Nokia 8 Sirocco review

Nokia 8 Sirocco review

The Nokia 8 Sirocco is a beautiful phone that’s fast to operate and has great battery life. Where it mostly lets you down is in the camera department.

When HMD launched the Nokia 8 last year, it was a phone with top specs but a dated design. It thus seems a bit funny that the refresh for the phone, the Nokia 8 Sirocco, has a more modern design but dated specs.

The Nokia 8 Sirocco uses last year’s Snapdragon 835 processor coupled with 6GB RAM, but, because of its Android One implementation, it runs faster and smoother than phones with the latest Snapdragon 845 processor, such as the Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact.

The Nokia 8 Sirocco has style and speed but one of the most important features of a phone is the camera, and the original Nokia 8 had let us down in that area. Let’s find out if the Sirocco can up the game with photography to make the new Nokia 8 compete with the likes of Samsung Galaxy S9 and Huawei’s P20 Plus.

HMD had announced the Nokia 8 Sirocco at MWC earlier this year, but the phone is only now getting ready to go on sale. It’s expected to be in store shelves by the first week of May.

The original Nokia 8 had a killer price of AED 1,699 (about US$460) which allowed us to ignore some of its shortcomings such as the design and the camera. However, HMD has priced the Nokia 8 Sirocco at AED 2,399 (about US$650) which is quite a bit higher than it’s predecessor and very close to the Samsung Galaxy S9 that can be purchased for AED 2,600 (about US$700). Thus, the Sirocco really needs to stand out to compete in order to justify this price tag.

  If you’re familiar with Nokia phones from the past, you’ll recognize Sirocco as the luxurious version of the much loved Nokia 8800 which became an instant classic for its premium design and materials. 

It must have been a challenge for HMD to recreate that experience. Thankfully, they get things mostly right with the Nokia 8 Sirocco which is super sleek with a curved screen, a stainless steel frame and a glass back.

Like most phones with a glass back, it’s slippery and easier to break than a metal one. We managed to catch the phone slipping off the couch a couple of times, and, it’s easy to imagine how that could have not ended well.

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The Nokia 8 Sirocco measures 140.9 x 73 mm and it just 7.5mm thin which makes it sit comfortably in your hands. It’s a tad weighty and dense but that just gives the phone a solid feel.

HMD really turns up the heat where the screen tapers into the stainless steel frame. This makes the Nokia 8 Sirocco look super thin – a mere 2mm at its thinnest edge. That same stainless steel frame also sports the volume and power keys, which are beautiful but a bit hard to press. Yes, it’s certainly form over function.

The left side of the phone holds the SIM tray which accepts a single nano SIM. There is no dual SIM variant of the phone and neither is there any place to add a MicroSD card. The phone is also only being released in one color – black.

On the back and centered you can see the dual camera module with a two-tone flash sitting to it’s right. There is a camera bump in case you’re wondering. Right below the camera module it the fingerprint sensor that is quite fast when it comes to unlocking the phone. 

On the bottom sits the USB Type-C port with a lone speaker. HMD has decided to axe the 3.5mm jack, which isn’t surprising considering that many phone manufacturers that have already headed down that route. Thankfully, a set of premium looking earphones is included in the box that sound much better than what is included for free with most other phones.

The Nokia 8 Sirocco is IP67 certified, meaning you can  get away with a little bit of water splashed on it. Also, being a glass phone, expect to see fingerprint smudges very easily.

Compared to last year’s model, the Nokia 8 Sirocco has significantly reduced bezels around the screen which makes it smaller in size than its predecessor, but with a bigger screen. 

The phone somewhat resembles the Galaxy S7 Edge and the BlackBerry Priv with a 16:9 aspect screen that curves around the edges. It’s amusing how we’ve gotten used to 18:9 screens in a matter of a year but the 16:9 screen on the Nokia 8 Sirocco works because of it’s smaller 5.5-inch size.

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The screen technology is P-OLED and most likely manufactured by LG. We haven’t had much luck with LG manufactured OLED screens in the past with both the Google Pixel 2 XL and the LG V30+ showing a blue tint on the slightest tilt of the screen. 

The Nokia 8 Sirocco suffers from a similar fate, and based on your luck and your sensitivity towards it, you might be completely fine with it- or not. We played around with two units each of which exhibited varying levels of the blue tint shift. 

The blue tint is especially visible is where the screen curves on the sides and you’re looking at an app with a white background – such as Gmail, Instagram or almost every other popular app.

Another issue with the screen is the lack of palm rejection which can make it frustrating to use the phone- especially on the camera app. Holding the screen from the curved edges would sometimes register as a tap which would make you lose focus or not be able to tap on the shutter.

Brightness levels are quite high on the Nokia 8 Sirocco and we had no issues using it outdoors on bright and sunny days. Since the screen is based on OLED technology, expect the colors to pop, though HMD should look into giving the user an option to make the screen less vibrant.

Another advantage of OLED is having an always-on mode which HMD calls Glance view. Besides the time and notifications, this screen can also show you your upcoming calendar appointments. A nice addition would be the audio track playing on your phone.

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