Nokia 8 Sirocco review: Hands-on

There was something of a lack of new flagship smartphones at MWC 2018 but Nokia has plenty of new devices to feast your eyes on, including a sleek handset to rival the Galaxy S9. Here’s our Nokia 8 Sirocco hands-on review.

Price and release date

UK pricing has finally been announced, and the Nokia 8 Sirocco costs less than the £739 Galaxy S9. It's available now from all major UK retailers at £649. Those who order from Nokia.com before 14 June will also get a free Google Home Mini.

We've compared the Sirocco and the Nokia 8, its predecessor. You can also read our comparison of the Sirocco and the iPhone 8.

Design and build

It’s actually quite interesting that the price is going to be very similar to Samsung’s new phone because the Nokia 8 Sirocco has a design that’s extremely reminiscent of the Galaxy range of late.

That’s not a bad thing unless you feel like Nokia has ripped off Samsung’s design.

Unlike the other Nokia’s that use an aluminium casing, the 8 Sirocco is almost entirely glass – more than a whopping 95 percent, according to HMD. This is vacuum-moulded Gorilla Glass 5 and it looks extremely stylish.

Like the Galaxy phones, it’s curved at the sides (front and back) and the two pieces almost meet down the sides, apart from a sliver of stainless steel which is less than 2mm thick.

The stainless steel has ‘dual diamond polished chamfers’ for grip which sounds great. In reality, the metal down the sides is so thin it feels sharp.

The Nokia 8 Sirocco is thinner than the Galaxy S9 at 7.5mm and as such doesn’t offer a headphone jack, which is a shame. The phone is waterproof, though with an IP67 rating.

There are more similarities with the Galaxy range as the fingerprint scanner is rear mounted. The camera array does stick out a little way but not so much that it’s an issue, partly as it’s central.

Specs and features

At this price, Nokia needs to offer serious specs to go with the high-end design. On the whole that is the case but it’s not all hunky-dory.

The screen is a little different from rivals as although it’s got the curved edges like Galaxy phones, it’s the more traditional 16:9 aspect ratio. At 5.5in it’s just a little smaller than others and not as tall.

It’s got a 2K Quad HD resolution and uses plastic OLED technology. Nokia has gone for a more compact package which actually might be easier to use for some. We’ll test it out further but the display looks perfectly crisp, bright and colourful.

We’re expecting a wave of smartphones with the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 but the Nokia 8 Sirocco is a little out of date because it’s actually powered by last year’s Snapdragon 835.

That’s not the end of the world, but we would expect the latest chip at this high-end price.

It helps that you get 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage as standard. However, there’s no microSD card slot so it’s not all plain sailing here.

It’s a shame there’s no headphone jack but you do get a USB-C adapter included there are some audio features in the form of three mics that can capture audio in 24bit resolution. Nokia promises distortion-free recordings up to 132dB with ‘spatial audio’.

When it comes to connectivity, the Nokia 8 Sirocco is packed as you would expect a flagship to be with dual-band 11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, GPS and various sensors including the fingerprint reader on the back.

Moving onto photography and this is an area the Nokia 8 Sirocco looks to be strong. Where rivals may force you to buy a plus model to get dual-cameras, they are standard here.

At the back you get a 12Mp camera with large 1.4um pixels and a decent f/1.75 aperture. This is accompanied by a 13Mp telephoto lens with an f/2.6 aperture and a dual-tone flash.

The front offers a less impressive 5Mp camera for selfies, also with 1.4um pixels and an f/2 aperture. All the cameras seem decent enough but we’ll need proper testing time to see how they stack up to rivals.

Although the cameras seem decent, it’s worth noting that the Nokia 7 Plus has the same ones.

The glass design means wireless charging is possible. You can also charge via the USB-C port and the firm says you can get 50 percent battery in 30 minutes thanks to fast charging. Battery life should be good with an above average 3260mAh battery.

Software and apps

If you’re not a fan of the somewhat busy user interfaces offered by the likes of Samsung and LG then the Nokia 8 Sirocco might be a good choice for you.

Although it has Android 8 Oreo like others, the phone is part of the Android One program. In fact, all of Nokia’s new phones – apart from the feature phones – are, too.

You might have thought this was for cheaper phones but that’s not the case and actually means you’re getting a clean and simple Android experience similar to that of the Pixel phones.

It means no pre-installed apps from third-parties and other benefits like regular security updates, Google Assistant front and centre and the guarantee of upgrades to future Android versions for two years.

Nokia 8 Sirocco: Specs

  • Android 8.0 Oreo
  • 5.5in Quad HD display, pOLED
  • Dual curved edge display
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor
  • 6GB RAM
  • 128GB internal storage
  • 12MP wide-angle rear-facing camera with f/1.75 + 13MP telephoto lens with f/2.6
  • 5MP wide-angle front camera with f/2.0
  • Fingerprint scanner
  • 11ac dual-band Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • GPS
  • NFC
  • 4G LTE Cat 12
  • USB-C
  • 3260mAh non-removable battery
  • Wireless charging
  • IP67 dust & waterproof rating
  • 73x141x7.5mm
  • Android 8.0 Oreo
  • 5.5in Quad HD display, pOLED
  • Dual curved edge display
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor
  • 6GB RAM
  • 128GB internal storage
  • 12MP wide-angle rear-facing camera with f/1.75 + 13MP telephoto lens with f/2.6
  • 5MP wide-angle front camera with f/2.0
  • Fingerprint scanner
  • 11ac dual-band Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • GPS
  • NFC
  • 4G LTE Cat 12
  • USB-C
  • 3260mAh non-removable battery
  • Wireless charging
  • IP67 dust & waterproof rating
  • 73x141x7.5mm

SHOULD I BUY NOKIA 8 SIROCCO?

The Nokia 8 Sirocco is a really interesting device from the firm that’s completely different to its other phones. With similar design, it’s a direct rival to the Galaxy S9 although with some specs that aren’t so impressive despite a very similar price.

No headphone jack or 18:9 screen might be enough for some to go elsewhere but the Android One software is a lure for those wanting the simple life. Stay tuned for a full review soon.

Best prices today

Retailer Price Delivery  

Price comparison from over 24,000 stores worldwide