Nokia 8 is the new flagship in town, as HMD Global announced this phone at the iconic London Tower Bridge in a special event. Nokia 8’s specifications and features had been leaked online extensively, and for the most part there were no surprises in the phone. However, there’s the ‘Bothie’ in the Nokia 8, which is basically the option of using the front and rear camera at the same time to stitch together one image, video and even live stream. We had a chance to experience the Nokia 8 extensively before the phone was officially announced, and here’s our first impressions and hands-on of the Nokia 8.
Nokia 8 Design, Display
Nokia 8 sports a 5.3-inch 2K LCD IPS display and has a metal unibody design, though there are two polished colour variants of the phone, which have a glossy finish. Nokia 8 is launching in four colours: polished blue and polished copper, tempered blue and steel. The latter two have a matte finish. It seems HMD Global wasn’t content with just launching black and white and gold coloured phones.
From a design perspective, HMD Global’s new flagship resembles the standard Nokia phones that we have seen in the past. There are no reduced bezels on the display, no curved edge display, which granted was not expected either. Nokia 8 has a slight curved design, which makes the phone easy to hold and use. There’s also Corning Gorilla Glass 5 on the front, and a fingerprint resistant coating at the back.
Made of 6000 series aluminium, this is one good looking flagship. Is this the most unique looking in the market? As far as colours go yes, and this is a pretty sleek phone. But other than that, the design of the Nokia 8 still plays it very safe.
The glossy versions of the phone are slippery, and prone to turning into smudge city very quickly. The 2K display for its part should be adequate for most users, and this is vivid and bright enough. Again we will have more on this once we have spent some time with the device.
Nokia 8 Specifications, Software
HMD Global is clear that it is not playing the specifications war, even though this phone comes with Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, which is the latest from the chipset maker. But there’s no 6GB or 8GB RAM variant, instead what you get is standard 4GB RAM and 64GB storage which is expandable.
Does this lack of extra RAM put this flagship in danger of losing out to others in the market? HMD Global doesn’t think so because they are convinced the lack of bloatware, coupled with their clean UI gives the phone a smooth performance. They are also confident Nokia 8 will do well in benchmark tests. Of course, we all don’t need 6GB RAM on our phones. However, the lack of 128 GB variant raises some serious questions, especially since the phone’s front and rear camera both support 4K video recording.
Software wise, the clean UI of the Nokia 8 is an advantage, and the company claims this will be the fastest phone to get Android O updates as they are already in development on this. For fans of clean, stock Android, the new Nokia 8 will seem appealing.
Nokia 8 Camera, Audio
So HMD Global has taken the plunge into the dual-rear camera trend. The phone has a vertically stacked set of dual rear cameras (13MP Colour sensor with OIS + 13MP Mono sensor), and there’s a front 13MP camera all well. Nokia 8 has PDAF, IR range finder, dual tone flash on the rear camera, and yes there’s the Zeiss Optics branding as well that used to be standard on older Nokia phones.
Like most other dual cameras, the Nokia 8 is capable of shooting a bokeh mode, for portrait pictures where the background is blurred. Is this ‘bokeh’ perfect? Based on what I saw I would say not yet. The rear camera by itself is not bad, and below are some sample shots captured with it.
But HMD Global has done something more than launch a smartphone with dual rear cameras. It’s also added a new option for dual usage, where both the front and rear camera can be used at the time, for videos, pictures and live streams on Facebook and YouTube. The native camera also supports live video streaming. Nokia 8’s camera also get a manual mode. Nokia 8 also comes with OZO Audio, which promises to capture and playback all ambient sound on your video. When it comes to the camera, Nokia 8 is packed with features. Are all of these absolutely necessarily and likely to be used by users? Perhaps not.
Nokia 8 First thoughts
For HMD Global, this is the first flagship phone. The phone will be available globally in September though the India availability is around early October. The pricing isn’t as exorbitant as with other flagships, given the average of Euro 599. For now, the phone looks as solid as any other Nokia phone from the past. Then there are features like Dual-Sight in the camera, Ozo Audio to name a few.
But flagships aren’t an easy terrain. Apple and Samsung dominate this space, and any phone commanding a premium price will have a tough competition in these two brands. Nokia for its part has great brand recall value, but in the end that won’t be enough in deciding the success of the Nokia 8.
Disclaimer: The reporter is in London attending the event at the invite of HMD Global.