Nokia 8 Sirocco hands-on review

Wrapped in Gorilla Glass 5 with a stainless steel frame, the Nokia 8 Sirocco looks and feels luxurious

With a promising camera and a beautiful design, the Nokia 8 Sirocco is hard to ignore.
With a promising camera and a beautiful design, the Nokia 8 Sirocco is hard to ignore.
With a promising camera and a beautiful design, the Nokia 8 Sirocco is hard to ignore.

Highs

  • Beautiful design
  • Comfortable to hold
  • Good specs
  • Speedy camera
  • Stock Android 8.0 Oreo

Lows

  • Edges are a tad too sharp
  • Hard to press buttons
  • No headphone jack

Ever since HMD started producing smartphones with the Nokia brand name, its designs have more or less been utilitarian. A tough protective metal frame around a single aluminum unibody, with a fairly straightforward rear and front design. Well, the company thinks it’s ready to change things up with its first luxury smartphone, the Nokia 8 Sirocco.

If you recall the Sirocco name, it’s from when Nokia used to differentiate some of its special edition feature phones, like the Nokia 8800 Sirocco. Well, the Nokia 8 Sirocco certainly is something special. Let’s take a closer look.

Razor-thin edges

The Nokia 8 Sirocco is wrapped in Gorilla Glass 5, with a stainless steel frame in between. Stainless steel is tougher than aluminum, which is used in most phones, and it also makes the phone look and feel a tad more luxurious.

The first thing you’ll notice, however, is how compact the Sirocco feels. The minimized edges around the screen really do make the 5.5-inch form factor feel small. Better yet, the phone is thin at 7.5mm, but the edges curve into the stainless steel frame, with the thinnest point being just 2mm.

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Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

It’s quite an experience holding the Nokia 8 Sirocco, because it feels futuristic, and the edges are razor thin. It’s just plain cool to hold and stare at. The sides of the phone do feel a little too sharp, but we’ll have to use the phone a little longer to decide if it’s detrimental to the smartphone experience. What we certainly didn’t like were the buttons — they’re flush against the right edge of the Sirocco, so not only is it difficult to quickly locate them, but they’re tough to press without making sure you exert a certain amount of pressure.

The software is slick, simple, and fast, and the promise of updates is always good to hear from any Android manufacturer.

The rear side of the phone is a little too glossy because of the glass, and it attracts plenty of fingerprints, but that’s a problem with most flagship smartphones these days. There’s a dual-camera system on the top, a fingerprint sensor below it, as well as the Nokia and Android One logos below. We’re hoping the certification labels aren’t going to sit at the very bottom, because it sort of clutters the look of the device.

There’s a USB-Type C charging port on the bottom, and HMD thinks it’s also time to get rid of the headphone jack, sadly.

Overall, we love the look of the phone. It feels compact and comfortable to grip in the hand, and we like how the curved edges don’t blend as much into the frame as the Galaxy S9, which sometimes interrupts usability. We’ll certainly have to use it for a longer period of time to see if the razor-sharp edges continue to bother us.

High-end specs

The Nokia 8 Sirocco mostly has the flagship specifications you’d expect — except for the processor. It uses Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 chip, which was the flagship processor of choice for many smartphones last year. 2018 is the year of the Snapdragon 845, so it’s a little odd that HMD’s flagship phone doesn’t have the latest processor on board.

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Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

In terms of actual performance, though, you won’t see a problem with the 835 at all. Apps opened quickly, and moving through the operating system felt fast. There’s 6GB of RAM on board, which is more than enough, as well as 128GB of internal storage. There’s no MicroSD card slot, which may be disappointing for some, but again, 128GB is plenty for the average person.

The P-OLED 2,560 × 1,440 pixel resolution on the 5.5-inch screen looks vibrant, colorful, and incredibly sharp — perfect for viewing movies and videos.

The glass back allows for Qi wireless charging, and a 3,260mAh battery should keep the phone going strong for about a full day. The phone is also IP67 water-resistant, which means it should still survive submersion up to a meter underwater for 30 minutes.

The camera system is also surprisingly fast to react. There’s a 12-megapixel camera accompanying a 13-megapixel telephoto lens on the rear — with Zeiss optics — which adds a 2x optical zoom feature, to shoot subjects that are further away, as well as a bokeh portrait mode. We saw virtually no shutter lag, though there was a little blur in the low-light environment we were shooting in.

It’s the “bothie” feature that caught our eye. Debuting last year on the Nokia 8, it lets you take photos or videos with the 5-megapixel front camera and the rear camera at the same time, perfect for trying to capture reaction and action at the same time. It worked incredibly well with an easy-to-use interface, offering high-quality photos at the touch of a button.

The new Pro Mode is a nice addition as well. Swipe up from the shutter icon and you can get access to manual controls for the camera. It’s well-laid out and easy to slide the toggles to get the settings you want. This feature will be available on all Nokia phones with Zeiss optics.

Android One

But perhaps best of all, the Nokia 8 Sirocco runs Android One. That doesn’t just mean you get stock Android with no bloatware apps — you also get access to fast security and Android version updates.

The software is slick, simple, and fast, and the promise of updates is always good to hear from any Android manufacturer.

Price and availability

The Nokia 8 Sirocco will cost a whopping 750 euros (about $922). You can certainly get equal or better specifications for the price, such as with the Galaxy S9, but it may be worth the cost. We’re quite happy with the design, the camera is promising and has quite a few must-have features, and you’re guaranteed immediate updates.

The Sirocco will be available in April 2018, but there’s no word of a U.S. release.