The Nokia brand has witnessed a resurgence of late. It was aided by some big name phones like the Nokia 7 Plus from 2018 along with also the less great Nokia 7.1. Sad to say, the Nokia 8.1 has more similarities to the latter and suffers from the same sluggish performance. It is also more expensive.
Happily there are a few positives, including a good-looking, modern design, a clean Android One experience and its own attractive HDR screen, which help to partially make up for all these issues.
Nokia 8.1 – Layout
The new Nokia 8.1 lacks some of the flamboyance connected with Nokia in its own pre-Android years. Back then, the company’s phones had an design aesthetic that helped them to to stand out.
That is not to say there’s anything wrong with the Nokia 8.1’s design, it just feels a little more cookie-cutter. Like the Nokia 7.1, the Nokia 8.1 includes a glass rear that gives it a feel. Disappointingly, while wireless charging would be facilitated by the material, it’s not a characteristic . Wrapped around the borders you’ll find a two-tone anodized framework that contrasts with your color of selection. There are Steel/Copper Blue/Silver, and Iron/Steel mixtures. The Blue/Silver model I had been sent sports a blue, so appears almost black. It looks really classy.
Flip the phone and you’ll find a circular fingerprint sensor using a silver accent round its circumference. Is a set of camera lenses using a small camera bump. Along the ideal edge, there’s a volume rocker and power in the anodised frame. On the opposite side, there’s a SIM tray which may either require a card for storage expansion plus a single SIM or two SIMs. On the bottom is a USB-C charging port and there is a trusty 3.5millimeter headphone jack up top.
Though the Nokia 8.1 feels premium, it is not a horribly robust phone. My review sample arrived with a small chip to the frame and I added a second to the base chin (sorry, Nokia PR). The glass construction is slippery while still seated in the cinema because of this quality that is slick and the telephone took a fall from my pocket. That meant it dropped about 30cm to a soft surface, but that was still enough to take a chip from the alloy running the bottom border. Not really what I’d expect from a phone of this price.
Nokia 8.1 – Screen
The very eye-catching part of this Nokia 8.1 is its own screen. Such as the Nokia 7.1, it is FHD+ but it has gotten a percentage bigger at 6.1 inches (up from 5.85-inch). That display size is helped in part from the top notch. It is a fairly wide notch, especially in contrast to previous year’s Nokia 7.1, which means there’s not a great deal of screen to the left and right where your alarms are displayed. It means you’ve got space for at best two telling icons, which isn’t much. The telling bar seems to be black now, which helps conceal the size of the notch.
The FHD+ resolution helps the screen appear crisp and sharp, similar to the Nokia 7.1. Again, the bonus is support, something you still do see at the price point. It’s still not formally Mobile HDR Premium certified.
Frustratingly, Netflix does not support HDR with this phone but HDR movies on YouTube surely packed lots of vibrancy and punch. It’s just disappointing that there is suitable content available.
Yet another frustration, particularly when viewing movie, is just how competitive the adaptive brightness can be. After almost two weeks of use, it would jump around in brightness if the ambient lighting requirements hadn’t changed although it is assumed to learn your tastes.
There are a few welcome applications tweaks on the screen, however. The Night Light mode can kick into reduce blue light if you would like to give your eyes a rest before bed and there is an Wind Down style that turns content on the screen grayscale.
Nokia 8.1 – Software
The Nokia 8.1’s utilization of Android One program is a key selling point. That a purer Android encounter is meant by it , closer in line with what you would see from one of Google’s very own Pixel devices. It is a refreshingly mild user experience for anybody put off from the hefty Android skinning and software customisation used from the likes of Huawei and Samsung. There is also no pre-installed bloatware.