Nokia 6.1 vs. Moto G6 Plus: With so much shared, design and camera make the difference

For as solid and consistent as the flagship space has become, there's still plenty of competition and innovation happening at the lower price points. Ranging between $250 and $350, there are lots of good options out there to get a great phone without breaking the bank. Two of the big names in this segment are the Nokia 6.1 and Moto G6 Plus, which both give solid specs, interesting designs and a promise of good clean software.

But which one is right for you? We have both phones in hand to compare and see the areas where each one is best and what complete package offers the better value.

What's the same

Nokia and Motorola have dialed in on very similar core platforms, with both phones based on a Snapdragon 630 processor. The Moto G6 Plus has the benefit of more internal storage with 64GB, but the Nokia 6.1's 32GB is plenty for the price and both phones offer an SD card slot for expansion. They're both running 1080p displays, and the battery sizes are comparable — 3200mAh for Motorola, and 3000mAh for Nokia — for full-day (and little more) battery life.

The core internals, features, display and software are nearly the same here — which is a good thing for everyone.

The core hardware ideas are the same as well. You get USB-C charging on both, a fingerprint sensor that gets the job done, plus a single basic speaker that leaves much to be desired. Though the Moto G6 Plus display is larger diagonally, its 18:9 aspect ratio means it's basically the same screen real estate as the Nokia 6.1's 5.5-inch 16:9 display. Resolution is effectively the same, as is quality — I give the small nod to Motorola for having more pleasing (read: saturated) colors, but both offer the same visibility while the Nokia has a more neutral and accurate color profile.

Both phones are running Android 8.0 Oreo, and in daily use, you wouldn't really notice the difference between the two. The Moto G6 Plus has a few of Motorola's nice-to-have features, and they're still useful, but none of them are game-changing experiences at this point. The Moto gestures and Moto Display are neat, but you'd never choose the G6 Plus just to have them. Being an Android One phone the Nokia 6.1 fully defaults to all of Google's apps and services, which is a plus for most of us — you don't have to deal with any duplicate apps or poorly-integrated manufacturer services. You also have the benefit of guaranteed software updates, which is very much the opposite of Motorola's history with its mid-range phones.

What's different

Nokia's latest round of smartphones, now under the tutelage of HMD Global, offer some of the best hardware available at their respective price points. Even for $270, the Nokia 6.1 is a nicely coated solid block of metal that feels like it will stand the test of time — especially when you set it alongside the primarily plastic-bodied phones it competes against. The finish is a little slippery when paired with this wide 16:9 aspect ratio, but it's a small knock on what is otherwise an exceptional bit of hardware for the money. The pops of color from the chamfered edges are a treat, and the curved glass on the front is striking.

Two different ways to handle hardware: focus on form or function.

The Moto G6 Plus is a bit more pragmatically designed. The entire frame is slick plastic, which looks good but feels really cheap — and there are concerns about how it'll hold up to regular use if you don't slap a case on there. The back glass is a nice touch though, and the shape of the phone is much easier to handle when paired with the grip the back provides. The result of that ergonomic shape is a blob-like design that isn't as striking or interesting as the Nokia — you could argue for either one, but the Nokia simply looks better and the Moto is easier to use in one hand.

When it comes to software performance, I haven't found any issues with the Nokia 6.1 in particular (aside from the camera, which I'll get to) — the Moto G6 Plus is just a little faster. Side-by-side tests show it's just a bit snappier in the interface and switching between apps, but without another phone to compare to you'd be perfectly happy with the Nokia 6.1. The Moto G6 Plus has 4GB of RAM to the Nokia 6.1's 3GB, which just gives you that little bit of breathing room to keep more apps loaded at any given time — and adds some future proofing.

The Nokia 6.1's camera app and general camera performance is disappointing.

The discussion of performance dovetails nicely into the camera comparison. First, I have to address the biggest differentiator here: the Nokia 6.1's camera app is really inconsistent. For some inexplicable reason, this "Android One" phone has camera app performance that should've stopped its certification in its tracks. The app is often slow to open, slow to respond and most importantly completely inconsistent in its ability to actually capture photos. Unfortunately a majority of the time it simply doesn't capture a photo when the shutter is pressed — and the interface shows a capture — and instead takes a photo a second or two later, typically of the ground or your fingers. It's incredibly frustrating, and something I've heard from other people's Nokia phone experiences — and also not a problem that the Moto G6 Plus suffers from.

But still, it does take photos so long as you're patient. Here's how it compares to Motorola's phone.

Even throwing the Moto G6 Plus's secondary camera out of the equation because it's largely irrelevant to the experience, the 12MP sensor with an f/1.7 lens has the hardware advantage over the Nokia 6.1's 16MP f/2.0 setup. Larger pixels (1.4- vs. 1.0-micron) plus more light from a wider aperture is a good equation, and the G6 Plus takes advantage to produce better photos overall.

The Moto G6 Plus offers an overall better camera — as it should, because it's a bit more expensive.

