Long ago, Nokia was a household name in the world, thanks to its great feature phones and smartphones but it disappeared when their Windows 10 Mobile efforts didn’t come to fruition under Microsoft’s command. Now, the Finnish company HMD Global, who has purchased the rights for the Nokia brand, is making a strong comeback with its first-ever Android flagship. Yes, we’re talking about the Nokia 8.
The company did already make its return to the competition earlier in 2017 with the Nokia 6 but has since followed the launch with a series of mid-range devices. The Nokia 8 is their first true effort at providing its loyal fanbase, craving for an ultimate Android experience, the first Nokia Android flagship. Mixed in with nostalgia, we’re taking a closer look at whether the Nokia 8 lives up to the flagship hype or not. And should it be your next daily driver?
Before we talk about the intricate details of the Nokia 8, here’s a brief look at the complete specifications of this flagship device:
|151.5mm x 73.7mm x 7.9mm
|160 g (5.64 oz)
|5.3" QuadHD IPS LCD display with (2560 x 1440) resolution and ~554 ppi density
|Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 (Octa-core, 4 x 2.5Ghz Kyro + 4 x 1.8GHz Kryo CPU)
|64GB/128GB, expandable up to 256GB via MicroSD card slot
|dual 13 MP, color (OIS)+ mono ZEISS lenses with f/2.0 aperture, Phase Detection Auto-Focus, IR range finder, dual-tone flash
|single 13 MP camera with f/2.0 aperture & display flash
|Android 7.1.1 Nougat
|Ambient light sensor, Proximity sensor, Accelerometer, E-compass, Gyroscope, Fingerprint Sensor, Hall sensor, Barometer
|Dual-SIM slots (nano), USB Type-C 3.1, 3.5mm headphone jack, Wi-FI 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (MIMO), Bluetooth 5, GPS/AGPS, GLONASS, NFC ANT+
|Polished Blue, Tempered Blue, Steel, Polished Copper
What’s In The Box
HMD Global, the Finnish company behind the revival of the Nokia brand, is not planning to miss the mark even with the retail packaging of the Nokia 8. It still continues to feature the well-known “Connecting People” logo, where you see individuals holding hands to connect with one another. As for inside the Nokia 8 box, we get:
- Nokia 8 (Polished Blue)
- Charging adapter
- USB Type-C charging cable
- in-ear headsets
- Quick guide
- SIM ejector tool
Design and Build Quality
Even when Nokia is making a comeback to the smartphone market after years, the Finnish brand continues to maintain quality standards we expect from them. The Nokia 8 is no less and sports a sophisticated design with curved glass covering the entirety of its body. The screen-to-body ratio of the 5.3-inch display, which lands around 69.4%, is lacking when you compare it to the ongoing bezel-less trend. Smartphones like Xiaomi’s Mi Mix 2 and Samsung Galaxy S8 have adopted large 18:9 displays to provide screen-to-body ratios in the 80% range. It is a huge disappointment and I would’ve preferred smaller top, as well as bottom chins, but the QuadHD display on the Nokia 8 makes up for it.
Remembering the time when I first held the Nokia 8, I instantly fell in love with the feeling of holding this device. The minimal footprint of the device, that’s coupled with round corners make it easier to grip and use with a single hand. It’s just so comfortable to pick and use the Nokia 8. The device is IP54 splash and dustproof, which is a huge let down from HMD Global.
The Polished Blue back also contributed to my attraction towards the device, even though it is a major fingerprint magnet and tends to slip out of my sweaty palm quite often. You can couple this with the camera bump on the back to make a whole annoying bunch of design choices but they’re not a dealbreaker. You can live with them, because of the classy build.
You’ll find that the fingerprint scanner, which isn’t the fastest I’ve seen on a phone, has been placed on the front. It doubles as the home button and sits in the middle of the capacitive back and multitasking buttons. The power and volume buttons, though are clicky but feel really flimsy and squishy to the touch. I’m not the biggest fan of the buttons but can make do because Nokia 8 includes a 3.5mm headphone jack, the one thing we still use on a daily basis.
