It could perhaps be a good topic for case study in B-Schools: what does it take for a brand to rise from the ashes? Reams of print and digital bandwidth has been dedicated to the somewhat incredible comeback story of Nokia.
What HMD Global cleverly played on with Nokia – and this is what the case study should be about – is nostalgia and tremendous amount of goodwill that it still has among Indian users. A lot of it comes down from the fact that for a majority of Indian mobile phone users, their first device was a Nokia. However, Nokia in its earlier avatar didn’t pay heed to Bob Dylan’s iconic song The Times They Are A Changin’.
Times changed, people changed and so did phones but Nokia didn’t. Since then Nokia has crashed and burned and somehow managed to make a comeback in 2017. The first year was good in almost every sense for Nokia but the real test comes with its second wave of smartphones which it recently launched.
The jewel in HMD’s crown this time is the Nokia 8 Sirocco (don’t ask why it’s called Sirocco), the company’s flagship device for 2018. Nokia 8 Design: Stainless steel, Corning Gorilla Glass 5 Unconventional. That’s the first word that comes to your mind when you see the Nokia 8 Sirocco. Now unconventional can appeal to some while others might just find it a bit odd. As they say one man’s poison is another’s wine.
As for us, Nokia 8 Sirocco’s design is something that grew on us. It definitely took a while, but the design is new, refreshing and unique. It’s a sleek and chic looking smartphone that’s made of stainless steel and comes with Corning Gorilla Glass 5 at the front and rear. The glossy rear is a fingerprint magnet and is also the home to the dual camera set up and the fingerprint sensor.
A word of advice for those who try to go “hands-free” by trying to hold the phone by tilting their neck: don’t try to do it with the Nokia 8 Sirocco as it will slip. In fact, the Nokia 8 Sirocco has a lot of tendency to slip. Even kept on a flat surface, it tends to slip and slide at its own will. One has to be watchful around the Nokia 8 Sirocco. A lot of it is also down to how thin this device is as its thickest it measures 7.5mm.
Let’s be honest most users detest putting a cover on the smartphone as it kills off the look. However, it’s necessary to ensure security from drops and falls. Most smartphones lose their sheen in terms of looks with a back cover on but with Nokia 8 Sirocco, put on a cover and the smartphone loses it sheen – both literally and figuratively.
HMD Global has done a fine job designing the Nokia 8 Sirocco. Being a thin phone, the buttons on the right side – the power and volume rockers -- are a bit on the sharper side and take some time getting used to. The other big iteration HMD Global has done with the Nokia 8 Sirocco is that it bid adieu to the headphone jack. There’s a USB Type-C charging slot located at the bottom of the device.
Nokia 8 Sirocco is clearly a premium looking phone and it’s a bold statement from the company. Don’t go looking for a notch as HMD has bucked the let’s-go-the-Apple-way trend and given it a miss. Nokia 8 Display: 5.5-inch QHD pOLED 2K A good design can easily be marred by an average display.
The Nokia 8 Sirocco suffers from no such issues as the 5.5-inch QHD pOLED 2K display is a treat to look at. If there’s no notch, then there’s also no going bezel-less with the Sirocco 8. Yet, the phone has ample space and looks largely impressive.
A nice touch that has been added by HMD is that on the lock screen you see the number of notifications neatly lined up. The display on Nokia Sirocco 8 is curved – a bit like Samsung Galaxy S9 – which makes consumption of multimedia content delightful.
The images are sharp and vibrant even when looked under direct sunlight. In fact, the Nokia 8 Sirocco is one of the finest displays under sunlight as there is literally so strain on the eyes and you don’t have to squint or make any extra effort. Although it does suffer from what we call ‘Pixel-itis’ in the sense that there is a blue tint on the screen that refuses to go away.
Does it hamper your display experience? Not really. Is it mildly annoying? Yes, but you do get used to it after a while and it really doesn’t bother much. It’s because of this that the Nokia 8 Sirocco’s display doesn’t get full marks from us.
Nevertheless, it’s an impressive display on all other counts and does justice to the user experience. Nokia 8 Performance: Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, 6GB RAM If you are spending anything north of Rs 45,000 then you do expect the device to have top-of-the-line specifications.
What tarnishes the Nokia 8 Sirocco – at least on paper – is that it doesn’t come with the latest flagship processor. The smartphone runs Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor whereas all other competitors run or are expected to run Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor. Not that Nokia 8 Sirocco delivers poor performance as the Snapdragon 835 is a very good processor but just not the best one available in the market.
Having said that, it’s essential to mention that for an average user this ‘miss’ won’t even be noticed as Nokia 8 Sirocco performs admirably well. If you’re a fan of custom user interface on a smartphone, then you might be a bit disappointed. HMD Global has opted to go with Stock Android with the Nokia 8 Sirocco and it works extremely well. There is no unnecessary bloatware or needless apps that you can’t get rid of.
