Nokia 8 Price starts at Rs. 24,990.
Nokia 8 Review: The Comeback Kid Falls Slightly Short
Smartphone enthusiasts were excited with the news of Nokia's comeback to the smartphone scene, especially those who were fans of the Finnish company's mobile phones in the late 90s and early 2000s. The fact that Nokia finally started making Android smartphones gave consumers immense hope of stable future. Deep down, we all wanted to see a combination of Nokia's excellent design, camera, and reliability with the modern-ness of Android software, especially after the disaster that was Windows Phone.
The Finnish company took some extra care to made sure that it didn't repeat mistakes this time. First, it released Nokia 6, a mid-range phone. It then released a few more entry-level and mid-range devices before releasing its first high-end Android smartphone. The Nokia 8 has all the bells and whistles that are expected from a modern Android smartphone, including the 2017's best Snapdragon processor, a dual-camera setup, dust and splash resistance, latest wired and wireless connectivity features, a rapidly charging battery, and the latest version of Android operating system. All of this, priced at a very sensible Rs. 36,999.
Nokia is not competing against the Apples and Samsungs of this world right now. It picked its fight really well, going against the affordable flagships like the OnePlus 5T and the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2. But how does the phone perform? Let's find out in our Nokia 8 review.
Design & Build Quality
In its hay days, Nokia had experimented a lot with mobile phone designs, right from the Communicator series to the L'Amour series and everything in between. However, Nokia didn't go too crazy with its first high-end Android smartphone. It went with a design theme that's common among smartphones these days. The frame of the Nokia 8 is made out of a single block of Series 6000 Aluminium, and the front is covered mostly by the screen, protected by Gorilla Glass 5. The phone doesn't feature a bezel-less screen, so there's enough room for a front-facing fingerprint reader. The volume and power buttons on right side of the phone are made out of metal, but they are a bit harder to press if you're holding the phone from its front. The headphone jack is at the top. The USB Type-C port is at the bottom along with the loudspeaker and the primary microphone. Nano SIM card and microSD card can be inserted into a hybrid slot that's on the left side of the phone. If you want to use a secondary SIM, you'll have to let go of storage expansion.
The Nokia 8's wireless reception antennae are situated at the top and bottom of the device, making it almost impossible for a user to block the signals. The rear-facing dual-camera setup is placed vertically along with an LED flash, laser autofocus, secondary microphone, and ZEISS branding. The rear of the phone, which also has the classic Nokia logo, comes in two finishes: matte and polished. The particular model we reviewed had a polished and shiny blue back. Nokia says that it can take over 20 hours to of polishing to make those backs look so shiny. The back of our unit picked up scratches just after one month of use without a cover, which is also true for most high-end phones these days. Of all the Nokia 8 colour variants available in India, we think that the *Polished Copper* and *Steel* variants look the most interesting. The phone is IP54 certified for dust and splash resistance, but we wish it had a higher ingress protection rating for proper water resistance.
The phone is quite handy and ergonomic, thanks to its relatively smaller screen size and sides that curve towards the rear of the phone. Although the Series 6000 Aluminium is considered to be relatively weaker than Series 7000 Aluminium, we do not have any concerns about the Nokia 8's durability, mostly due to how well-designed the internal structure is compared to a weaker structure of the iPhone 6 Plus. The iPhone 6 Plus's body was made using Series 6000 Aluminium and had a weaker internal structure, making it susceptible to bending. The Nokia 8 has proved once again that the Finnish brand knows how to make strong phones.
Screen & Audio
Unlike most flagship smartphones released this year, the Nokia 8 has a relatively smaller display at 5.3 inches, but relatively sharp nonetheless (2560x1440 pixels). No matter the task at hand, you can always be assured of sharp visuals. The IPS LCD screen is very bright and the contents on the display are easily visible even under bright sunlight. It is easily one of the brightest LCD screen I've ever used on a smartphone. Contrast ratio is excellent as well. The only problem is the display's extremely cold colour temperature. Whites appear bluer, which might put off some users. If Nokia had offered an option to tweak the screen's colour temperature, it would have been great. Except the colour temperature of the Nokia 8's screen, everything else about the screen is excellent (as good as it LCD screens can get). We would've liked an OLED screen, though, even if it was a Full HD (1920x1080 pixels) panel.
Coming to the audio experience on the Nokia 8, the single, bottom-facing loudspeaker is decently loud, but lacks the oomph of stereo speakers used in some other phones such as the iPhones 8, HTC U11, or the Pixel 2. The phone features a 3.5mm headphone port, something that has been slowly disappearing from high-end smartphones. If you still want to go the wireless way for earphones, you'll be glad to know that the Nokia 8 has Bluetooth 5.0 and advanced codecs such as aptX and aptX HD, which collectively offer improved range, data transfer rate, and higher audio fidelity. Sadly, we couldn't test any Bluetooth 5.0 wireless headphones with the Nokia 8 because there isn't a single Bluetooth 5.0 headphone available for purchase in India (at the time of publishing this review). The phone works well with Wi-Fi based audio transmission technologies such as Google Cast.
