Cool factor ***** | Usability *** | Value for money ****
Nokia, the beloved brand, has a new flagship phone, this time on the Android operating system.
The Nokia 8 becomes the first flagship produced by HMD Global Oy — which holds the licence for the brand.
It brings something unique to an overcrowded market — stock Android. Stock (or vanilla) Android is the purest form of the OS, normally found on Google’s handsets that are not available in SA.
Manufacturers like Samsung, Sony and LG add custom overlays to their Android devices, which results in bloatware — a term used to describe unnecessary apps that take up space on a handset, and cannot be uninstalled. The Nokia 8 has none of this.
The handset uses Google services for everything, including photos, which get backed up to the cloud. Users get free, unlimited cloud storage; a great way to save images. Absent are features like customised feeds, themes, widgets, gestures, or anything gimmicky. It is basic, with no frills and somewhat refreshing.
HMD has done an excellent job with the hardware: the phone is beautifully designed, slim and elongated in a matte finish. The 5.3-inch device packs in a crisp, high definition 2K screen, with vibrant colours that make apps on the home screen look incredibly detailed.
A Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chip and 4GB of RAM ensures snappy performance, with a decent 64GB of storage to boot, expandable up to 256GB.
The handset is geared towards individuals who livestream content to YouTube and Facebook, which is done natively once your social accounts are authorised under camera settings. Both the front and rear cameras stream simultaneously in a split screen mode, giving audiences a unique view from both sides. It supports Nokia OZO audio and 360° sound.
But some may be disappointed by the quality of the camera. It has two 13MP cameras at the back: one monochrome lens for black and white shots, and the other shoots in colour. It supports manual controls with bokeh effects, two-way snaps using front and rear facing cameras, and panoramic shots.
But the quality of the photos is not on the same level as other flagships, and that becomes more noticeable when you zoom in.
This makes the camera ideal as a point and shoot for sharing straight to social media, but if you are a true Nokia fan, this camera is a let-down compared with earlier devices.
At R9,499, the Nokia 8 is cheaper than other flagships — but it also doesn’t quite live up to the hype that top-of-the-range devices are supposed to provide.