The Nokia phone brand has been on quite a journey since its heyday in the late nineties and early two-thousands (or aughts, as David would have me write it). After Nokia’s smartphone business was sold to Microsoft and became the Windows Phone flagbearer while that was still a thing, the baton has now been passed to HMD Global. HMD has been releasing Android phones under the Nokia name for just over a year now, and it’s fair to say the brand is stronger than it has been for a very long time.
At MWC 2018 here in Barcelona, HMD has added to its already burgeoning phone lineup with four devices, three of which are part of the Android One program and an ultra-low-cost Android Go phone. I had some hands-on time with each and came away impressed overall. These are my thoughts about Nokia’s 2018 smartphone range.
Nokia 6 (2018)
The new Nokia 6 isn’t a huge departure from the company’s most popular phone of 2017, but there are a couple of meaningful changes that should make for an even better experience. Gone are the capacitive keys, and the fingerprint reader is now on the back. This means the same 5.5″ IPS LCD panel has been squeezed into a slightly smaller frame than on last years version, and the double-anodized aluminum frame feels great in the hand.
Performance-wise, the Nokia 6 (2018) gets a more capable Snapdragon 630 chip and as an Android One device it runs a pure version of the OS with nothing but Nokia’s camera app added in. In my brief time with the phone, it was fast and responsive, and there’s every reason to believe this will be one of the best mid-range phones launched this year. At €279, it could be an absolute bargain.
Nokia 7 Plus
The Nokia 7 Plus sits in the upper mid-range bracket, costing €399 in Europe. It includes a Snapdragon 660 SoC, dual rear cameras, and an 18:9 6″ display with rounded corners. HMD wants you to look at this phone and see a flagship device, and it certainly gives off that impression.
Layers of ceramic paint on top of aluminum make for a sleek, premium feeling phone. The bezels are also pretty small for a phone in this price range, and my only visual complaint is that the Nokia logo remains on the front in the top right corner. The copper colored accents won’t be to everyone’s tastes, but it certainly makes the phone distinctive.
This is once again an Android One phone, so if you like stock Android you know you’re going to have no issues with the software experience. Like the new Nokia 6, this was snappy in my brief testing, slowing no noticeable slowdown in any of the apps I opened up. If dual cameras are a priority for you, this could be a good choice. It’ll also likely get two-day battery life from its huge 3800mAh cell – another plus.
Nokia 8 Sirocco
A bit of a surprise, this one, not least because of its bizarre name. We were expecting a flagship Nokia 9, but what we’ve got is the Nokia 8 Sirocco. HMD is calling it “the most aggressive smartphone design ever,” and aside from its obvious likeness to a Samsung Edge device there are reasons that assertion may not be entirely wide of the mark. The curved glass edges are symmetrical front to back, meeting a 2mm wide chamfer on the side. I can’t say it feels that comfortable in the hand, but it’s impressive craftsmanship for sure.
Going past the looks of this phone, its other flagship credentials generally stand up. Like the previous two, it’s an Android One phone. The near stock OS coupled with a Snapdragon 835 chip and 6GB of RAM mean this thing is blazing fast. Even before getting completely on board with Android One, Nokia phones performed well, and the 8 Sirocco will be no different.
Like other modern flagships with limited internal space, the Nokia 8 Sirocco ditches the headphone jack. You’ll need to be a real Nokia enthusiast to buy this phone, however, so you probably won’t care too much about that. Dual rear cameras including one telephoto lens add to the flagship spec list, and as an added bonus there’s also wireless charging. Not that anybody is really championing that anymore.
The Nokia 1 is obviously the least exciting for those of us who covet the latest and greatest devices, but it could be the most important of HMD’s new phones. It runs Android Oreo (Go Edition), so the software is designed to work well on a phone with such low-level specs.
With just 1GB of RAM and 8GB of storage, the Nokia 1 would struggle to run the full-fat version of Android with any competency, but the Go version ran smooth enough when I played with the phone. With Google’s suite of Android Go apps optimized for the low memory and storage of the Nokia 1, even the $85 you’ll pay for it should get you passable performance. We’ll know more when we get our hands on a review unit – look out for our future coverage of all the above phones to find out more.