HMD Global has a compelling phone in the Nokia 6, but Motorola has been doing this for a lot longer.

Ten years ago, Nokia was on a high — the N95 launched to critical acclaim, and the company could do no wrong. Nokia had a commanding lead in the mobile space with a market share of 40%, selling over 130 million phones in just the last quarter of 2007 alone.

The exact opposite scenario was playing out at Motorola. The company was in second place behind Nokia in 2006 on the back of the first-generation RAZR, which turned out to be massive hit. The momentum didn’t last long, however, as the RAZR was overtaken by newer and more innovative devices from the likes of Nokia and Research In Motion. The downturn led to Motorola losing nearly half of its market share in just under the course of a year, leading to the company splitting into two halves and an eventual sale to Google.

Nokia also suffered a similar fate a few years after that, with the Finnish company uncharacteristically late in recognizing the potential of the smartphone. Exclusivity with Windows Phone didn’t help matters much, and Nokia ultimately had to sell off its devices unit to Microsoft in 2013. The company is back, albeit in a new avatar. Nokia is licensing its brand name to HMD Global, the Finnish company made up of ex-Nokia staffers. Thankfully, Nokia is siding with Android this time around.

Following its acquisition by Google and subsequent sale to Lenovo, Motorola managed to carved out a niche for itself in the handset segment by focusing on a clean software experience coupled with fast updates.

Nokia is taking a similar approach — the company is focusing on the budget segment, combining its expertise in industrial design with an uncluttered software experience to differentiate its phones from the rest of the pack. With the Moto G5 Plus leading that pack, it’s time to see if the Nokia 6 has what it takes to hold its own in this segment.

Hardware

The Nokia 6 is one of the best-looking budget phones you can buy today. The design aesthetic is classic Nokia — solid aluminum unibody construction, chamfered sides, and a matte finish at the back. The antenna lines are tucked away at the top and bottom, and if you’re using the matte black edition, you’ll barely notice them. The phone certainly looks premium, and the build quality is right up there with the best phones in the market.

Motorola finally switched to a metal back for its budget phones with the G5 Plus, but the phone has plastic inserts at the top and bottom for the antenna bands, and the sides are also made out of plastic albeit with a metallic feel. The design is a significant improvement over the G4 Plus, but when seen next to the Nokia 6, the Moto G5 Plus fails to impress.

There are pros and cons to both phones on the design front. While the Nokia 6 is the better-looking device, it is quite large for a 5.5-inch phone. With dimensions of 154 x 75.8 x 7.8mm, the Nokia 6 is about the same size as the Pixel XL, but the sharp edges make it uncomfortable to hold the phone. The fingerprint sensor is also annoying, as the surface area is too small.

Featuring a 5.2-inch 1080p display, the G5 Plus is much more manageable, and Motorola thankfully moved away from the ugly square fingerprint sensor from last year to a larger sensor at the front. However, the G5 Plus has a significant camera hump at the back. The Nokia 6 also has a slight hump, but it’s nowhere near as noticeable as the G5 Plus.

The Nokia 6 feels like a first-generation product in a few areas. The power and volume buttons are too close together, and you’ll inevitably end up hitting the volume down key when you’re trying to switch on the screen. Nokia could have solved that particular problem by making the power button textured, like Motorola did with the G5 Plus, but that isn’t the case.

Both phones feature microUSB charging ports, and it looks like we’ll have to wait one more generation to see Nokia and Motorola roll out budget devices with USB-C.

Category Nokia 6 Motorola Moto G5 Plus
Operating System Android 7.1.1 Nougat Android 7.0 Nougat
Display 5.5-inch 1920×1080 IPS LCD panel
403ppi pixel density
5.2-inch 1080p (1920×1080) IPS LCD panel
424ppi pixel density
SoC Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 430
Eight Cortex A53 cores at 1.4GHz
28nm
Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 625
Eight Cortex A53 cores at 2.0GHz
14nm
GPU Adreno 505 Adreno 506
RAM 3GB RAM 2GB/4GB RAM (NA)
4GB RAM (India)
Storage 32GB storage
microSD slot up to 128GB
32GB/64GB storage (NA)
32GB storage (India)
microSD slot up to 256GB
Rear camera 16MP f/2.0 lens
dual LED flash
PDAF
12MP f/1.7 lens
dual LED flash
PDAF
Front shooter 8MP f/2.0
1080p video recording
5MP
1080p video recording
Security Front fingerprint sensor Front fingerprint sensor
Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n, LTE, NFC, Bluetooth 4.1 (A2DP), FM radio, GPS,
microUSB, 3.5mm audio jack
Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n, LTE, NFC, Bluetooth 4.2 (A2DP), GPS,
microUSB, 3.5mm audio jack
Battery 3000mAh battery 3000mAh battery
Fast charging No Motorola TurboPower
Dimensions 154 x 75.8 x 7.9mm 150.2 x 74 x 7.7mm
Weight 169g 155g
Colors Matte Black, Tempered Blue, Silver, Copper Lunar Grey, Fine Gold

The G5 Plus is sold in a confusing array of configurations around the world. In the U.S., the phone is available with 2GB of RAM and 32GB storage for $229, and with 4GB of RAM and 64GB storage for $299. In India, the phone comes with 4GB of RAM and 32GB storage for ₹14,999, which comes out to the equivalent of $235.

The Nokia 6 doesn’t have this problem — you’ll get one variant with 3GB of RAM and 32GB storage throughout the world. Nokia will roll out a model with 4GB of RAM and 64GB storage, but that isn’t available just yet. When it comes to the pricing, the Nokia 6 costs $229 in the U.S. and ₹14,999 in India — same as the G5 Plus.

