Nokia 8 hands-on: stepping back into the flagship spotlight


Smartphone manufacturers come and go over the years, but for a brand to really have staying power, it has to be flexible. There's probably not a better example of such a company than Nokia, which has switched software platforms and ownership interests so many times that it can be difficult to keep track. Right now, though, Nokia phones come to us care of HMD, and that partnership has already brought us devices like the Nokia 5 and Nokia 6. While we're happy to see mid-rangers like those, sometimes we crave the power and performance of a no-holds-barred flagship, and that's just what we got a couple weeks back with the launch of the Nokia 8.

Now that we're on the ground in Berlin at IFA 2017, it's finally time for us to spend some time checking out this new hardware. Will top-shelf specs and clean, no-nonsense software make Nokia's latest Android incarnation a hit with shoppers? Let's take a look at what you can expect.

Design


In a lot of respects, the Nokia 8 is a very classical-looking smartphone. It doesn't experiment with ultra-widescreen displays, nor fancy over-the-edge displays. Nokia's not trying to shrink bezels into oblivion, or give us the thinnest phone ever made.

While that can end up feeling a little underwhelming in a market where advanced manufacturing techniques have recently brought us some really impressive-looking handsets, there's something almost comforting about the way the Nokia 8 knows what kind of phone it wants to be, and isn't trying to play by anyone else's expectations.

The handset's layout is typical of an older phone – no fancy 18:9 displays here – but there's still a lot to like. The metal-body construction looks great, and while some of the Nokia 8 color options offer a matte finish, it's the polished ones that really stand out; if you didn't know any better, you'd swear these were glass backs.

One negative, and it may not be a small one for you, is the absence of serious waterproofing. The phone's IP54 rating claims protection against errant splashes, but lacks the ability to fight back against more prolonged water contact is disappointing.


Display


The Nokia 8's got a 5.3-inch LCD screen. That can be an awkward size for some manufacturers to deal with, especially if they're trying to keep costs down, as even on the flagship side there's not an obvious answer to what to do in terms of resolution: 1080p or quad-HD. While either one of those is going to involve trade-offs, here HMD goes with the higher-res option, giving the Nokia 8 an impressive pixel density north of 550 pixels per inch.

Though the screen itself doesn't have any elaborate over-the-edge effects, we do see the use of curved-edge Gorilla Glass 5 to give the handset's face a premium, high-quality look.

One of the big stand-out features of this display is its exceptionally bright output, optimizing readability even in the harshest sunlight. That's something you've really got to see in person, and we found ourselves dialing-down screen brightness just to get a usable exposure when filming the Nokia 8's screen.

Interface and functionality


Some smartphone manufacturers go to a lot of trouble to develop their own software that rides on top of existing Android release, tweaking functionality and altering the default user interface. Whether that's something you look for in a phone is a matter of personal preference, but if you've been carrying a smartphone for long enough you've no doubt been burned a time or two by disappointing Android skins.

As such, there's a sizable contingent of users who seek out Android phones that keep things simple and close to stock – and shoppers like that are very much going to gravitate towards the Nokia 8. HMD's choice here is understandable, and we can see why it might have wanted to ease users into this new feel for Nokia devices without overwhelming them with a bunch of unfamiliar software.

Ultimately, the system interface we get is clean and effective – not much more we could ask for.

Performance


If you've been following HMD's stable of Nokia-branded phones to date, it's fair to bet that you might have some low expectations going in as you consider the Nokia 8's performance. But while it's been ages since we've seen a Nokia phone that really feels like a proper flagship, this handset is ready to step up to the task.

HMD arms the phone with a no-compromise Snapdragon 835 processor, backed up by 4GB of RAM. That's the same setup we're seeing on high-profile IFA launches like the LG V30, so it's not about to do the Nokia 8 any disservice here.

The 64GB of internal storage is another indication that the Nokia 8 is serious about living up to its flagship label, and microSD support lets you push that ceiling even higher.


Camera


So far, you'd be forgiven for thinking the Nokia 8 to be a little vanilla – straightforward design, stock Android, and the sort of silicon everyone's using for 2017 flagships. Is there any hook here? Look no further than the phone's dual cameras, featuring Zeiss optics.

The Nokia approaches that setup from the color/B&W angle, pairing two 13MP sensors – the full-color one featuring optical stabilization. What's really interesting here is that the front-facer (though just a single camera) is a near-perfect copy of that rear color camera, with the same 13MP resolution, same pixel size, and same f/2.0 aperture.

That inspired HMD to give the Nokia 8 a mode it's calling the “bothie” grabbing matching pics simultaneously from the front and rear cameras, letting users share moments with a friend. You can even live-stream content from both cameras at once.

On the video front, we've got 360-degree sound recording, thanks to an array of three microphones.

Conclusion


The Nokia 8 feels like a well-equipped, unpretentious smartphone – and in a world where everyone is making phones with wilder and wilder gimmicks, that can feel like a nice change of pace. It also gives users a familiar name, and while nostalgia's hardly a great reason to pick up a phone, we can imagine the Nokia brand really resonating with certain shoppers.

All that's good, but pricing gives us a little pause, with the Nokia 8 set to go for about 600 EUR. For that kind of money, we'd really love to see at least some genuinely useful extras – and especially waterproofing. But if you're OK with the price, it's a decent-looking, solid-performing option. Could this be the model to finally get you considering Nokia phones again?


