Nokia 8 Sirocco hands-on: Android One goes sexy and expensive

Nokia is riding a solid hype machine with tens of millions of phones sold in 2017 and a resurgence of affinity for the brand name. But it's all been on the back of very affordable phones, ranging from $200-400 where it's all about value and not necessarily getting a combination of the best possible specs, design and materials.

The Nokia 8 Sirocco, announced at MWC 2018, changes all of that. It's a €749 phone, which takes aim at some of the best-selling phones from the biggest companies out there. Consequently, it launched just an hour before Samsung's new Galaxy S9, which is almost the exact same price — now that's stiff competition.

When I pick up the Nokia 8 Sirocco, I immediately get flashbacks of the Galaxy S6 edge and S6 edge+. It's extremely thin, and with curved glass on both sides the edges come down to an even finer point. It also has a 16:9 aspect ratio display, so it's rather wide feeling in this ocean of 18:9 phones. So just like the Galaxy S6 edge+, it's honestly a bit awkward to get your hand around it. Nokia wore the fact that the Sirocco is 95% glass on the outside as a badge of pride, but it means you basically have nothing of substance to get your hands on. And as an added consequence, the volume and power buttons on the right side are quite shallow and tough to find and press without looking — all in the name of style, I suppose.

Nokia's designers were clearly given freedom, and used it well.

The phone built every bit as well as I'd expect for €749. The stainless steel body gives the phone a solid, consistent feel throughout and the glass is perfectly sculpted. Using what I'm sure are not full-production devices here at MWC 2018, everything was tight and well manufactured. No matter what angle or distance you're at, the thing is just gorgeous. Nokia's designers were clearly given the liberty to try new things, and took it.

Having not used the phone for long I can't say for sure, but I'm worried that the pOLED display can live up to the same scrutiny we apply to other phones of this price range — particularly ones with curved sides that show off OLED flaws with colors and viewing angles. Looking at the phone straight on you see a pretty significant color shift on the sides where the curves are tightest. I wonder how great the display is overall compared to the Nokia 7 Plus, for example, which has a traditional IPS LCD that looks great.

Android One pairs well with this level of hardware — and I think it's a differentiator.

Having an Android One software experience is a huge benefit of this phone from my perspective. The other Android One phones I've used to this point have been great, and I'm sure the software absolutely flies when paired with a Snapdragon 835 and 6GB of RAM. And speaking of specs, Nokia goes pretty well all-out here with lots of extras that are great to see: 128GB of storage, 3260mAh battery, Quick Charge 4.0, Qi wireless charging and IP67 water resistance. There's a pair of Zeiss-branded cameras on the back, with a 12MP 1.4-micron sensor and f/1.75 lens as the primary and a 13MP 1-micron sensor with f/2.6 telephoto lens as the secondary — I'll reserve judgement there until I've used the phone longer, but that's one area where Nokia has to absolutely nail it if it wants to charge this much for a phone.

And that's the really big question. Nokia's rebirth under HMD Global has been a success, but it's all been at lower price-point phones that can get by with having a few issues on account of their overall great value. When you're charging the same amount for the Nokia 8 Sirocco as the latest Galaxy S9, you're playing a dangerous game — one that other companies have lost in the past few years. But I sure do welcome Nokia's attempt, and the 8 Sirocco is a wonderful phone.

Andrew Martonik

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.

