Introduction

11 May 2018

After using Motorola Moto X Play for about two years, I decided to get a phone with a fingerprint scanner. It was all because frequent typing in of the password for work email app became annoying. The fact that Motorola, now Lenovo, totally dropped the ball when it comes to security patching, was another reason I decided to move on.

Again, I was absolutely not willing to part with a grand to get a new phone, so Nokia 6.1 (also known as Nokia 6 2018) seemed like a pretty good choice. It comes with Android One, which is as stock Android as one can get without getting an expensive Pixel phone. This platform is supposed to get regular security patches, which sounds good (let's hope it's not an empty promise, like Motorola's).

I purchased a TA-1068 model of the phone, which comes with 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of flash storage. The phone was, in dollar terms, even cheaper than what I paid for Moto X Play. It is not splash or dust resistant, but that was not a deal breaker for me.

First impressions

The phone is more or less the same size as Moto X Play, but thinner. It feels pretty solid in the hand, with that one piece aluminium body. It is slippery, just like most of the other phones out there. It also feels much more squarish than Moto X Play. Weird in the hand and pocket, but nice when typing on the phone with it being laid down on the table.

The phone actually does feel like a pretty good quality phone. The keys are easy to press and feel accurate. The finish is flawless.

Once again, the battery is not replacable. That seems to be the norm these days. With an aluminium unibody, it kind of makes sense. It has the capacity of 3,000 mAh, which is less than what Moto X Play has. However, after using it for about a week now, I can say that it lasts for 2 days with my usage pattern. I guess a newer CPU model and other components are more power efficient.

The screen is sharp and bright. Absolutely fit for purpose. No complaints there.

Everything happens pretty fast. In fact, compared to Moto X Play, it is visibly faster.

Functionality

This phone does not come with a notification LED, which is slightly disapponting. I do not understand why manufacturers insist on removing this useful feature. Displays that turn on when the phone is lifted, which this phone does have, are not the same thing.

Even with a bit more intense workout of the CPU, this phone does not warm up at all. I guess all that aluminium is a pretty efficent heatsink. A better CPU, manufactured using 14 nm process, probably helps too.

VOIP calling is right where it should be, in the main phone app. Nice.

Gmail is still terrible for IMAP mail, so K-9 Mail it is. DAVx5 works great on the phone as well. Both of these are highly recommended.

Update: I started using the awesome FairEmail recently. It is open source, with an absolutely amazing support and is the only Android email app that supports IMAP NOTIFY, to the best of my knowledge. Highly recommended!

The rest is pretty standard Android stuff and works mostly without major problems.

Nokia's camera software (or is it Android's?) seems to be taking decent photos.

Before inserting my existing 64 GB Micro SD card into this phone, I checked what kind of file systems would be supported. Apparently, FAT32. So, I reformatted the card on my T450s laptop that runs Fedora to use that file system and copied all of the stuff back. The card works just fine.

The speaker is not really loud enough. It's quite easy to miss various notifications, even calls. Apart from that, calls on it are nice and clear, both using the earpiece and the headphones.

Updates

The phone came with Android 8.0.0, which was updated to 8.1.0 after a few days. I must say that both the 8.0.0 and 8.1.0 are rather nice and are an absolute pleasure to use.

17 May 2018: Google's 1 May 2018 security update, together with other Android Oreo 8.1 updates.

26 Jun 2018: Google's 1 Jun 2018 security update, together with other Android Oreo 8.1 updates (build number 2.22E). This is, however, not the latest security update from Google, who list 5 Jun 2018 as well. No idea whether that's on purpose or just an oversight by Nokia.

26 Jul 2018: Google's 1 Jul 2018 security update.

17 Aug 2018: Google's 1 Aug 2018 security update.

18 Sep 2018: Google's 1 Sep 2018 security update.

6 Nov 2018: Android Pie (i.e. 9.0) for this phone. Animations are a little bit too slow, but apart from that, the release looks pretty nice.

