After making a comeback in the smartphone world, Nokia has been trying to regain its lost leadership in the market. Of course, it is no easy task, but the brand is meeting the challenge head on. Particularly so in India, which remains one of its key markets. And its latest product is the Nokia 8.1, which comes as the new “affordable premium smartphone” that is expected to take the place of the highly acclaimed Nokia 7 Plus. Those are pretty hefty boots to fill, right? Well, if you are considering the Nokia 8.1, here are eight things you should know about the phone:
Design: More glass now, and that’s good
The Nokia 8.1 follows a similar design language to some of its recently launched cousins – so there is a lot of glass here. It comes with glass on both front and back and sandwiched in between the two layers of glass is the Series 6000 aluminum frame with diamond cut edges. The device has an edge to edge display with a notch on the top that carries the front facing camera, the earpiece and the proximity sensor, thin bezels on the sides and a comparatively thicker bezel on the chin. The back of the device has dual cameras in a vertical unit that looks like a capsule, with a fingerprint scanner just below it (no in display scanners for Nokia yet). The hybrid SIM card slot sits on the left while the power button and volume rocker are placed on the right side of the phone. The base of the smartphone holds the mic, the USB Type C port and the speakers while the top carries the 3.5 mm audio jack. It all looks rather smart to be honest and at 8 mm is on the thinner side. Yes, it is a little heavy at 180 grammes and all that glass gets smudged but this is a good looking design, in both variants: blue/silver and iron/steel.
Display: PureDisplay tech on show
The front of the Nokia 8.1 is dominated by a 6.18 inch full HD+ edge to edge display that comes with what HMD calls PureDisplay technology, with a screen resolution of 1080 x 2280 pixels. The display with support for HDR 10 which is believed to deliver better colours, contrast and sharper pictures. The display on the Nokia 8.1, much like TrueTone display on the iPhone, will adapt and adjust according to the environment. It also comes with DCI-P3 wide colour range for a more vivid display experience. Simple English: video should look very good on it indeed. Perhaps the best it has on any Nokia phone.
Primary cameras: Zeiss Optics
Nokia used to be the front runner in phone cameras at its peak but has had lesser success since its comeback. That could change with the 8.1. One of the biggest highlights of the Nokia 8.1 is the dual camera combination present on the back of the smartphone. The primary camera out of the two sensors is the 12 megapixel ZEISS optics sensor with f/1.8 aperture. The main sensor is also bundled with EIS, OIS and PDAF. The supporting sensor on the device is a 13 megapixel sensor which is supposed to collect depth of field data in order to provide you with the much popular bokeh effect in your portrait picture. The smartphone is also big on AI in the camera department and uses AI for bokeh and identifying different scenes. The camera interface is loaded with features and options, with modes like Pro, Live Bokeh (this portrait shots), Slow Motion, Time Lapse amongst others. It also comes with the much talked about “Bothie” feature which allows you to use both front and back cameras at the same time.
Selfie camera: No megapixel shortage
Nokia has also been very generous with megapixels on the front camera. The 8.1 comes with a 20 megapixel front facing camera for selfies and video calling purpose, and there are a number of shooting options too Bokeh, Pro, Slow Motion, Beauty Mode and real time stickers. Nokia has not yet made a major splash in the selfie department. Could the 8.1 change it? It certain has the specs to do so. The big surprise: no advanced face unlock on the device out of the box. It right now uses the very basic face unlock that Android Pie has, which seems to be a bit of a waste of that notch.
Processor: Comes with a new Snapdragon
The smartphone is the first from the house of Nokia to boast the new Snapdragon 710 chipset. The 10nm SoC is bundled with a multi-core AI engine, and \claims to offer 30 per cent more battery life than its predecessor. The processor also comes with Adreno 610 GPU which promises 25 per cent improvement in performance. Along with the Snapdragon 710 comes 4 GB RAM and 64 GB internal storage. There is also a 6 GB + 128 GB variant of the device. The storage can be expanded upto 400 GB by using a microSD card. Some might have expected a Snapdragon 845 on the phone, given that the Nokia 8 came with a Snapdragon 835, but we have been told that the new Snapdragon is no pushover and while it is not as “flagship level” as the 835 was, it can certainly handle most tasks with ease and will be a wizard in the battery department.
Battery: Getting bigger
Big batteries used to be rarely seen at the price point of the Nokia 8.1. However, that is changing. The Nokia 7 Plus ha sported a 3800 mAh battery and while the 8.1 has a slightly smaller battery, it is not smaller by much – it has a 3500 mAh battery. What’s more, the phone comes with support for fast charging and is coupled with an 18W charger in the box. The company claims that the Adaptive Battery feature can see through almost two days of usage on a single charge – and judging by what we saw of the Nokia 7 Plus, we believe them.
OS: Pie out of the box
Ever since Nokia has made its comeback, it has decided to stick as closely to stock Android as possible and the Nokia 8.1 is no different. The device is an Android One smartphone, with no bloatware, and is also the first Nokia device to come with Android 9 Pie outof the box. The company has also promised two major updates with regular Android security patches. And Nokia has an excellent track record in updating its devices to new versions of Android – the 7 Plus is already running Pie. Yes, you will not get lots of bells and whistles and extra features here – but the OS will be clean and fast. Do you need Android One? We have a story on that already – do read it!
Price: A little…high?
The Nokia 8.1 is available for pre orders at the price of Rs. 26,999 for the 4 GB + 64 GB variant of the device. We think that considering there are devices like the Poco F1 that offers a Snapdragon 845 processor and 6 GB RAM at Rs 19,990 and the Honor Play that packs in some very serious gaming muscle at an even lower price, the 8.1 has a very tough task on its hands. That said, it does come with a good design, clean Android, very good cameras and of course, the reassurance that the Nokia name still brings to many people. It will go on sale from December 25 and will be available at top mobile retailer outlets, Amazon India and the Nokia website.
Traveller’s Tip: It may look gorgeous, but the Nokia 8.1 has no water or dust resistance. That does limit its use in rough conditions. However, slap a good cover on to it and matters should improve!