The sleek glass body of the Nokia 8 may be an eye-grabber but the lightweight design and smaller footprint take the cake for me. I’ve used the iPhone 8 Plus for quite some time and it is much bulkier than the Nokia flagship both in terms of weight and size. Even though the two devices are in a different price bracket, I was comparing them because both introduced glass backs in their latest flagship device.
Though the Nokia 8 does not fulfill our edge-to-edge screen desires, it sports a stunning 5.3-inch Quad HD (2560 x 1440 pixels) LCD IPS display to make up for the same. It translates to an impressive ~554 ppi pixel density, which seems appropriate for a flagship device of this cadre. The color reproduction of the display panel is on-point and not at all saturated as the screen of the Galaxy S8.
I wish HMD Global could’ve gone with an OLED panel for its first-ever Nokia flagship but I have no qualms against the IPS LCD panel it has included in the Nokia 8. It is because the company hasn’t compromised with the display quality on this flagship device that matches any superior LED display. The colors displayed are quite bright (they do pop), the blacks appear truly black and the screen remains quite legible even in sunlight. During my time with the device, its screen turned out to be one of the prominent highlights of the Nokia 8 and it could help trump the tough competition it faces against the likes of Mi Mix 2 and OnePlus 5 in its price bracket.
Since the Android ecosystem is already over-fragmented, Nokia must have decided to step foot into the market with an almost stock-like Android experience. The Nokia 8 comes with Android 7.1.1 Nougat out-of-the-box with no gimmicky skins, customizations, feature sets or even bloatware.
This is an important reason why I’d suggest you to pick up the Nokia 8 as their next daily driver. You’ll not only experience the best of Android experiences but also receive latest software updates early than most devices available in the market. It delivers a clean and responsive Android experience with minimal change to only the icons and has added an active display feature, similar to the one available on its Microsoft devices.
The strategy of providing a vanilla Android experience, you can very well say, is similar to the one adopted by Motorola. The former, however, hasn’t added anything new to the core Android offering while the latter did include some extra features, such as Moto Assist, that were useful to the users. I’d prefer to see HMD Global work on improving the software on Nokia devices in the near future.
HMD Global has already rolled out the Android 8.0 Oreo beta update for Nokia 8 to gather provide feedback. I’m using the said Android beta on my Nokia device and it does still perform smoothly, except the camera app that still continues to underperform. If you want to install the Android Oreo beta on your Nokia 8, you can know how to do the same right here.
Talking about performance, the Nokia 8 packs the internals to match any of the flagship devices launched in 2017. It is powered by an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chipset, where four cores are clocked at a maximum frequency of 2.5GHz whereas the other four cores are clocked at 1.8GHz And it does show because the Nokia 8 is neither laggy nor did I notice any frame drops while using the device. You can choose between two RAM+internal storage variants of the device, i.e 4GB RAM+64GB storage and 6GB RAM+ 128 GB storage. I was using the former configuration and it’s defeated by the OnePlus 5 in terms of pure specifications.
If we turn our attention to benchmarks, the Nokia 8 doesn’t disappoint and scores a massive 173,505 on Antutu. This is comparable to most flagship devices, including its competitors Mi Mix 2 and OnePlus 5. It even tries to reach far to challenge market leader Samsung and others in terms of the numbers. I ran a Geekbench CPU test as well and all results are attached below.
While gaming on the Nokia, most of the games were running smoothly and I didn’t find any lags. But, I did notice that the rear of the device did start heating a little when I was playing the game but the heat dissipated within minutes after I stopped. This happened almost instantaneously because Nokia has upgraded the internals to include a copper pipe as it helps dissipate the internal heat when running heavy apps.
The almost-stock Android on the Nokia 8 also ran buttery smooth except for the camera app. The one major category that the Nokia brand was known for is suffering on this device because of shutter lag in the camera app. It was there in the official software and has still not been improved in the Oreo beta as well. I hope Nokia improves the same to make Nokia 8 one of the best smartphones at its price point.
