The ‘Nokia’ brand name is synonymous with consumer loyalty. There’s a lot of affection and nostalgia associated with it, but when it attempts to make its comeback into a market brimming with competition, there’s more to the game than just emotional support from fans. HMD Global, which now manufactures and sells Nokia-branded Android smartphones globally, today launched its Nokia 8 in the Indian market. Boasting of top-end features, the Nokia 8 is priced at Rs 36,999. I used it for a brief period at the launch event, and here are my first impressions of the flagship smartphone.
The first thing I noticed about the Nokia 8 is that it is extremely slim and feather-light to hold. With slightly curved edges, the phone is comfortable to hold and operate with one hand. What is particularly interesting about the design is that despite the vertically positioned dual-camera module at the back, there is no evident bump. If you run a finger along the back panel, it feels seamless. The power button and volume rockers are on the right edge of the phone and their sleek form blends nicely with the overall design. The U-type antenna design also merges perfectly for a neat rear panel.
From the rear panel to the front; the display is touted as one of the key elements of the Nokia 8. There’s a 5.3-inch IPS quad-HD display and for someone who’s used to smaller displays, this screen size gets the equation right. As for the resolution, in the given conditions, the display was bright and crisp. The touch response was good too. There’s also an always-on feature for the display. However, I found it too dull to be legible in the given lighting conditions. In-depth usage might paint a different picture, of course. ALSO READ: The Nokia 8 gets the price right, but just how right is it?
The Nokia 8 adds to the list of smartphones with the newest Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC. The chipset, built on the 10nm fabrication process, supports features such as dual-camera setup, more RAM, and also a bezel-less display. The Nokia 8, however, utilizes the full potential of the chipset in sections. For starters, there is a humble 4GB of RAM, instead of 6/8GB as seen on contemporaries such as the OnePlus 5, and 64GB of expandable internal storage. There is support for dual-SIM connectivity as well as microSD cards for storage expansion. In the brief time spent using the device, moving in and out of apps was smooth, with no lag or heating witnessed. However, our final verdict on the phone will be given post thorough usage.
Bothie a big deal?
As Qualcomm’s Larry Paulson pointed out during the launch, Nokia 8 utilizes the chipset’s prowess for the Dual Sight Mode. This brings us to one of the USPs of the phone- its support for streaming or capturing from both rear and front cameras simultaneously. Called ‘Bothie’, the feature lets you capture, record, or stream using both the front and rear cameras at the same time.
The mode is accessible through the main camera app. If you choose Dual Sight, your screen will be split into two, showing the subject at both ends of the camera. While I am uncertain if this mode will mess with the framing while doing a live video, I see its use particularly for publishers along with those who actively make video calls. The idea behind the feature is to allow users to go beyond selfie and capture both sides of the surroundings. Although it also supports capturing photos in Dual Sight mode, I don’t see its use other than making real-time collages effortlessly. Nonetheless, we can give HMD Global the credit for introducing something other than selfies and groupfies. RELATED: Nokia 8: Here’s how the ‘bothie’ dual-camera setup works
There is a pair of 13-megapixel (RGB) + 13-megapixel (Monochrome) sensors at the back with dual-tone LED flash. Up front, there’s a 13-megapixel camera supported with screen flash. What I liked about the camera interface is that it is easy to use. The camera type, mode, and flash controls are all placed on the top bar. You can switch between the sensor modes with a simple tap. Talking about the quality of images, in the given conditions, the images were good on contrast and sharpness. In the monochrome mode, the shadows and highlights were close to the natural lighting. It will be interesting to see how well the Nokia 8 matches up with the competition with its dual-camera setup.
At Rs 36,999, HMD Global is trying to capture consumer attention by offering a smartphone that ticks most of the check boxes, including the stock Android Nougat experience. With the iconic ‘Nokia’ name to it, the smartphone appears to hold a lot of potential in the market dominated by the likes of Xiaomi and OnePlus. Arguably, Chinese brands are leading in the flagship smartphone game at throwaway prices. For instance, if you go by the dual-camera feature, the Xiaomi Mi A1 is the latest, but is priced at a fraction of the cost of other contemporaries. As HMD Global’s Ajey Mehta pointed out, the sweet spot of the consumers is the mid-range segment. While Nokia 8 does appear to bring the brand name back in talks, how well it translates into numbers is something which will be seen over time.
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