Mobile Reviews · Reviews

Nokia 8.1 mobile phone – 4 months usage review

I was searching now for an Android phone that had stock Android with it.  There are not many phones in the market though. Your best bet is to either buy Google Pixel or else select one of the Android One ranges that Google launched in 2014. Phones that are launched as Android One get minimum updates to Android OS  for 2 years. So if the phone is launched with Android Marshmallow, it will get Android Pie and Android X. Few manufacturers have launched phones under Android One but Nokia by HMD Mobile and Motorola have launched many phones under Android One as part of their strategy.

Nokia 8.1 was launched in December 2018 with Android Pie 9.0, and when you start the mobile, it upgrades to Android 10 immediately. The full specs of the phone can be found at GSMArena

But the major highlights of its specs are:

  • Qualcomm SDM710 Snapdragon 710
  • Adreno 616 GPU
  • 4 GB RAM
  • 64GB Storage
  • 3500 mAh battery
  • Android Pie 9
  • Zeiss Optics Dual Camera – 13 MP, 12 MP,  f/1.8, 1/2.55″, 1.4µm, dual pixel PDAF, OIS

I bought this phone from Amazon just around Diwali (October 2019). I chose this phone as it was available for Rs 15000/- and had lot of advantages over it’s peers at that price point-

  1. Stock Android 10  without any bloatware.
  2. Powerful Snapdragon 710 CPU
  3. 3.5 mm headphone jack
  4. FM Radio (though I don’t use it much)
  5. USB – C Connector with fast charging (18 W)
  6. Awesome good quality headphones

Unboxing – So I have been using it for 4 months now and am very happy overall with the phone.  The box comes with a USB C Charger 18 W and headphones. In today’s times, many companies are either not giving headphones or are bundling headphones of low quality with the box. But Nokia 8.1 comes with really good quality black headphones that look good and sound even better. The charger is also black and has a solid build feel to it.

(Photo taken by Nokia 8.1 camera)

Unboxing:

The first time you start the phone it updates to Android 10. After the usual Android startup screens, you see the main screen and realize that how few apps are bundled by Android. The phone had very few apps bundled with it. It didn’t have many Google apps too. Out of the 64 GB Storage, the system takes 15 GB leaving you with 48-49 GB free space. The phone has a glass back leaving lot of fingerprints. I liked the Iron color which is kind of maroon and not found with other phone models.

Build:

The finger print is on the back of the phone below the camera which is bit inconvenient for multi-tasking and frequent usage. I prefer to have the fingerprint in the front. The phone detects the finger prints immediately without any lag. The camera is really good and clicks awesome photos in daylight. I haven’t click many photos in the dark but it does a decent job in low light settings too. The 3.5 mm headphone jack is at the top of the phone and USB C charging and speaker below. Speakers are loud and clear and also reflect the strong quality of the phone.  Dual sim can be inserted from the left and volume and power buttons on the right. But I found the phone thickness a bit larger for my taste and that could be because of the dual/triple/quad cameras available nowadays with phones. The phone weighs only 181 gm which is light enough for the pocket.

Usage: 

Even with a Snapdragon 710, I found that the phone hangs sometimes. Webpages in Chrome have found to be hanging atleast once a week. I currently have around 100+ apps installed and the phone does a decent job in keeping apps in the background. The drawer is a simple one and easily accessible from swiping up the menu. I never had to close the apps running in the background for performance improvement. I watch lot of Youtube videos and the phone easily lasts more than a day with 7 hours of screen time. Screen time is now easily available with Digital Well being introduced in Settings in Android 10. I didn’t find any heating issues with the phone but again, I don’t talk much on call so haven’t validated that with calling.

Stock Android: 

My first requirement was to have a stock android phone and I chose Nokia 8.1  for the same, so let me mention some benefits I found after using stock android for 4 months. Google’s stock phone call app has a spam feature built in that detects spam based on the Google listings for businesses. So you can easily use the phone without installing Trucaller app for spam protection. The digital well being is an added statistics that help you to monitor your screen time. There are dynamic wallpapers that change every day, just like it changes in Google Chromecast. It also has a good option to take screenshot by pressing the power button for 2 secs. I use this feature often for my work and social media. Google Photos is the default app for viewing your gallery and it syncs your photos to the cloud. It also has  a Files app to view your files on the phone.

The OS now has good features to block notifications and Android now doesn’t give permissions right away to every app. Though notifications are enabled by default for every app, it will ask the user for every other permission like SIM, Call logs,  SMS, Media, location etc. Regular updates to Android 10 are recieved on the phone, something which is not seen in other phones.

I didn’t like the messages app bundled in stock android and prefer to use SMS Organizer by Microsoft.

The 4 GB RAM is good enough but might be less if you prefer to play power hungry games. I see aroun 1.5GB free RAM most of the times on the phone.

Overall I love stock android and the hardware of Nokia 8.1 is aptly configured with the stock android. It is a great phone launched by HMD Nokia and value for money.  The phone is still available at Amazon and I definitely recommend it. It will get the next android OS version update  too when it launches.  You can go ahead and buy the phone from Amazon at: