Nokia has made a comeback, and after releasing several budget Android smartphones this year, finally threw in their flagship model. The Nokia 8 is HMD’s effort is trying to differentiate themselves from other brands, and I have to say, I am impressed with the design and outlook.
I love the polished aluminium back with high-gloss mirror finish that feels and reflects like glass. This means the phone will withstand drops without a cracked back panel, giving the best of both worlds: glass-look and durability. It also matches the spec of some of the best brands in the market, like the Snapdragon 835 processor, 4GB RAM, 64GB internal storage, Bluetooth 5.0, Type-C USB 3.1 5Gbps, 5.3-inch IPS LCD 2560×1440 over Gorilla Glass 5. The 3090mAh battery supports QuickCharge 3.0 and provides about 14 hours usage of checking mails, social media, photo taking, before hitting below 15%. Definitely not as frugal as Google Pixel 2 XL.
Running on pure Android 7.1.1 OS, the phone is highly responsive, no doubt about it, though the fingerprint unlock takes a little bit more time than the veterans. Kudos to Nokia for creating an almost flush fingerprint sensor over the 2.5D glass surface, but I end up often misplacing my finger.
Despite its best efforts, the Nokia 8 hints Nokia’s lack of experience in the monoblock smartphone form factor. For instance, I find the volume and power buttons slightly too high. While Nokia 8 supports Glance mode, it does not turn on when there are new incoming events. The Glance display turns off after a few minutes of inactivity, but unlike Moto Z, it does not wake up again with proximity sensor.
The camera specs are pretty good: dual lens 13MP f/2.0 OIS main sensor with ZEISS lens and 13MP monochrome sensor config follows Huawei’s approach. Front camera also sports 13MP f/2.0. Images are tuned with slightly more vibrant colour but still accurate without excessive processing.
The live bokeh creates blur background like expensive lenses, and lets me adjust the focus point and aperture effect after shots, just like Huawei. But the camera app interface is rather challenging to use, with laggy shooting mode changes and non-intuitive button placements.
Switching the lens from rear to front requires 2 taps (most other camera apps just require a swipe on-screen or a single icon tap), and I do not see any distinct difference in shooting with single rear lens vs. twin lens, so I wonder why the option is available. There is also a dedicated monochrome lens shooting option, and the contrast is not as dramatic as Huawei.
One of the unique features of Nokia 8 is the ability to do live video streaming (like Facebook or YouTube) using both front and rear cameras at the same time, dubbed “Dual-Sight“. I’m not into live streaming so it is not a feature that attracts me to the phone.
At S$749, the Nokia 8 is priced very competitive against the likes of OnePlus 5 with flagship processors. Anyone who has any remaining feeling of nostalgia (just like BlackBerry) should get one and reconnect with this iconic brand. Using the camera is a test of patience, though, and would frustrate users who need a faster response time to capture the moment or adjust the shoot settings.
The Nokia 8 is a sleek phone which I enjoy using. I look forward to future iterations of Nokia flagship smartphones and hopefully they will match the expectations of consumers.
Nokia 8 Technical Specs
- Display: 5.3-inch QHD LCD
- Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
- Memory: 4GB RAM, 64GB internal
- Camera: 13MP rear colour, 13MP rear monochrome, 13MP front colour, f/2.0
- Operating System: Android Nougat 7.1.1
- Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0, 802.11ac, Type-C USB 3.1 Gen 1
- Battery: 3090mAh with Quick Charge 3.0
- Slots: Dual SIM, hybrid microSD card slot
- Dimensions: 151.5 x 73.7 x 7.9mm
- Weight: 160 g