Overview & Price

The Nokia 8.1 was released in the UK in January of 2019; in this review we will be looking at what makes the phone unique, as well as showcasing where to buy Nokia phones and the best Nokia phone deals.

Nokia does a great job at producing extremely durable phones, everyone’s heard of the Nokia 3310 and there is a reason why.

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The phone offers a nice big display, plenty of power under the hood and a strong battery too.

Priced at £379 here in the UK, the Nokia 8.1 is a mid-range device with plenty on offer.

This is not a very cheap Nokia smartphone, however it will not break the bank and the value for money on this device is great.

When compared to the likes of the Nokia 6.1 and Nokia 7.1, it is clear to see some great upgrades.

Lets take a look..

Design & Display

When it comes to the design of the Nokia 8.1, it looks remarkably similar to its predecessor the Nokia 7.1.

The Nokia 8.1 weighs in at a hefty 180g, meaning it’s slightly heavier than the 7.1, giving it a more premium feel.

The front and rear of the phone is glass, whilst an aluminium frame holds everything together, we did find the phone does attract fingerprints so we definitely recommend investing into a case for this phone if you want to keep it looking clean.

The front of the phone is largely display, with an iPhone XS like notch at the top and a slim chin at the bottom that has the Nokia branding on.

Just like the Nokia 7.1 there is no IP rating on this phone, which would have been nice as it would have gave us a little more piece of mind when using the phone around water, you definitely don’t want to drop this phone in the tub.

The phone comes in a range of colours; Blue, Silver, Steel, Copper and Iron, all looking as good as each other but we were lucky enough to review the Blue colour and absolutely loved it.

On the right hand side of the phone is where you will find the volume rocker and power button, the buttons feel nice to press and have a satisfying click sound too.

Over to the left is where the SIM tray lives, also housing a microSD slot which allows you to boost your already 64GB internal storage all the way up to 400GB if needed.

where to buy nokia phones

Image: AndroidPIT

Along the bottom of the phone is where you an expect to find the USB-C charging port, unfortunately there is no wireless charging with this phone despite it being a glass design, we will get to that later though.

You will be pleased to know that there is a 3.5mm headphone jack present with this phone, meaning you don’t need to invest into wireless ones and can simply plug your AUX cable straight in when in the car.

When flipping the phone over you will see a very similar setup to the Nokia 7.1, you will find a dual-camera setup that is slightly raised. 

This does become annoying as when placing the phone down on a worktop it won’t sit still and will wobble slightly.

Just underneath the dual-camera setup is very well placed fingerprint sensor, our finger would naturally gravitate towards the sensor and it would cripple our fingers when unlocking the phone.

The sensor is very responsive and snappy, its great for storing passwords on the phone as it means all you need to do is simply place your finger on the sensor and it will go through your saved passwords to help you login to your accounts.

The Nokia 8.1 has 6.18-inch Full HD+ resolution display with 2280 x 1080 pixels and a pixel density of 408PPI.

The display is undoubtedly one of the most eye catching parts of this phone, its nice and big and makes for a great media experience, we found ourselves binge watching ‘The Big Bang Theory’ whilst struggling our face with popcorn to be very enjoyable.

The display is however an LCD, so you wont find the deep black that you would on an OLED, that being said brightness levels are great meaning you’ll have no problem viewing this phone in direct sunlight.

We also found viewing angles to be strong, the 81% screen to body ratio is more than impressive though, but unlike the OnePlus 6T its not an edge-to-edge display.

Colours are crisp and really pop, we loved the ‘Night Light Mode’ too which can be set to automatically come on at certain times, for example you could set it to come on at 9pm every night so when your winding down for bed, the display will dim down helping you’re brain switch off for bed time.

Overall the display impressive, it’s not quite up to OLED standards but for an LCD it’s about thee best you will get for this price bracket.

Performance

One of the main key performance aspects of the Nokia 8.1 is that it is part of the Android One program, meaning that it gives users an extremely clean and pure version of Android.

The UI is super easy to get used to and isn’t heavily customisable like what you would find in a Samsung or a Huawei device.

The Android One program means that users of the phone are getting the fastest software updates meaning your phone will be up to speed and extremely secure.

It also means that there is no pre-installed bloatware on this phone, meaning you get to use all of the onboard storage.

The Nokia 8.1 runs on Android 9.0, it includes features like ‘Digital Wellbeing’, which can track how often you use certain apps and set restrictions for you.

For example it will let you know how much Instagram or Snapchat you are using on a daily basis, very good for those Instagram addicts.

where to buy nokia phones

Image: AndroidPIT

We found the UI to be very user friendly and even if you’ve never used an Android device before, you will get used to this phone extremely quickly.

The Nokia 8.1 is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 710 chip, alongside a big 4GB of RAM, unfortunately much like the Nokia 7.1, we did find it rather sluggish when navigation through the UI, applications would often take longer than we expected to load and the keyboard would take a second longer too.

Considering that this is a rather cheap Nokia smartphone compared to other device out there, the specs are pretty impressive.

We tested the phone out on some of our favourite games, the first being PUBG, the experience was pleasant and the phone managed PUBG absolutely fine without any lag or stutter.

We then moved onto ‘Runescape’, one of our favourite MMORPG games that is extremely demanding on smartphone devices, again the phone coped with the demanding graphics of the game very well and we found ourselves immersed in the game for long periods.

On board the phone you will find 64GB of internal storage, this is generally enough for most users but its nice to know that if you do need more, then you have the option of adding up to 400GB through the use of a microSD card.

The 64GB of internal storage is more than enough for the average user though, so you wont need to rush out and buy a microSD.

