Nokia 8.1 review


 Nokia 8.1 review

Main concern 

Regardless of missing some easy decision highlights like face open and remote charging, the Nokia 8.1 is a lovely gadget that conveys smooth and solid execution with a wonderful FHD+ show and superb cameras 

Road Price$ 399.99 


Dazzling plan, smooth execution, amazing camera, incredible showcase, and sound 


Truly elusive to hold, some irregular slack, no remote charging 

The Nokia 8.1 is certainly not a completely fledged development to the leader Nokia 8. While HMD Global has made a pattern of the point-one telephone spin-offs, the Nokia 8.1 is a positively mid-range variation of the Nokia 8 which, while muddying the waters for their naming framework somewhat, still winds up being an outstandingly sufficient cell phone on the off chance that you understand what you're in for. It actually has the dazzling plan stylish that the last, not many Nokia telephones have, regardless of whether the internal parts are not exactly great


Display: 6.18-inch FHD+ (1080x2280p) PureDisplay, 18.7:9 aspect ratio

Processor: 2.2GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 710

Memory: 4GB LPPDDR4x RAM

OS: Android 9 Pie

Storage: 64GB internal, expandable up to 400GB

Camera Front: 20 MP

Camera Rear: Dual-lens 12 MP f/1.8 and 13 MP

Battery: 3500 mAh with 18W fast charging

Dimensions: 154.8 x 75.78 x 7.97 mm (not including camera bump)

Weight: 180 g

Design and Build

The visual design of the Nokia 8.1 is much closer to the Nokia 7.1 than it is to the Nokia 8 and, like its predecessor, it was milled out of a single block of 6000 aluminium, with diamond-cut edges and a sand-blasted finish. The two-tone finish is also back, with a chrome accent punctuating the sides of the device. The back has a glossy glass finish this time which, in addition to being a fingerprint magnet, makes the phone incredibly slippery. The display also has a pretty wide notch which, despite my disdain for the form, allows the Nokia 8.1 to have a larger 6.18-inch display despite having a smaller chassis than its predecessor.

The Nokia 8.1 also eschews the hideous trend of blingy fluorescence in favour of much more pleasant single colour schemes. The Iron/Steel colour variant I received for review is a gorgeous burgundy that shines through the glass back and is clearly visible on the sides, juxtaposed with the chrome accents to make the device look a lot more ‘premium’ than it really is. It’s a great look.

The Nokia 8.1 is also surprisingly resilient, despite the glass build. The weight distribution is just perfect, making it great to hold despite the annoyingly slippery back. Seriously that thing is way too slippery for its own good. I can’t even count the amount of times the phone almost hit the floor by sliding off my lap or out of my pocket while sitting down. This is definitely going to cause a lot of chipped frames and cracked screens, I just know it. The right side of the phone has the power and volume buttons, which all have a welcome tactile feel, and the top of the device has a 3.5mm headphone jack (yay!!)

Display and Audio

The Nokia 8.1 also comes with HMD’s PureDisplay tech, making it the second Nokia phone to have the feature. It allows users to adjust the temperature and contrast levels of the colours to their liking, and even has a blue light filter and the ability to auto-adjust brightness based on your surroundings. I found the auto-brightness to be a bit too aggressive, making wild adjustments with even the slightest change in lighting conditions, and much prefer to adjust it manually, but your mileage may vary.

The FHD+ display is easily the best one you’ll find, at least within this price range. The colours are vibrant, the contrast levels immaculate, and it’s HDR10 compatible. Also once you turn off auto-brightness, the display is incredibly bright and clear, even in direct sunlight.

The single speaker on the bottom of the Nokia 8.1 is exceptionally loud, without resulting in audio distortion which is very impressive in a single speaker. There’s even a fair bit of bass coming out of that.

Performance and Battery

The Nokia 8.1 comes with 4GB of RAM with a Qualcomm 710 processor that’s more than capable of handling most day to day usage… with a few caveats that I’ll get to later. The 710 is obviously not close to the performance of the Snapdragon 845, but the difference is negligible for day to day usage. Browsing the internet on chrome, using Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat all works without a hitch and all but the most high-end games like Asphalt 9 or PUBG run perfectly on the Nokia 8.1.

I did, however, find the performance on it a smidge inconsistent. While the UI and apps run super smoothly most of the time, I found the Nokia 8.1 to just freeze or lag sometimes. This occurs mostly while using Gboard or the camera where keyboard input was seriously laggy beyond the point of usability. The camera, sometimes, just refuses to click pictures, or it does so many seconds after clicking the shutter, resulting in a blurry mess instead of the shot you wanted. I haven’t been able to find a cause behind these random spikes of lag, but they’re definitely there. Here’s hoping they’ll be fixed in an update.

The Nokia 8.1 runs on the Android One version of 9.0 Pie right out of the box, delivering the stock Android experience without any bloatware or useless apps that you can’t delete. There is an increased emphasis on gesture-based navigation, which I really like. The usual home and back buttons are replaced with a single pill-shaped button on the bottom of the screen. You press it to bring up the app drawer, hold it to engage google assistance. You can hold the button and scroll left or right to scroll through all open apps, which you can also bring up by swiping upwards from the bottom of the screen. It’s a great system that works super well in a pinch, though it can be another casualty of the unexplained lag spikes mentioned above.

The Nokia 8.1 also has App Actions and Digital Wellbeing, which are great features to have. Digital Wellbeing lets you set time constraints on how much you use certain apps, after which they will be blocked for the day. It’s great of you want to cut down phone time. You also now have a system-wide Dark theme that I absolutely love.

The 3500mAh battery will give you a full day of use from a full charge, but it’s really not going to do much more. The auto-brightness feature should theoretically reduce battery usage, but I didn’t find very convincing results. Going from 100% charge from the morning, I found my battery dying around 10:30 PM after a full day of texting, making phone calls, checking social media, and streaming music and podcasts with the occasional game of Alto’s Odyssey here and there, keeping the screen to near full brightness at all times.

Watching a 90-minute movie with full brightness brought the battery from 100% to 80%, which is not bad but I’ve definitely seen better battery life from other devices in the same price range. The Nokia 8.1 also doesn’t support wireless charging, but it does have fast-charging via USB-C, which pumps the phone from 0% to 100% in a matter of an hour or so.


This has the same 12MP + 13MP dual-camera setup you’re probably used to seeing in Nokia devices, but it does bring a few tweaks. The primary camera now comes with Optical Image Stabilisation, and the secondary sensor is perfect for depth-sensing in portraits. The camera also performs admirably in low-light situations. The new camera interface is also a delight to use, place all the available modes in a scrolling ribbon above the shutter button, letting you switch between them on the fly.


The Nokia 8.1 combines elegant design and some robust hardware and software offerings to make for a very good mid-range smartphone. We haven’t seen a ton of mid-range Android One devices out there, so it’s good to see Nokia committing to that segment of the market. The uncluttered software and Nokia’s prompt update schedule alone make the Nokia 8.1 an easy phone to recommend, but the excellent display, audio, and camera sweeten the deal much further. The few lag issues are an annoyance for sure, but they’re too few and far between to harm an otherwise excellent device.

Review unit provided by Nokia Middle East.