Nokia 8.1 Review

The use of numbers and decimals in HMD Global’s phone names was already confusing. Now with the Nokia 8.1 the situation has become even more difficult. The name suggests that it should be more premium than the Nokia 8 or the Nokia 8 Sirocco. But the new Nokia 8.1 handset is a premium model for those who do not want to spend a lot of money. Today a very interesting race is going on among the companies to increase their market share. Therefore, you will find many such phones in the price range of Rs 20,000, which were not expected at all a year ago.

However, the price of premium phones is also coming down. We have Poco F1, Asus ZenFone 5Z and three rear cameras Samsung Galaxy A7 Like there are phones, which come with flagship grade features in the price range of Rs 30,000. Is HMD Global’s decision to bring the new Nokia 8.1 handset in this price range justified? Let’s know…

Nokia 8.1 Design

Nokia 8.1 Gives a feeling of being big and heavy. This is due to the styling of HMD Global and the material used to make this phone. The body of Nokia 8.1 is made of solid aluminum. There is glass on the front and back panels. You have two color options – Blue/Silver and Iron/Steel. We got the Iron variant for review. Polished steel has been used on the edges.
The build quality of the phone is excellent. Every part gives a feeling of strength. The body does not twist or flex in the slightest. The glass used on the front comes with the protection of Corning Gorilla Glass, but the information about the version is not available. HMD Global has also not revealed anything about the glass on the rear panel. It would have been better if there was water and dust resistance.

The display notch is quite wide. But only the earpiece, front camera and proximity sensor have got place in it. The chin is also not very wide. The camera module is protruding at the rear. When the phone is placed on the back side, the camera bump comes in the middle. The glass part does not touch the surface at all. Because of this the phone does not slide.

Even though its thickness is more, but the Nokia 8.1 is easy to grip. We were able to use it several times with one hand, without worrying about falling or slipping from our hands.

Nokia 8.1 Specification and Software

The most interesting thing about the Nokia 8.1 is that it is not offered as an upgrade to the Nokia 8 or the Nokia 8 Sirocco. Both these were flagship devices and they were equipped with Snapdragon 835 processor. Instead we are using the first phone to run on Snapdragon 710. Which is premium, but not the most powerful.

The new processor supports high-end smartphone features like separate AI subsystem, multiple high resolution cameras, modern LTE modem. The Adreno 616 GPU is claimed to deliver console-like gaming quality.

Another feature of this phone is the HDR10 capability screen. The screen is 6.18 inches and the aspect ratio is 18.7: 9. Because of this the resolution is 1080×2246 pixels. The battery is of 3500 mAh and it supports 18 W fast charging. You will get an 18W charger in the retail box. But HMD Global has not used the name Qualcomm Quick Charge.

There is only one variant of Nokia 8.1 – 64 GB storage with 4 GB RAM. This stings a bit, as 128 GB storage is now available in this price range. If you want to use microSD card then you will have to compromise with another SIM card. Because it has a hybrid dual sim design. Both the SIM slots support 4G and VoLTE. You will also get features like Wi-Fi 802.11 AC, Bluetooth 5, NFC, FM radio and GPS. There is a USB Type C port at the bottom and a 3.5mm headphone jack at the top.


Our review unit was running out of box on Android Pie. This is Android One phone. This means that you will get the stock Android UI. Apart from this, regular security updates and future software updates are guaranteed. We found the UI to have some customizations as well.

There are preset options for the display like standard, vivid and muted colors. Dynamic mode is by default which adjusts the presets according to your activity. The Ambient Display feature shows the time, date and notification icons in monochrome. You can tap and take action when an incoming message arrives.

Nokia 8.1 Performance, Battery Life and Cameras

Generally using this phone was smooth. We could easily switch between apps. Similar was the case with switching between multiple Chrome browsers. Games with powerful graphics like PUBG and Asphalt 9: Legends ran smoothly.

As soon as we played some demo YouTube videos, its HDR screen started working. Even if the resolution drops to 480 pixels, you can watch videos with HDR. No need to worry about any mode or settings. However, it affects the battery. The sound coming from a mono speaker is quite loud. Quality is also great.


Talking about battery life, it supports the whole day in normal use. By the end of the night, 10 percent battery is left in Nokia 8.1. The battery lasted just 9 hours and 21 minutes in our HD video loop test.

Nokia 8.1 has a 12-megapixel primary rear camera. It comes with Zeiss brand lenses and optical image stabilization. Apart from this, there is a 13-megapixel fixed focus depth sensor. It has a front camera of 20 megapixels with adaptive mode. It will combine four pixels to capture pictures with better detail in low light.

Tap to see full-size camera samples of the Nokia 8.1

The quality of the pictures taken with the camera was good, but not consistent. Photos taken in daylight came with detail and vibrant colors. The Nokia 8.1 is quick to lock focus. It was fun to use. There were complaints of excessive exposure in some photos. It took some time for the focus to lock in the right place in the live bokeh shot, but the pictures came out well.

However, the quality suffered during the night. Shots usually came out bright, but the noise was too much. Details were also lacking. Distant objects were not clearly visible. At times, even the focus was not as per our liking.

Videos recorded in daylight came out crisp and sharp. The advantage of optical image stabilization is visible. The video of the night had a strange throbbing effect. The front camera took good pictures in most of the conditions. Beautification is available, but is off by default.

our decision
Nokia 8.1 is a very confusing name. We are not comparing it with its predecessors. But it is difficult to determine the position of this phone. Because it does not have any flagship level feature. And it is neither of the value for money price range. If you are ready to spend Rs 30,000 then in the market Asus ZenFone 5Z And Poco F1 Like you will get powerful phones. On the other hand, there are many phones under Rs 20,000 that give the same level of performance. in these Nokia 7.1 also includes.

This phone will be seen as an upgrade to affordable phones in departments like build, style and camera. Some users may be willing to spend more just for the name of Nokia. There are many features to like in the Nokia 8.1, but you will find most of them in a phone cheaper than this.

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