The Nokia brand made its comeback with a simple camera module earlier this year but HMD Global is reviving the legacy of the Nokia we remember with their flagship device. Nokia 8 follows the current trend by including a dual-rear camera setup and also brings one of their oldest partners, Carl Zeiss, back into the loop. With Nokia 8, you’re getting dual 13-megapixel lenses on the rear but it is not similar to iPhone’s dual-camera setup. Instead, you get one regular RGB sensor with Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) and a monochrome sensor, both with f/2.0 aperture that doesn’t sit completely flush and placed in a vertical manner at the center of the body.
And trust me when I say this, the picture quality on the Nokia 8 is just wonderful as the monochrome sensor helps add great detail to the same. The pictures are quite crisp and a bit on the cooler side as compared to some of its competitors. The same is the case in photos clicked during nightime but it’s not the best. While the pictures clicked are great, it sometimes overexposes things in front of the lens. Here are some of the camera samples:
In addition to the beautiful color reproduction, the Nokia 8’s dual rear camera setup is also capable of shooting with either of the two lenses. You can choose to capture a picture only in color or monochrome mode, where the latter shines. The mono sensor gives you more space to explore your creativity and click ‘black and white’ shots with ease.
The Nokia 8 may include stock Android but the camera app has been redesigned, which is not the best idea as there is a minor but noticeable shutter lag that may spoil the fun of clicking pictures. The device also comes with two prominent modes, i.e Live Bokeh and Bothie, to make users more attracted to the camera. While the former works in a manner similar to iPhone’s Portrait mode and adds decent blurring around its subject in real-time, the latter lets you click a picture with both the front and back simultaneously. It allows you to capture both the scenic beauty, as well as your reaction to it but it’s nothing more than a gimmick that may just be usable while live streaming from within the camera app.
Moving on, the videos created using the Nokia 8 output great detail and are so stable only because of the OIS included in the primary camera lens. Both the rear and front 13MP cameras are capable of shooting videos in 4K and the experience is further improved by the OZO audio experience, which you can read about underneath.
If you’re not planning to buy the Nokia 8 because of the shutter lag in the camera app or the not-so-good low light performance at the moment, HMD Global is planning to debut their old but intuitive Lumia camera app to its Android devices in the near future.
Telephony & Audio
The audio department of the Nokia 8 has gotten much better, thanks to some major help from the folks over at the older parent company. Nokia 8 comes with support for Nokia OZO spatial 360-degree audio experience and the sound is crisp and loud. It does not even compromise on the quality but I’d have loved to see the stereo speaker HMD Global had included in the Nokia 6.
My calling experience with Nokia 8 was nothing short of perfect, to say the least. The sound from the earpiece was clear with no interruptions, crackles or anything. It was also not too loud but blaring music from the bottom speaker gave me a headache since the volume controls have lower number of steps. So, if I wanted to enjoy my music at, suppose 70% volume and then increase it a little bit, well, I couldn’t. It would just get too loud.
Nokia 8 has also not taken the step forward towards the adoption of digital audio by still including the 3.5mm headphone jack on the device and it’s the most satisfying thing. The move away from analog audio is going to be a slow and tedious process that shouldn’t burden the consumers looking for a decently priced device with flagship specs. Most other phones with similar specs are already touching the huge $1000 price mark.
You can use the Nokia 8 as a single nano SIM device, along with a MicroSD card to increase the storage space or as a device with hybrid dual nano SIM smartphone. I think the 64GB onboard storage is more than enough (if you use Unlimited Google Photos backup storage) and it will be viable to use two SIM cards, one local and one international. The Nokia 8 includes LTE CAT 9 support for 24 network bands and the 4G network on my Vodafone number was strong and available at most times.
The device also includes support for both GPS and GLONASS, the Russian version of global positioning system. You can even use the Nokia 8’s NFC ANT+ chip integration to pay for goods at the department store, but it wouldn’t be of much use in India. HMD Global has also adopted the fast-charging USB Type-C 3.1 standard with the flagship.
