An impressive return

THE NOKIA 8 is the phone that every Nokia fan has been waiting for – a flagship Android device that can stand with the best of the best that the market has to offer.

Made by Foxconn and designed by HMD, the Nokia 8 makes quite an ­impression.

Forgoing the glass sandwich ­design ­favoured by most ­premium flagship ­models ­today, the Nokia 8 opted for a practical and durable anodised ­aluminium back.

You can pick between the tempered blue or steel for a matte finish, and polished blue or polished ­copper for a glossy look.

The most eye-­catching colour among the four available has to be the polished copper. However, this limited edition variant will only hit the shelves much later.

Looking closer at the body of the phone, which is made from a single block of 6000 series ­aluminium ­alloy, you will notice a strip of ­plastic running across the top of the phone where the audio port is, and along the ­bottom of the phone where the speaker, ­microphone, and USB type-C port is.

The plastic, which curves around the phone's edges has two ­functions: it hides the ­antenna bands, and also ­provides some ­protection against the kinds of bumps and drops that would dent metal or crack glass, but would leave few marks on plastic.

Built on the ­Snapdragon 835 chipset – the ­processor of choice for almost every ­premium ­flagship Android phone in the market today – the Nokia 8 does not disappoint when it comes to ­performance.

It runs the pure version Android, an unaltered version of the operating system with no customised overlay or interface.

The result is a phone that is ­responsive, gets faster ­updates, and is not held back by ­unwanted features and ­unwelcomed bloatware.

This is all despite ­having only 4GB of RAM, which is less than what other phones of its ilk have to offer.

For ­taking ­pictures and ­videos, the Nokia 8 is ­fitted with three 13MP ­shooters, two at the back, and one in front.

The rear dual-­camera setup ­consists of a colour sensor with optical ­image stabilisation for sharper ­images in low light, and a mono ­sensor.

Both sensors are ­fitted with an f2.0 lens and are assisted with PDAF (phase ­detection auto ­focus), IR (­infra red) range finder, and dual-tone flash.

This translates to good low-light photos, and fast and ­accurate focusing with ­flattering low-light shots.
Pictures taken with the rear ­camera are great, and up to par with other ­flagships, but there is room for ­improvement.

Bright colours like reds pop out, while dull ­colours like beige are muted.

Also, the High ­Dynamic Range ­effect is not as prevalent, ­leaving details in dark areas ­hidden in the gloom, and the ­manual ­camera ­controls are not as ­extensive.

The latter is a minor issue, as most people use their camera phones as a point-and-shoot.

Still, this could easily be alleviated with a little editing, or a software update.

Using the same 13MP colour ­sensor and f2.0 lens but with a wider view, the front camera of the Nokia 8 takes ­excellent selfies. There is no flash, but there is a simple beauty mode.

Together, the front and rear cameras make up Nokia 8's main gimmick, the ability to take photos and videos, and even stream videos, using both the front and rear ­cameras simultaneously.

The ability to take pictures with both cameras is not new. However, Nokia's implementation is novel.

In this mode, both cameras will shoot in the square format; the two images are combined to make a 16:9 format image.

Dubbed the Dual-Sight mode, this feature is perfect for capturing photos or videos of a subject, and a reaction at the same time. The video could also be streamed live to YouTube or Facebook.

Comparing apples with ­apples, the Nokia 8 skips a few ­checkboxes that other flagship phones tout, such as water resistance, a large screen, a bezel-less screen, and a large RAM.

But, after using the phone, I did not miss those features.

For me, the best thing about the ­Nokia 8 is the balance of price, ­performance, design, and that stock Android OS.

At RM2,299, this is a ­flagship phone with a value that is ­difficult to beat.