If you find Nokia’s brand architecture a tad confusing, you’re not alone. HMD Global (that

owns exclusive marketing rights for the brand in the smartphone space) launched the Nokia 8

Sirocco earlier in the year at close to Rs 50,000. That device with its slinky form sits at the top of

the Nokia tree. The 8.1 (the Nokia X7 in China) is a significant device for Nokia and arrives at

the end of 2018. This device arrives in the Rs 25,000 – 30,000 price band where Xiaomi’s POCO

F1 has kept the cash registers ringing.

 

 

Nokia has tried to fill key spaces from Rs 10,000 – 30,000 in its current portfolio with

devices ranging from the 5.1 to the 7.1. One of the key differentiators for Nokia across these

price points has been its design aesthetic and form. That’s what sets the Nokia 8.1 apart from

competitors like the Samsung Galaxy A7 and the POCO F1. It’s all glass with a premium

dual-tone anodised frame. It comes in a choice of two colour options – blue and iron. Our

review unit was the iron colour variant and it’s closer to a deep burgundy or plum – one of

the most distinctive colour options on any smartphone this year. The 8.1 feels really good in

your hand and every inch a premium device. The conveniently placed fingerprint sensor and

the rear cam feature the same metal embellishments that are consistent with the anodised

frame. You will also find the 3.5mm headphone jack, that will come as a relief to users who

still cling on to their wired headsets.

 

 

On paper the 6.18-inch Full-HD+ display’s specs – 1080 x 2280 pixels / 408 PPI, may not be

a big deal for this category but Nokia enhances this with HDR10 support and a 96% colour

gamut. Videos are vibrant and the display is sharp even under bright light. The display pushes

the screen: body ratio above 80% and like all Nokia’s major launches in the second half of

2018, there’s no escaping the wide notch.

Form factor – check, display – check. The other thing we really like about the Nokia 8.1 is

the Android One advantage. The device comes with Android Pie (9.0) out of the box and

offers a pleasing, pure-play Android experience sans bloatware. The Android One platform

ensures the 8.1 is first in line for Android OS updates and security patches. On the hardware

front, the 8.1 is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 710 Processor with 4GB of RAM.

It’s certainly not in the same league as the POCO F1 (in our Antutu benchmark tests) or the

ASUS ZenFone 5Z that costs slightly more. However this device is no slouch when it comes

to performance. We experienced no lags during multi-tasking or when we ran intensive

games like PUBG. There’s 64GB of internal storage and support for extendable memory

through a hybrid SIM slot. You will need to sacrifice your second SIM card though.

 

  

 

The hardware package gets a boost with a solid battery – 3600 mAh, that should comfortably

last most users over a day. There’s an 18W fast charger bundled in. The Nokia 8.1 features a

dual rear cam (12MP + 13MP) with the comforting Carl Zeiss branding, usually reserved for

premium Nokia mobile shooters during Nokia’s heyday. This rear cam and the 20MP selfie

cam shoot sharp images in ambient light and we like the minimal camera user interface. The

camera results dip in lowlight though. This is an area where the Samsung Galaxy A7 with its

triple camera and the POCO F1 have an edge.

The Nokia 8.1 is a solid device with an elegant form factor and a seamless Android user

experience. It has enough hardware firepower to keep it chugging along and keep power

users interested. It doesn’t feature a stellar camera especially in lowlight for serious camera

buffs and is one of the only chinks in its armour. If you’re not too hung up on lowlight

photography this might be all the flagship killer you need.

 

The Nokia 8.1 costs Rs 26,999 and comes in two colours – blue and iron.

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