The beloved brand Nokia has always had an inner-connect with the Indian market, and even though it's a Finnish brand, it's always felt like it has very local roots.
They led the march towards innovation in the early days, and now, they've grown stronger, researched market demands and delivered a newer flagship.
HMD Global’s Nokia 8 Sirocco ticks all the boxes on this compact flagship making it a premium smartphone for 2018 without all the extra shenanigans.
Until now, 2018 has been about smartphones with the least bezels and the protruding notch at a price point lower than Apple’s iPhone X. Nokia’s latest flagship has taken the road least taken, but stays parallel with other flagships from HTC, Google and OnePlus along the way so it doesn't go unnoticed.
The Sirocco speaks premium and tries hard to make eyeballs turn its way to make its way in, but does it deserve to be your daily driver for 2018? We at the Stuff India HQ had some time to play around with this half a lac flagship. Why don’t you read through to find our ups and downs with this beauty.
Design - Hello there, beautiful
In terms of style, the former Nokia 8 looked flobby and old-fashioned when compared to other flagships in the game right now. The new Nokia 8 Sirocco graduated from fashion school and has some great taste in clothing. From the looks of it, this one strikes a pose.
The Nokia 8 is dressed in full-body stainless-steel aluminum, apparently making it 2.5x stronger than the aluminum you'd find in other phones. The Sirocco feels like a typical Nokia brick - strong and one to withstand drops, scrapes and scratches with daily use (you get a hard-case in the box).
The curvy edge glass wraps the front and the back which is protected by Gorilla Glass 5, making it durable and edgy. It's got an alluring glass back making the phone look shiny and premium, but tends to feel a little slippery at times because of its sharp edges. Another thing which makes the Sirocco feel prime is its weight. Unlike the Google Pixel or Samsung Galaxy S9 this feels heavier, but because of the smaller screen size and width this one feels uniform and firm in the palm.
The Nokia 8 Sirocco’s edge to edge 5.5in Quad HD pOLED 2k display doesn't feel too big in the hand, making sliding notifications easier instead of stretching your finger all the way up on other 5.7in - 6in screens. Although, the screen doesnt make up to the 18:9 display like other flagships right now, it feels well proportioned and serves the purpose while watching videos on Youtube, Netflix or IPL cricket matches on Hotstar.
There are a few buttons on the phone; one being the power button and below that, the up/down volume rocker. The buttons feel sharp and they tend to hurt the thumb sometimes, but you get used to it over time. You won’t find a headphone jack, but it comes with earphones with a Type-C connection and a 3.5mm jack-to-type C connector.
The Sirocco has passed its swimming lessons with an IP67 rating making it water friendly. It’s got a Type-C charging slot with a Qi wireless (Quick Charge 4.0) option and a single stereo speaker next to it for audio playback.
At the back, it's loaded with two cameras tuned with Zeiss optics and below that you’ll find a rightly placed fingerprint scanner which blends nicely with the glass back design.
The Nokia 8 Sirocco feels compact and premium in the hand, especially with that glass-like body sat in your palm. The stainless steel frame feels edgy and sharp, making the phone feel firm and sticky, in a good way though. Overall, Nokia’s come out with something elegant and star-like, enough to catch attention at a beauty pageant.
Performance: Clean and mean
You'll think it could've gotten better, but we feel its just fine the way it is. Let us tell you why. This is Nokia’s second flagship to house the snappy Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 after the Nokia 8, and in terms of performance and speed the 835 isn't that big of a difference compared to the latest Snapdragon 845, but right now, flagships are constantly on the move to give you the best and the latest.
Nevertheless, worry not reader, the 835 is just as good for this flagship. Applications work seamlessly without a stutter, you can keep your apps running in the background with no stress. All thanks goes to 6GB of RAM which is sound for multitasking and high-powered application/games like Quik for video editing, PUBG (high-graphic mode), Crash of Cars, Pako 2 and Cafe Racer. There’s no SD card slot on the device, but we feel you’ll be okay with 128GB of storage space for all the extra app clutter, files and downloaded Netflix videos. Also, forget the need of space for your photos and videos, thanks to Google Photos unlimited cloud storage.
