The Nokia brand has witnessed a massive resurgence of late. This was aided by some major name phones like the Nokia 7 Plus from 2018 along with also the less great Nokia 7.1. Unfortunately, the Nokia 8.1 has more similarities to the latter and also suffers from the exact same sluggish performance. It’s also more expensive.
Thankfully there are some positives, including a good-looking, modern design, a clean Android One encounter and its attractive HDR display, which help to at least partially compensate for all these difficulties.
Nokia 8.1 – Layout
The new Nokia 8.1 lacks a few of the flamboyance connected with Nokia in its own pre-Android years. Back then, the telephones of the company had an design aesthetic that helped them to to stand out.
That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with the Nokia 8.1’s design, it just feels a little more cookie-cutter. Such as the Nokia 7.1, the Nokia 8.1 includes a glass rear that provides it a premium feel. Disappointingly, while wireless charging would be facilitated by the substance, it is not a feature here. Wrapped around the borders you’ll find a two-tone anodized frame which contrasts with your colour of choice. You will find Blue/Silver, Steel/Copper, and combinations. The Blue/Silver version I had been sent a deep blue to sports, therefore looks black. It looks really classy.
Flip the phone and you’ll come across a circular fingerprint detector with a silver accent around its circumference. In addition to that is a pair of camera lenses using a camera bump. Along the edge, there’s power button and a volume rocker in the framework that is anodised. On the opposite side, there’s a SIM tray which can either take a microSD card for storage growth plus two SIMs or a single SIM. 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 superior, it’s not a terribly robust cellphone. My review sample already arrived with a small chip to the frame and I inserted a second to the base chin (sorry, Nokia PR). The glass structure is relatively slippery and also the phone took a tumble from my pocket while still seated at the cinema due to this glossy quality. That meant it dropped about 30cm to a soft surface, but that was enough to take a chip from the metal running the bottom edge. Not really what I would expect from a phone of this price.
Nokia 8.1 – Display
The most eye-catching element of the Nokia 8.1 is its own screen. Like the Nokia 7.1, it’s FHD+ but it has gotten a percentage bigger at 6.1 inches (up from 5.85-inch). The top notch again helps in part that display size. It is a pretty wide notch, especially compared to previous year’s Nokia 7.1, which means there is not a great deal of display to the left and right where your notifications are displayed. It means you have room for at best two notification icons, which isn’t much. The telling bar appears to be black today, which helps mask the size of the elite.
The FHD+ resolution helps the screen appear sharp and crisp, much like the Nokia 7.1. Again, the bonus is HDR10 service, something which you still do not typically see at this price point. It’s still not formally Mobile HDR Premium certified.
Frustratingly, Netflix does not support HDR with this phone but HDR videos on YouTube certainly packed plenty of vibrancy and punch. It’s just disappointing that there isn’t more suitable material accessible. Yet another frustration, especially when watching movie, is how competitive the adaptive brightness can be. It’s assumed to learn your preferences over time but in brightness, it might still jump around after nearly two weeks of usage even when the lighting requirements hadn’t changed.
There are a few welcome applications tweaks on the screen, however. If you would like to give your eyes a rest before bed the Night Light style can automatically kick in to reduce blue light and there’s an Wind Down style that turns content on the screen grayscale.
Nokia 8.1 – Software
The Nokia 8.1’s use of Android One program is an integral selling point. This means a purer Android encounter with what you would see from among Google’s very own Pixel apparatus. It’s a mild user experience for anyone put off from the heavy Android skinning and applications customisation used by the likes of Samsung and Huawei. There’s also no bloatware.