Nokia is not only back, but they are aiming high. The New Nokia 8 is a true flagship specified device from the legendary team in Espoo Finland. Nokia has once again reinvented themselves with a clean well-priced range of Android-based devices and their latest flagship the Nokia 8 ticks all the technology boxes. Steven Ambrose tests the Nokia 8 and sees if Nokia has done it again.
Nokia was king of mobile for so long that it seems amazing that they lost their crown around ten years ago with the launch of the iPhone and followed by the Android-based phones. The iPhone ushered in a new era in devices based on an operating system and apps
This new era in mobile has evolved into a duopoly of Apple and Android. Nokia all this time stuck to their older guns and fatally adopted the Windows Phone operating system as their OS of choice. Ultimately they were acquired by Microsoft, who with all their muscle could to make their OS mainstream.
Nokia phones division was sold to HMD, and they in association with Nokia have brought the venerable name back with a design team based in Espoo Finland. Their first offerings apart from the fun and funky 3310, are the 3, 5, and 6. All excellent value well-made Android-based phones. Nokia have now pinned their credentials to the top of the Range Nokia 8
Making a class-leading or even class matching Mobile device in 2017 is no easy affair. Cue an all-aluminium unibody with a 5.3” Gorilla Glass 5 clad screen and throw in some German optics from Zeiss. A cutting-edge Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor coupled with 4 Gig Ram and 64 Gig of Memory, and you have the makings of a flagship.
The sum is more than the parts, and it is clear Nokia knows how to make a device. The Nokia 8 feels the part, it is wonderful to hold, and all the parts flow seamlessly together. The balance of the Nokia 8 is spot on and despite its smooth rounded aluminium construction, it does not feel slippery and lightweight.
The Display is a solid but not class-leading 1440 X 2560-pixel affair, with a Pixel density of 554 PPI. The display is sharp, and bright in sunlight as well. It loses out to the class-leading Samsung Galaxy S8 and Sony Xperia XZ Premium, both flagships have screens that are sharper, more vibrant, and have better contrast.
The Dual camera setup on the rear is also right up there with the competition; The Nokia 8 features three 13 MP f2.0 cameras. On the rear, there is one colour and one black and white camera, to aid low light photography. Nokia in collaboration with Leica have included a custom and well thought out Camera app with one key feature.The Nokia 8 will allow both front and back camera to operate simultaneously and with one touch you can live stream this to Facebook and other social media platforms. This is clever and has many uses. I have tried it, and it works well.
The camera is excellent with good colour rendition fast focus and sharp pictures. The collaboration with Zeiss does pay off, and ultimately the Nokia 8 has a very competitive camera setup.
Another key feature is audio from Nokia OZO technology. OZO audio offers 360-degree recording utilising the three microphones built into the Nokia 8, couple this with 4k video capture and you can create very immersive recordings.
The Nokia 8 includes all the latest radios from category 9 LTE to the latest 802 ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0. A convenient and very fast front panel-based fingerprint reader and a fast charge Qualcomm 3.0 battery is included. The battery is a 3090 mAh which in my experience gave a full day of use.
The Nokia 8 is not waterproof but offers IP54 splash resistance so the odd casual splash will not hurt the Nokia. The latest USB C charging port is supported along with a top mounted headphone socket.
Nokia are making a big deal of the version of Android that is available on the Nokia 8. From their research, and I think the experience of the past, one issue that many users feel is a major problem with Android is the lack of updates as the device ages. Unlike Apple’s iOS, less than 15 % of devices and users are updated to the latest version of Android after it releases. Compare this to Apple with over 85% within a few months of launch of the latest operating system
The issue with running older software is security and compatibility. The chances of older software being compromised is exponentially higher, and there is also the risk of some apps not working as they are updated to accommodate new OS features.
Nokia has opted for stock or vanilla Android, which they call Pure Android and promise that as updates are rolled out for Android, they will be offered and sent to all the new Android-based Nokia Phones. In my experience, this is exactly what happens, and apart from my Blackberry Android Phone the Nokia 8 was updated to the September 2017 patch in early September.
Clean unskinned Android also offers a very fast user experience with no duplication of software and apps. I like the clean Android interface. Android 7 now incorporates the majority of features and user tweaks that were previously offered by the various manufacturer’s overlays, such as TouchWiz from Samsung.
The only custom app on the Nokia 8 is the Camera App designed with Zeiss. Even Google with their Pixel phone offers an enhanced camera app.
Overall the clean, user-friendly Android interface in version 7.1.1 and soon to be updated to 8.0 is easy to use, and far more consistent and usable than most third-party launchers, and overlays, offered by most other Android phones. Being android though, you can add as many launchers themes, apps, and interfaces, that you wish, and the device is as customisable as you would want it to be.
The new Nokia 8 is a bold statement for the new fledgeling Nokia. Nokia is behaving much more like a nimble startup than the monster company of old. The truth is that they have a hard road ahead.
The world is flooded with well priced and well specified Android-based devices, mainly from Chinese manufacturers. There is little to differentiate one aluminium and glass-clad device from another and Apple, and Samsung are marketing their way up front with a clear lead over almost everybody.
The Nokia 8 has all the ingredients of a top end device. Nokia has priced the Nokia 8 at a very competitive R9900 in South Africa. The specs and the price are spot on; the question is, has Nokia done enough to make this Nokia 8 the flagship that will set Nokia back on the path to success?
In my opinion, Nokia has done exactly what needs to be done to make the Nokia 8 a real success. The Nokia Brand is still strong and well recognised. The Nokia 8 has the build quality and tech credentials and an identity that make it a real Nokia. At the same time, the compromises, mainly in build quality, and the screen resolution and brightness are minor.
The Nokia 8 is a top-notch Android-based phone with a compelling camera and Pure Android operating system. Nokia also offers service and support and a deep history in South Africa.
If you are looking for a top end device that does not break the bank, then the Nokia 8 is a serious contender.