Nokia 8 offers safe design, competent performance

The Nokia 8's high screen resolution makes little difference, given the screen's modest 5.3-inch size.
The Nokia 8's high screen resolution makes little difference, given the screen's modest 5.3-inch size. PHOTO: NOKIA

The Nokia 8 is the first flagship smartphone from the once-revered brand, now under the stewardship of Finnish start-up HMD Global. Boasting top-tier features like a dual-camera system and a powerful mobile chipset, the Nokia 8 aspires to be a high-end smartphone. But it does not reach the lofty heights set by the top models from Apple and Samsung.

Take its LCD display. Its quad-HD screen resolution is as sharp as any of its competitors', but the high screen resolution makes little difference given the screen's modest 5.3-inch size. In this age of near-bezel-less phones, its screen bezel is chunky at the top and bottom. And while the sides of its bezel are fashionably slim, implementation is annoying because it frequently registers unintentional screen touches with my palm.

Because it lacks an Oled screen, the Nokia 8 does not have an always-on display that shows the time and other notifications. But its Glance screen feature will display such information on the screen when you pick up the device.

With its all-metal chassis and curved sides, the Nokia 8 feels good in the hand. I like how the usual antenna lines are almost invisible, blending in with the top and bottom edges of the chassis. However, the phone looks generic from the front, with a pill-shaped front fingerprint sensor that also functions as the Home button.

The dual cameras at the rear take good photos with the blurred background effect (bokeh). Photos can also be edited to change the point and amount of focus using the built-in software. Because one of these cameras has a monochrome sensor, you can shoot true black-and-white photos. Low-light shots taken by the Nokia 8 look decent, but photos taken with HDR enabled seem to lack detail.

 
  • TECH SPECS

  • PRICE: $769

    PROCESSOR: Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 (Quad-core 2.5GHz and Quad-core 1.8GHz)

    DISPLAY: 5.3-inch, IPS LCD, 2,560 x 1,440 pixels, 554 ppi pixel density

    OPERATING SYSTEM: Android 7.1.1

    MEMORY: 64GB, 4GB RAM

    CAMERA: 13MP dual cameras, f/2.0 (rear); 13MP, f/2.0 (front)

    BATTERY: Non-removable 3,090mAh


    RATINGS

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 3/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 4/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

The Nokia 8 can also take "bothies", using the front and rear cameras simultaneously to capture a split-screen image or video. I do not see its appeal. But this bothie feature may be convenient for those who stream live videos, especially as the camera app can be linked directly to Facebook Live and YouTube Live.

Preloaded with a vanilla version of Android Nougat, as well as stock Google apps, the Nokia 8 runs smoothly enough. It is not as fluid as Google's Pixel 2 XL, but the same could be said of almost all Android phones. Its battery life is good - it comfortably lasts 1½ days without charging. It charges quickly using the included USB Type-C adapter, but lacks wireless charging.

Vincent Chang

• Verdict: The Nokia 8 is a solid and competent Android phone at a reasonable price. But it is not equipped to challenge the top flagship phones.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 25, 2017, with the headline 'Nokia 8 offers safe design, competent performance'. Print Edition | Subscribe