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Nokia 8 phone was built to help you overshare

Commentary: The flagship Nokia 8’s livestreaming and split-screen view option gives the Snapchat and Instagram crowd a new phone to consider.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

YouTubers, influencers and habitual sharers, listen up. Nokia has a new phone designed specifically for you.

With the newly unveiled Nokia 8, you can livestream your breakfast, lunch, dinner and everything in between straight from the camera to either Facebook or YouTube. Not only that, but you can use split-screen (or "dual sight" in Nokia parlance) to show your own face and what you're looking at simultaneously thanks to the front and back 13-megapixel cameras built in partnership with imaging specialist Zeiss.

The focus on livestreaming underscores where the new Nokia is headed as it targets a younger crowd more likely to use the feature on Snapchat or Instagram. It marks the latest comeback attempt from the brand, which was once the largest phone maker in the world by far but was ultimately crushed by newer players like Apple, Google and Samsung.

Nowadays, Finnish startup HMD Global has licensed the rights to build Nokia phones and is putting a lot of stock in livestreaming and dual sight. "It is revealing the missing part of the story," Pekka Rantala, HMD's chief marketing officer, said of the split-screen's ability to share a different kind of video. Rantala's remarks came during a briefing Tuesday.

With all its eggs in this on-trend basket, HMD is looking to go after a younger crowd than consumers old enough to fondly remember the old Nokia phones.

"Nokia is a brand for everyone, but we definitely want to stay laser-focused on the next generation," said Rantala. "We know that these people are really the creators sharing their lives on a daily basis on social media."

A phone for every user

But has the Nokia 8 got the goods to persuade power users across the board, and not just millennials, to ditch their iPhones and Samsung Galaxy S8s?

Given the importance of social media on phones, it makes sense to include features like "dual sight," and the features won't put others off, said Ben Wood of market researcher CCS Insight.

"I don't think there is any risk this will alienate other potential buyers of the product," Wood said in an interview. "The core attributes of the Nokia brand will ensure that the device will get wide consideration from a wide spectrum of consumers."

There's plenty to like, even if you're not an Instagram Live-obsessed, always-Snapchatting socialite.

Back in February when Nokia staged its comeback at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, I lamented the lack of a flagship phone that would relight the fire in Nokia fans and early adopters. Six months later, it's finally arrived: The Nokia 8 is a high-performing, high-end phone that makes a statement about what Nokia phones of 2017 are all about.

From what we can glean, this means strong and simple across the board, thanks to a classic design and clean Android, but with minimal, carefully thought-out flare and embellishments that set it apart from rivals.

This can be seen not only in the camera features, but in the glossy copper and blue versions of the phones, which stand out from the sea of black or grey phones. Also, if you've been in a homewares store recently, you'll know 2017 is all about the copper.

That's not to say the Nokia 8 is only for the fashion forward -- it's also available in matte grey and blue, which might suit those who have to toe the corporate line during the week.

"You can easily use it as a business device, but the way we've defined and designed the features is very much around the creator," said Florian Seiche, president and acting CEO of HMD.

Is the price right?

One thing that could still potentially put buyers off the Nokia 8 is the price, which at $599 is just under the iPhone 7's starting price of $650, but above the discounted prices of the now months-old Galaxy S8 and LG G6. The specs justify the cost of the phone though, according to Wood, and just having a phone as high end on the market is an important step for the Nokia brand.

"Apple and Samsung's stranglehold on the market is proving notoriously difficult to displace, but the Nokia 8 is certainly a step in the right direction," Wood added.

Indeed, the handset field is littered with rivals that have tried, and failed, to overcome the stranglehold that Samsung and Apple have over the premium phone market.

Yet people's awareness of Nokia phones could well help, Wood said. HMD will have to shout from the rooftops to let people know there's a new flagship Nokia phone in town, but once it does, brand recognition -- something rivals like Huawei are still struggling with -- could kick in and convince consumers to give the Nokia 8 a second look.

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