The Nokia 8 (Rs36,999) does not have an attention-seeking design. It is available in several colours: black, glossy blue, matte blue, bright copper, and a subdued steel finish. The 6000-series aluminium unibody isn’t slippery and feels good to hold. But it is hard to ignore that the antenna bands on the top and bottom edges don’t match the colour of the phone (at least on the steel variant).

The Nokia 8’s grace lies in its understated looks, reassuring heft (it weighs 160g) and robust build.

When it comes to power, it’s more than a match for the big boys (like the Samsung Galaxy S8 and the HTC U11), with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor and 4 GB RAM. The fact that it runs a largely unaltered Android 7.1 (Nougat) version means that no unnecessary software burdens performance. Multitasking is silky smooth, and there was no sluggishness or heating. There is 64 GB of storage (expandable up to 256 GB via a microSD card) but we feel it is a tad less for a flagship phone.

The 3,090 mAh battery lasts through a day’s use with ease, on a par with most Android flagships. HMD Global, which manufactures Nokia phones, has confirmed that the Android 8 (Oreo) update will roll out in the next few weeks.

It is somewhat surprising that the 8 has a slightly smaller 5.3-inch display, when 5.5-inch and larger screens have become common on flagship phones. It should appeal to those who want a more compact phone. The IPS (in-plane switching) screen (2,560x1,440 resolution) does well with crispness and viewing angles. This isn’t an OLED screen, which means colours aren’t the richest.

The Nokia 8 has 13-megapixel dual cameras at the back with Zeiss optics—one, colour; the other, monochrome. The cameras have optical image stabilization (OIS), 1.12um pixel size and f2.0 aperture. On paper, this should match up to the best. It reproduces detail well, and the colours look well distinguished. However, it sometimes struggles with exposure in uneven and bright lighting. The unique “Bothie" mode lets you click a photograph with the front and rear cameras at the same time, though that novelty wears off soon enough.

As it turns out, the Nokia 8 is an undeniably restrained Android flagship smartphone. It doesn’t have any polarizing design aspects, and manages to tick off most boxes on the performance and software checklist. The camera seems limited by the software more than anything else, but that can be improved upon with updates.

A clean Android and a very usable display mean this is a phone that does the job. Plus, the Nokia 8 is priced significantly lower than the Samsung Galaxy S8 (Rs53,900), and just on the basis of price, goes up against the OnePlus 5 (Rs32,999 onwards), matching performance every step of the way.

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Specifications

■Qualcomm Snapdragon 835; 4 GB RAM

■5.3-inch IPS display (2,560x1,440 resolution)

■3,090 mAh battery

■Android 7.1 (Nougat)

■13-megapixel dual cameras

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