HMD Global has aggressively started launching new Nokia smartphones around the world. The recent addition to the list is the all-new Nokia 8.1, which has launched in India for Rs. 26,999. The device isn’t entirely new because it is a global variant of China’s Nokia X7 and HMD first launched it as the Nokia 8.1 in Dubai last week. I have been using the Indian variant of the Nokia 8.1 for a few days now, and here are my initial impressions.

Nokia 8.1: First hand experience

The first reaction anyone will have about the Nokia 8.1 is that the device looks and feels extremely premium. The overall color treatment, tapered edges, positioning of physical keys, various ports and quality of fingerprint sensor is near perfect. The 2.5D glass design with metal-rim chassis makes the Nokia 8.1 a well-finished smartphone by HMD Global. But at the same time, it is slippery and prone to fingerprints and smudges.

Upfront, the Nokia 8.1 packs a 6.18-inch PureDisplay IPS LED panel with Full-HD+ resolution of 2246×1080 pixels. To be honest, it looks much better than the Nokia 7.1. The display is little broader compared to the Nokia 7.1, and it gives a good balance to its design. You’ll find similarities in the notch design of the Nokia 8.1 with the iPhone X, although there is an extra bit of chin at the bottom of this smartphone, with Nokia branding at the center. Overall, I would call it a job well done by HMD Global.

When it comes to the internals of the Nokia 8.1, HMD has packed the device with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 710 SoC coupled with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of on-board storage. I have been using the device for a while and my experience has been good so far.

The Nokia 8.1 is an Android One smartphone, and it offers the stock Android experience that I personally prefer over any manufacturer UI. What makes things better is that the smartphone ships with the latest Android 9 Pie out-of-the-box; a relative rarity these days even though Android 9 Pie was released for the Pixel range in August.

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In terms of camera, selfie lovers might enjoy the Nokia 8.1’s 20-megapixel front-facing shooter. I found it impressive at first glance. Even for the dual-rear camera setup, this will give the competition a run for its money. Although I won’t be giving my final verdict on the camera setup as yet, I do feel that this appears to be a decent camera setup.

Just to give you the specifications, the smartphone features a dual-camera setup at the back including a 12-megapixel primary sensor coupled with a 13-megapixel secondary sensor. The phone comes with dual-SIM card slots, which is hybrid, therefore allowing you to have either two Nano-SIM cards or one Nano-SIM + microSD card. It packs a 3,500mAh battery with a USB Type-C port and 18W fast charging adapter.

Nokia 8.1: Initial impressions

The Nokia 8.1 looks very promising and even a very solid option that I might want to recommend to everyone, but that verdict will only come after full review. I feel that Nokia could have priced it competitively considering that Poco F1 and Asus Zenfone 5Z operate in same price range with higher specifications. Having said that, the device is well built and looks even better. It feels slightly slippery, but you can always workaround with a back case for extra grip. In terms of camera too, the Nokia 8.1 appears very promising, and so is the overall processor and RAM combination.

Since it comes with Google‘s latest operating system and the trust of Android One, I am quite sure of the smooth experience for months and years to come. For my initial impressions of the Nokia 8.1, I would say it is definitely one of the better devices from HMD Global this year.

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