.1 Plus hands-on: A compelling midranger

The benefits of Android One

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HMD Global continues trying to lift the Nokia phone brand to where it was before. While they’re still far from being on top again, the current Nokia phones are quite compelling. The latest we have is the Nokia 6.1 Plus, which is practically the Nokia X6 we first heard of in China.

This is Nokia’s first notched phone. While that doesn’t necessarily make it any better, this is a stepping stone for Nokia as they embrace the popular design choice for modern bezel-less devices.

Is the Nokia 6.1 Plus any good? Here’s what I have to say.

It’s got a 5.8-inch Full HD+ display

With a tall 19:9 aspect ratio

The notch houses the front camera, earpiece, and sensors

Thankfully, the notch is pretty small

The chin gives the phones a bit of a balance

It also shows the Nokia logo

There’s a hybrid card tray on the left…

You have to choose between a second SIM or microSD card

… while on the right are the physical buttons

One for power and another for the volume

On top are the audio port and noise-canceling microphone

There are also some antenna lines all around

It’s rocking a USB-C port! 👌

Beside it is the loudspeaker and main microphone

The back is a slab of smooth glass

Like the Nokia 7 Plus but with a different material

The fingerprint reader sits below the camera module

Easily for the index finger

Android One assures you with the latest updates

Quite a lot of other printed words, as well

It owns a common design

Design-wise, there’s not much to talk about. The look and feel of the Nokia 6.1 Plus are not that different from its competitors. It’s got the same aesthetic of the ASUS ZenFone 5 with an aluminum frame sandwiched by curved glass. Nokia claims to use Gorilla Glass 3 to make theirs stronger and scratch-resistant.

The display of the phone measures 5.8 inches, so it’s more pocketable than most smartphones today. It also has a tall aspect ratio of 19:9 which makes it easier to hold in one hand. The Full HD+ resolution is sharp at this size and there’s nothing to complain about the overall quality of the phone’s display.

The notch might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but to be fair to Nokia, this is their first attempt. There are other Nokia phones without a notch that consumers can buy if they dislike it. The cutout is not as obtrusive as the iPhone’s, but there are no complicated sensors for facial recognition. Good thing the rear fingerprint reader is accurate and fast.

Overall, the Nokia 6.1 Plus stays true to the notion of Nokia’s build quality. The design is nowhere near iconic, but you’re not paying much for the phone either.

Performance is smooth as butter

The smooth operation of Android that we come to expect from Nokia phones is also present on the Nokia 6.1 Plus. The handset is powered by a Snapdragon 636 processor paired with 4GB of memory and 64GB of expandable storage. It’s a pretty standard midrange setup that’s able to perform smoothly even with a number of apps running in the background.

I didn’t encounter any hiccups or notice any lag during my time with the phone, but I can say that it loads apps slightly slower than on flagship phones. Of course, there’s no bloatware that hogs resources since the phone is under the Android One program, and it’ll have consistent updates for up to three years.

I wouldn’t say that the Nokia 6.1 Plus is ideal for gaming, but it can handle popular titles. The Adreno 509 GPU that comes with the chipset is more than capable of rendering medium to high-quality graphics depending on the game’s demand. My staple Asphalt 9: Legends racing game runs fine, but it’s definitely not the smoothest I’ve seen.

The camera is more than okay

The Nokia 6.1 Plus is equipped with dual rear shooters and a single wide-angle selfie camera. The main sensor at the back is 16 megapixels accompanied by a 5-megapixel depth sensor. There’s also a dual-tone LED flash to help in taking photos in the dark. For selfies, it’s got a 16-megapixel sensor.

Check out the samples:

Even without Zeiss branding on its cameras, the Nokia 6.1 Plus is able to take decent photos using both the front and rear cameras. They’re not the most appealing stills, but they’ll do good for social media. You can apply bokeh effects with the rear cameras, but it’s a bit cumbersome to use.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

If you want to stick to Nokia, the Nokia 6.1 Plus is a convincing choice among its midrange lineup. It’s not as impressive as the Nokia 7 Plus we loved before, but it’s cheaper and smaller. For PhP 15,990 (US$ 300) in the Philippines and MYR 1,149 in Malaysia (US$ 280), it’s a pretty good deal. It’s an even better deal in India for just INR 15,999 or roughly US$ 215.