Back in the early 2000s, Nokia used to make excellent smartphone cameras. We still remember the Finnish brand's legendary camera phones such as the N73, N95, N8, Lumia 1020, and the Lumia 1520. When we came to know that Nokia is planning to re-enter the smartphone market, we were excited to see what it could bring to the table with its smartphone cameras. With the likes of Apple, Google, and Samsung consistently making strides in improving smartphone camera quality, helped by powerful algorithms and software fine tuning. Nokia could no longer just rely on larger sensors to match its competitors. Just before launching the Nokia 8, the company announced a partnership with Carl ZEISS to equip its high-end smartphones with quality optics.
There are two 13MP camera sensors on the Nokia 8, with one of primary camera being an RGB sensor with OIS, f/2.0 aperture, and 1.12Âµm pixel size. There's phase-detection, laser autofocus, and dual-tone dual-LED flash. It can record 4K videos, too. The secondary sensor is a monochrome one, which is used to achieve better sharpness and dynamic range. The front-facing 13MP camera features phase-detection autofocus, f/2.0 aperture, and 1.12Âµm pixel size. The front-facing camera can even record 4K videos, making the Nokia 8 the first phone to achieve this feat. Thanks to dual-microphones and Nokia OZO audio, the Nokia 8 can capture high-definition audio while recording videos. Nokia is also promoting 'Bothie', which can be used to simultaneously capture images and videos from the front as well as rear cameras, both stitched side-by-side into a single frame. Bothie videos can even be live-streamed on Facebook and YouTube.
So, how's the Nokia 8's image and video quality? Frankly, we were quite disappointed by the Nokia 8's rear-facing dual-camera. Images shot in daylight conditions had decent colours, but the details were not as good as found in images from other phones. Dynamic range was limited in spite of help from the monochrome camera sensor, which is theoretically supposed to help in achieving better dynamic range and sharpness. In low-light conditions, the image quality suffers considerably. Noise increases dramatically and colours appear extremely washed out. We expected the phone to have a much better image quality in low-light conditions, especially since it has OIS. The OnePlus 5T performs much better even though it lacks OIS, probably due to a better lens, wider aperture, and relatively mature image processing. On the other hand, the Nokia 8's front-facing camera is one of the best selfie cameras out there, thanks to a phase-detection autofocus and larger pixels.
4K videos captured using the Nokia 8 are good but not great. They suffer from the same issues that were visible in stills: softer details and muted colours. The audio quality is great, though. Thanks to Nokia OZO audio, videos have high-quality audio, and you can choose to focus on sound coming from the front, rear, or surround. Thanks to OIS, videos look smooth, but details could've been better and colours could've been more livelier. Full HD videos have more details in them, which is surprising since most phones capture more details with their highest video recording resolution settings. As I mentioned earlier, even the front-facing cameras can record 4K videos, which is a first among all the smartphones.
Software Experience & Performance
The Nokia 8 was launched with Android 7.1 Nougat. During our two-month review period, HMD Global rolled out the Android 8.0 Oreo update to the smartphone. The phone received the latest Android security patches every month. Kudos to HMD Global for that! I haven't experienced such faster Android software updates on phones except on Google's own Nexus and Pixel lineup. The whole user interface follows Google's design guidelines, and the software is extremely clean, to the extent of being boring. The only app on the Nokia 8 that's custom made is the camera app. Even the app launcher used on the Nokia 8 is quite similar to what's used on Pixel smartphones.
The UI is fluid and smooth, except in the camera app where the phone struggles a lot. I faced stutters and lag while clicking images and videos during the review period. The camera app can be launched by double clicking the power button. There's Glance Mode that shows important information such as time, date, day, battery charge level, and notifications when it detects motion or when the notifications arrive. This feature is also present on many Android phones. However, the Nokia 8 and the LG G6 are the only phones that has this feature in spite of using LCD screen panels, so they can't be as versatile or power efficient as Samsung, OnePlus, and Pixel phones while using the Always On Display feature.
The Nokia 8 uses 2017's top-of-the-line processor from Qualcomm, the Snapdragon 835. The processor is paired with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. Storage space can be expanded using a microSD card (the phone supports up to 256GB cards). Performance was on par, similar to most other Snapdragon 835-equipped phones, but I've seen better. The Pixel 2 and the OnePlus 5T appear faster than the Nokia 8, and the UI appears slightly smoother as well. The performance improved a bit after the Oreo update. The only place where the Nokia 8 struggled was while using its camera. Wireless reception was stellar, and I didn't face any problem related to GPS, something that I had faced a lot while using the Google Pixel 2 XL. The dual-SIM connection worked well to. I used a Reliance JIO SIM in the first SIM card slot and an Airtel SIM in the second SIM card slot while reviewing the Nokia 8.
