The smartphone industry of today is an immensely-crowded one, with hundreds of manufacturers rubbing shoulders with each other to catch the eye of consumers. And while there are many big (e.g. Huawei) and not-so-big (e.g. Xiaomi) names that have their own dedicated share of loyal customers, some (e.g. Apple, Samsung) enjoy an almost cult-like following, with scores lining up to buy their latest flagships, year after year.
But before the iPhones and Galaxies came to dominate the mobile world, there was one name that used to rule the roost – Nokia.
The status and reputation of Nokia as a brand in the world of (mobile) technology is nothing short of legendary. From the tough-as-tank 3310 to the optical zoom-toting N93, Nokia’s product line-up is filled up with mobile devices that have now acquired cult status of their own. For many of us (including yours truly), our first mobile phone was a Nokia. Long before the duopoly of iOS and Android, Nokia’s Symbian-powered devices were the very definition of a flagship smartphone.
But as the above-mentioned two OSes were gaining foothold, Nokia chose to ditch Symbian and partner with Microsoft for exclusively-manufacturing Windows Phone-powered smartphones. And even though that collaboration gave the world many incredible devices such as the Lumia 920 and Lumia 1520, Microsoft’s half-hearted efforts towards its own mobile OS led to the downfall of the Nokia brand in the mobile world. It seemed that that the world would never again see a smartphone getting launched with the glorious Nokia logo imprinted on it.
Thankfully, that didn’t happen and in 2016, a Finnish company called HMD Global decided to resurrect Nokia-branded smartphones, this time with the dominant mobile OS – Android – on-board. Though the original Nokia is no longer directly involved in the manufacture of smartphones, HMD Global, through an exclusive brand licensing deal, has launched many Nokia-branded Android smartphones to sate die-hard fans of the brand.
Of those, the most powerful is the Nokia 8. After being introduced to the world a few months ago, the smartphone was recently-launched in India.
Sporting a price tag of Rs 36,999, the Nokia 8 has all the hallmarks of a 2017 Android flagship, including a dual-camera system powered by ZEISS optics and top-tier innards. But are these really enough to make it stand-out in the fiercely-contested Indian smartphone market. More importantly, is the Nokia 8 truly worthy of the iconic Nokia logo that adorns its front and back panels?
The answers await, on the other side of my full review of the Nokia 8, the new standard bearer of the Nokia name in the smartphone world. Read on!
Design And Build Quality
Smartphones today are no longer just electronic gadgets. They have become fashion accessories and style statements. To cater to the needs of the consumers, manufacturers are outing modish devices that have everything from swanky bezel-less displays to bodies made out of ceramic. And if you’re among the group, you might find the utilitarian design of the Nokia 8 to be a tad plain, and maybe even boring!
However, if you value function over form and want a smartphone that focuses more on getting the job done instead of trying to look hip, you’ll certainly appreciate just how subtly-elegant the Nokia 8 is, despite its humble outward appearance.
Having a chassis milled out of a single block of series 6000 aluminium, the Nokia 8 looks and feels every bit as premium as you’d expect from a flagship. Its back panel curves gently on all four sides, meeting with the front panel almost seamlessly. The smartphone has a fantastic in-hand feel, although the glossy colour variants (including my Polished Blue review unit), are a bit slippery and tend to attract quite some smudges and fingerprints.
The back panel of the Nokia 8 has its dual-camera system, with two 13MP modules powered by ZEISS optics. Along with that are the phase detection and laser autofocus sensors, as well as the two-tone dual-LED flash. All these components are encased in an elongated, pill-like vertical construction in the centre of the top half of the backplate. A dedicated microphone sits just above the two camera modules, lending the Nokia 8 its spatial audio recording capabilities (discussed later).
A shiny Nokia logo is embossed in the middle of the back panel, while its bottom half has some regulatory information printed on it.
Talking about the sides, a hybrid dual nano-SIM/microSD card tray sits on the left, whereas the right is where you’ll find the volume rocker and the power button, both of which are incredibly well-built and have solid feedback.
The 3.5mm audio port is at the top, while the bottom has the USB Type-C port, in addition to a mono speaker and a microphone hole. It’s worth mentioning that there are two antenna lines (one each at the top and the bottom) that run horizontally across the width of the device and drip slightly to the sides, but they are so nicely-integrated (complete with colors matching with the phone’s frame) into the design that they are barely noticeable.
At the front of the Nokia 8 is a 5.3-inch touch-sensitive display. And yes, there are substantial bezels (especially at the top and the bottom), but they are nothing to lose sleep over. Above the display is the earpiece, the usual assortment of sensors, a 13MP selfie camera, and a Nokia logo. The chin bezel has a fingerprint sensor (which also happens to be a touch-sensitive button), flanked by capacitive, backlit navigation keys.
It might not have the oomph factor of its contemporaries such as the Galaxy S8 and the G6, but the Nokia 8 is still a sharp-looking smartphone, with a build quality that’s definitely flagship-class.