Nokia 8 Sirocco

Cool factor 4/5
Usability 4/5
Value for money 4/5

You could be forgiven for having a little déjà vu when you hear "Nokia 8". Its Sirocco version is in fact the second Nokia 8 on the market. The first launched globally late last year.

But the Sirocco is not just a relaunch. This smartphone is definitely an upgrade on the earlier one, with a slightly higher price tag too, but not an eye-watering one.

First off, the Nokia 8 Sirocco is Nokia’s high-end play in the Android One area, a group of devices — including the Nokia 6 and Nokia 7 Plus — that run the unmodified Android operating system (Android 8 Oreo at this point) without a manufacturer’s overlay.

The benefits of this include better battery life, and tools like Google Assistant, Google Photos and Google Lens built in. Google Lens is the most exciting of these for me — packing the ability to search for more information using your camera as an input tool, combined with artificial intelligence capabilities. The classic example (used in the marketing material) is looking up the name of a type of plant based on snapping a photo of said plant.

From there it offers related information, such as a local plant nursery. Google Lens will recognise shop and restaurant signs, and allow you to snap a pic of text, select it for further use, and even translate that text. Other benefits of Android One include unlimited photo storage, free from Google Photos.

Beyond the operating system, the Nokia 8 Sirocco is attractive and well-made, with quality materials including stainless steel and Gorilla Glass 5. It is a little more square (height to width ratio-wise) than is trendy, but it fits nicely in the hand. The little metal ridge around it also gives it a bit of grip on the edges.

The rear camera is wide-angle 12 megapixel, featuring Zeiss optics. Using the Pro camera mode, you get control of things like white balance, shutter speed and ISO for more expertly taken shots. Below that is a 13 megapixel secondary lens for images with 2x zoom. The screen is 5.5 inches, with a 2K (1440 x 2560) display. It has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor and 6GB RAM — that’s solid but not top specs.

And battery life is great, as you’d expect from a Nokia.

At just under R12,000, it’s undercutting rivals like the LG ThinQ and Sony Xperia XZ2, so as a budget-friendly option it’s really competing, without compromising too much on specs.

Plus, it’s playing out of its league on looks — if you don’t mind the less elongated form factor.