At long last, Nokia delivers a modern Android smartphone in the form of the new Nokia 8. A single device that combines a credible name, impressive craftsmanship, enviable technical specifications and pure Android OS – just like on Pixels, but with a lower price – gives HMD Global the right to hope there is still time for Nokia to get back into the big league. If it is late, then the company is on the right track with this phone – which comes with a 5.3-inch QHD display, aluminum unibody, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 and 4 or 6 GB of RAM, a dual 13-mega pixel rear camera, a 13-mega pixel front camera with Zeiss lenses and a 3090 mAh battery.
Nokia 8 Build & Design
It is nostalgically classic on one hand and it provides a supreme premium feel on the other – this characterizes Nokia 8’s craftsmanship and anyone will conclude the same when they first get their hands on this device. The series 6000 aluminum unibody (most powerful aluminum toughness standard on smartphones is 7000) secures the impression that the phone features above-average build quality. Being just 7.9 mm (0.31 in) thick, weighing 160 grams, with slightly rounded edges in the back and considerably rounded edges in the front, the Nokia 8 is ergonomic and robust at the same time. It feels comfortable and safe when held in any sized hand. It is perfectly clear that Nokia engineers put a great deal of effort into the construction of this phone, as is expected from such a respectable logo.
Even from the inside, the Nokia 8 offers equally impressive engineering, thus it comes with a unique cooling system which is necessary for certain most demanding tasks which the processor supports, e.g. streaming dual videos – videos which were recorded with the front and back cameras at the same time. In order to avoid overheating in such cases, HMD chose a copper pipe that is connected to a graphite shield, which sends the heat throughout the whole chassis (and uses the whole chassis as a cooling device). Such a passive cooling system protects the phone’s hardware platform from entering the ‘red zone’ when it comes to heat and enables the processor power to be used in its full capacity.
Furthermore, the placement of plastic slits for the signal of various antennas is rather interesting. Constructors covered the entire upper and bottom sides of the phone with these slits, just like its edges, making it fall-proof. The contact between the plastic and the metal materials in the back, i.e. metal and glass in the front cannot be felt under the fingers – not even if you carefully move your fingernail from one material to another. Many users will not even notice there is a transition in the materials. The phone’s form factor is ‘the old one’, meaning it comes in a baseless version and an extended display, which might be a problem for users who prefer the latest market trends. It is 151 mm (5.96 in) tall and 74 mm (2.90 in) wide. In a similar fashion, it comes with ‘just’ the IP57 certificate, therefore it is not fully waterproof, but resistant to sprinkling.
There is a Home key with an always-on fingerprint reader in the front of the phone, below the display, and it is possible to activate the device from stand-by mode by pressing this key too, while the Back and Tasks capacitive keys with background lighting are located to its left and right. This means that they do not take away any space at the bottom of the user interface and are always available. The speaker sits above the screen, along with the front-facing camera lens and several sensors.
The back surface includes a bulge holding the rear-camera lenses, LED flash, focus sensor and a tiny perforation for the ambiance microphone. The phone’s upper side holds the 3.5-mm audio jack, while the bottom one includes the USB Type-C connector, primary microphone and speaker perforations. The Power key is located on the right side, at thumb height, while the volume rocker sits above it. The left side includes the hybrid slot for the nano-SIM card and the microSD cards, which can be replaced with another nano-SIM card.
Nokia 8 Display
This device also boasts an above average 5.3-inch QHD (1440 x 2560 pixels) IPS LCD display. Its relatively compact surface area for a flagship phone is the only objection I have, as the competition has made users used to much bigger displays. The same thing goes for the modest display-to-phone surface ratio, which is 69.4 percent. Every other feature is praiseworthy, and this is what determines imaging quality on the display. Exceptional sharpness comes from a 554 ppi pixel density and what is particularly thrilling is the screen’s contrast, especially when exposed to direct sunlight. Nokia 8 is surely the best IPS LCD phone around when it comes to this issue and matches the competition with AMOLED displays.
