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Nokia 8 review: This comeback kid could have been even more

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MSRP: $700.00
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The Good The Nokia 8 has two rear cameras and is packed with power. Its screen is bright and sharp.

The Bad It lacks some cutting-edge features for a high-end phone in 2017, like waterproofing and a slim, standout design.

The Bottom Line A decent all-rounder, the dual-camera Nokia 8 gets the job done, but it doesn’t come close to today’s true Android stars.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

7.6 Overall
  • Design 6
  • Features 7
  • Performance 9
  • Camera 7
  • Battery 9

Review Sections

Read our full review of the Nokia 8 Sirocco, the latest Nokia phone from HMD Global. 

The Nokia 8 isn't disappointing because it's a bad phone. Actually, it's reliable, powerful and has a sharp, beautiful screen. What makes it disappointing is that as the first high-end Nokia phone to ever run Android -- something Nokia phones have only done since the Nokia 6 and its ilk were announced this past March -- it fails to match the serious Android handsets of the day.

The Nokia 8 is "good," but it doesn't beat the curved-screen, water-resistant Galaxy S8 ($500 at Amazon) on design and specs, and it can't beat the steady OnePlus 5 ($729 at Amazon) on value. Nor does it have the LG G6 ($370 at Amazon) or V30 ($450 at Amazon)'s whisper-slim bezels and full-face screen. It does include two cameras on the back, which take decent shots in monochrome and color, but photos don't surpass other dual-camera phones in quality. That leaves the Nokia 8 as a middle-of-the road Android device with a mismatched price tag that's too high for what you really get.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

This phone is fine, but forgettable. And that's an enormous let-down for a once-loved brand trying to make a comeback. What the Nokia 8 needed was to dazzle.

Also read: Nokia 3310 review, the revamped classic that made you go bananas

Physically, the Nokia 8 looks dated, not an elite 2017 model that'll hold its appeal for the next year or more. The matte metal back feels nice to hold but it's instantly forgettable. It won't turn heads when you whip it out on the train. It looks identical to the much cheaper Nokia 5, and that's a problem.

There's a highly polished blue or copper version, either of which I vastly prefer to the matte version and recommend finding, if you can -- currently none of the UK phone networks are offering the polished versions. The Nokia 8 is splashproof but not waterproof (something that's common on high-end phones such as the S8 and iPhones), removing yet another compelling reason to spend your money. While you're probably safe taking a quick call in light rain, a spilled drink will likely spell disaster for the Nokia 8.

I'd be more forgiving if Nokia was fiercely undercutting its rivals on price. But at £499 in the UK it's actually only marginally cheaper than the Galaxy S8, one of the most luxurious, high-performance phones on the market. (That UK price converts to $675 or AU$840. Official US and Australian availability is yet to be announced, though we have seen it sold via a third party on Amazon.com for $699.) 

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

In the power stakes, this phone can hold its own against the big boys. At its core is a top-end Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor with 4GB of RAM -- in our benchmark tests it easily matched the S8, HTC U11 ($497 at Amazon) and OnePlus 5. You'll find buttery-smooth navigation and apps that load quickly. It handled every game I threw its way.

The display's 2,560x1,440-pixel resolution makes text and images look pin sharp. Battery life is solid as well, achieving around 17 hours on our video rundown test. That puts it alongside the S8 and OnePlus 5 and far above the HTC U11, which only managed 13 hours. I comfortably got a day of use, though if you're a heavy user you'll still want to give it a full charge each night.

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