Image:digit.in

Nokia 8.1 Review: HMD global trying hard to get the mid range smartphone market

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Since the Takeover by HMD global Nokia has been pushing around many smartphones every year. Most of these smartphones are mid-range devices and are released in developing countries like the South Asian nations.

Google is also supporting these devicrs under its Android ONE program. Nokia 8.1 is one such smartphone. It can be categorized as an upper mid-range device that is enough for many consumers looking for a Mid-range device. We do have to consider that the prices of the flagships that were released earlier this year are also going down.

So, the story of a mid-range market is very interesting this holiday season, and Nokia 8.1 is the new addition to it. Without further ado let’s have a look at the phone and see whether it deserves to stay in your pocket.

Design

Starting with how the phone looks. The phone has a standard “2018” design. The anodized Aluminum frame is sandwiched between two Gorilla glasses. The frame has nice and smooth chamfered edges and rounded edges that make the device comfortable in hand.

In addition, the shiny metallic structure of the frame enhances the looks of the device. On the front end of the device, you are greeted with a big notch. The only good thing about it is, it’s wide unlike the long notch of Pixel 3XL. You can easily hide it through software.

Image: Nokiamob

On the rear end, there’s a vertically aligned dual camera setup. The camera module has a slight bump, and it has a metallic ring around it. Underneath the camera module, you can find the fingerprint sensor. At the end the Android ONE branding is visible.

Though the phone looks gorgeous and is easy to hold using one hand only, it’s not a perfect design. The glass back is vulnerable to dents and smudges. Moreover, we can not let the notch slide. The only way to hide the notch is to dig through the developer’s settings. Once “full black bar” is enabled it is for the whole phone, and no app can use the extra screen space.

Volume and power button are on the right and well within reach. The fingerprint sensor is also approachable easily, which makes the device easy to use

Display

The phone has a 6.18 inches IPS LCD  HD+ display with good viewing angles. The screen is HDR-10 capable, which means you can enjoy the beautiful HDR visuals. The 18.7:9 aspect ratio is one of the kinds which makes the overall screen resolution 1080×2246. They have not specified any type of color accuracy, but with the naked eye, the colors look as good as true. The screen gets bright enough to read the text in the sunlight.

Image:digit.in
Image:digit.in

They also have different color profiles built-in through software. The default one is dynamic which uses AI to adjust the colors of the screen according to what you are doing. Other presets include vivid and muted colors.

Additionally, you can use the slider to adjust the colors the way you want, but that is a hassle. Dynamic worked equally fine for me your mileage may vary. The ambient display is only enabled when the phone is on charge. The reason behind this the LCD display has to lit all the way even during sleep which eats a lot of battery.

Specifications

Under the specifications department the Nokia 8.1 checks all the boxes. Its powered by the Qualcomm’s best mid-range SOC, the Snapdragon 710. The name may not look as intimidating as the Snapdragon 835 (Last year’s flagship SOC), but it has roughly the same performance.

The processor is an Octa-core CPU which uses custom Kryo 360 cores. Two of these are Kryo 360 Gold cores based on ARM Cortex-A 75. The remaining six are based on Kyro 360 Silver based on ARM Cortex-A 55.

The GPU used in the chip is the Adreno 616, and Qualcomm claims it is enough for “console-like gaming experience.” Additionally, it supports dedicated AI, multiple high resolutions cameras and a modern LTE modem.

Image: XDA Developers
Image: XDA Developers

In an era where the mid-range smartphones often come is 128 GB package, Nokia 8.1 only offers 64 Gigs of onboard storage coupled with 4 GB of RAM. Though the RAM is not much, it is enough to breeze through every task that you put in front of it. If 64 GB is not enough for you, it supports micro SD card too. But if you pop up an SD card in the hybrid SIM try you will lose the dual SIM functionality.

Speaking of SIM cards, it supports both 4G LTE and VoLTE. For additional connectivity, you get Wifi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, GPS, and a USB 3.0 port.

Software

Like any other Nokia Smartphone of this year, the latest addition is also based on Google’s Android ONE program. You get Android 9.0 pie (based on Android ONE) inside the box.

The most important thing about the ONE program is that any smartphone that is released under this program will support stock android UI. It makes the whole system snappier and also gives a lot of customization options. The UI is light weight and has no bloatware pre loaded to the phone. The default theme is light, but the black theme makes it more beautiful, and it goes with the color of the smartphone too.

Because the phone is under Android ONE program, Google promises quick updates and supports the device for the next two years.

Camera

When deciding which smartphone to buy, camera performance is the main deciding factor. Since the interiors are becoming pretty much same all around. That is not only true in the flagship market; mid-range devices too have to face off each other in a battle of camera performance.

Image: XDA Developers
Image: XDA Developers

Nokia 8.1 does not slack in the camera department too. It contains a rear dual camera setup featuring a 12 Megapixel main sensor and a 13 Megapixel depth sensor with ZEISS optics. You can see the ZEISS branding on the camera module. Only the main sensor has Optical image stabilization (OIS) support. Nokia has not listed the aperture size of the camera but touts the 1/2.55 inch sensor and 1.4 Micron pixels.

The bigger sensor and pixel size help in the low light photography. The stills from the back camera setup are not on par with any other mid-range smartphone out there. Pictures pop up nicely with bright colors, and there is a nice dynamic range. The HDR too makes a good effort in lighting the shadows. At this range, the camera is more than okay.

On the front, we get a 20 Megapixel shooter which is enough for taking good looking and detailed selfies. The camera app is fairly basic too.

Battery and price

The battery required to run the device is fairly standard. It only has a 3500 mAH battery, which is barely enough for one day. The battery dies very quickly if you watch the HDR content or play games. Other than this there are no problems with the battery timings. Nokia uses an 18 Watt fast charger to charge the battery. It is not as fast as other fast chargers, but you can go from a 0 to a 100 in only 90 minutes.

The price of the phone is where things get dull pretty quickly. The specifications of the device are cutting, but 26,999 IND rupees or 385 Dollars is too much to ask for the smartphone.

Conclusion

Nokia 8.1 is a solid smartphone. It has a nice premium build, competent camera, and good hardware. The only thing it lacks is a compelling price. We have Pocofone; it has a better camera and better hardware and only costs around 300 dollars. If Xiaomi can pull this off Nokia should be more than comfortable to pull off such a device.

 

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