Nokia 8 Review

Nokia 8

Posted: , by Victor Hristov Victor Hristov

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An unintuitive camera app and disappointing photo quality.

Nokia 8 Review

A camera can make or break a modern smartphone. When you have the names Nokia and Zeiss optics, the expectations are set even higher.

The Nokia 8 features a dual rear camera system with one 13-megapixel camera that records color and a secondary, monochrome one that is more sensitive to light. When you combine the frames from the two, you end up with the final photo of the Nokia 8. This is also the same method that Huawei uses in its phones, if you were looking for parallels. Note that there are no separate “telephoto” lenses for zoom or portraits here.

The bad news is that the Nokia 8 camera app is clunky and weird. A simple thing like switching to the front camera to take a selfie is hidden in menus and you have to tap multiple times to do it. There is another menu that allows you to choose whether you want to use just the color, just the black and white, or both rear cameras, but does not explain what are the actual differences between using the color camera versus using a combination of both the color and the mono sensor. There are two buttons one on top of the other and both look like a shutter key, but guess what: only one is the actual shutter key, while the other changes shooting modes. At that, all the icons look as if they were coming from a 90s interface. It’s all absurd and confusing, and gets in the way of taking good pictures.

Nokia 8 Review
Camera interface - Nokia 8 Review
Camera interface - Nokia 8 Review

Taking and processing a photo is also slower than on most other modern phones.

Here is a tip: double click the lock key to quickly start the camera.

There is one bright spot, though: live video. You can start a YouTube or Facebook livestream straight from the camera, which is a nice convenience. Though you need to log in to your social media account first.

Image Quality


How do photos actually turn out? The Nokia 8 camera is just okay and it is a long shot from the quality that you can get with an iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, or even the OnePlus 5. We went shooting with the Nokia 8 and brought an iPhone and a Galaxy Note 8 for comparison, and the Nokia 8 was noticeably slower than those two.

A lot of the photos we took with the Nokia 8 look underexposed, dark, and that’s the biggest issue with them, but not the only one: they also often have dull, muted colors. At dusk and at night, the Nokia 8 often completely failed to capture a proper picture, severely underexposing pictures. This, combined with the slow focus, make the Nokia 8's dual shooter one of the worst cameras on a flagship-grade phone in 2017.

The front camera is okay, but nothing to write home about. It lacks in sharpness, but does good with colors, does not blur out skin tones like Samsung phones do and is not too wide, so there are no distortions in the picture. Also, it records 4K video! This is the first front camera in a phone that we see capable of this feature. Keep in mind, though, that the front camera is definitely nowhere nearly as good as the already sub-par rear camera.


Secondary rear camera: Bokeh and Black & White photos


So… the Nokia 8 has a secondary monochrome camera – an underappreciated feature, in our opinion. When colors are muted or chaotic, it’s a great idea to try shooting black and white for a more artistic look. The built in black and white rendition is also a bit underexposed, but not too much. It looks nice, with lots of detail and good contrast. You can also blur the background in pictures you take on the Nokia 8 for a simulated “portrait mode” effect.

Bothies


Nokia 8 Review

Bothies is the affectionate name given to collage pictures taken with both the front and the rear camera. There should have been an easy one-button way to switch to bothies in the camera app, but even overlooking that, the feature is mostly a gimmick. Usually when you take a picture of something, you take a picture because you find it funny and/or exciting, but you rarely think about the way you look while taking that picture. We tried to get creative, but bothies just do not seem like a feature that you would use regularly. We don’t mind having it, but we don’t think it contributes to the camera experience in a meaningful way.

Video quality


The Nokia 8 can record 4K video at 30 frames per second on both the rear and the front camera. Most phones, including the top Samsung and Apple devices, actually cannot record 4K using the front camera, so the Nokia 8 beats them at that game. We love having the option for a quick vlog since 4K looks sharper and more detailed.

You don’t get any choice of frame rates, though: there is no 1080p at 60fps, and we miss that. Recording at 60fps looks better in most cases, but especially for motion.



Sound quality


You have a single bottom-firing loudspeaker on the Nokia 8. The position is a bit awkward and you can easily muffle it when you hold the phone, but the quality is actually above average. The Nokia 8 speaker can get louder than many phones out there and while it lacks a bit in depth, it does get fairly clean overall output that makes it stand out in a good way.

There is a 3.5mm headphone jack on board, though, which both of the aforementioned phones lack, so that’s definitely nice. You also have proper Bluetooth 5.0 support for high-quality sound when you use compatible wireless headphones.



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PhoneArena rating:
7Good
Display5.3 inches, 1440 x 2560 pixels (554 ppi) IPS LCD
Camera13 megapixels
Hardware
Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, Octa-core, 2500 MHz, Kryo 280 processor
4 GB
Size5.96 x 2.90 x 0.31 inches
(151.5 x 73.7 x 7.9 mm)
5.64 oz  (160 g)

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