In daylight, both cameras do a fine job of recreating scenes with good colors and a nice crispness in details and edges — nothing to complain about at this price point at all. In low light the Moto G6 Plus shows its hardware advantage, though, taking photos with better details, smoother surfaces and just generally better quality. The Nokia 6.1 takes about the level of low light photos I'd normally expect for a sub-$300 phone, but the G6 Plus raises the bar.

If the Nokia 6.1's camera app offered comparable performance I'd still give the G6 Plus the nod because of its better low light capabilities, but when you add the app performance to the difference in quality you see Motorola has the complete lead here.

Which should you buy?

Nokia 6.1 and Moto G6 Plus

Nokia and Motorola took different strategies to the table to make a sub-$300 phone. Both have very comparable internal specs befitting the price point, as well as nice-to-see features like a quality display, good fingerprint sensor, solid battery life, USB-C and a headphone jack. But the details differ. The Nokia 6.1 offers far better-looking and feeling hardware with sleek metal and nicely sculpted glass. Having Android One's guaranteed updates is a big bonus too, especially compared to Motorola's poor history. But the Moto G6 Plus has its own benefits, like slightly better overall performance, a more ergonomic design, a better camera and more RAM and storage.

If you can spare the extra cash, consider the Moto G6 Plus — otherwise, Nokia wins.

Which of these phones is best for you partially comes down to where you're shopping. In the U.S. Nokia sells the 6.1 officially, and so it carries a very reasonable price of $270. The Moto G6 Plus you buy in the U.S. will be an imported international model with some markup pushing it over $300. At these prices, it's a tough call, because at perhaps a $50 price difference that may give you enough pause to pick the Nokia 6.1 and deal with its shortcomings in camera and performance. Here, the Nokia 6.1 is actually closer priced, depending on the day, to the standard Moto G6 (opens in new tab) — and the Nokia 6.1 is a better device for that money.

Elsewhere in the world, the Nokia 6.1 and Moto G6 Plus are much closer in price, and if you're going to spend the same amount of money on either one it feels like the Moto G6 Plus is the better of the two. It all comes down to whether you appreciate the hardware beauty and guaranteed software updates of the Nokia 6.1, or the more ergonomic feel and better performance of the Moto G6 Plus. Choose what's most important to you — either one is a great pick for about $300.

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.

