Hand­helds

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There’s no short­age of qual­ity mid-range smart­phones around, but the dual-lens Honor 9 (p50) is worth a look re­gard­less

£500 • From www.car­phoneware­house.com

VERDICT

The Nokia 8 is a hand­some, long-last­ing high-end smart­phone that’s cheaper than might be ex­pected

AF­TER A BRIEF hia­tus, Nokia has re­turned to the world of smart­phones, ditch­ing Win­dows 10 Mo­bile for An­droid. So far, how­ever, its planned resur­gence hasn’t gone off with a bang so much as a faint whim­per, and the phones we’ve been treated to – for lack of a bet­ter word – have failed to re­cap­ture the firm’s past glo­ries. The Nokia 3 (Shop­per 357), for in­stance, could have been a good bud­get hand­set were it not for its poor screen and sub-par per­for­mance.

Now that Nokia’s first proper flag­ship phone, the Nokia 8, has fi­nally landed, the ques­tion is whether this is the hand­set that can turn the com­pany’s for­tunes around. Judg­ing by our time with it, it cer­tainly seems to have a bet­ter chance than the Nokia 3, 5 and 6.

Equipped with a 5.3in, 2,560x1,440 dis­play, 4GB of RAM and the lat­est Snap­dragon 835 pro­ces­sor, this is a bona fide pre­mium smart­phone. What’s more, you can ex­pect stock An­droid Nougat right out of the box, with An­droid 8.0 Oreo due to make an ap­pear­ance some time in the near fu­ture. At £500, the Nokia 8’s price has also fully en­tered flag­ship ter­ri­tory. This might look a lit­tle steep when the Nokia 6, one step down, costs just £200, but con­sid­er­ing how other top-end mod­els rou­tinely break the £600 mark, it’s ac­tu­ally not that bad by com­par­i­son. It’s only £50 more than the overtly value-ori­ented OnePlus 5 (Shop­per 356) as well.

None­the­less, ri­val hand­sets are grad­u­ally com­ing down in price, leav­ing the Nokia 8 with some stuff com­pe­ti­tion. There’s the Sam­sung Gal­axy S8 (Shop­per 353) to con­tend with – which has just dropped below £600 – and the Google Pixel 2 range starts at £629. If you’re will­ing to forgo An­droid, there’s also the iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 fam­i­lies to con­sider too, though these are even pricier.

The first thing you’ll spot is the 5.3in, 2,560x1,440 dis­play. That res­o­lu­tion amounts to a pixel-per­fect den­sity of 554ppi, and Nokia has wisely opted to pro­tect it with a sheet of Go­rilla Glass 5. It’s a lit­tle dis­ap­point­ing to note that the Nokia 8 lacks the snazzy edge-to-edge dis­plays of the Gal­axy S8 and LG G6 (Shop­per 353), but it’s a de­cent screen none­the­less. It’s bright and clear, and ex­actly what we’d ex­pect to find on a flag­ship phone. So bright, in fact, that the Nokia 8 is pos­i­tively daz­zling. Its max­i­mum bright­ness of 663cd/m2 is more than suit­able for even the sun­ni­est days.

As for colour ac­cu­racy, the Nokia 8 is per­fectly poised in that depart­ment, too. An sRGB colour gamut cov­er­age of 98.5%, as mea­sured by our X-Rite colour cal­i­bra­tor, ri­vals even the likes of Sam­sung’s AMOLED dis­plays, although the av­er­age delta-E is a lit­tle high, at 3.28. Given that this is a 2K dis­play, you’ll be per­fectly set up for watch­ing Net­flix shows on the go.

METAL HEAD

The Nokia 8 is a very well-de­signed phone on the whole, tak­ing el­e­ments from the

com­pany’s old Lu­mia se­ries of phones and mod­ernising them to cre­ate some­thing pretty spe­cial. The Nokia 8 is won­der­fully slim, mea­sur­ing a dainty 7.3mm thick, and as it’s crafted from just a sin­gle block of alu­minium, it both looks and feels like an ab­so­lute stun­ner. Ev­ery­one loves a nicely cham­fered edge, and these are some of the finest cham­fers you’ll en­counter on a smart­phone. It doesn’t just look good, though: the curved sides en­sure that the hand­set sits snugly in the hand, and make it easy to use the fin­ger­print reader with­out ad­just­ing your grip or shuf­fling the phone about in your palm. On the back, you’ll find a Zeiss-branded dual-cam­era setup, with one be­ing a monochrome f/2.0 13-megapixel sen­sor, and the other in­cor­po­rat­ing a 13-megapixel bog-stan­dard RGB sen­sor. The two work in tan­dem, with the monochrome sen­sor cap­tur­ing de­tail and the RGB sen­sor cap­tur­ing colour. This is a tech­nique used by sev­eral other re­cent flag­ships from ri­val man­u­fac­tur­ers, and the end re­sult is an im­age with oo­dles of de­tail and bright, punchy colours. One par­tic­u­larly in­trigu­ing new fea­ture is what Nokia is call­ing a ‘bothie’: the abil­ity to cap­ture pic­tures and video with both the front and rear cam­eras si­mul­ta­ne­ously. Press the shut­ter but­ton and both shots are squeezed into a sin­gle frame, with a snap of your re­ac­tion on one side, and the view you’re gawk­ing at on the other. It’s a neat lit­tle ad­di­tion, and a fea­ture that is per­fectly suited to Face­book and YouTube live streams.