  • 16:9 phones have never been awkward to hold in the past so I don't understand why they are now. I really hope we go back to that format sooner rather than later
  • Agree. I just got an essential phone and I really appreciate the 16:9 ratio compared to the 18:9 on my G6. I hope not all manufacturers go 18:9.
  • The Essential is 19:10 but yes, closer to what we had before than 18:9 is.
  • Yeah, all of a sudden impossible to hold. How in the hell did we manage all these years? Whatever
  • It's not just the aspect ratio. It's 16:9 + sharp edges + glass + very thin side contact points.
  • It should have been out last year. Coming in 2018 the price should never been 749€
  • The S9 should never have been 870€ either. Nothing on that phone warrants that price. But this is what happens when crApple decides an iPhone is worth 1000€ and Android OEMs are too coward to challenge them directly. Don't pre-order the phone. By the end of the 1st month it'll be down in price. Like all other overpriced phones ;)
  • Unfortunately crApple dictates the market hence why even the Pixel is now priced in crApple territory.
  • That's the thing: they don't. They dictate it in America. Nowhere else. And if Android OEMs actually had the balls to stand up to Apple's stupid decisions and call them out on them, Apple wouldn't get away with what they get away.
  • Why challenge Apple in pricing when Android OEMs can offer better phones for better price ?
  • Because they can make more profits. Companies manufacturing phones for Android are tired of raking in revenue and selling millions of phones, while basically making nothing in profit. High prices are here to stay, and until people start voting with their wallets, and not buying these overpriced abominations, this is how it will be.
  • The Galaxy S9 is $720. Also, "Nothing on that phone warrants that price."? Well, several years of being the top-selling Android phone certainly disagrees with that.
  • Hey, Andrew, newsflash: Nokia didn't give you the price in dollars. They gave you in Euros. In dollars (for the US market) they always announce lower prices and then you have that sales tax applied on top of it which changes from state to state and city to city (so it's actually never just $720) when you go buy it (I mean, you're American, you know this). When they announce RSPs in Euros, they're already taking in consideration the average European VAT which is a national tax, applied upfront (so the announced prices all have to have it applied already) and that doesn't change from city to city. The reason they say the price may vary is because the VAT changes by 1 or 2% up or down across Europe and some retailers might want to hike up the price. So they say "look, our recommended price for Europe is 749€. If they charge you more, it's not our fault, it's them making an extra buck". The price of the Galaxy S9 in Europe starts at 849€ and goes from there. When you have Nokia 8 Sirocco pricing for the US you can compare it with the $720 of the S9. Until then, you're comparing Apples with oranges. "Also, "Nothing on that phone warrants that price."? Well, several years of being the top-selling Android phone certainly disagrees with that." Yeah. Several years of the free market immediately discounting Samsung prices not even a month after launch seem to agree with the phones not warranting that price.
    The Note 8, for example, was launched for 1000€. By December it was already down 200€. The S8 launched for 800€ in April, by June was already down more than 100€.
    So yeah. Samsung have been overpricing their phones a lot. And the market has been devaluing them quickly as well. And that's the phones that sell well.
    If you look at LG...well, the V30 was launched at the end of November for 900€ and it's already bellow 600€. So...long live the carrier-free market that puts these greedy companies in their place ;)
  • Apple are more than happy supporting the 2nd hand market. Samsung are not.
    Apple's products tend to maintain their value better because of this.
    And as we all know it's the amount you loose in depreciation that is the true cost.
  • Looks beautiful damn
  • What a stunner of a phone! The size is really nice for all of that display.
  • Why do you start the article referencing '$', then the rest of it '€'? You always seem to do that. Whatever you start it with, keep with that currency. And yes, it's always best to use both (probably the 2 most popular) for those who have no idea what the exchange rate is. So if you reference what it cost in '$', then go ahead and give the equal '€' ammt. My 2¢ worth ;) -sorry, don't know the conversion from ¢ to €
  • Hmm... I think Rupees and Renminbi might slightly edge out US Dollars and Euros in terms of popularity... But I get your point lol.
  • "When you're charging the same amount for the Nokia 8 Sirocco as the latest Galaxy S9." The S9 costs 870€.
    This one 750€. That's 120€ of difference where I come from. It's NOT the same price AT ALL.
    Is 750€ a bit too much? Yes, it is.
    But 870€ for the S9 is also absolutely ridiculous (and don't get me started on crApple).
  • Where are you seeing €870? The Galaxy S9 is $720 MSRP in the U.S. Best I can tell is various EU prices are around €800. You're nitpicking to an extreme degree.
