The Nokia 8 is a commendable effort from HMD Global to return to the flagship market

Highs

  • Robust build quality
  • Sharp display
  • Vanilla Android experience
  • Good value

Lows

  • Inconsistent camera performance
  • No water immersion protection
  • No wireless charging

Rating and Price

  • Rating: 7/10
  • Price: ~$375
  • Available on Amazon

The Nokia 8 was the first flagship smartphone from HMD Global, the Finnish company that bills itself as “The Home of Nokia Phones.”

It’s a handset of many firsts for the company, the first to feature ZEISS optics, the first flagship to be milled from a single block of 6000 series aluminium, and its first handset with a Snapdragon 835 chip.

It was up against the 2017 crop of flagships which included some strong contenders like the Galaxy S8 and the Google Pixel 2. While it has been positioned as a bonafide flagship, the Nokia 8 doesn’t quite hit all of the high notes.

Specifications Highlights

  • 5.3” IPS LCD Display (2560×1440)
  • 13 Megapixel Camera, f/2.0 aperture
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 platform 6 GB RAM, 128 GB of Storage + MicroSD (256 GB max)
  • 3090 mAh battery
  • Android 7.1.1

The Nokia 8 was launched in October 2017 and was originally targeted at the high-end market market. At publishing time, the Nokia 8 was priced at ~$405 USD.

Even though this product was designed to compete with the best handsets, the truth is that many products will shift positioning as their price change over their lifespan. Let’s see how the Nokia 8 can compete today.

Based on pricing and popular requested comparisons, we chose a group of products which will be used to assess how the Nokia 8 fits in its immediate smartphone landscape: OnePlus OnePlus 5 (~479 USD), Huawei Mate 10 (~550 USD), Samsung Galaxy S8 (~600 USD), Google Pixel 2 (~544 USD).

Industrial Design

The Nokia of days gone by was famous for its rugged cellphones that could take a beating and while it’s clear that HMD has tried to achieve the same standard, but it’s not quite there yet. The metal unibody build for which HMD Global sacrificed wireless charging for feels robust and doesn’t add heft to the device.

The way the metal curves from the sides at the back makes it quite comfortable to use the handset for extended periods of time without feeling fatigued. The volume and power buttons feel sturdy and respond with a reassuring click when pressed.

"THE METAL UNIBODY CHASSIS FEELS ROBUST"

The build quality is a step above what you would expect from a premium mid-range smartphone but firmly below rival flagships like the Galaxy S8. Moreover, it doesn’t quite feel like the indestructible Nokia phones of the past so probably don’t be too sure about its dropability (best defined as the ability to survive drops unscathed).

In addition to it being a fingerprint magnet much like many smartphones are these days, the Nokia 8 is also quite prone to scratches. Mild scratching was visible at the back of our unit merely days after it was taken out of the box.

Some particularly bad scratches were also visible at the front even though the device hasn’t been dropped. They were likely inflicted during normal usage which involved being kept in and taken out of a jeans pocket several times a day. Nokia 8 owners would be wise to invest in a case if they want to protect the look of the device.

Analyzing how the smartphone was designed, we estimate that the odds of cracking during a drop on a hard surface to be mild. You can refer to our reference article about how phones could be built to avoid cracks on impact.

With a width of 73.7mm (~2.9 inches) and a thickness of 7.9mm (~0.31 inches), the smartphone feels comfortable in hand. We use U.S M-size gloves for male hand-size reference, so this will vary from person to person.

The device weighs 160 grams (5.64 oz), and we would consider that weight to be average for its size. The Pixel 2 at 143g would be noticeably lighter, and the OnePlus 5 is both ~5% lighter and smaller in volume.

Design Durability

What the IP54 IP rating certification means in simple terms is that the Nokia 8 is splashproof but not waterproof. That leaves a lot to be desired on a smartphone that’s meant to be a flagship and doesn’t result in favorable comparisons with its rivals.

"SPLASHPROOF BUT NOT WATERPROOF"

The Pixel 2, for example, is rated IP67 which signifies the highest level of dust protection and the ability to be fully submerged in water up to 1 meter deep for up to 30 minutes. The Galaxy S8 takes it up a notch with its IP68 rating, and it can be submerged in up to 1.5 meters of water for up to 30 minutes.

While the Nokia 8 has adequate protection against dust ingress, it can’t be submerged in water and is only protected against splashes. So a quick call in the rain will be fine but keep your fingers crossed if you ever spill your drink on it or drop it in the pool. No taking photos underwater as well, obviously.

The Nokia 8 has not received a U.S Military MIL-STD 810G certification. You can check the link we added to see all the details, but this standard is a series of test used to ensure that military gears can survive some rough treatments. Most phones don’t have this certification, but some do, in case you’re looking to better the odds of survival

This industrial design packs very good performance in relation to its size, but is not exceptional for a phone in this category.

From another standpoint, the amount of battery capacity the user gets is slightly above average for a handset of this big. The screen display-to-body ratio of 69.4% is relatively small overall, with other competitors outpacing it, except for the Pixel 2 which has substantial bezels.

Overall product rating: 7/10

Filed in Cellphones >Reviews. Read more about Editorspick, Nokia, Nokia 8 and Smartphone Reviews.

Display
5.3"
2560x1440
IPS LCD
554 PPI
Price
~$375 - Amazon
Camera
13 MP
F2 Aperture F-Stop
OIS
Weight
160 g
Battery
3090 mAh
Non-Removable
No Wireless Charg.
Launched in
2017-10-01
System
6GB RAM
Snapdragon 835 + MicroSD
Storage (GB)
128
Related Articles
User Comments