The Lumia 950 series were the last Windows flagship device launched in collaboration with Nokia engineers. It was a culmination of all that made Windows device lovable. Clean design, AMOLED display with high resolution, exchangeable battery, USB -C charging and one of the best Pureview camera onboard.
Expectations were high when HMD secured the licensing rights to use Nokia on their mobile device. The Nokia 6 was successful upon launch and the fans were eager to see whats next. In September 2017, 2 years after the Lumia 950 series were announced, the Nokia 8 was introduced to the world. A flagship grade Nokia device running Android 7.
After months of contemplation, I finally gave in and decided to have a hands on experience with the Nokia 8 at the nearby care centre. This was the beginning of my journey with the ‘new’ Nokia under the guidance of HMD Global.
The Nokia 8
When I held the Nokia 8 for the first time, I was completely blown away. The thin metal body had a good weight and was sturdy. It was definitely a breath of fresh air , coming from polycarbonate body of the Lumia series. The blue colored aluminum 6000 series frame was a beauty. After a couple of minutes, I was sold and I made the purchase. The Gorilla Glass 5 protects the quad HD IPS display which had good color reproduction and excellent viewing angles. The 4GB RAM and 64GB storage was something new coming from Lumia devices. On the rear, a 13MP RGB sensor with OIS complements the 13MP monochrome sensor and on the front , another 13MP senor ,sans the OIS. The Zeiss branding on the optics and OZO audio recording was a familiar setup .
The Nokia 8 was well executed, it feels premium, it performs well…..if you detach the idea that this is a continuation of where Nokia left with Lumia series. Don’t get me wrong, the metal body and the built quality was top notch. The omission of AMOLED display in favor of IPS display was forgivable as the images were sharp and vibrant. Battery life wasn’t an issue as well as it provides all day battery with relatively fast charging. With Android onboard, the possibilities were endless. But the transition from Microsoft and Lumia wasn’t easy. The decoupling from Microsoft ecosystem, namely OneDrive, Office and even Cortana to Google Mobile Service wasn’t an easy one. But Google had all the apps that Microsoft provides and to make the deal sweeter, it had unlimited photo back up as well. In general, there wasn’t many to miss from the good Lumia days. The Android One was clean and the hardware provided smooth experience.
But, the reality hits hard whenever I use the camera. It’s a constant reminder that this isn’t the Nokia we use to know. The dual camera setup on the rear was good but no where what the Pureview engineers had created before they signed off. It seems that Nokia 8’s camera was not designed with a Pureview in mind. Rather , the setup is similar to what Huawei was doing with their imaging department. It was average at best and low light photography was bad even with the addition of monochrome sensors promising better light absorption. While the monochrome sensor does take excellent black and white images, it certainly couldn’t do much to the final images with color. Video recording with OZO audio was acceptable though.
While the Nokia 8 was launched with a tag line of pure ,secure and up to date, the device itself opened a can of worms for HMD. For one, the software update was limited. No added features with subsequent updates and HMD seems oblivious to the many complaints the Nokia 8 had. The camera often fails to register inputs, has a wobbly effect every now and then and many more. Even the hardware had issues, with the screen having ghosting less than a year of using them. Face unlock was absent as well. These lack of updates , addition of beneficial software features and not addressing the complaints , eventually became synonymous with HMD Global.
The Nokia 8 was the first flagship from Phase 1 of HMD devices. It had a huge burden of competing to be better than the last Lumia flagship. The improvements with the hardware was certainly commendable. However , the lack of meaningful software updates and ignoring the complaints the device had, certainly brought down the success HMD had hoped for in the long run. The Nokia 8 in essence is a totally new device not related in any way to the previous Lumia devices. Once those distinctions had been made clear, it was more palatable to accept its shortcomings.
If you are curious how the Zeiss optics and camera software have evolved in the 8 series, do check this video made not long ago..