Snapdragon 625 would have made the Nokia 6 a much more enticing phone.

When it comes to the internal hardware, the main difference between the Nokia 6 and the G5 Plus is the chipset. The Nokia 6 is powered by the Snapdragon 430, whereas the G5 Plus is running the Snapdragon 625, a staple in this segment. Nokia’s decision to use an older processor affects the Nokia 6 when it comes to the overall performance. There is a noticeable lag in everyday usage, even when doing routine tasks like browsing and switching between apps.

The Snapdragon 430 is just not powerful enough to drive the 1080p panel, and that’s immediately noticeable when you start using the phone. The Snapdragon 625 would have made the device much better, seeing as how the G5 Plus does not have any performance issues.

Both devices have decent 1080p LCD panels, but the one on the G5 Plus gets brighter under harsh sunlight. Motorola also lets you tweak the color balance of the display, and Moto Display is one of the best ways to view incoming notifications without turning on the screen.

Battery life

The Nokia 6 and Moto G5 Plus have the same battery capacity at 3000mAh, but there’s one key difference between the two — Nokia doesn’t offer any fast charging options, and Motorola’s TurboPower is one of the best fast charging standards out there. As a result, the Nokia 6 takes an agonizing two and a half hours to fully charge. The G5 Plus, on the other hand, takes just over an hour and a half.

I’m still evaluating the battery life on the Nokia 6, but it’s unlikely you’ll run out of juice in the middle of the day. The phone has excellent standby time as well. As for the G5 Plus, you’ll easily get a day’s worth out of the device, even under heavy usage.

Software

You don’t see Motorola getting outmatched in the software department very often, but the Nokia 6 manages to do just that. I received the August security update immediately after setting up the device, and it looks like Nokia will follow through on its promise to deliver monthly security updates. That is particularly noteworthy when you consider that the Nokia 6 is targeted at the budget segment. By contrast, the Moto G5 Plus is still on the March security patch.

The Nokia 6 is also running a newer version of Android — Android 7.1.1 Nougat — versus Android 7.0 Nougat on the G5 Plus. Aside from adding a blue accents, Nokia didn’t alter the overall user interface from stock Android. You get a Pixel-style drawer to access your apps, the standard two-shade notification pane with customizable quick toggles, and a card-style layout for the recents menu.

The Nokia 6 has a few pre-installed apps in India — Amazon, Prime Video, and Kindle — and you’ll be able to sign in to your Amazon account when setting up the phone. Nokia’s clean approach to software and its ability to deliver updates gives it a distinct edge in this category, and hopefully the company will continue to issue security and platform updates regularly.

Nokia is doing a magnificent job of rolling out timely software updates.

Motorola has done well to differentiate its software experience from other manufacturers that are also offering an unadulterated version of Android. The user interface itself is unchanged, but you have the option to control various facets of the phone through gestures with Moto Actions. You can put the G5 Plus face-down on a surface to automatically silence notifications and incoming calls, chop twice to toggle the flashlight, do a double twist motion to launch the camera, and so on.

There’s also a gesture to shrink the size of the screen if you’re looking to make the interface even more conducive to one-handed usage, and One Button Nav lets you swipe on the home button to go back or access the recents pane. Motorola walks you through the feature while enabling it, and it definitely makes it easier to use the phone one-handed. Then there are the small things — like the battery indicator that encircles the clock widget.

Nokia also has gestures for a few actions, but they’re tucked away in the settings. You can turn the device over to reject a call, and mute the ringer when you pick up the phone to take a call. You’ll also be able to open the camera by pressing the power button twice.

Camera

Motorola had a long history of rolling out mediocre cameras in its phones, but the brand turned things around magnificently with the G5 Plus. Simply put, the G5 Plus has the best camera in the budget segment. As for the Nokia 6, if the overall performance is its primary drawback, the camera comes in a close second.

The Nokia 6 has a 16MP imaging sensor with 1.0-micron pixels and f/2.0 aperture. The G5 Plus, meanwhile, has a 12MP sensor with 1.4-micron pixels and f/1.7 aperture. The camera app on the Nokia 6 is sparse, offering toggles for flash, timer, HDR, and Panorama modes. There’s also a Beautify setting that removes blemishes, and you can switch between the front or rear cameras or start recording a video from the main interface.

Motorola’s camera app is even more utilitarian, but you can now enable a dedicated shutter button if you’re not a fan of the touch-to-shoot implementation.

Nokia 6 on the left (top if you’re seeing this on a phone), Moto G5 Plus on the right (bottom).

The Nokia 6 takes its time to dial in on a subject, and if you set HDR to auto, there is a delay from the moment you take an image to it showing up in your gallery. Photos taken from the phone come out decent in daylight conditions, but the G5 Plus pulls in much more detail and contrast — both in daytime and low-light shots.

Which should you buy? Moto G5 Plus

The Nokia 6 has a much better design, and the phone will receive faster updates. Although the phone is taller than most 5.5-inch devices in this segment, its weight is properly balanced, and the build quality is top-notch.

However, the main drawback with the Nokia 6 is the overall performance — you’re going to encounter lag in everyday usage with this phone. Nokia would have fared much better with either a 720p panel or by switching to the Snapdragon 625, which is standard in this segment. Furthermore, the camera in its current state does not come close to what you get with the G5 Plus.

Motorola’s isn’t as quick as it used to be at rolling out updates, but you still get a clean software experience that’s devoid of any bloatware. Also, the G5 Plus has the same 3000mAh battery as the Nokia 6, but TurboPower makes a huge difference if you’re looking to top up the phone’s battery in the middle of the day.

The Nokia 6 is a valiant first effort from the storied Finnish manufacturer on Android, but as an overall package, the G5 Plus offers more for your money.

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