Sunday 16 December 2018

Price is right as much-loved Nokia returns with flagship smartphone

Tech focus: Nokia 8

€520 from Three.ie

Nokia 8
Nokia 8
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

A flagship smartphone? Nokia? Yep, you read that right. The king of nineties and noughties mobile phones is back with a device that it hopes will return us to considering it in same conversations as the iPhone and Samsung (and maybe Huawei, Sony, Motorola and HTC, too).

The Android-powered Nokia 8 certainly throws in a lot of premium materials. That includes a nice, bright, HD 5.3-inch screen, a generous 64GB of storage memory and a beefy 4GB of Ram (allied to a high end Snapdragon 835 processor) to create a pretty top drawer device.

Nokia makes a virtue out of its dual rear cameras because of a novelty feature they support called a 'bothie'. In essence, this allows you to take a photo using both front and rear cameras at the same time. Is this a killer feature? I didn't think so, although some frequent photo-messengers might find it handy from time to time.

On the other hand, its three cameras (two 13 megapixel lenses on the back, one on the front) all perform pretty well.

Nokia hasn't followed the practice of separate wide and telephoto lenses on the back (like Apple and Samsung). Instead, the dual lenses are both wide, with one in monochrome.

This slightly enhances low-light performance but I missed the telephoto option: I use it a lot when available on a phone.

You can also livestream to Facebook or YouTube directly from the camera controls, an option I wasn't much interested in using.

The phone's design is nice but not spectacular. It's similar in look and feel to a lot of upper-end Android handset. That's not a bad thing.

My only quibble is that the sides are a little sharp, putting more strain on threads in coats and jeans pockets than some other phones. It would also be nice to see the next version of the phone (maybe the Nokia 9?) thin out the bezels, bringing it more into line with new smartphone design aesthetics.

If you have a choice, the copper-coloured version is definitely prettier. However, my version was black.

One of the things I like about the Nokia 8 is the lack of bloatware. There's little to put you off a new phone as much as piles of unwanted apps that are useless to 99pc of users. The Nokia 8 uses something close to a pure Android version, which is always popular with users.

As for other attributes, there's a fingerprint reader on the front and the phone is splash proof rather than waterproof. It may not survive a tumble down the toilet. It can also take a memory card if you want to go beyond the 64GB of storage. And it recharges using USB-C.

Thankfully, there's a 3.5mm headphone jack. Eventually, these will all go. But for the moment, it's still nice to have the flexibility.

Finally, battery life: Nokia hasn't pushed the boat out on this and this scores as reasonable rather than impressive.

It didn't cut out any quicker than, say, an iPhone 8 or a Samsung S8. But it doesn't come close to the staying power of big beasts such as Huawei's Mate 10 Pro (for which see review on independent.ie) either.

For the money, there's no question that you're getting quite a lot with the Nokia 8. At just over €500, this is €300 cheaper than a Samsung S8 or iPhone 8. It's even cheaper than last year's Samsung S7 and iPhone 7, both of which are still on sale today.

That means that, on price, it's really going up against phones such as Huawei's P10 (which is some €80 more expensive) and OnePlus's 5T (which can only be purchased online and enver as part of an operator upgrade or package). With these, it competes well.

It's good to have Nokia back in the Irish market. Like millions of others, I rued the demise of Nokia, both when Microsoft bought it and when they eventually binned it. The Finnish company was a brand we grew up with. It was also a symbol of European expertise in the tech world.

In Ireland, particularly, Nokia had a massive presence with over 50pc of the market, So there remains a well of positive sentiment to the brand, now operated by HMD Global.

It's too early to say whether it can really put a dent in the Apple-Samsung axis. But it's off to a reasonable start.

Indo Business

Business Newsletter

Read the leading stories from the world of Business.

Also in Business