Nokia 8: Just a flagship phone that bypasses substance for gimmicks?
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The Nokia comeback journey continues, with Finnish company HMD Global unveiling the Nokia 8 flagship Android phone. This, without doubt and while reserving no rights to disagree later, is an attempt to compete with the likes of Samsung’s Galaxy S8, Google’s current Pixel phones and perhaps even the upcoming Pixel 2 phones and eventually the Apple iPhones as well. Priced at $700 (around Rs45,000), the Nokia 8 will roll out in some countries in September, with the India launch expected in the later months of this year.
A quick look at the Nokia 8’s basic specs reveal that it runs the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, 4GB RAM and will have 64GB internal storage as well as a microSD card slot that will support up to 256GB more storage space. While there is nothing to worry about on the processor front—since that is the most powerful chip that Nokia could have used at the moment—there might be some doubts about the RAM and storage space. For flagship phones and even the latest crop of more affordable flagship killer phones such as the OnePlus 5 and the Honor 8 Pro, 6GB RAM is becoming a standard spec which allows for better multi-tasking and more future-proofing. The 64GB storage space isn’t flagship-level specification, where 128GB and 256GB storage options are now slowly becoming common. Yes, we might be nit-picking, but the question is—will you buy the Nokia 8 for the here and now only, or are you looking at specifications that are future proof for your data and app requirements 24 months down the line, perhaps?
The 5.3-inch (2,560x1,440 resolution) IPS display is spot on in terms of size, and should appeal to the demographic of users who find 5.5-inch display phones a tad too big. There is a Gorilla Glass 5 layer on it too, which adds some amount of durability to it. At a time when Samsung and LG (and perhaps even Apple, with the next iPhone) are switching to the more visually appealing taller (or wider, if you hold the phones sideways) displays, Nokia has remained tethered to the more conventional.
The Nokia 8 has a 3,090mAh battery, and utilizes Qualcomm’s QuickCharge 3.0 fast charging technology.
HMD Global has preloaded the phone with an almost un-customized Android 7.1.1 (Nougat) operating system, and will get the Android O update in the near future too. HMD Global seems committed towards rolling out the security updates for the Nokia 8, and claims that any security updates that Google rolls out (barring the ones that modify the software that works with the modem in the phone) will be released on the same day as updates.
In terms of design, the Nokia 8 has an all-aluminium chassis, with no room for the potentially more fragile glass backs that are popular with some Android flagship phones. It is 7.9mm at its thickest point, and has a contoured shape that makes it feel even slimmer around the sides. It is splash-proof too, with the IP54 rating—however, this is a step down from the IP68 ratings that the Samsung Galaxy S8 and the LG G6 offer at the moment.
However, the Nokia 8’s party piece would perhaps be the Carl Zeiss cameras. There are two 13-megapixel cameras at the back (one is colour, one is monochrome), with optical image stabilization (OIS), have a 1.12um pixel size and f2.0 aperture. The front camera is also 13 megapixels, with similar pixel size and aperture. The company believes that the Nokia 8 will entice consumers with what is now known as the “bothie”. Essentially, it is supposed to be the evolution of the selfie, and will use both rear and front-facing cameras at the same time to shoot video or photos simultaneously. These can also be shared for live streaming directly on platforms such as Facebook or YouTube. Well, you don’t need to be standing next to someone anymore to take a selfie with the Nokia 8, but how much money would you bet on the idea of some neat third-party app offering this feature in your existing Android phone soon enough?
For audio recording, the Nokia 8 gets to utilize the 360-degree OZO technology used in Nokia’s high-end OZO 360 camera—there are three microphones in the 8, and they each pull 360-degree sound which is then joined together with a 4K video recording using complex algorithms. Whether consumers will genuinely be able to utilize this feature remains up for debate, but maybe the demographic who often claim that a smartphone can become their primary photography and video recording device may find this good enough—if the camera can take good enough photos, that is.
HMD Global has packed in a full-length copper cooling pipe with a graphite shield to dissipate system heat across the full body of the phone. It is designed to pull the heat away from the Snapdragon 835 chip, with the hope that it’ll be able to perform better for longer, even under heavy workloads. It is a bit perplexing though, because no phone running the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chip (this includes the OnePlus 5, Sony Xperia XZ Premium and the HTC U11) has ever suffered from over-heating issues even when really stressed with the latest games, extensive camera use and intense multi-tasking. Could this be the complex algorithms of Nokia’s camera and the bothie gimmicks that require this counter measure?