Nokia 8 Sirocco review (hands-on): Sultry new design but not much substance

Nokia’s renaissance under the guiding hand of Finnish startup HMD continues apace at MWC 2018 with the launch of another new flagship smartphone: the Nokia 8 Sirocco.

Just like the Nokia 8, 6, 5 and 3, which launched a year ago almost to the day, the Sirocco is an Android handset and it replaces the Nokia 8 as the flagship atop Nokia’s range.

In fact, Nokia is encouraging us to view the 8 Sirocco as a “special edition” rather than a brand new phone in its own right. That’s a bit of a worry given the amount of time that has elapsed since the first one was unveiled at last year’s mobile technology show in Barcelona.

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Nokia 8 Sirocco review: Specifications, price and release date

Display

5.5in 18:9 2K OLED display

Processor

Octa-core 2.45 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor

RAM

6GB of RAM

Storage

128GB of storage (expandable via microSD)

Rear camera

12MP and 13MP telephoto rear cameras

Front camera

5MP

Price

€749

Release date

April 2018

Nokia 8 Sirocco review: Design, key features and first impressions

In terms of its looks, though, there’s not much to be worried about. The body is built from a sturdy block of stainless steel and it’s flanked at the front and rear with “vacuum folded” Gorilla Glass 5 that curves neatly towards the frame of the phone all around the edges.

There’s an 18:9 aspect ratio display on the front, which means that, although the screen is a large-looking 5.5in 2K AMOLED panel, the phone itself does still feel quite small in the hand. The main complaint I have with the way the phone looks and feels is that the taper of the glass to the left and right side ends in quite a sharp, pointy, diamond-cut edge.

In fact, with the phone measuring 7.5mm at its thickest point and narrowing to 2.5mm, I worry the phone might be uncomfortable to hold for long periods.

On the rear, the dual-camera module bulges a little too much from the surface of the phone for my liking, too, although the Zeiss logo and chamfered chrome surround mean it looks pretty smart. As ever, the Nokia branding and fingerprint reader are both arranged neatly in a line below the camera and although the phone is only available in one colour – black – it is at least a lustrous, glossy black that catches the light quite nicely.

While it looks nice, though, the rest of the specifications don’t excite the interest in quite the same way. Those dual cameras might be brilliant, but there are plenty of other manufacturers offering a dual-camera setup. Nokia’s cameras, by the way, capture stills at 12MP and 13MP respectively with the latter offering a telephoto or zoomed in view of your scene.

It’s a similar story inside the phone. Surprisingly, instead of going with the latest and greatest Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor, the Nokia 8 Sirocco is sticking with last year’s Snapdragon 835. That’s fine. The Snapdragon 835 was, and still is, a mighty capable mobile chip but when you’re spending €749 (~£660) on a 2018 flagship smartphone, you surely want the best that’s available and this isn’t it.

At least the Nokia 8 looks the part in terms of the rest of its spec sheet. It has 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage and microSD expansion. It’s IP67 dust and water-resistant, there’s wireless charging and it has a reasonably big 3,260mAh battery on-board, too. In partnership with the 2K screen and power efficient Snapdragon processor, the latter ought to get you through a day and a half at least before you need to rush back to the mains. The phone also runs on Android Oreo – as it should – and performance feels nice and nippy as you’d expect.

Nokia 8 review: Early verdict

Nokia is well and truly on the road to recovery as a smartphone brand and with the Nokia 8 Sirocco – a design that’s both mature and alluring – it’s certain to begin attracting fans back who might have deserted the brand over the past few years.

But HMD needs to do more than this if it wants to hit the heights of the late 1990s and 2000s, when the Finnish manufacturer ruled the mobile industry with a series of unassailable hits. The Nokia 8 Sirocco looks nice enough but at a such a high price – it’s €749 (~£660) – and without the latest, greatest smartphone tech on board, there simply isn’t enough substance here to help push the new, HMD-powered Nokia to the next level.

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