If you're spending half a lac on a pretty smartphone, you deserve to get Qi enabled wireless fast charging option which claims to juice the 3260 mAh battery to 50% in 30 mins. The Sirocco can easily last you an entire day with enough battery to do your emails, TV show binging, photoshoots, social media and gaming. You can also go skinny-dipping with the Nokia 8 Sirocco and click all the junk you want, thanks to its IP67 rating.
We at Stuff India are fans of pure Android stock experience on smartphones - the UI just feels less cumbersome and overdone. It’s all about the simplicity these days. Less is more, you know? That said, Android purists can take a chill-pill because the Sirocco is integrated with the Android One programme. With this it’ll get monthly security updates and two years of OS upgrades. Yes, that’s right. We got the device running on Android Oreo 8.1 making the user experience easy, tasty and quick. No extra Nokia bloatware or no need to re-learn another UI. The phone comes pre-installed with Google apps and doesn't really require additional app downloading, unless you’re used to a particular app for getting things done. The Sirocco takes the cake, we mean, takes the Oreo.
To end this, the Sirocco has great specs to blow out other flagships in its way, it’s got the power, it’s got the speed and it’s clean from the inside making it even composed and sweet. That rhymed? Oh please!
Camera: Oh my Zeiss
Get it, get it? I'm sure you have. We're all secretly Rakhi Sawant fans. *Judging you*. Anyway, getting back to the camera talk. The Nokia 8 Sirocco has dual cameras (12+13MP) with dual phase detection and auto focus at the back with tuned Zeiss Optics with a dual-tone flash for low-light scenarios. In the front, it’s got a 5MP camera for selfies and video chat.
Being a flagship, we expected the Sirocco to deliver when it came to photography. But to be honest we weren't super-pleased with what we got from a sub ₹50k smartphone.
The Sirocco isn't much of a shutterbug, but it can pluck out some great photos if given time to sit and focus with good lighting. Why don’t you see for yourself?
Throw yourself to do some quick point-and-shoot in a battleground with the Sirocco and you’d suprised with the auto focusing abilities. Anyway, that’s hypothetical, but if you’re spending just ₹7k less than the Samsung Galaxy S9, you would want your pictures to speak quality in general.
The Zeiss lense on the Sirocco tries hard to focus, just like a 10th grader before his mock exams, but in the end, it delivers with above-average remarks making us (parents) happy.
The manual photography mode on the Sirocco is also one of a kind. Pull up the shutter button and you’ll switch to pro-mode where you can adjust the macro, exposure, ISO, shutter speed, white-balance and hue.
There’s a 5MP front cam to do all the self clicking, but don’t get your hopes too high, this isn't a phone for selfie lovers. There are others in the market that excel in this scenario. Although, if you’re not an avid selfie shooter, this is ideal for decent Snapchat or Instagram pictures..
There’s the bokeh mode for headshots which doesn't impress either. It cuts out the face outline nicely and blurs the background, duh, but image clarity doesn't live up to its expectations. There are other phones in the budget bracket which deliver better portrait shots. No offense Zeiss.
The Nokia 8 Sirocco’s picture and video shooting qualities are great for a smartphone, but not exceptional. With the likes of the Pixel 2, Galaxy S9, and the HTC in and around the same price point, Nokia's 8 Sirocco really has to work its way up to make us believe it's worthy of a sharp shooter. Overall, the camera shoots some colourful photos, but it needs to focus on its HDR, lighting and get the tiny details right in order to please us. Maybe it tunes itself with future software updates? Lord knows, but let’s remind you again, it’s for half a lac.
Nokia 8 Sirocco verdict
Let's cut to the chase, spending ₹49,999 for the Sirocco makes sense if you’re an Android purist wanting a smartphone with super specs, exceptional body work and for those who want premium-ness in their hands. The only downside is its price. We feel it should've been priced at around ₹40k-ish for India’s competitive market. Keeping the Galaxy S9, Pixel 2 and the upcoming OnePlus 6 in mind, this isn’t really worth it. Another low is its ‘Zeiss optics camera’ which is great for standard photography, but it should’ve worked on its front and back cam for better results.
The Nokia 8 Sirocco feels like it wasn't meant to be HMD Global's money maker and more like an experiment on Indian customers. Will we see another flagship coming soon? Rumours say so, but till then, if you’re willing to stretch the budget and aren't too fussy about the camera pish-posh, then look no further, the Nokia 8 Sirocco could be yours to keep.