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First Look: Nokia 8 Sirocco shows that HMD Global can potentially make the sexiest phones in the world

One of the finest products from the company

For over a year there have been questions over HMD Global’s ability to return the Nokia brand to the former glory days it enjoyed in the mid-2000s when it was an indefatigable force in the mobile phone space. Till the arrival of the iPhone it can be said that for about 15 years, the Nokia name was synonymous with mobile – it stood for connecting people and it was a force of nature, a brand loved like no other. And then came the iPhone coinciding with a systemic landslide in innovation at the company.

HMD Global, which is essentially a brand that’s been carved out by ex-Nokians who left for Microsoft after Nokia sold the phone business to the Redmond-based company, has been tasked perhaps the toughest revival job in history.

Nokia not only shunned Android for the Windows Phone, it hasn’t been a consumer brand for a couple of years since the deal between Microsoft & Nokia had a gardening period for the return of the Nokia name on a smartphone.

But when Microsoft wrote down the Nokia acquisition and HMD Global was injected into existence with the blessing of the Nokia board — the team mobilised quickly and products started to spring up since December 2016, and 2017 saw a portfolio ramp up like no other in recent history.

However, ramp-ups aside, what the new Nokia 8 Sirocco brings to the table is something different. It brings a sense of real character, class and sex appeal to a phone – something that’s not been seen since the iPhone 4.

Yes, it borrows design elements that have been seen in recent Samsung phones and arguably the new iPhone X is also very stunning to look at, but for a company that’s just about 21 months old, with 15 months of products in the market – this is incredible. This tells a person like me that HMD Global can make the sexiest phones in the world if it wants to – that are unique, stunning to look and hold and exude exquisite craftsmanship.

Now, that’s one thing one can’t say about Chinese OEMs like Xiaomi, Oppo, OnePlus or Huawei for that matter.

A stunner to behold

There is not even an iota of a doubt that the Nokia 8 Sirocco is one of the most striking smartphones to have come out in the recent past. At first glance comparisons can be made with some of Samsung’s earlier efforts with curved screens like the Galaxy S6 Edge, however, after 10 minutes of hands on time you’ll forget that.

The Nokia 8 Sirocco has its own character – a wildly more pleasant one than the erstwhile Samsung. The Nokia 8 Sirocco has stunningly beautiful rear profile which, when combined with all screen curved glass industrial design, looks stunning. Adding to the aesthetic is a slightly sharp, yet very solid stainless steel frame which is polished. This gives the phone a feel like no other and gives it a sense of heft which is reassuring and gorgeous to look at.

One of halo aesthetics of the Nokia 8 Sirocco is the dual camera bump on the back. It is HMD Global’s own design which is very aesthetically pleasing and it gives the phone an unique identity The jet black finish beneath the Gorilla Glass 5 layer also gives the phone an almost fully metallic vibe which works brilliantly in connection with the stainless steel frame of the device.

As a part of this design aesthetic, the phone also integrates the fingerprint scanner with a glossy finish neatly. Yes, the scanner does not have a deep enough chasm for one to get a good feel, but it works very well and certainly a couple of levers better than Samsung’s scanner in the S9.

There is also something to be said about a fully 16:9 screen with a 5.5-inch size to play with in a sea of new age phones which have taller 18:9 screens and are also larger in screen real estate. The Nokia 8 Sirocco feels compact and weighty while giving ample space and working superbly for videos on streaming platforms like YouTube.

The screen itself is a P-OLED panel. HMD Global claims this is the same panel that’s used on the Google Pixel 2 XL. It is made by LG, but it isn’t plagued by the issues that were in the Pixel as these are from a more refined second batch of the panel. It looks nice enough, but we will do a deep dive into its performance in our full review.

Fully power packed

For a phone that comes with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, 6GB RAM, and 128GB of onboard storage in addition to adulteration free stock Android Oreo, there should be no surprise that this phone feels buttery smooth in performance. It feels Pixel 2-like because it’s an Android One device and well, it has Pixel 2-like hardware as well, albeit a bit more RAM for good measure.

More so, the cameras are also something unique to Nokia. They get Carl Zeiss optics with a dual 12-megapixel and 13-megapixel wide angle and telephoto camera array on the back. The wide angle lens has a f/1.8 aperture and large 1.4 micron pixels and when coupled with the telephoto lens it can do a “live bokeh” and optical zoom.

In addition, one gets access to cool features like a bothie, binaural sound recording courtesy Nokia’s OZO audio technology. Also, there is a big camera update coming which will add face-unlock, augment reality additions and general performance boosts for the phone. For selfies too there is a 5-megapixel camera on the front with a wide aperture. It does quite a decent job.

An in-depth test will reveal more but right now we can say that the camera stack on this phone has promise, but HMD Global is yet to unlock the full potential of the hardware.

There is also a decently size 3,260mAh battery that is charged through a type C port . This also supports fast charging and the glass back adds wireless charging.

Other neat frills include support for 24bit at 192KHz which is more than it is on high end phones like the iPhone X. Then there is the bit about HMD Global’s partnership with Google for Android One which means that this phone will get regular updates like a Pixel 2 and will be always up to date with the latest security updates.

Overall, the Nokia 8 Sirocco is a powerful well-rounded diva at first brush. One thing it gets out of the way – if HMD Global wants to design a stunner, it has the chops to make the sexiest phone in the world which wouldn’t compromise on any basic functionality a user paying upwards of Rs 45,000 would expect.

That being said, we need to test it more to decide whether it is worthy its Rs 49,999 price tag.

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