PLAYED OUT

The Nokia 8 has the kind of horse­power you’d ex­pect from a mod­ern flag­ship. There’s Qual­comm’s lat­est octa-core pro­ces­sor on board – the Snap­dragon 835 – and this is part­nered with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of stor­age, which is ex­pand­able with up to 256GB mi­croSD cards. That’s a re­li­able recipe for high-end per­for­mance, and the bench­mark fig­ures show it. Run­ning Geek­bench 4, the Nokia 8 reached 1,930 in the sin­gle-core test, and a blis­ter­ingly quick 6,540 in mul­ti­core. Stack­ing it up against 2017’s other big-hit­ters, this re­sult puts the Nokia 8 firmly near the top, with near-iden­ti­cal scores to the Gal­axy S8, iPhone 7 and Sony Xpe­ria XZ Pre­mium (Shop­per 356).

Gam­ing per­for­mance, how­ever, isn’t quite the same story. In the GFXBench Man­hat­tan 3.0 off­screen test, its 58fps av­er­age is fine, but in the on­screen test, it only pro­duced an av­er­age 35fps. This is by no means abysmal, but when put side by side with other Snap­dragon 835-equipped hand­sets, the Nokia 8 starts to fall a lit­tle flat. It’s 19fps be­hind the

CHILL­ING DEVEL­OP­MENTS

Nokia talked up the Nokia 8’s ‘ad­vanced heat man­age­ment so­lu­tion’ at its launch. In short, a liq­uid-cooled cop­per pipe runs across the length of the Nokia 8, with graphite shield­ing dis­pers­ing heat from the Snap­dragon chipset through­out the metal shell. This all sounds very im­pres­sive, and Nokia says it’s the per­fect way to keep heat lev­els to a min­i­mum, and thus – po­ten­tially – ex­tend bat­tery life.

In fact, bat­tery life is the Nokia 8’s high point. The fancy ther­mal tech in­side seems to have done its job, with the Nokia 8 reach­ing a to­tal of 18h 46m on a sin­gle charge dur­ing our con­tin­u­ous video play­back test with the screen set to our stan­dard 170cd/m2 bright­ness. For com­par­i­son’s sake, the Nokia 8’s 3,050mAh bat­tery is longer last­ing than the Gal­axy S8, Xpe­ria XZ Pre­mium and iPhone 7, fall­ing be­hind only the OnePlus 5 in terms of flag­ships.

EIGHT EX­PEC­TA­TIONS

Re­cently, we might have ques­tioned whether there’s still room for Nokia in 2017. The re­worked Nokia 3310 (Shop­per 355) was a fun lit­tle fea­ture phone, but when it came to se­ri­ous An­droid de­vices we felt the Fin­nish firm may be sur­plus to re­quire­ments, es­pe­cially given its re­cent track record with mid­dling hand­sets such as the Nokia 3.

How­ever, it looks as if the Nokia 8 may just righted the course. It cer­tainly helps that Nokia has opted to build a more tra­di­tional, good all-round flag­ship rather than push­ing niche, high-end fea­tures – and it isn’t ask­ing for ab­surd amounts of cash like Asus with its £800 ZenFone AR. Granted, the Nokia 8 might not be as flam­boy­ant as key ri­vals such as Sam­sung’s stun­ning Gal­axy S8, but with bang up-to-date in­ter­nals, a lengthy bat­tery life, and a de­sign that be­fits its ask­ing price, the Nokia 8 is a con­fi­dent stride in the right di­rec­tion.

Nathan Spen­de­low

One in­trigu­ing new fea­ture is the ‘bothie’: the abil­ity to cap­ture pic­tures and video with the front and rear cam­eras si­mul­ta­ne­ously

Gal­axy S8, for in­stance, de­spite hav­ing a lower-res­o­lu­tion dis­play.

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