The Nokia 8 comes with a 3090mAh battery, which can be rapidly charged using a Quick Charge 3.0 compatible wall adapter (or a power bank). The Nokia 8's battery can be topped up to 50% in just 30 minutes using the supplied 18W Quick Charge 3.0 wall charger. I am generally a pretty heavy smartphone user, and my usage includes three email accounts, half a dozen of social media and IM apps each, four music streaming apps, and four video streaming apps. I usually charge the phones fully in the morning and then leave for work. I constantly keep a tab on Twitter, use the email app throughout the day, and Slack for team chats.
With my kind of usage, the Nokia 8 lasted till 10PM with a screen-on time of around four to five hours. These figures are decent, but not chart topping. The OnePlus 5T, which falls into the same price range, lasts longer and offers a screen-on time of around five to six hours. Frankly, we expected a bit more from Nokia's first high-end Android smartphone. It's not bad, though. We also looked out if the battery life improved post the Android 8.0 update, but it remained the same. In case you find yourself in a situation where the Nokia 8 has low battery level and there's time before you can reach home, you can turn on the battery saver feature.
We begun reviewing the Nokia 8 with pretty high hopes, especially due to its impressive specifications and relatively affordable price tag, and the Nokia 8 mostly delivered. It's a very well-built device, and the only Snapdragon 835 equipped phone in its price segment to offer some kind of protection against dust and water splashes. It has a bright and sharp screen but it would've been great if it was calibrated better. The Nokia 8 has a fast, bloatware-free software based on Android 8.0 Oreo. The company has even promised operating system updates and monthly security patches for two years. Its battery charges fast and lasts a whole day.
The only area where the Nokia 8 ended up disappointing us is the camera quality. In spite of two camera sensors, OIS, and f/2.0 aperture, the pictures had below par image quality, with slightly washed out colours and less details compared to other phones in its price segment. In low-light conditions, results were even worse, with completely washed out colours, lots of noise, and ruined details. Going by Nokia's history, we expected the Nokia 8's camera to be neck-to-neck in performance, if not better, compared to cameras on other phones like the OnePlus 5T and the LG G6, but it isn't.
If Nokia wants any place in the today's breakneck-paced smartphone market, it needs to step up its camera game. The Finnish company also needs to implement an 18:9 bezel-less screen in its next high-end smartphone to keep up with the modern times. We want Nokia to succeed, and it has done much better than the likes of Razer and Essential phones, but it needs to be even better if it wants to beat the likes of Apple, OnePlus, Samsung, and Xiaomi.
|Processor||Qualcomm MSM8998 Snapdragon 835|
|Display||5.3 inches (13.46 cm)|
|Rear Camera||Dual (13MP + 13MP)|
|Launch Date||14 October 2017|
|Dimensions||5.96 x 2.90 x 0.31 inches (151.5 x 73.7 x 7.9 mm)|
|Weight||160 grams (5.64 oz)|
|Build||Front glass, Aluminum body|
|Colors||Tempered Blue, Polished Blue, Steel, Polished Copper|
|Chipset||Qualcomm MSM8998 Snapdragon 835|
|No of Cores||8 (Octa Core)|
|CPU||4x2.5 GHz Kryo & 4x1.8 GHz Kryo|
|Operating System||Android v7.1 (Nougat)|
|Expandable||microSD, Upto 512GB (Hybrid Slot)|
|Display Type||IPS LCD|
|Protection||Corning Gorilla Glass 5|
|Screen Size||5.3 inches (13.46 cm)|
|Color Reproduction||16M Colors|
|Screen to body percentage||69.4 %|
|Pixel Density||554 pixels per inch (ppi)|
|Touchscreen type||Capacitive, Multitouch|
|Rear||Dual (13MP + 13MP)|
|Rear Camera Features||Zeiss Optics, Dual-LED Dual-Tone Flash, HDR, Panorama|
|Physical Aperture||Rear (f/2.0) + (f/2.0), Front (f/2.0)|
|Fast Charging||Yes, Quick Charge 3.0|
|Wi-Fi||Yes with dual-band, WiFi Direct, hotspot|
|SIM Configuration||Dual SIM, Nano SIM (Hybrid Slot)|
|Bluetooth||v5.0 with A2DP, LE|
|Network||4G VoLTE, 4G|
|GPS||Yes, with A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS|
|USB||3.1, Type-C 1.0 Reversible Connector|
|Voice Over LTE (VoLTE)||Yes|
|Fingerprint sensor||Yes, Front-mounted)|
|Other Sensors||Proximity, Compass, Barometer|