Related phones

8
  • Display 5.3" 1440 x 2560 pixels
  • Camera 13 MP / 13 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, Octa-core, 2500 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3090 mAh

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53 Comments

1. Flash

Posts: 1972; Member since: May 19, 2017

I have to say, the Nokia 8 looks great. Honestly though, I don't think it will be able to go against the Pixel 2 when it comes out. And I wished they would do something about those bezels.

3. maherk

Posts: 6877; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

Kinda funny how now you're being critical about huge bezels on phones lol Flash news, only the iPhone 8 will be bezeless, the iPhone 6sss and 6sss Plus will have the old bezelicious design.

6. Zack_2014

Posts: 677; Member since: Mar 25, 2014

iPhone 7S and 7S Plus 6S is already over.

7. darkkjedii

Posts: 31039; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

You obviously missed the joke, or just don't want to acknowledge the truth of it. The 6 series body came out in 2014, and will be used for this years 7S.

9. Zack_2014

Posts: 677; Member since: Mar 25, 2014

iPhone 8 will be the king of 2017-18! Let's go!

11. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

More like Note 8 will be king of 2017-18, tbh.

29. chenski

Posts: 768; Member since: Mar 22, 2015

My dad's Nokia 8250 is still the king

12. darkkjedii

Posts: 31039; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Ok lol. That doesn't matter to me. I like Notes more. Let's go!

15. meanestgenius

Posts: 22043; Member since: May 28, 2014

I think it will go up against the Pixel 2 quite well. Looks like someone else has pointed out your hypocrisy when it comes to bezels, lol. And I'm pretty sure you won't say a thing about the bezels on the iPhone's 6sss and 6sss plus.

32. Flash

Posts: 1972; Member since: May 19, 2017

Who cares what you think? I'm pretty sure I don't care, so get over it with the iphone bezels. What will your excuse be when the new iPhone is released?

35. meanestgenius

Posts: 22043; Member since: May 28, 2014

Lol, you do. That's why you responded. I'm pretty sure you do care, as I'm the only one you responded to that said something to you. It's hilarious how triggered I can get you from a simple response by me. I own you, and there is no denying it. And what will your excuse be when the Nokia 9 is released?

38. Flash

Posts: 1972; Member since: May 19, 2017

I don't. I responded because I'm not going to allow you the luxury of having the last word in. You still don't get it lol. It's not surprising given how unintelligent you are. Newsflash, your name is an oxymoron with an emphasis on the moron part.

42. meanestgenius

Posts: 22043; Member since: May 28, 2014

You do. And you always run away in the end, so I actually do always get the last word in. Lol, oh I "get it". You're simply a troll doing what you do best while also seeking my attention, because you can't help but troll anything that I favor. Considering how stupid you are, I can see why you think that no one has figured you out by now. Newsflash speedy, everyone has you figured out by now.

47. Flash

Posts: 1972; Member since: May 19, 2017

We both know that you're not going to stop and stfu because you have no life. Yeah, ok alphageek. Continue to live in your little delusional world where blackberry is still relevant.

50. meanestgenius

Posts: 22043; Member since: May 28, 2014

Lol, says the lifeless idiot troll that logs into PA just to incessantly troll Nokia, BlackBerry and Samsung. For someone that claims he wants the Pixel 2 so much, you sure don't comment on any articles about it. Why is that? Oh, it's because you're just BSing about it and trying to use that to hide the fact that you're an Apple idol worshipper. Lmao! Stop projecting, mxyzptlk. The fact that BlackBerry is still relevant and doing well really causes you extreme rectal discomfort.

31. vartotojas

Posts: 30; Member since: Nov 14, 2014

PIXEL XL ONE little better

39. Flash

Posts: 1972; Member since: May 19, 2017

The Pixel XL has it beat in everything except for the sound department.

43. meanestgenius

Posts: 22043; Member since: May 28, 2014

No it doesn't.

46. Flash

Posts: 1972; Member since: May 19, 2017

Yes it does.

51. meanestgenius

Posts: 22043; Member since: May 28, 2014

No it doesn't.

2. Bfrenz

Posts: 285; Member since: Aug 26, 2012

Pixels? Really? No one knows about pixel line of phones i.e., common people. They know iPhones and Galaxies. Period.

19. MarvzIsFallen

Posts: 646; Member since: Aug 11, 2017

Funny when theres only like 2million pixels sold in a year, how embarrassing.

26. maple_mak

Posts: 953; Member since: Dec 18, 2013

Because of limited availability from HTC, that's why.

4. qolamreza

Posts: 61; Member since: Jul 01, 2015

your matte blue nokia 8 doesn't have zeiss lenses :))))

5. hemedans

Posts: 755; Member since: Jun 01, 2013

Nokia 8 is around $460 in middle east, this phone will be very cheap globally, cheaper than one plus 5,

8. darkkjedii

Posts: 31039; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Nokia going android was a smart move. The best software, puts them in flagship space.

17. meanestgenius

Posts: 22043; Member since: May 28, 2014

My dude, I am just loving everything about this phone! I can't wait to get my hands on one.

21. darkkjedii

Posts: 31039; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

I like everything I've seen about it. I think it's a winner.

33. Flash

Posts: 1972; Member since: May 19, 2017

Cut the bs. We both know that you're only looking at the Note 8.

36. meanestgenius

Posts: 22043; Member since: May 28, 2014

Lol, guess darkk owns you just a bit more than I do, because he triggers you just by him making a random comment.

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