The single firing speaker is also impressive, it really enhanced our media and gaming experience, we did notice that due to the location we would block it from time to time we when gaming we used headphones to be on the safe side.

Camera

The Nokia 8.1 has a Zeiss branded dual camera setup; the first primary lens has a 12-Megapixel-f/1.8 aperture and the second has a 13-Megapixel that is used for the background blur effects.

The first thing we noticed about the camera is that the shutter speed isn’t the best, there is a second of lag sometimes which can result in missing the subject, especially if it’s a moving target like a bird or a car.

There is a ‘Live Bokeh’ mode which allows you to adjust the amount of blur whilst taking a shot, allowing you to optimise the image before you’ve even taken it which is really cool and results in some amazing shots.

Auto-HDR mode is what we found to be most stable though, as this mode takes multiple shots and stitches them all together to result in the best looking image.

Generally images look great, colour separation is good with great contrast and dynamic range, however the camera does struggle in low light situations.

We found that when in low lighting images would often lack detail and be far from social media worthy, unlike the Huawei or Samsung devices.

Nokia 8.1 camera

Image: AndroidPIT

The AI capabilities of this phone are great though, scene recognition is present here just like you would find in the Huawei P20, this essentially recognises the scene that you’re in and will automatically adjust the settings accordingly to present you with a Instagram worthy image.

This is a matter of whether you agree with the AI or not, as sometimes we found images to be a little over saturated so we turned the mode off.

Around the front of the Nokia 8.1 you have a 20-Megapixel selfie cam, this performs well and we found that it resulted in some amazing selfies, that being said just like the rear sensors we did notice some shutter lag that resulted in one eye being open on some selfies.

When it comes to video recording, the Nokia 8.1 can record 720p, Full HD and Ultra HD 4K video, very impressive for a mid-range device, image quality is generally good and the average user will be more than impressed with the video footage produced from this phone.

Battery Life

The Nokia 8.1 has a 3500mAh battery, its not going to win any gold medals but it is more than capable of lasting you a full day.

Of course the battery life largely depends on the individual user using the phone, if you’re a big gamer or someone who watched lots of YouTube or Netflix on their phone, then you may notice the battery life drain rather quickly.

Now this is not a ridiculously cheap Nokia smartphone, however it can be attained on contract for pretty cheap here in the UK.

We loved the ‘automatic-brightness’ mode too, this mode is great for conserving the phones battery life as it will automatically adjust the phones brightness depending on how much ambient light there is in the room.

The phone does also support fast-charging, meaning if you do need to reach for the charger every now and again you wont be waiting around too long for your phone to be juiced up and ready to go.

We would have loved to see wireless charging on this device, but being as it is a mid-range device it wasn’t a deal breaker for us.

Overall we were satisfied with the Nokia 8.1 battery life but it will only last you for one day, where as there are other phones out there that will last two.

Summary

So is the Nokia 8.1 worth your hard earned cash?

Well if your looking for a durable phone that isn’t going to break the bank, then yes.

The Nokia 8.1 offers users a nice big display that is great for watching media and gaming on, it gives users an extremely clean UI and timely software updates thanks to being a member of the Android One program.

The phone does lack a little in the battery department but it will still last you through a full day, overall we were impressed by this phone but definitely think that there are phones out there which offer better value for money.

We recommend checking out our Honor 10 review aswell as Nokia 6.1 and 7.1 before making any purchase decisions as this offers much of the same specs and features, but is also cheaper.

We hope you have enjoyed our Nokia 8.1 review, and feel free to check out where to buy Nokia phones and the best Nokia phone deals at the top of this post.

Full Spec Below:

Launch: 2018, December

Body:

  • Dimension: 154.8 x 75.8 x 8mm (6.09 x 2.98 x 0.31 inches)
  • Weight: 180g (6.35 oz)
  • Build: Front/back glass, aluminium frame
  • Sim: Hybrid Dual SIM (Nano-SIM, dual stand by)

Display:

  • Type: IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen, 16M colours
  • Size: 6.18 inches, 95.3 cm² (-81.2% screen-to-body ratio)
  • Resolution: 1080 x 2280 pixels, 19:9 ratio (-408 ppi density)
  • Protection: NEG

Platform:

  • OS: Android 9.0 (Pie); Android One
  • Chipset: Qualcomm SDM710 Snapdragon 710 (10nm)
  • CPU: Octa-core (2×2 GHz 360 Gold & 6×1.7 GHz Kryo 360 Silver)
  • GPU: Adreno 616

Memory:

  • Card slot: microSD, up to 400GB (uses SIM 2 slot)
  • Internal: 64GB, 4GB RAM – Nokia 8.1

Camera:

  • Primary:
    – 12MP, f/1.8, dual pixel PDAF, OIS
    – 13MP
  • Features: Zeiss optics, dual-LED dual-tone flash, panorama, HDR
  • Video: 2160p@30fps, 1080p@30fps (gyro-EIS)
  • Secondary:
    – 20MP, f/2.0

Sound:

  • Loudspeaker: Yes
  • 3.5mm Jack: Yes
    – Active noise cancellation with dedicated mic

Comms:

  • WLAN: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, WiFi Direct, hotspot
  • Bluetooth: 5.0 A2DP, LE
  • GPS: Yes, with A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS
  • NFC: Yes
  • Radio: No
  • USB: 2.0 Type-C 1.0 reversible connector, USB on-the-go

Features:

  • Sensors: Fingerprint (rear-mounted), accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass

Battery:

  • Non-removeable Li-Ion 3500 mAh battery

Misc:

  • Colours: Blue, Silver, Iron, Steel, Copper
  • Price: As seen in above post