An hour with the brand new Nokia 8


Perhaps it’s a bit too early to call, but after spending an hour with the Nokia 8 this morning, HMD Global has done something incredible.

Before we dive into why that is I must warn you that what follows are my initial thoughts on the Nokia 8 and not a full review of the device, which we will have soon.

So, with that out of the way let’s wade into the handset.

As with the Nokia 3, 5 and 6 the 8 runs Android, specifically Android 7.1 and the best part is that HMD Global hasn’t customised the operating system at all. That means you can expect Android updates to come down more frequently than you would on say a Samsung smartphone.

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With that said, HMD Global has tweaked the camera app but we’ll get to that in a bit.

The benefit of using vanilla Android (beyond getting important updates quickly) is that there is zero bloatware on the handset. Vodacom did place their own app on the handset but this can be removed.

As for performance the handset feels as fast as you would expect a premium-tier smartphone to feel. Apps open quickly, the fingerprint scanner unlocks the handset as soon as you place your finger on the home button and I never noticed a slow down once while using the Nokia 8.

The star of the show

I’m reluctant to say that the camera is mind blowing as I haven’t really had a chance to compare shots with another handset. What I can say however is that HMD Global has put a lot of work and care into the cameras of this device.

At the rear is a dual lens set up (sporting the legendary Carl Zeiss optics) with one lens housing a colour sensor and the other a black and white sensor.

HMD Global told me that this combination of technologies should result in great photos especially in low light. While I wasn’t able to test this as the event took place this morning and its rather sunny in Johannesburg today I did see a clear difference between photos taken using both sensors and just the colour sensor.

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Perhaps the best part of the camera however is the “bothie” feature. Before you cringe into your seat let me explain.

The Nokia 8 allows you to capture video or still images using both the rear and front camera at the same time. The images look rather similar because HMD Global have fitted a 13MP sensor to the front of the handset as well.

To my mind this would be great for content creators who want to shoot creative angles, or just capturing twice as many people in “selfie” than you would normally be able to.

Worth it?

Given that my time with the Nokia 8 was limited I’m hesitant to offer a full recommendation until I’ve had a chance to put it through its paces but I can’t help but feel impressed.

The design is not anything new but I appreciate that HMD Global has tried its best to “hide” the external antennae on the bottom and top of the handset.

The fingerprint sensor is in a great spot and is easily accessible. The QHD display (2560 x 1440) is sharp and the camera is rather good.

Perhaps the biggest selling point of the Nokia 8 is its price. At R9 499 all in the Nokia 8 not only competes with the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S8 and the Sony XZ Premium in terms of specs but it trumps them all on price.

Could Nokia be the smartphone of choice a year from now? I’m not sure but the Nokia 8 is a fantastic flagship and I cannot wait to get more closely acquainted with it.

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