Nokia 8.1 Review: Elegant Design With A Solid Build Quality

Karamchand Rameshwar - Dec 30, 2018

Nokia 8.1 Review: Elegant Design With A Solid Build Quality

The latest Nokia-branded phone, the Nokia 8.1, has a great build quality and an elegant design but still has some significant weakness.

The Nokia 8.1 is the latest addition to HMD Global's Nokia-branded mobile portfolio. It is not really a new phone as HMD Global already released it in the Chinese market under the name of Nokia X7. Besides China, the company has been focusing on Google’s Android One as its strategy, sticking to quick updates and clean operating software as the unique selling points. The Finnish has introduced quite a few smartphones this year.

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After launching the Nokia X7 in the Chinese market, HMD Global soon introduced the Nokia X7’s global model, the Nokia 8.1, in Dubai in early December and other markets as well. There is only a single variant of this handset with 4GB of RAM/64GB of internal storage, and it comes at a price of Rs. 26,999 in India. So what does this Nokia 8.1 actually offer? Check out our review below:

Nokia 8.1: Build and Design

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The dual-SIM Nokia 8.1 is very well-design with a 2.D glass and a dual-tone anodised metal frame. The phone also comes with very good build quality as well as color and aesthetics treatment. The only thing that doesn’t go on well with its impressive design is the wide notch similar to the one on the iPhone X.

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Slippery body is also another significant issue of the handset, and it is also prone to smudges and fingerprints as well. Therefore, it would be better to go for a protective case for the phone, and it will also help you have a better grip on the phone as well.

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On the front, the Nokia 8.1 sports a 6.18-inch FHD+ PureDisplay IPS LCD display with a 1,080 x 2,246 pixels resolution and an iPhone X-like notch. In contrast to the Nokia 7.1, it has a broader display which gives a good balance to its overall design. The chin bezel has also been taken good care by HMD Global as well as it has a much smaller size than the one on the Nokia 7.1. However, with a ton of smartphones with a water-drop notch out there, the wide notch on the Nokia 8.1 seems like a deal breaker to many people, especially the ones that have a lot of media consumption.

Nokia 8.1: Display, Performance, and Software

As mentioned, the Nokia 8.1 sports a 6.18-inch FHD+ PureDisplay IPS LCD display with a 1,080 x 2,246 pixels resolution which is quite common for smartphones in the price range. The Nokia 8.1’s display performs quite wells and also reproduces nearly natural colours. The phone’s brightness levels were also adequate for daylight conditions when I tried out the phone.

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Moving to the performance aspect, the handset is powered by the Snapdragon 710 processor, 4GB RAM/64GB of internal storage and coupled with the stock version of Android. With the combination, I was satisfied with the overall performance of the phone though I still think that it is still not as good like the ones in the similar price range offered by its rivals like Asus or Xiaomi

But don’t get it wrong, I still got a smooth experience during my time with the Nokia 8.1 For multitasking and daily usage, I didn't face any issues whatsoever and the same for games with lower graphics like Subway Surfers. Moving to PUBG Mobile which requires quite a lot more power, the phone still managed to run it perfectly even when I set the high settings though it still got slightly heat up after a long game session it was not really significant.

The Nokia 8.1 is a part of the Google’s Android One programme, so it comes with a stock version of Android 9.0 Pie out of the box which is, in my opinion, better than most of the custom UIs.

Nokia 8.1: Cameras

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The Nokia 8.1 comes with a dual rear ZEISS-branded camera setup, including a 12MP sensor, 1.4μm pixels, dual pixel PDAF and OIS; and a 13MP secondary sensor. The rear camera setup also comes with some features such as dual-LED dual-tone flash, panorama, and HDR. On the front, there is a 20MP sensor for taking selfies and video calls.

The Nokia 8.1’s rear cameras offer great quality photos as it captures not only natural colors but also great details in daylight. In the low-light conditions, it still managed to shoot pictures with decent quality for its price range.

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For the front camera, the 20MP resolution did help in capturing great details and also getting the skin tones just right.

The AI portrait mode also offers great edge detection which still struggles with clothes and hairs.

Overall, I would say HMD Global did a good job with the Nokia 8.1’s front and rear cameras.

Nokia 8.1: Battery

The Nokia 8.1 comes packed with a 3,500 mAh battery along with a USB-C port for charging and an included 18W adapter with fast charging capability. It takes around one hour to charge the phone to 60 percent and two hours for full battery capacity.

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With light usages such as checking social networking sites, navigations and emails, the Nokia 8.1 can last for a full day. But if you are a person who plays a lot of mobile games, you may be disappointed with the battery life of the Nokia 8.1. That said, HMD Global did a good job on the apps management, making good use of the 4GB RAM. You can leave the phone at around 10 percent for a full night, and it will not go off when you wake up in the morning.

Nokia 8.1: Final thoughts

I would say the Nokia 8.1 is a well-rounded phone that is decent in most of the aspects for a very slightly high price tag. The phone is undoubtedly well-built and has a very premium feel and look.

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At the price of Rs. 26,999, the phone has decent performance, but it is still somewhat behind other phones in its price range. Although, its stock version of Android 9.0 Pie can be an advantage as it will get regular security updates as well as at least two years of Android OS upgrades. In contrast with the Xiaomi Pocophone F1, while the Xiaomi handset has better specs and performance, the Nokia device is ahead of the design, build quality and operating system.

Overall, the Nokia 8.1 is a decent mid-range phone with an advantage in the software department with Android One programme. If you are looking for a phone with a solid and well-established brand and great operating software, the Nokia 8.1 should be on top of the list. However, if you are looking for a smartphone with powerful specifications for gaming or some sorts, then you better look somewhere else.


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