Nokia’s range of 2017 phones has impressed, so can it continue with the flagship Nokia 8 that offers top-end specs for a lower price than rivals? Here’s our full Nokia 8 review.
Nokia 8 Price
In a similar vein to OnePlus, one of the big advantages with these new Nokia phones (made by HMD) is that they are a decent chunk cheaper than rival phones in the same category.
For the Nokia 8, you can get one outright for just £499 which was the price of a flagship phone a few years ago. You can also get it on Amazon for just £399 making is a bit of a bargain.
It’s got similar specs to handsets like the Sony Xperia XZ1 and HTC U11 which cost £599 and £649 respectively. Other phones like the Galaxy S8 are even more expensive.
That’s not to say the Nokia 8 is the bargain of the century with no rivals. In fact, the impressive OnePlus 5 is £449 and the Honor 9 is an astounding £379 so it’s not a done deal.
Nokia 8 design and build
It’s becoming increasingly difficult to make the design of a smartphone something new and interesting. We’ve got to the point where almost every conceivable shape and material has been used.
This is especially true when the new device doesn’t have a bezel-free design so the front is almost entirely taken up by the screen. The Nokia 8 is a victim of this problem and there are elements of the design which could appear to be taken from various other phones.
The handset looks a bit like the HTC U11 but with a metal rear casing instead of glass with plastic ends for the antennas. It looks and feels quite nice with rounded edges helping the Nokia 8 fit in the hand nicely.
It’s also reasonably light for its size at 160g but it’s just a bit on the boring side of things – a sort of ‘nothing to see here’ kind of deal. Four colours are available: Tempered Blue, Polished Blue, Steel and Polished Copper.
The front of the phone is distinctly plain aside from a Nokia logo in the corner. Capacitive navigation buttons straddle a fingerprint scanner that’s too small and not quite sunken enough.
A lower price point than many rivals means you don’t quite get all the flagship features you might hope for. The main thing here is that the Nokia 8 is not waterproof – its IP54 rating means it’s dust and water resistant. In other words it can get a bit wet but you can’t submerge it.
It’s also a shame that we’ve found the phone scratches all too easily on the front and back. We’ve got multiple fine marks over just a couple of weeks of usage.
As you’d expect from a 2017 Android smartphone, the Nokia 8 uses a USB-C port and the firm isn’t one to ditch the headphone jack, either.
Nokia 8 specs and performance
With a slightly forgettable design, can the Nokia 8 create some excitement with its specs and features? Let’s find out.
At 5.3in, the Nokia 8 has a rather unusual screen size. It’s not the most ideal situation with so many similarly sized phones having a larger display, typically around 5.5in. The screen-to-body ratio here doesn’t even reach 70 percent so it’s a similar problem to the Xperia XZ1.
Bezels aside, the screen is nice and bright when needed and the Quad HD resolution (1440 x 2560) means that everything is superbly crisp.
The main difference if you compare its LCD panel to an LED phone is the contrast. Blacks are closer to grey and white is on the red side of things, although the latter makes it more like a reading mode so can be more comfortable to look at.
Like some rivals, the display is always-on which means that some information is shown even when the screen is ‘off’. It’s a bit dim but does the job and you can control what bits and pieces are included as well as how long before it times out.
Processor, memory and storage
We’re pretty accustomed to what has become a somewhat standard set of core specs for 2017 flagship smartphones.
Like so many others, the Nokia 8 has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. You get 6GB of RAM in the cheaper OnePlus 5 but for some the inclusion of a microSD card slot will be more useful – you can add up to 256GB more.
Following some performance issues with our first sample, a second ran perfectly fine with no crashes and smooth day-to-day usage.
Connectivity and audio
Like core specs, connectivity options are becoming pretty standard too. To that end, the Nokia 8 has dual-band 11ac Wi-Fi, GPS, NFC and Bluetooth 5.0. Although it’s only got Cat 9 LTE, that won’t make a noticeable different compared to devices with a theoretical faster peak download speed.
As mentioned earlier, there’s a headphone jack so you don’t need to rely on USB-C or wireless headphones. Some fairly basic in-ear headphones are included in the box.
Having a fingerprint senor for security is reliable and easy and the Nokia 8’s is below the screen where, arguably, it’s the most useful (despite meaning bezels). However, there are some issues with the sensor.
As mentioned earlier, the sensor isn’t quite sunken in the glass enough which is a shame but the bigger problem is that it’s not very big. It’s about half the size of the OnePlus 5’s and we’ve found it quite annoying at times – it can occasionally take three or four attempts to work.
As ever cameras are important and it’s perhaps a slight surprise to find dual-lenses at the back at this price. Nokia has opted for two 13Mp cameras with one offering a colour sensor and the other monochrome – rather than a telephoto or wide-angle option.
There’s an IR range finder, dual-tone flash, f/2.0 aperture and optical image stabilisation (OIS) but the latter is only found on the colour sensor.
The camera app is clean and simple, allowing you to switch between the rear camera lenses quickly. By default it will use both like some rivals with the same setup.
Overall the cameras are pretty good but nothing special. They perform fairly well, although the focus can take a while to lock on and low light performance could be a lot better.
Detail is good in natural lighting but there are simply better phones out there for photography including the Galaxy S8 and Pixel 2. Check out our sample photos below.
At the front is also a 13Mp camera with a matching f/2.0 aperture. This offers nicely crisp and exposed selfies but Nokia wants you to go one step further and use it along with the rear camera.
The self-proclaimed ‘Bothie’ is the result and isn’t exactly something new. Samsung had a similar feature years ago which we found just as cheesy and unnecessary, but perhaps you can find a good use for it.
Inside the Nokia 8 is a 3090mAh battery, which is about average for a flagship phone this size. The phone doesn’t feature wireless charging but does support Quick Charge 3.0 and a fast charger is included in the box. You can get 49 percent with a 30 minute charge which is impressive.
We’ve been pretty impressed with the battery life of the Nokia 8. It’s no two-day phone but it will comfortably get through a day for the majority of users.
Nokia 8 software and apps
The Nokia 8 doesn’t ship with the latest version of Android (8.0 Oreo), so for now it’s got 7.1.1 Nougat. However, an upgrade is on the way.
Like the other Nokias launched this year, the phone has essentially stock Android so things are clean and simple like the new Pixel 2 devices.
You don’t get additional pre-loaded apps or other annoying extras generally considered as bloatware. The only exception being the always-on display as detailed earlier.
You get Android as Google designed in including the really useful set of information cards just a swipe away from the homescreen.