Deep black tones and light whites partly contribute to realistically and dynamically saturated colors and it should be pointed out that the phone comes with an always-on display. This means that the basic information the uses selects are displayed only when the phone is moved on a desk or taken out of the pocket – i.e. when held in hand. It is up to the user to choose whether this notification is the time, date, weather or other notifications.
Nokia 8 Performance & Battery life
The Nokia 8 comes with a very contemporary hardware platform based on Qualcomm’s octa-core Snapdragon 835 chipset (four Kyro cores running a 2.5 GHz clock and four Kyro cores running a 1.8 GHz clock) with Adreno 540 graphics. The 64 GB memory storage model comes with 4 GB of RAM, while the 128 GB model has 6 GB of RAM. With Android 7.1.1 (Nougat) which can be upgraded to Android 8.0 (Oreo) and is not weighed down by user interface modifications, the phone scores results on synthetic benchmarks which exceeds expectations. To be precise, Nokia 8 offers a touch better results than Samsung’s Galaxy S8 on both Geekbench tests – when one core is used and when multiple cores are tested. Of course, this cannot be evident as an important advantage in the first weeks of use, but it guarantees that the phone would provide fluidity over a rather long period of active use.
The preinstalled Android OS can indeed be called ‘pure’, although not everything is identical to what you’ll find on the Google Pixel, for instance. The camera app is different, which includes certain functionalities that are exclusively available on this phone and which is somewhat more intuitive and faster than the Google version, even when only the standard camera functions are used. The other difference is purely cosmetic: the icons of basic apps which are locked in the bottom row on the Home screen have blue tones, making them difficult to tell apart at first.
The battery has 3090 mAh, which does not seem like much on paper when top-range is concerned. Still, the display is not too big, the chipset is up-to-date and the mentioned cooling system all ensure greater autonomy for this phone during everyday work than it initially meets the eye. With average phone use, it will last a day and a half without the need to recharge, while more intense use will still enable you not to think about recharging from early morning until bedtime. Quick Charge 3.0 standard enables speedy charging, as the battery hits 48 percent is 30 minutes.
Nokia 8 Camera
All three cameras – two rear-facing and one forward-facing – have 13 mega pixels and Zeiss lenses. One of the rear cameras is in color, while the second one is monochromatic (the first one has optical stabilization). Huawei has a similar set-up on its top models, with Leica as the lens creator, but the difference is evident only is shades and particularities. Thus, Nokia 8 offers above average photographs with a great dynamic range. Imprecise automatic focus system is an issue, as it tends to be confused at night, making the camera slow to lock on a shot. Still, once the image is taken well, even at night, it has the kind of quality Nokia got us used to back in the time when HMD Global did not stand behind the brand.
A particularity regarding Nokia 8 is a rarely seen option called Live Bokeh – the user can chose to apply this popular effect or not even when the dual camera is used. The phone also supports the unique Dual Sight option, which shoots images and records vides with the front and back cameras at the same time, splitting the shot in two. What is more, such a video can directly be streamed on YouTube or Facebook, which is fun and different than the kind of live-streams we usually find on these services. To put it short, the cameras are creative and satisfactory, but Nokia should work on an advanced automatic focus system.
Nokia 8 Final Thoughts
If seen as a product from a new market player – the Nokia 8 is an impressive phone. This model especially deserves it due in no small part to the robust finish, but the display contrast is equally impressive, not to mention the chipset’s supreme performance. The massive screen bezels and the fact that the camera has been technically touched up leave room for improvement, but the manufacturer surely compensated for these drawbacks with yet another significant deal maker – unburdened and easily upgradeable Android OS. Nokia positioned itself to return to its former glory as one of the world’s most significant phone manufacturers, but it is hard not to notice that the chances for this would have been greater had the company taken this route a bit sooner.
- Impressive fit and finish, worthy of the brand
- Fantastic display contrast
- Dual Sight camera means creative streaming options
- Chipset performance among the best in the range
- Dated form factor includes oversized display bezel
- Imprecise automatic focus system on the rear-facing camera
- It is not fully waterproof