  • Thanks for the showdown on these two phones. Being a former Windows phone owner and a former Moto G owner this is a review I thought would be interesting. I thought you wrote off a lot to get the Nokia up to the level of the current "champ". Moto Display is a very important feature, as is 64GB storage and a camera that works when needed. I looks like the Moto G6 Plus won on all fronts except updating software, which is Lenovo's weak point. As for the camera, my Windows phone had some the best cameras in the industry, such a disappointment. Thanks again, but the jury is still out on the Nokia 6.1 until they fix that camera.
  • Really nice write up. Have the Nokia 6.1 and really haven't experienced the camera app issues that I've been reading about. At least not yet. Maybe I lucked out there. It takes decent shots... Granted nothing compared to the flagship devices. If there are issues my hope is that future software updates will fix them. What wasnt mentioned is the 6.1s ability to record video at 4k. It looks and sounds really good. I've been happy with the device overall.
  • These two are both very good budget phones. They are very evenly matched. The 6.1, android one for updates. The g6 can be used on all US carrier's. And they both have a few flagship features. For under 3 hundred they are both good choices! They definitely will get the job done & then some. Both hit above their weight class!
  • IMO the Moto G6 is more suited for comparison with Nokia 6.1 while the bigger Moto G6 Plus with the Nokia 7 Plus (both not available in the US officially). I just wish Nokia brings their flagships to the US soon or some manufacturer releases an Android One device. The Moto X4's camera was average at best but the Xiaomi Mi A1/Nokia 7 Plus had better than just good quality (meaning can be used as primary) cameras.
  • Yeah it's tough because they kind of all split segments.
  • panka, I totally agree the Nokia 7plus is my favorite mid-ranger. The build quality is excellent. I too wish they would release it in the US. The 7plus has very good specs and great battery life. The Nokia line is making a big comeback!
  • Also the 6.1 has NFC here in the US but the g6 does not.
  • Good point
  • Something doesn't seem right here. Nokia phones have always been known for having good point and shoot cameras. I'm not a big camera buff but this would be enough to take the phone off my A list. If this is widespread Nokia will get a software update out soon. They will.
  • the 7 plus and pixel 3rd party camera apks work well..
  • Thank you for the comparison I was looking at the Nokia 6.1 for a new one, I have no experience with Nokia smartphones so I am hesistant to jump in. anyway just to comment I have a slightly different experience with the lenovo phones. I have and still uses the Moto G4, G5 and G5 plus. I dont know what you mean by guaranteed software updates but I can say up to this year 2018 I have been receiving Android updates for my Moto G4 G5 and G5 plus. This is in comparison to Samsung, LG phones where I would only receive maybe just one update for the whole lifetime of the phone. Maybe Android one is a different standard, but Lenovo has been giving lots of updates .
  • Nice write-up. My Huawei phone bit the dust about 3 weeks ago so I actually had my decision down to these two phones as a replacement. I went with the Moto G6. I agree with everything you said except for one thing. My understanding is that the Moto has two stereo speakers side by side at the top. and I think the sound is incredible. In fact I would say it's the best sounding speaker I have ever heard in a phone. also I absolutely love the Moto gestures. I can't tell you how many times I use the chop motion to turn on the flashlight
  • You obviously don't care about updates and care more about useless gimmicks like the chop. Moto sucks with security updates as well as software updates which the Nokia 6.1 has way better software thanks to Android One.
  • Really not a fair comparison. Right at the end of the article it is mentioned that the Moto phone is the international version and has to be purchased from an overseas seller. Well, I bought my Nokia 6.1 on Amazon from an international seller in Taiwan. It arrived two days after purchase. The international version of the Nokia 6.1 also has 4 gigs of ram and 64 gigs of internal storage. Best of all was the price, $239 including the free 2 day shipping. You don't get a US warranty as it is the international version. However the phone is wonderful in every respect except for the camera in low light conditions as mentioned in the article. I'll trade the camera performance for the promise of at least 2 OS upgrades. Moto is terrible in this regard.
  • Nokia 6.1 anyday over the overrated Moto G6, better software with the guarantee of updates unlike the Moto G6.
  • No problems using an international version in the US? I'm interested in the nokia 7 plus, and seems international is the only version you can get. Just have to make sure it works here, all the bands for AT&T
  • I still love the Nokia 6.1 despite the fact that the camera doesn't always take a picture when I press the shutter button. I have a real camera for important photography, but have almost always used my phone just for snapshots and supplemental items (except for my late, lamented Nokia 1030). I had to move to Android when my employer stopped supporting Windows Mobile. They purchased a Samsung Galaxy 8 for me which I grew to dislike more and more each day I used it. When I first heard about the Nokia 6.1, I bought it on day one and tossed the Samsung back to my employer. The 6.1 looks great, feels great in use, and runs much faster than the Galaxy did. I've loaded it with Microsoft services and it is now it almost as good as my also late and lamented 950XL.
  • I would love that Nokia branding but sad to see camera performance doesn't match.
    Tbh, I would be fine with a "mid range" phone if it had a camera close to flagship level.
    I just wonder if it's worth getting mid range or low end phones when even couple year old flagship seem to outperform them. Recent got a refurbished pixel XL to replace mom's cracked s7e. That thing was buttery smooth and camera is better than even some current flagships despite being 2yrs old almost.
  • I have had both these handsets and can honestly say it's a tough one. The Motorola was a great performer,camera was excellent especially using HDR but shooting into the sunlight it was noisy in dark areas. Also the camera was slow like the Nokia at shooting sometimes. What i hated about the Motorola was a lip around the screen which collects alot of dust and the plastic frame too. Screen is excellent. The Nokia is also a good performer but has some occasional stutter which is either down to Google Launcher or Nokia not optimizing the software well. The size of the Android OS in Nokia is 12GB and on Motorola only 6GB which takes up less space. Why is that?? Nokia screen is nice not as good as Moto G6 Plus. The Nokia camera can be slow sometimes but daylight images are punchy and crisp,colourful but lowlight is pathetic with extreme colour noise even using 4 second exposure. In shadowy areas in daylight there is grain too. I think Carl Zeiss lenses in Nokia is just crap to be honest,just branding not lenses
  • About 3 weeks ago my Axon 7 had an unfortunate fall. It didn't crack the glass but the oled got damaged from it. Next morning phone on no screen. So I needed to find a new daily driver for me. I didn't want to spend mega bucks on a new flagship. So l looked at getting a Nokia. I desperately wanted a 7plus. That it wouldn't have a warranty and gimped radio support here in the US made me pass on it. So I went with the 6.1. For what this phone is it's great. Android one with 2 full os updates. I had previously Nexus phones so I jumped on this in a hot second. I thought about the G6 but the abysmal dearth of os updates and lack of NFC kept me away. This phone has been a pleasant surprise. Fairly speedy in what it does. Radios are strong, NFC is great. Just an all-around wonderful daily driver Has it been all peaches and cream, nope. The first one was good for the first 4 DAYS. Then it wouldn't turn on no matter what I tried. So off to best buy for an exchange. This one has been much better. Could it be better? Yes but at this price point I'm not going to argue.
  • "So l looked at getting a Nokia. I desperately wanted a 7plus That it wouldn't have a warranty and gimped radio support here in the US made me pass on it." Me too- what is gimped radio support? Will it have all the bands for carriers in the US? I'm less worried about warranty.
  • Nokia 6.1 all day!
    amazing phone ($269 phone)
    battery life very good, camera in good light also good
    clean software (android 8.1 + P + Q)
    18w charger
    no BS 18:9 (yup 16:9 still the standard)
    "build like a Tank" if you drop it, poor floor, dont worry about the phone