With Nokia's rising from the ashes after Apple and its iPhones slayed the brand half a decade ago (what Windows phones?), we now have a new Nokia Mobile by HMD Global, that's playing the nostalgia game to get fans interested in an old brand with a fresh, new direction. After launching the Nokia 3310 feature phone in 2017, the brand seems to have kickstarted 2018 with the launch of not one but two reminders of its glorious past, the Nokia 8110 and the Nokia 8 Sirocco at the Mobile World Congress 2018 (MWC).
What you essentially get with a Nokia 8 Sirocco is a smartphone inspired by the Nokia Sirocco 8800. It may not look as classy as the 8800, but looking closer reveals the finer details that will get you excited about this smartphone, despite its lack lustre core hardware.
The design for beginners looks like a mix of the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge with dash of the Note series, making the device broader than most devices out there.
Nokia claims that device uses a sandwiched metal chassis with two pieces of 3D curved glass on both sides. While it looks a bit outdated with the thick bezels at the top and bottom (the OnePlus 5T features smaller ones) it's the finer details here that should catch your attention.
One of them is the use of steel in the construction. Using steel should make the smartphone a lot stronger and more rugged in day to day usage (though we cannot vouch for the black polish sticking around for two long). Another cool detail here is how Nokia managed to place two delicate buttons (volume rocker and the power) on the right side of the device.
It's not something new, but it's something that few manufacturers have attempted before. This is because both of these buttons take up the width of the fine frame on the sides. Had this phone been made of soft and bendable aluminium, the Sirocco would have been a victim of 'bendgate' with both buttons being the weak points. Nokia has really used steel smartly here, but few will notice the details that have gone into the buttons.
Moving to the display, it's a 5.5-inch QHD P-OLED unit that curves around the sides, in a very Samsung-esq manner. The glass screens are made from Corning's Gorilla Glass 5.
Inside, there an unexpected Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chipset paired with 6 GB of LPDDR 4X RAM and 128 GB of internal storage. Indeed, starting off 2018 without a 845 is bad idea, but we are guessing that HMD has reserved that for the pent-camera Nokia 9 (or the Nokia 10/Nokia 8 Pro).
As with every Nokia flagship to date, this one also focuses on the camera but it's hard to comment on whether it is an upgrade or a downgrade. The Nokia 8 Sirocco now has a 12 MP (wide) + 13 MP (tele) camera accompanied by a dual tone flash. While the cameras gain their f/1.7 and f/2.6 apertures, they lose the OIS, which should hit hard when it comes to an already unimpressive low light performance of the Nokia 8. The front facing unit gets a downgrade with a 5 MP unit as opposed to the 13 MP PDAF unit on the older Nokia 8.
Connectivity options include the usual Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, and a single SIM slot for 4G LTE connectivity. Since there's glass on the back, Nokia has added Qi wireless charging as well, claiming that it can charge up from 0-50 percent in just 30 minutes.
Also sitting behind the back cover is a 3,260 mAh battery, which is a bump up from the older model and comes with Quick Charge. This was expected since there's more space now thanks to the bendable plastic OLED display panel.
What has also improved is the IP rating which has gone up from an IP 54 rating to an IP 67 rating, which means you can use it in the rain or a shower.
On the software front, the Sirocco seems covered with Android One inside, meaning that it should not fall short of any updates.
What worries us about the Sirocco is its pricing. At 749 Euros (approximately Rs 60,000) it is a bit too steep, more so given that it does not feature the latest Qualcomm SoC and features nothing new in terms of features. This is Samsung Galaxy and Google Pixel territory, so the new Sirocco will have to feel special and deliver when it comes to the camera (something not present in recent Nokia releases).
Will the Nokia 8 Sirocco live up to the 'Sirocco' brand or simply be a pointless upgrade that kills whatever memories we had about the gorgeous, steel-cladded 8800? We will find out once we get our hands on it for the full review.
Disclaimer: Tech2 was invited to MWC 2018 by Huawei, who were responsible for all expenses related to travel and accommodation.