In addition, Nokia 8 also supports the latest Bluetooth 5.0 standard, which is around two times faster, eight times data throughput and four times better range than its predecessor. This wireless standard is now being adopted rapidly, thanks to the improved connectivity experience. It enables you to connect more than one Bluetooth device to the smartphone, which means you no longer need to share earphones with your friend. They can use their own on the Nokia 8.
Battery and Charging
The Nokia 8 has packed a decent 3,090 mAh battery, which might appear lacking on paper compared to its competitors, but the battery performance is on par if not the best. I’ve been extensively using the Nokia 8 for close to a week now and can conclude that the battery life is pretty average. The device will easily last you a complete day for a mix of medium to heavy usage, with a screen-on time of around 5 hours. You will need to put the device on charge at the end of the day but I expected more from Nokia’s first flagship.
The charging wouldn’t be an issue as Nokia 8 supports Quick Charging 3.0 and you can charge the device from 0 to 100 percent in under 90 minutes. It means you can get back to what you were doing in the nick of time. However, my biggest issue with the Nokia 8 here is that HMD Global could’ve included wireless charging on the device but it did not, even though Nokia 8 has a wonderful glass back panel. It could have been a major differentiating factor for Nokia among the flagship killer category.
Is the Nokia 8 Worth Buying?
Taking into account all the aspects that make a smartphone great, Nokia 8 checks out most of them. It is an excellent first flagship device, that marks the return of the once uber-popular Nokia brand to the smartphone ecosystem. Nokia 8 brings a more refined and premium design, with smooth glass back, stock Android, and dual ‘Carl Zeiss’ rear camera lens, to the table at a decent price point of ₹36,999. I’m thoroughly impressed by the features packed by HMD Global in this device.
In this price bracket, the Nokia 8 will give a serious competition to budget flagship devices such as OnePlus 5 (starts at ₹32,999) and Xiaomi’s Mi Mix 2 (₹35,999). The Nokia 8, as well as OnePlus 5 both include dual rear-camera setups but the former incorporates a monochrome lens to capture more detail while the latter has a telescopic lens. This has helped improve the picture quality/color reproduction of the pictures captured by the Nokia 8. The Mix 2, on the other hand, packs a stunning 18:9 display, a beautiful and shiny ceramic back that’s attractive. I’ll give props to Xiaomi’s design team for this device but I still don’t love the front camera positioning at the bottom.
I’ll admit that Nokia 8 has changed my perspective towards flagships as the look and feel of the device in the hand can’t just be explained with mere words. Though the glass back may be a bit on the slippery side, the device is extremely comfortable to hold and use. The one device that comes closest to the Nokia 8 in terms of quality and utility will have to be the OnePlus 5 as it is straight up flagship stuff without many gimmicks.
You won’t be missing out on anything that you wouldn’t find in its competitors, except for a huge 18:9 display whose quality isn’t anywhere close to Nokia’s. My suggestion for you will be that you can choose between the OnePlus 5 and Nokia 8, if you are looking for a budget device with flagship specs. And the Mi Mix 2 will be your best choice in terms of design. The Nokia 8, however, can be considered a safe bet for the flagship killer price.
- Elegant and premium design
- Flagship specifications
- Super crisp LCD display, comparable to AMOLED
- Great dual cameras
- Above average battery life, supports Quick charging 3.0
- Offers outstanding performance for the price
- Large bezels
- Camera app suffers from an annoying shutter lag
- Glass back attracts fingerprints and is slippery
Nokia 8: An Awesome First Attempt at Android Flagship
If you had been waiting for the return of the Nokia brand that you closely cherish, then this is is the device you should purchase. Nokia 8 is a wonderfully-built smartphone with a sleek and stunning glass design that you wouldn’t wanna miss. The picture is not only colorful as there are a few shortcomings to this device but it is the first Nokia-branded Android device that lives up to its flagship name. I give the Nokia 8 a thumbs up for those looking to get a new powerful Android device. Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.