Of all the Nokia Symbian phones, Nokia 8 launched in 2010 was my favourite. The stunning design and superb camera were unmatchable. I had high hopes for the Nokia 8 (running Android OS) launched last year but it failed to live up to my expectations. But this year Nokia is back with the Nokia 8 Sirocco, which is a gorgeous looking smartphone with a good camera and Android One operating system.
Words cannot do justice to the stunning design of the Nokia 8 Sirocco. You need to actually hold it in your hand to experience it. Crafted from a single piece of stainless steel, it has Corning Gorilla Glass 5 at the front and the rear, which curves at the edges and blends into the thin metal strip on the sides. At the thickest point, the device is 7.5mm, which tapers to 2mm on the sides, and feels razor thin to hold.
The front is dominated by the 5.5-inch display. The glossy rear, which attracts finger impressions, houses a dual camera setup and a circular fingerprint scanner. The soft finish at the rear makes it a little slippery too. Nokia 8 Sirocco is IP67 certified, which makes it water-resistant. The phone is accompanied with a plastic back cover for protection but completely kills the look of the phone.
The 5.5-inch 2k display is sharp with great colour reproduction. The curved display offers a bigger screen estate, and streaming videos and gaming was a delight. The lock screen displays the number of notifications, and a double tap wakes up the screen for a quick glance through the notifications.
Nokia is offering the best of both worlds. The stunning look is complemented with great hardware and software. Unlike most of the Android smartphone players, who add custom UI to their smartphones, HMD Global (the official licensee of Nokia smartphones) decided to stick to the stock Android. The Nokia 8 Sirocco runs Android One, which means there is no bloatware or custom UI and the phone should get latest security updates as and when released by Google. Our review unit was running Android 8.0.0, which consumed only 13GB of the 128GB of internal storage. At the time of writing the review, the Nokia 8 Sirocco received the Android 8.1.0 update.
The UI on the Android One is pretty neat - apps can be docked at the bottom of homescreen and swiping up from the bottom opens the app drawer. The app tray also has a search bar on the top, followed by a row of the most frequently used apps. Long pressing the app icon, be it on the homescreen or in the app tray, shows shortcuts for things you can do with the app. For instance, the Keep app shortcuts to create a new audio note, photo note, new list or a note instantly. This works with third part apps too- long pressing Twitter app allowed me to scan QR code, create a new message, new tweet or carry out a search.
The overall performance of the Nokia 8 Sirocco was satisfactory. Even with multiple apps running in the background, there wasn't any lag. However, given the price of Rs 49,999, it is powered by Qualcomm 835 processor, whereas the new flagship breed has Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor.
The Nokia 8 launched in 2010 had the best smartphone camera at that time. HMD is leaving no stone unturned with the Nokia 8 Sirocco and has added two cameras at the rear. There is a 12-megapixel camera (f/1.7 aperture) and a 13-megapixel telephoto camera with Zeiss optics.
The Live Bokeh mode captured great depth images when focusing on humans but struggled with objects. There is also an option to edit the background blur under Bokeh editor setting in Google Photos. When shooting in the auto mode, most of the images came out well. For me, the highlight is the user interface of the Pro mode that made adjusting manual settings intuitive and easy to use. Slightly swiping over the camera shutter switches to Pro mode, which opens radials menu for adjusting the white balance, focus, ISO, shutter speed, and exposure compensation. As I changed the settings, the results were displayed on the screen.
The images captured using the Pro mode were impressive as images captured during low-light and indoors had little noise. Overall, the images offered great colours and details. There is also a Bothie mode, where both the front and the rear camera captures images and videos at the same time and stitches them together. There are two ways to access the Bothie mode - one is where the front and the rear camera divides the screen into half and the other is P-I-P, where the selfie camera comes as a small picture in the big rear frame.
This feature sounds fancy but can come handy for YouTubers and Vloggers as there is also an option to select the microphone for recording sound and stream a Bothie live on YouTube or Facebook.
The Nokia 8 Sirocco is a perfect blend of beauty with brain. Even with the sleek body, it packs in a 3260 mAh battery, that managed to last a day with average use. The charger bundled in the box is capable to add 50 per cent juice to the phone in a little over 30 minutes.
The Nokia 8 Sirocco brings back the memories and expertise of the good old Symbian days, where it was hard to beat a Nokia phone. The Nokia 8 Sirocco competes against the flagships from Samsung and Google and looks stunning too.