Nokia 8 review – Smells like a comeback
There was a time when smartphones were a dream and Nokia held prime position in the cellphone market.
My first cellphone was a Nokia as was my second and third. It was only when the Blackberry 8320 was introduced to South Africa that I jumped ship and abandoned the Finnish brand.
Since then I’ve watched the Nokia phone brand fumble at the finish line time and time again.
Last year HMD Global took over the manufacturing of Nokia smartphones and now we have the Nokia 8. A flagship that not only retails for under R10 000 but also packs all the punch you could hope for from a flagship smartphone.
Nokia 8 review – Performance
Inside the Nokia 8 a Qualcomm Snapdragon 825 chipset keeps things running at a reasonable pace. The performance is what you might expect from a flagship.
Okay so that doesn’t tell you much, so here’s our Antutu and PC Mark benchmark scores.
Performance in games is perfect and performance while editing photos, videos and even documents (including spreadsheets) is even better. Comparatively the Nokia 8 performs almost as well as the Xperia XZ Premium and better than LG’s G6. What we really love is how well the Nokia 8 does everything equally.
To be honest the Nokia 8 performs really, really well for its price tag.
The Nokia 8’s performance is helped along by the fact that the handset uses vanilla Android. Although the camera app has been tweaked (thank goodness because the vanilla app is super limited) the overall experience is great and you can rest assured that the Nokia 8 will be getting Android updates in a timely fashion.
Nokia 8 review – Battery life
During our time with the Nokia 8 I observed the battery lasting 12 hours with Bluetooth, Wifi, adaptive brightness and mobile data switched on.
That should get you through an average day of use with a charge only being needed at around midday the next day.
For those hoping for a device that will keep feeding you video on a long-haul flight we were able to watch eight hours of continuous video with screen brightness set to 50% and Wifi, mobile data and Bluetooth switched off.
Nokia 8 review – That camera though
Adding Carl Zeiss optics to its camera tech was a great idea from HMD Global.
Photos looks remarkably clear but the optics are just half of the joy. The sensor itself is incredible, especially in low-light conditions.
That translates into incredible photos whether you’re in full sunlight or having a great night out with some friends.
The best feature of this camera however is its “bothie” feature.
With a dual 13MP camera at the back and a single 13MP camera at the front the Nokia 8 can take photo or video using both cameras.
The results are good given that both cameras can capture such high-resolution images but aside from folks livestreaming events with themselves in the frame I don’t really see the value in this feature.
That said it works well and to me feels like one of those things manufacturers should have been implementing for years.
Nokia 8 review – Nokia’s legendary build quality?
My colleague Lungelo Shezi asked me a question that took me somewhat off guard. “Is it strong,” she said during a meeting.
The Nokia 8 doesn’t feel flimsy by any stretch of the imagination but its worth remembering that it is still a rectangle of glass and aluminium and if you drop it chances are good that you’re handset will need to go in for repairs.
I don’t feel like this is worth deducting points for because most smartphones are delicate and those that aren’t come at a premium.
The buttons are well placed, the fingerprint scanner is in the correct position – at the front of the handset and the build feels great in your hand.
Nokia 8 review – Conclusion
A great battery, a fantastic display and a speedy experience. There is really very little to fault the Nokia 8 on, so little in fact that we’re giving HMD Global full marks for this handset.
Sure the Samsung Note 8 is great but the price is simply too high for what you get. The Blackberry KEYone was close on perfect but the physical keyboard may have pushed some folks away.
The Nokia 8 however is perfect for anybody be they a teen trying their hand at making a career on YouTube or the working professional that can’t find the time to watch one YouTube video.
HMD Global has not only created a wonderful smartphone, it created a phone that honours the Nokia heritage in a way that has us wishing HMD Global had forgotten to pick up their handset.
Disclaimer: A Nokia 8 review unit was provided by HMD Global. It has been returned.