Nokia 8.1 reviews: high performance, cameras need to improve
Continuously launching a series of products covering the middle-to-high-end segment, HMD Global expressed its determination to capture market share and find some of the old glory of Nokia.
Only in 2018, HMD Global sold 5 Nokia brand smartphones in many countries. At the beginning of 2019, the company continues to unveil the Nokia 8.1, the international version of the previously sold Nokia X7 in the Chinese market.
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Nokia 8.1 is equipped with many remarkable features such as Snapdragon 710 processor, HDR10 screen, Zeiss dual camera … for about $ 350. Even some systems are selling models for just over $ 310.
The consumer question wonders if Nokia 8.1 is out of specification, the configuration is clear, how is the actual experience? What is it especially worth buying?
Design: try to make a difference but still look like “elder”
At first glance, Nokia 8.1 looks exactly like the brothers 6.1 Plus or 5.1 Plus, still the metal frame design, the 2 glass faces, the rounded corners, the rabbit ears screen and the middle camera. back face. Only the chassis has differences. Instead of a smooth sanding frame or glossy paint like previous predecessors, 8.1 switched to the frame mode of the Nokia 7 Plus.
The biggest difference comes from the frame part (Nokia 8.1 in the middle). A metal border is placed between the frame and the silver plate, this border is gold-colored, creating a strange reflection effect when the light hits.
Machine has good finishing. We compared it quickly to the Huawei Nova 3i, we can see the seams between the glass face and the metal frame on Nokia 8.1 are tight, seamless and smooth. Nokia phones also give the feeling of holding hands, more secure.
The Nokia 8.1 has a 3.5mm headphone jack despite the use of USB Type C. The earpiece comes with an average quality – the extra bass in volume but lacking in quality, uncertain and not deep enough, overwhelm all mid and treble bands.
Despite using the Type C USB port, the Nokia 8.1 retains the 3.5mm headphone jack on the top of the phone
Impressive HDR screen, medium sound
Most Nokia smartphones last year turned to rabbit ear monitors and Nokia 8.1 is no exception. This rabbit-ear monitor uses an IPS LCD panel, 6.18 inches in size, Full HD + resolution, and an 18: 9 aspect ratio.
Although there is no flash, dual camera, infrared sensor or 3D face scanning but the size of rabbit ears on Nokia 8.1 is very large, occupying many useless areas.
Like many other Android phones, the chin under the phone has not overcome the weaknesses and the Nokia logo still appears unnecessarily even though it is less prominent.
The rabbit ear groove occupies too much useless space even without any special sensor or feature
The lower chin is still thick and still trying to cram the Nokia logo
Activating the full Bezel (border) option in the “Developer options” will allow you to turn off the rabbit ears
However, hiding the rabbit ears makes the upper edge significantly thicker
Conversely, if a rabbit ear is not enough, you can add another rabbit ear to the bottom edge. But this second rabbit ears will be rarely used because it has no effect, just makes the screen odd.
The most annoying thing is that the rabbit ears will sneak into the content when watching videos or movies
It is worth noting that the screen of Nokia 8.1 supports HDR10 high quality image standard, a feature usually only available on high-end devices. In fact, the screen of this smartphone gives unexpectedly good quality. Brightness, high contrast, deep black, bright colors, balanced color heat, clear display, wide viewing angle, sharpness, fine detail.
Nokia 8.1 is one of the few mid-range smartphones to have HDR screens
The standard HDR content on a device is good for YouTube, Nexflix. Watch high-quality movies on a screen that supports the eye-catching HDR standard by reproducing fine details in both dark and bright areas.
It allows to customize color modes quite similar to Samsung smartphones with AMOLED screens. Nokia 8.1 is also clearly displayed when using the sun outside.
Despite the good screen, the audio system of Nokia 8.1 is inadequate. There is only one single speaker on the bottom edge. Although this external speaker has a high volume but the quality is only average, there is a complete absence of bass.
Fast performance, outstanding in the segment
Configuration is probably the strongest point of Nokia 8.1 when the smartphone is equipped with Snapdragon 710 chip with the lowest price today (genuine price), comes with 4GB RAM and 64GB internal memory e-MMC 5.1, support slot External memory card slot up to 400 GB.
The Snapdragon 710 chip first appeared on a genuine $ 300- $ 350 smartphone
Checking the performance of Nokia 8.1 with familiar benchmarking software like AnTuTu, Geekbench, GFX Bench, the Snapdragon 710 CPU score on this device is about 12.5% higher than the Snapdragon 660 on other smartphones, while the score GPU is up to 50% higher.
In everyday use, Nokia 8.1 gives fast response speed. The app opening, multitasking, web browsing with multiple tabs, returning to the home screen when opening many applications at the same time is quick and smooth. However, the transition effect of Android 9 is sometimes a bit cumbersome, so if you want to respond faster, you can move all the way back to 0.5x.
With heavy games, Nokia 8.1 also performed well. From Dead Trigger 2, Warhammer 40,000: Freeblade, top-of-the-line graphic games on Android are all handled smoothly at the highest graphics setting. Average FPS is always at 60 with frame stability up to 97%.
With poorly optimized games like PUBG Mobile, 8.1 is still locked at 30 FPS despite having the highest graphics settings, compensating for good stability of up to 99%, almost without lag.
When playing heavy games continuously for a long time, the device has a slight warmth in the area around the rear camera but not to the point of being uncomfortable.
Android OS 9 many new points
Still participating in Google’s Android One program but Nokia 8.1 has the latest Android Pie 9.0 pre-installed. The most noticeable change on Android 9 is that the familiar Multitasking key has been removed, leaving only the Home key and the Back key.