28 Nov 2018: Google's 1 Nov 2018 security update.

19 Dec 2018: Google's 1 Dec 2018 security update.

22 Jan 2019: Google's 1 Jan 2019 security update.

24 Feb 2019: Google's 1 Feb 2019 security update.

10 Apr 2019: Google's 1 Mar 2019 security update and a maintenance release for Pie.

1 May 2019: Google's 1 Apr 2019 security update.

28 May 2019: Google's 1 May 2019 security update.

25 Jun 2019: Google's 1 Jun 2019 security update, together with an Android 9 update.

31 Jul 2019: Google's 1 Jul 2019 security update and another Android 9 update.

14 Aug 2019: Google's 1 Aug 2019 security update. Unfortunately, this is not the latest security update available and 5 Aug version covers some serious security vulnerabilities. So serious that my company cut off my email, because I do not have that patch. Nokia support were not forthcoming with any useful information about when is this going to be patched. Probably next month.

24 Sep 2019: Google's 1 Sep 2019 security update. Once again, my company email works.

10 Oct 2019: Google's 1 Oct 2019 security update.

18 Nov 2019: Google's 1 Nov 2019 security update.

12 Jan 2020: Got a bit impatient and downloaded Android 10 OTA file to my SD card and upgraded the phone. Everything seems to work as before, but with a consistent dark theme and other goodies from 10. Jan 1 2020 update was delivered using Google Play system update.

26 Feb 2020: 1 Feb 2020 update was delivered using Google Play system update.

3 Mar 2020: Google's 1 Jan 2020 security update. Straight after reboot, I was prompted for Google's 1 Feb 2020 security update and this got installed as well. Not sure whether Nokia or the carrier held the first update back, but security updates are always welcome!

25 Mar 2020: Google's 1 Mar 2020 security update.

8 Apr 2020: 1 Mar 2020 update was delivered using Google Play system update.

5 May 2020: Google's 1 Apr 2020 security update.

21 May 2020: 1 May 2020 update was supposedly delivered using Google Play system update. There is no chance this actually did anything, because the whole update was 6.3 kB in size.

10 Jun 2020: Google's 1 May 2020 security update and a bugfix/UI update for Android 10 (320 MB). Cannot tell what's different, but the UI seems a bit more responsive (subjectively, of course).

30 Jun 2020: Google's 1 Jun 2020 security update.

28 Jul 2020: Google's 1 Jul 2020 security update.

7 Aug 2020: Google's 1 Jul 2020 security update was supposedly delivered through Google Play system update. This was cosmetic only, just like all the other such updates (i.e. 6.3 kB only).

26 Aug 2020: Google's 1 Aug 2020 security update.

28 Sep 2020: Google's 1 Sep 2020 security update. The cosmetic update through Google Play system update followed a day or two later.

24 Oct 2020: The phone now reports 1 Oct 2020 security update, supposedly delivered by Google Play system update. I doubt any patching was actually done. Two channel update delivery system is highly confusing.

5 Nov 2020: Google's 1 Oct 2020 security update.

24 Nov 2020: Google's 1 Nov 2020 security update.

22 Dec 2020: Google's 1 Dec 2020 security update.

26 Jan 2021: Google's 1 Jan 2021 security update.

23 Feb 2021: Google's 1 Feb 2021 security update, including a typo claiming it's a 2020-20 update. :-)

26 Mar 2021: Google's 1 Mar 2021 non-update was marked as installed (8.6 kB only) in Google Play system updates. Highly misleading stuff. Of course, the real update is still not being distributed.

30 Mar 2021: Google's 1 Mar 2021 security update just squeezed in at the end of the month. The real thing this time. :-)

25 Apr 2021: Google's 1 Apr 2021 security update. This will be the last update reported here, because the phone is getting retired. I replaced it with a Google Pixel 5.

Conclusion

If the promise of regular security updates turns out to be true with Android One, this phone looks like a really great value for money.

Copyright © 2018 Bojan Smojver, Rexursive.
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the licence is here
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