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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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