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£500 • From www.carphonewarehouse.com
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.