The phone offers pure Android software with timely updates, a sturdy build, and good performance. It’s an all-around device, but don’t expect it to be an ideal phone for everyone.

SEE ALSO: Nokia 3.1 review: Back to Android One’s beginnings

Hands-On

The Huawei Nova 7 and Freebuds 3i is the perfect match

Some things are better in pairs

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Huawei is adding two new devices to their ever increasing portfolio. These are a phone and another TWS option — the Huawei Nova 7 and Freebuds 3i. 

The two devices share a common trait in that they offer flagship-level performance for less. More details on pricing and availability later on. For now, let’s talk about the devices.

Huawei Nova 7

The first noticeable thing about the Nova 7 is the design on its back, especially for the purple variant. It follows the Nova pattern introduced in the Nova 5T.

Since it’s laying face down, next thing you’ll notice is the quad-camera setup. It’s rocking a 64MP main camera, an 8MP ultra-wide angle lens, an 8MP telephoto lens, and 2MP macro lens (which you probably wouldn’t and shouldn’t use).

Naturally, it has all the AI camera features and post processing found on Huawei phones. We haven’t tested the cameras but we’ll throw in a quick comparison with a similarly priced phone for the review.

Now that that’s out of the way, we can flip it over to reveal the 6.53” OLED display. For screen refresh rate junkies, you’re only getting 60Hz here — which is still fine. That OLED looks mighty fine on the eyes.

Inside, it’s powered by the new Kirin 985 SoC. It’s flagship-grade and has support for 5G. In the Philippines, Huawei is currently leading the market in terms of sheer number of phones with 5G.

They started in 2019 with the Huawei Mate 30 Pro 5G and followed it up with the P40 Series. As of writing, Huawei also has the distinction of offering the most affordable flagship phone in the Philippines — the Huawei Nova 7 SE. 

As to the actual availability of 5G, that’s a topic for another article. But if you want some extra reading, here’s our 5G explainer.

Back to the phone, it has an 8GB + 256GB memory and internal storage combo. It also has a 4,000mAh battery with support for wired 40W Huawei SuperCharge. No wireless charging here.

First impressions 

We’ve been using the device for roughly a couple of days now and it’s been delightful to use for the most part.

If you’re salty about the lack of a higher refresh rate, I would say the vivid OLED display kind of makes up for it. Scrolling side-by-side a device with an IPS LCD screen but with a 120Hz screen refresh rate, it certainly feels less smooth. But what it “lacks” in fluidity is more than made up for by the crisp and vibrant display. Certainly crispier than any IPS LCD display.

In terms of general day-to-day use, it’s pretty stellar. We’ve noted on our OnePlus Nord review how good these midrange/upper-midrange SoCs have gotten and the Kirin 985 along with the RAM and the stability of EMUI 10.1 contributes to a hiccup-free experience.

App access is improved by the introduction of Petal Search. Type whatever app you need and you’ll be shown the source of the app. But you can download it directly from the Petal Search’s interface.

The phone is still without Google Mobile Services, so certain apps that require it like Google’s entire suite of apps, VSCO, Sound Hound, and others won’t work at all. Regardless, there are alternatives for all of these as we’ve noted in this App Gallery feature, and this video. 

Huawei Freebuds 3i

The Huawei Freebuds 3i is the Freebuds 3’s younger sibling. Like the Nova 7, we’ve had it for a couple of days and are blown away but how it performs.

It has ANC (Active Noise Cancellation) and this is something you notice right away as you put it on. The Freebuds 3i does this through the in-ear design and its three microphone system.

The stem design also isn’t just for show or to look like a certain competing TWS earphone. The stem acts as the microphone pick-up. We tested it on a few quick calls and the people on the other line noted that we sounded crystal clear.

It also has touch controls that are configurable through the Huawei AI Life app.

The perfect pair?

Huawei isn’t exactly packaging the two together. But since they’re launching at the same time, we used the two together and it’s quite a treat.

Like any first-party accessory, the Freebuds 3i is immediately detected by the Huawei Nova 7 making for a hassle free pairing.

The Nova 7 doesn’t have a 3.5mm jack so if you want to jump straight into the wireless life, pairing it with the Freebuds 3i is a good place to start.

Quick note: The Nova 7 does come with wired earphones along with a USB-C to 3.5mm converter in case you’re not yet ready to let go.

The listening experience, though, is elevated if you do decide to get the Freebuds 3i.

