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Smartphone review: Nokia 8

Smartphone review: Nokia 8

Does HMD’s first ‘flagship’ Nokia smartphone live up to expectations?

HMD Global, the company with the rights to the Nokia brand, made waves at Mobile World Congress earlier this year with the release of a new version of the classic 3310 feature phone.

But while the positive reception to that device has no doubt provided some much needed early momentum, the success of the Nokia 8 – arguably the company’s first Nokia flagship smartphone – will likely be the true test of the firm’s appeal.

At first glance the new device does tick a lot of the right boxes. The design language is engaging with a curved unibody that sits comfortable in the hand while also standing out from the crowd if you opt for the polished copper or blue versions.

It is also noticeably trim from the side and packs almost everything you would expect in a flagship these days for a surprisingly low price.

On the front there is a 5.3-inch QHD display, which produces sharp visuals and performs well in various light conditions, even if it isn’t the same edge-to-edge design that occupies the front space of other recent flagships.

There is also an easy to find and mostly reliable fingerprint scanner on the home button and some impressive internal hardware including Qualcomm’s 835 chipset, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. This all means the device can stand toe to toe with the top of the market when it comes to intensive gaming or switching between multiple apps and it feels faster than competitors in certain situations.

Other factors adding to the Nokia 8’s appeal include its use of the base version of the Android operating system, meaning there is no manufacturer introduced bloatware out of the box and the device will be one of the first in line for updates when Google releases them. You won’t find yourself worrying too much about battery life either with the device easily making it through the day thanks to the efficiency of the chipset and a liquid cooling system claimed to prevent it from overheating.

However, despite the manufacturers’ marketing of the camera technology, one thing the device is lacking is a unique selling point.

The dual-13MP lens rear shooter marks the rekindling of an old partnership between Nokia and Carl Zeiss and comes with a number of interesting abilities including settings to shoot with both lenses at the same time or individually in RGB or monochrome.

Pictures taken using the main rear camera are impressive with good colour capture and it is nice to have the option to select the lenses even if the overall quality is not noticeability better than other top devices. The 13MP front camera also shines and appears less affected by high or low light settings than some of its competitors.

You can also take shots using the front and rear cameras at the same time via the ‘bothie’ setting but actually positioning the device to get a good shot from both sides is difficult and led to most attempts on a recent holiday being discarded. Where there may be more potential though is for video capture or blogging where the included OZO Audio technology means you can record sound from multiple directions with generally good quality provided it isn’t too windy.

Overall, the Nokia 8 does a lot of things right with a smooth physique and barebones approach to the operating system that is quite refreshing to encounter. Bothie mode aside, what it is lacking is a key differentiator but there are few alternatives on offer that include the same bang for your buck when it comes to pricing.

The Nokia 8 is available for Dhs1,699

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