The key point that HMD has integrated in its 2018 line up of smartphones is that they are all Android One devices. The aim is to give users as pure an Android experience they can get. We have no complaints with Android One as it’s neat, clean and works just fine and is powered by Oreo 8.1. Apps are neatly docked at the bottom of the home screen and with one swipe up you can access the app drawer.
There’s a search bar on the top and one can also see frequently used app just below it. There are not-so-novel yet handy features that are incorporated in the Nokia 8 Sirocco. For instance, motion gestures like double tapping the power button will open the camera app. There’s also a feature called Glance Screen that allows you to see the time and notifications without powering the screen. Watch the unboxing of Nokia 8 Sirocco 03:20Unboxing:Nokia 8 Sirocco
This is a powerful phone with 6GB RAM on board and delivers impressive performance even if it doesn’t boast of the latest processor. There are no lags, stutters or hang ups that it suffers from. The fingerprint scanner works just fine, and Nokia has avoided to be a part of the rat race with a lot of features. Nokia 8 Camera: 12MP+13MP dual rear camera, 5MP front camera Even when smartphone cameras were just gathering steam, Nokia in the on its last legs avatar boasted of superior cameras than others. They had cutting edge technology and features that left you impressed – at least on paper.
Remember the 41MP camera on the Lumia 1020 when others were offering piddly 5MP cameras? So, it’s an area where we have always expected Nokia smartphones to deliver. Before we delve into the details, let’s get the specifics out of the way. There is a 12-megapixel camera (f/1.7 aperture) and a 13-megapixel telephoto camera with Zeiss optics at the back. There’s a 5MP front camera for the selfie brigade – don’t judge it already by the specifications as it delivers good results.
There’s the Bothie mode which captures both front and rear images at the same time. And then there are the usual suspects like Pro Mode, Panorama among others. Let’s talk about the rear camera set up first. The broad purpose of two cameras at the back is to allow more detail and better low-light photography. There’s 2X optical zoom which comes in handy for long distance shots. We clicked a lot of images in the normal auto mode and most of them came out just fine.
The Pro Mode is where Nokia’s camera USP kicks in. Unlike other smartphones with the same mode, Nokia 8 Sirocco is easier to use. There are open radials which help you manoeuvre through settings like ISO, shutter speed or adjusting the white balance. All the images we clicked in the Pro Mode were definitely better than we have seen on several smartphone, including the OnePlus 5T.
The image detailing was accurate and the colours were sharp and vibrant. There’s a sense of artificiality to it when you compare it with the Google Pixel 2 but most people we guess these days are accustomed to it. The naturalness from smartphone cameras are slowly eroding but that’s the norm these days.
The Bokeh effect helps capture the depth in images and delivers satisfactory images with the front and rear cameras. It’s not a slight on the Nokia 8 Sirocco but perhaps our expectations were slightly high. The camera does a fairly well-rounded job with the Nokia 8 Sirocco. It just lacks the wow factor which is something expected from a premium flagship device.
Low-light photography did come came as a bit disappointment to us, especially when compared to the Google Pixel 2. In terms of camera, the Google Pixel 2 does a far better job than the Nokia 8 Sirocco. As we said it’s not a disappointing camera from any standards but doesn’t dazzle you with its performance. Nokia 8 Battery: 3260mAh
The battery is where the Nokia 8 Sirocco certainly excels and ranks ahead of most of its competition. The 3260mAh battery easily lasts a day with heavy usage. You can listen to a lot of music, watch videos and indulge in every routine task and the Nokia 8 Sirocco’s battery is well-equipped to handle them all. There’s also quick charging support along with wireless charging capabilities. It charges quickly and in just over 30 minutes the phone reaches 50 per cent capacity.
The biggest sticking point for Nokia 8 Sirocco will be its price. At Rs 49,999, this is a premium phone that checks most of the boxes. It’s stylish and sleek – even if slightly unconventional – and boasts of a lot of impressive features.
HMD Global has made a product that will excite a lot of users and is certainly one of the better-looking devices around. The display is appealing and the battery performance is really impressive. Having said that, the lack of the latest processor might turn off some buyers. As will the camera performance when compared with the lower-priced Google Pixel 2.
HMD Global might have missed a trick by not equipping the Sirocco 8 with a camera that was better than the rest. As we mentioned that almost everything about the Nokia 8 Sirocco is really good. But so is the case with the competition when you look at Samsung Galaxy S9 or even the yet-to-be launched OnePlus 6.
HMD Global will be hoping that its nostalgia pack of cards has one more ace hidden somewhere. Or else, the Nokia 8 Sirocco will suffer from the cardinal sin of charging more for a device that doesn’t merit the price. Nokia 8 Sirocco Specifications SUMMARY performance Octa core display 5.5" (13.97 cm) storage 128 GB camera 12 MP battery 3260 mAh ram 6 GB