Nokia 7.1 vs Nokia 6.1: Which should you buy?

Nokia 7.1
Nokia 7.1 (Image credit: Joe Maring / Android Central)

Nokia 7.1

The Nokia 7.1 came out swinging this year and quickly made itself known as one of the best smartphone values of 2018. With a great-looking display, good cameras, an excellent software package, and a striking design, it's hard to complain about anything with the 7.1.

Nokia 7.1

Our pick

Gorgeous, durable design
HDR display
Strong battery performance
NFC for Google Pay
Guaranteed software updates
The notch could be a turn off for some

Nokia 6.1

Although not as exciting as its more expensive sibling, the Nokia 6.1 is still a really great option in the budget smartphone space. Its build quality is top-notch, the software is great, and battery life is outstanding. The cameras and display leave a bit to be desired, but at this price, that's OK.

Nokia 6.1

Best for less

Excellent build quality
Uncluttered software w/ promised updates
Reliable battery life
USB-C charging
Cameras aren't that great
Uses an older 16:9 ratio for the display

In this comparison, the Nokia 7.1 comes out as the clear winner. It has a flashier design, better display, faster processor, and more reliable cameras while still retaining a very affordable price of $350. If that's a bit too rich for your blood, the Nokia 6.1 manages to offer a very comparable experience on many fronts for a healthy $150 less.

If you can afford it, it's worth splurging for the Nokia 7.1

Nokia has been dominating the mid-range smartphone space for the last couple of years with back-to-back releases of quality handsets, and here in the U.S., its two latest offerings are the Nokia 6.1 and Nokia 7.1. Both phones are priced quite competitively for the markets they're targeting, but overall, we have to crown the Nokia 7.1 as the winner.

Before we dive into what gives the Nokia 7.1 an edge, it's worth noting that these two phones actually have a lot in common. Both are running Android 9 Pie, and since they're part of Google's Android One program, are guaranteed to receive major software updates for two years. That's a big commitment we seldom see with phones of these prices, and it's a big advantage for both the 7.1 and 6.1.

The actual software experience you'll get is also the same across both devices, with Nokia choosing to deliver a clean, uncluttered version of Android Pie with a few helpful touches scattered throughout the OS. It's a really similar experience to what you'd find on Google's Pixel phones, and that's about the best compliment we can give.

Also shared between the Nokia 7.1 and Nokia 6.1 are fantastic battery life, USB-C charging, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and solid build quality.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 Nokia 7.1Nokia 6.1
Display5.84-inch LCD2220 x 1080Gorilla Glass 319:9 aspect ratioHDR10 support5.5-inch LCD1920 x 1080Gorilla Glass 316:9 aspect ratio
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 636Qualcomm Snapdragon 630
Storage64GBExpandable up to 400GB32GBExpandable up to 256GB
Rear camera 112MPf/1.816MPf/2.0
Rear camera 25MPf/2.4
Front camera8MPf/2.08MPf/2.0
Battery3,060 mAh3,000 mAh
SoftwareAndroid 9 PieAndroid 9 Pie
AudioMono bottom-firing speaker3.5mm headphone jackMono bottom-firing speaker3.5mm headphone jack
SecurityFingerprint sensorFingerprint sensor

Here's where things differ. Under the hood of the Nokia 7.1 is Qualcomm's Snapdragon 636 processor, and when compared to the 630 powering the 6.1, this makes everything feel just a bit snappier. The Nokia 7.1 also has an extra 1GB of RAM over the Nokia 6.1 which allows you to keep more apps open in the background for smoother multitasking.

Perhaps even more important, the Nokia 7.1 has a better display. Both phones use LCD panels, but the 7.1 features a taller and narrower 19:9 ratio compared to the 6.1's more traditional 16:9 layout. The 7.1's screen is larger at 5.84-inches instead of 5.5, and in addition to supporting HDR10 content, the Nokia 7.1 can even convert SDR videos into HDR so that they're brighter and more colorful. Some other benefits of the Nokia 7.1 include dual rear cameras and NFC for Google Pay.

While it's easy to see that the Nokia 7.1 is the better overall phone, don't let that lead you into believing that the Nokia 6.1 isn't worth your time or money. It still performs quite well, the display looks good, and for the price, the cameras get the job done.

There's nothing inherently wrong with the Nokia 6.1, and if you really need to watch how much money you spend, it'll be an easy choice with an MSRP of just $200. However, if you can afford the Nokia 7.1, we think it's worth splurging for.

Joe Maring

Joe Maring was a Senior Editor for Android Central between 2017 and 2021. You can reach him on Twitter at @JoeMaring1.