Pricing and availability

The Huawei Nova 7 will retail for PhP 23,990 (US$ 488). It comes in two colors: Midsummer Purple.

Like any recent Huawei releases, it comes with an array of freebies. The first 100 buyers will get a Huawei Watch GT2e, VIP Service, and Tresemmé Shampoo and Conditioner so you’ll look fly in your selfies.

There’s also a spezial offer. The first 5 customers who order the Nova 7 during the airtime of noontime show Eat Bulaga, you’ll get the Huawei Freebuds 3 for free.

If you don’t watch the show, there are other ways to snag a free Huawei Freebuds 3. Just make sure you order between July 31 to August 2, 2020 at these times: 12MN, 10AM, 2PM, 6PM, and 10PM.

Meanwhile, the Huawei Freebuds 3i will retail for PhP 5,990 (US$ 122) with a free case that has a mini lanyard. The Freebuds 3i comes in two colors: Ceramic White and Carbon Black.

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Hands-On

OnePlus Nord Unboxing & Hands On: Prepare to be surprised!

Could this be the new flagship killer?

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OnePlus goes back to its roots with an impressive sub-US$450 smartphone. Could this be the new flagship killer? This is our OnePlus Nord Unboxing & Hands-On.

The OnePlus Nord will retail for 399 EUR / 27999 INR (8/128GB model) when it launches in Europe and India on August 4th.

Other variants include a 12GB/256GB model (499 EUR / 29999 INR) and a special 6/64GB variant for India ONLY which will retail for 24999 INR.

In case the video isn’t working, click here.

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5 things we like about the realme Watch

A fitness band you won’t mind wearing in non-workout scenarios

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realme has been on a roll in expanding their product portfolio. They started with smartphones, added some earphones and powerbanks, and this year they have two wearables so far – the realme smartband and the realme Watch.

Today we’re listing some of the things we really liked about the realme Watch. Oh and quick note – most of this video was shot using the realme X3 SuperZoom.

Battery Life

Okay so, number one is battery life.

At the time that this was written, the Watch was at 52 percent and it has been seven days since the last time it was fully charged. If I use it more or less the same way I have in the past seven days, then it’ll be another week before it completely runs out of juice.

It’s definitely a plus when you don’t have to think about charging your watch too often.

Variety of workouts

At launch it can track 14 different workouts with good variety.

You have stuff like Running, Walking, Strength Training, Yoga and even sports like Football, Table Tennis, and Badminton.

The only “workout” I really got to try is walking, since I absolutely dread running — or any other form of exercise for that matter. But the fitness tracking was fairly accurate for the most part.

I was dying to try basketball since that’s the only workout I truly enjoy. Unfortunately the courts are still closed because in case you forgot, the Coronavirus is still very much out there taking lives and we are totally not winning that battle.

Casual fit

If it’s just your regular trip to the grocery store, then this watch will suit you just fine.

Perhaps, you can also wear this on regular work days if you’re required to report onsite. Point is, since it doesn’t look like a fitness band. You can probably get away with wearing it in most casual situations.

Remote camera

This one was particularly useful for when I was making this video.

The remote camera camera works for both photo and video. And for photos, it can be set to either take the snap right away or with a timer.

Very convenient if, like me, you’re forever alone, and need or want photos of yourself.

Water reminder

For you thirsty folks out there, it also has a water reminder option that you can turn on using the realme link app.

You can set a time period when you should be reminded, as well as the frequency of the reminder. I didn’t exactly follow this all the time since I sorely lack discipline, but it’s nice to have that constant reminder.

Is the realme Watch worth buying?

To properly set your expectations, you’ll need to think of the realme Watch as more of an enlarged fitness band versus an actual Smart Watch, since most of its features are geared towards health and fitness.

And if you look at it, it’s… okay. Not really something you’d want to show off.

Underneath the display there’s this subtle realme branding that could’ve been smaller or they could’ve totally done away with. That might have helped with the overall look a little bit.

The watch faces are also limited at launch, but realme emphasized that a wide variety of choices is coming soon.

For PhP 3990 (US$ 81), you get a fitness band that you wouldn’t mind wearing in non-workout scenarios. I think that’s the primary benefit that you get, for paying around twice the price of a regular fitness band.

In case the video isn’t working, watch it here.

SEE ALSO: realme X3 SuperZoom, realme Watch price in the Philippines

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