  • Galaxy S9 850€ in Germany 870€ in Portugal 900€ in Italy (in the UK it's £740 which converts to ~840€ if anyone from mainland Europe buys it there). I'm not nitpicking. You just have to understand that the European market is radically different from the US market. You pay A LOT LESS for your gadgets (all of them) than we do in Europe. So when you come to an European show and they give you pricing in Euros (so, not pricing for the US) you can't just assume that 1€ = $1 because it almost never does (and even when it does, we get the short end of the stick because 720€ is $886. If we could convert dollar pricing to Euros it'd be far better since those $720 would be just 585€). Saying that 749€ is close to the S9 price is just not true. The S9 costs, at best, 100€ ($123) more. And 100€ in Europe is a lot of money for many people in many countries (well, so is $123 in the US). I still think both phones - the S9 and the Nokia 8,1 are terribly overpriced. Specially when you consider they don't offer THAT much more than flagships from 2 years ago but the prices have increased substantially since then for no good reason.
  • He's quite the grumpy character. Let him be.
  • I'm pretty sure Andrew is smarter than you and capable of engaging in a logical argument, something snowflakes like you tend to avoid.
  • Nothing beautiful in this Nokia for me. Quite the opposite actually. That camera hump is too big as well.
  • Hope the camera is better. I returned my Nokia 8 it was so bad.
  • Android 8.0? Snapdragon 835? Those are some really particular choices. But well, it certainly is more interesting than S9.
  • You'll probably have 8.1 waiting for you on day 1 since the Nokia 8 is already on 8.1. The 835 was a result of no regulatory agency stepping in on Samsung's ridiculous ransom of the chipsets. If the regulators acted on what is clearly an anti-competitive play (preventing people from getting the lastest chipset until their own phones are released when they're not even the creators of the SoC itself, just the manufacturers) and Samsung wasn't allowed to do what they do, Nokia (and LG and Sony and everyone else) would be able to release the phones with the 845 in March and April instead of the Summer.
    Still...I'll take the 6GB or RAM and 128GB of storage and the 835 over 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage on the 845 :P
  • I thought that only happened last year, and that it was just a shortage of 835? Or is this happening again?
    And I know Nokia 8 is already on 8.1. That's why it's a really gaping omission. I personally hate Day 1 updates - the first thing you do when you get a new phone is enjoy it, and not do a stupid update. Ruins the first impression.
  • Nop. Happening again. Because Samsung manufactures the SoCs, they demand first dibs. And because Qualcomm doesn't give a sh*t since they get the money anyway, they allow it. Oh I see what you mean. Well, let's see. It may even end up coming with 8.1 out of the box. 8.1 is not a major revision of 8.0, so for all we know when they say it comes with 8.0 they might just be talking about the base version (Nougat, Oreo etc).
  • Rejected the moment I came to know it doesn't have 3.5 mm headphone jack. Guess I will just happily buy a simple Nokia 8 for a much lesser price
  • I've never liked the popular 18:9 ratio. Liked all these"glass" phones even less. Thankfully, there are still good metal unibody phones available.
  • And from Nokia too. ;)
  • Great, another glass egg.* sigh *
    Nokia made nice,trustworthy polycarbonate bodied phones at one time but now this ?
  • If you're charging me 750€ for a phone, it better not be plastic.
    I'd be fine with a polycarbonate back in a flagship...if it cost at least 150€ less (which was the launch price for the Nokia L920 and L930).
  • Would be nice if Verizon carried more than 3 brands of phones and I could get this.
  • But where will it be available is my question.
  • Another LG display..... Oh brother!
  • Love these new phones Nokia are bringing out. Android one is definitely a difference maker. I was of the mindset that my next phone was the pixel 3. These announcements and phones are changing that though.
  • Beautiful and cool phone. Too much though... $920 and still rocking the Sd835. The Nokia 8 was a value steal before at $650. They are asking too much for a refresh of the same phone.
  • I actually like this new Nokia 8, doesn't bother me that its using the 835 but 6GB RAM and a beautiful curved design make up for that. Would I buy this over a Pixel 2 XL? That's unlikely but it's still a fantastic phone if a little on the expensive side for an Android One phone. I wish phones would go back to the 16:9 aspect ratio as I love how wide the screen is and really miss it, I think the Pixel 2 XL is still wide even though it uses that 18: 9 aspect ratio, my current phone, the Oukitel K6 has the 18:9 aspect ratio and it's hard typing on my phone due to the cramped and narrow width.
  • I know beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but damn, how can someone see beauty in cheesy S6 like design in 2018? It's the ugly flagship and the only one I would never buy under any circumstances, for half price. And no 3.5 make it even uglier. It's a pure example of one manufacturer being cheep and saving costs on phone manufacturing. It's a horrible overpriced phone, dead on arrival.
  • Hope they add US CDMA support
  • Not unless Verizon pays them for it.
  • Really loved the new line of Nokia PHONES ....looking to buy Nokia 7+ or 8 sirocco to replace my LG G6....
  • I know prices of PHONES around the world differ but LG surprised us here in India with V30+ with 128gb and priced at 44990rs that's around 700$ ....just confused upgrade to V30s new one or Nokia 8 or 7+ will wait for camera shoot out between these PHONES...I also care very much for battery life
  • Does it have NFC?
  • For me curved screen = no go