Home key has been integrated with convenient gesture actions similar to iPhone X such as horizontal slide to quickly switch between open apps, swipe up to open multitasking interface, quick access to the search bar and other The app is very popular, as well as opening a list of installed applications.
However, the fact that Google is still trying to retain the back key without switching to completely clawed operations still causes many inconveniences during use. At the same time, the screen occupies a significant portion of the 2 navigation keys.
Another notable feature that has just appeared on Android 9 is Digital Wellbeing, which helps you “quench your smartphone” somewhat and limit your daily work to the phone screen. You can know exactly how much time you have spent surfing Facebook, “trading melons” on Messenger or “immersing” with YouTube, playing games …
Digital Wellbeing allows you to set the time limit for each app and when you touch the preset, the app will be locked so you can decide to “detox”. This feature is also a useful tool for parents to manage their children’s smartphone usage details.
Besides the features of the original Android, Nokia has some pretty useful additions such as allowing double-click to turn on the screen, swipe the fingerprint sensor to see the notification, press the power button twice to quickly open the camera , quickly see the message content even when the screen turns off or picks up the phone to view notifications like Always On Display, …
In addition to using the fingerprint sensor on the back to unlock the device with high sensitivity, users also have the option of unlocking the face via a 2D camera on the front. This feature is actually part of Android 9 and is hidden quite carefully in the Smart Lock section. Experience shows that the face unlocking speed of 8.1 is slow and this feature does not work in the dark night as it does not light up the screen itself.
Battery life is lower than expected
With 3500 mAh battery, and equipped with 10nm new Snapdragon 710 processor, Nokia confidently announced the battery life of 8.1 can be up to 2 days. Actual use shows that, in order to achieve that number, you will have to be very careful.
For nearly 2 weeks of this smartphone experience, I usually only get about 1 day of moderate intensity, mainly surfing the web, Facebook, taking pictures, sometimes testing games. The screen time (on screen) is usually about 6-7 hours at 50% brightness, with automatic brightness adjustment on the environment.
The standard battery tests also showed that the battery life of Nokia 8.1 is not impressive, almost similar to the brother Nokia 7 Plus (Snapdragon 660, 3800 mAh battery).
The bright spot in Nokia 8.1 is that the device supports fast charging and is available with quick charger included in the box. Nokia did not announce any standard fast charging on 8.1 but only said maximum capacity reached 18W. Output parameters on the charging tubers (5V-3A, 9V-2A, 12V-1.5A) show that it is similar to Quick Charge 2.0 standard. When charging from 0%, in the first 30 minutes, 8.1 gets about 43% battery, in 1 hour up to 70% battery and full 100% battery in about 2 hours, not as fast as expected.
The camera gives good quality even in low light, but the speed is unstable
Camera system on Nokia 8.1 has a lot of attention with dual cameras using Zeiss lens including 12 MP main camera, aperture f / 1.8, sensor size 1 / 2.55 ”, pixel size 1.4um, anti-vibration optics (OIS), dual phase focusing (Dual Pixel), along with a 13 MP secondary camera, but merely to capture the depth of field, not telephoto, super wide or black and white cameras. Dual cameras protrude against the back and make the device look less aesthetic.
The selfie camera also has a large resolution of 20 MP, a f / 2.0 aperture, a pixel size of 0.9um but only fixed focus. Familiar features on Nokia devices continue to appear such as shooting, live streaming from both rear-facing cameras (Bothie, Dual-Sight), surround sound recording with Nokia OZO, in addition to adding AI to identify objects, automatically optimize parameters.
With good lighting conditions, photos taken from Nokia 8.1 for sharpness, fine detail, fast shutter speeds, bright colors, wide bright bands. However, when turning on the sun automatically recognizes AI-based scenes (Scene Detection), the automatic white balance is sometimes unstable, alluded to blue.
The mode of capturing fonts removed by Bokeh directly on Nokia 8.1 for images to remove fonts is stable, less errors are deleted. The device deletes only the hard details like hair or details in the “covers” section of the subject if the maximum deletion level is selected. However, unlike Nokia 7 Plus, after capturing fonts with 8.1, you cannot edit the level of blurring of the font and focus point.
With the front camera, Nokia 8.1 also has the feature to simulate the deletion of fonts called Vertical Mode (!) But it does not edit the font deletion level like the rear camera. Selfie deleting fonts is also quite standard, but erase slightly strong so it looks somewhat unnatural.
When taking selfie, you can also choose beauty mode or HDR. The natural beauty mode helps to whiten and smooth the skin, but there are no options like tapered, chin-cut, big-eyed. Selfie photos of 8.1 have sharpness, good detail but often suffer from bright tires, poor light strips.
Like Nokia 8 or Nokia 7 Plus, Nokia 8.1 also integrates OZO Audio recording technology to record more accurate and realistic sound when shooting movies. In the actual experience, the sound recorder is very clear, promoting well when recording music shows with music and singers stand out, eliminating most of the noise. Images obtained when shooting 4K videos also give good quality, sharpness, high detail, vivid colors, effective anti-shake. Unfortunately, the new device only offers 30fps video recording.
In a fiercely competitive market like smartphones, if you are unable to adapt to new trends, no matter how big your brand is, you will be eliminated. Nokia probably absorbed this rule more than anyone else because they had once “fallen horse” with Windows Phone.
In the latest product is the 8.1, Nokia shows that the company is coming back stronger. Although a product with a mid-range price, this model possesses some features of high-end smartphone line such as high-quality screen, impressive low-light shooting camera, agile performance and design with perfection. , meticulous machining.
Of course, for customers who don’t like rabbit ears, 8.1 is still hard to convince them even if they can disable this defects. Quality of speakers and headphones are the ones that make people who care much about sound consider. The battery life and fast charging feature are not as good as expected and the selfie camera needs much more improvement to keep up with the current “virtual living” movement.