After several price cuts on older phones, HMD Global finally brought to the Philippines three of its latest Android One phones. One of these phones is the Nokia 8.1—a premium mid-range phone that launched in Europe last December 2018 and the logical successor of last year’s Nokia 7 Plus.
While it sports the same chamfered frame used by its predecessor, the Nokia 8.1 now has a glass back this time around, a notch-sporting, HDR10-certified PureDisplay screen, and a more powerful Snapdragon 710 processor.
The Nokia 8.1 may be roughly six months old, but it can go head-to-head with recently-launched phones from the competition.
While you get the same Nokia packaging, the Nokia 8.1 we received came with an iron-colored outer sleeve, which is exclusive to the first 700 customers purchasing the Nokia 8.1.
The outer sleeve has a Nokia logo decked in silver, a Nokia 8.1 branding, and Lazada’s logo as the Nokia 8.1 is exclusive to the eCommerce platform. The back of the outer sleeve teases the additional contents of the main packaging: a Nokia VIP card and a Php 1,000 travel voucher.
Opening the main packaging, you have the usual contents: 18W fast charger, USB-C cable, headset, documentation, SIM ejector pin, and the phone itself.
Don’t be confused with the naming: the Nokia 8.1 is not related to 2017’s Nokia 8 or 2018’s Nokia 8 Sirocco. Instead, it is closely related to the Nokia 7 Plus, evident with its chamfered 6000-series aluminum frame sporting a mix of polished and anodized finishes. Unlike the Nokia 7 Plus, the Nokia 8.1 comes with a glass back.
Don’t expect any gradients here: instead, our review unit came in Iron, which has a maroon-plum shade. Like most glass-backed phones, the Nokia 8.1 is a smudge magnet.
Like the Nokia 7 Plus, you get Zeiss-branded dual rear cameras on the Nokia 8.1, along with a fingerprint scanner right below it. The camera module protrudes out of the glass back by a few millimeters, making it impossible to place the phone flat on the table unless you get a case for it.
For the port and control layout, you have the headphone jack on top, SIM card tray on the left side, power and volume controls on the right side, and loudspeaker and USB-C on the bottom.
The Nokia 8.1’s headline feature is its 6.18-inch Full HD+ PureDisplay screen. For those not familiar, PureDisplay is a proprietary Nokia feature where it can render a broader dynamic range, deeper blacks, and richer with the help of both hardware and software solutions. While the Nokia 8.1’s display can’t match AMOLED panels, its PureDisplay panel comes quite close. The tech makes the Nokia 8.1 capable of displaying HDR10 content from YouTube and Netflix.
If you are not watching HDR content, the Nokia 8.1 upscales them to HDR-like quality thanks to a dedicated imaging engine that also adjusts brightness and contrast to suit viewing conditions.
One major drawback with the Nokia 8.1 is the large notch housing the 20-megapixel camera, earpiece, and proximity sensors. The design makes the Nokia 8.1 look dated in an era of punch hole displays and pop-up camera solutions. If you really loathe the notch, HMD Global added an option to black out the notch area to give you a cleaner look.
Like the Nokia 7 Plus, you get Zeiss-branded dual rear cameras on the Nokia 8.1 comprising of a 12-megapixel f/1.8 IMX363 main camera and 13-megapixel f/2.4 secondary camera with OIS. The IMX363 sensor may be dated already in a sea of 48-megapixel sensors, but it is nonetheless one of the most proven camera sensors Sony has ever produced.
For the front camera, you have a 20-megapixel sensor with pixel binning tech that makes it output 5-megapixel photos. Check out some of the sample photos we took:
Powering the Nokia 8.1 is a Snapdragon 710 processor paired with 6GB RAM and 128GB internal storage. While the Snapdragon 710 is relatively old—it is superseded by the Snapdragon 730—Qualcomm’s 10nm-based processor can match the performance of 2017 flagship processors like the Snapdragon 835.
With our initial time with the phone, the Nokia 8.1 felt snappy and smooth, free of any lags even if we switch through various apps and games in between. We will be doing our usual barrage of tests that includes several games to see if the Nokia 8.1 lives up to expectations.
Like all Nokia phones, the Nokia 8.1 comes with a stock, bloatware-free version of Android Pie. Being part of the Android One program, the Nokia 8.1 is guaranteed to receive Android Q and Android R in the future, along with three years of security updates.
That’s it for our quick review for the Nokia 8.1. The full review will be up in the site in the coming days, so stay tuned.
The Nokia 8.1 retails for Php 19990 and is available exclusively via Lazada. The first 700 customers get a travel voucher worth Php 1000 and a Nokia VIP card for special treatment in aftersales services. In addition, the first 300 customers get free shipping.
Nokia 8.1 specs
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 710 processor
- 6GB LPDDR4X RAM
- 128GB internal storage
- 6.18-inch PureDisplay Full HD+ IPS display with Gorilla Glass 3 protection, HDR10 and DCI-P3 support, 1:1500 contrast, 96% NTSC color gamut coverage
- Dual Zeiss rear cameras 12-megapixel f/1.8 Sony IMX363 main camera with OIS; 13-megapixel f/2.4 depth sensor; dual-LED flash, EIS, 4K video recording, AI Scene detection
- 20-megapixel f/2.0 front camera with 0.9um pixels, AI bokeh effect, AI scene detection
- Dual SIM
- 3G, LTE
- WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, A-GPS
- USB Type-C, fingerprint scanner
- Android 9.0 Pie (Android One)
- 3500mAh battery with 18W fast charging