In the world of smartphones this can be the philosophical question to which none have found the answer. There’s Apple’s iPhone, which everyone loves to hate but somehow it keeps selling. Samsung has its Galaxy S and the Note series where the display keeps getting bigger and better.
What is a flagship? In the world of smartphones this can be the philosophical question to which none have found the answer. There’s Apple’s iPhone, which everyone loves to hate but somehow it keeps selling. Samsung has its Galaxy S and the Note series where the display keeps getting bigger and better. Now Google has Pixel 2, where it tells us that the premium Android phone does not need dual-rear cameras. In this world of confused flagships, HMD Global is entering the market with Nokia 8. This mobile phone is its first flagship for 2017, and Nokia 8 ticks some boxes that we have come to expect in flagships. Here’s what I thought after reviewing the device. Nokia 8 might not come with a fancy bezel-less display or an all-glass or ceramic body, but that doesn’t mean the design is not premium. Nokia 8 is smaller in size (5.3-inch display instead of 5.5-inches) and it is light, easy to grip and use with one hand. The matte finish versions are not slippery and will fit easily in most jeans pockets without the danger of them falling out.
Nokia 8 has a curved back and comes in four colour variants: polished blue, tempered blue, steel, polished copper. The polished copper might seem a bit much for some folks, but that’s the colour I preferred and this is more because it looks different even if it is flashy. Of course, the polished colours are more prone to scratches and the tempered blue is what makes the most practical sense. The steel is a bit dull, I’ll have to admit.
The 5.3-inch 2K display works very well with rich, vivid colours. The phone was my primary device for a week or so, and the display quality is more than suited for daily video consumption. Also, unlike Xiaomi’s Mi Mix 2 or OnePlus 5, this is a 2K one, which is good to see at this price.
Coming to the performance, Nokia 8 is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, but this has only 4 GB RAM and 64 GB storage on board. The RAM is more than enough, though in this price range many folks might be expecting 6 GB as the standard option. For daily performance, this is a fairly smooth device and can handle most heavy duty tasks. Still, Nokia 8 can hold its own in benchmark tests and daily performance. There were no app crashes, games like Asphalt 8 run smoothly and multi-tasking is not issue. This performance consistency holds true for both the review units I ended up trying, the global one and the India one.
Okay, I am just going to say it: Bothie is not going to catch on. The reason selfie is a trend because people took to it on their own, it was something that started as a hashtag on Instagram and just grew as smartphones boomed. Bothie, while an interesting idea, is nothing new. Apps like FrontBack offered the option of using the front and back camera at the same time in 2013. The idea of using both the front and rear camera might seem like a need, but it is not. The selfie is good enough by itself, my moment of narcissism doesn’t need a second one in the background. But hey, for those who want it, Nokia 8’s inbuilt camera app has that option.
You can even livestream your ‘Bothie’ to Facebook should you wish to do that. Nokia 8 is relying on two 13 MP + 13 MP cameras which are a combination of RGB and monochrome sensors for the ‘bokeh’ effect. This is still a work in progress and the camera doesn’t quite deliver that portrait effect one would expect. Hopefully its camera software can be improved with future updates.
Coming to the camera, there’s a problem with the auto-focus not latching on to the object and it keeps shifting. The pictures captured in bright daylight are stunning, but are not as sharp as one would like on a flagship. Colour reproduction is accurate for most part, though the focus issues means that when you zoom in on the picture at times, details are missing and it is very noticeable. Still, the phone is capable of delivering some good shots, even in dying light.
Overall, Nokia 8 has some positives, including design, build quality and display. The performance of the device is also fast, similar to other phones running this processor. But given the competition in this price range, Nokia 8 is not yet a flagship killer. In the camera department, I feel it has a long way to go before it can challenge Apple or Samsung.
Still as a mid-range flagship, Nokia 8 delivers on most expectations. However, I would say this is far from perfect and needs more software tweaks around the camera and heating issues to really stand out against the competition.
Estimated street price: Rs 36,999