Nokia 8.1 (X7) Android One Review

So I’ve had my new phone for about 6 weeks. In that time I fully expected to be either happy or annoyed with my purchase.

I’m pleased to say I’m very happy.

So let’s preface this by saying that I’m not faithful to any single ecosystem. But I did switch from an iPhone to this Android based phone.

This review will have the following sections:

  1. The switching process
  2. The phone hardware
  3. The phone software
  4. 6 weeks in – overall feelings

So let’s get started…

1. The switching process

Moving from iPhone to Android is not as simple as the other way around.

Firstly I ensured I synced my contacts to another service other than iCloud (I used outlook.com) – then I made sure I backed up all my photos using OneDrive.

Next I made sure I disabled iMessage and deactivated iCloud on my phone.

Next up I formatted and wiped my device. I used an iPhone 7 plus – from new – it’s now 2 years old and I sold it for £300 GBP. (that’s £25 more than I paid for my new Nokia 8.1).

2. The Hardware

The Nokia is a modest price (£275 at the time of writing). So I wouldn’t expect it to compare to a £800-900 iPhone. But considering its modest price it has excellent specs.

Crucially it retains a 3.5mm jack important to some people (I prefer Bluetooth – especially as it supports APT-x standards).

The downside of this is that it means the phone isn’t waterproof – but I’ve used it in heavy showers without problems.

The cameras are decent enough for most people. They aren’t quite as good as iPhone shooters. But perfectly capable for snaps of food, landscapes and portraits. The lenses are made by Zeiss and give good colour and sharpness.

I’d say I haven’t really used the front shooter much. But it’s a decent 20mp sensor and takes good shots.

The screen is lovely. It’s a HDR capable screen and watching some 60fps HDR content on YouTube shows how amazing it is.

The speaker is a single one on the bottom. It’s pretty terrible for anything. And I frequently find using speakerphone too quiet.

The battery however is excellent. I comfortably get through and entire day from 6am until 11pm with approx 35-45% battery left with fairly heavy browser and streaming usage. I don’t however play many games.

The charging port is USB type C – this is brilliant and the included charger is 18W so charges quickly.

3. The software

This is arguably what drew me to this phone over other similarly priced Android phones. This phone (as with all HMD global phones) runs Android One. Basically giving at least 2 OS upgrades and 3 years of monthly security updates.

This is a massive bonus. It’s what put me off Samsungs and other Chinese phones when you are stuck on old versions of Android and also have security flaws left exposed on your device. I had a Samsung S6 many moons ago and waited nearly 2 years for an OS Upgrade. Never again.

The software is bloat free – the only app that isn’t stock is the camera one. It is excellent in that regard. It allows you to see Android as it was intended. Bloat and app free.

I replaced the standard launcher with the Microsoft Launcher. And I use the Office apps over the Google alternatives.

I also use Brave as my browser instead of Chrome. It blocks most ads and have a privacy feature set I really like. Again no issues forcing it to be my default browser system wide.

For YouTube I use YouTube Vanced which takes care of all adverts and just works brilliantly. It also allows for background playback which is great when trying to do other stuff whilst listening to a video.

The keyboard of choice for me is G board – I’ve tried swift key but it just doesn’t work as well for me.

Battery life is excellent and I comfortably get 1.5 days – at a push 2 out of a single charge.

4. The overall feeling – 6 weeks in

Overall I’m very happy with the phone. Snappy performance (quicker than my iPhone 7 Plus), decent cameras, great battery life and a lovely screen.

If I had to pick out a few negatives it would be that you can’t expand the system storage using MicroSD for apps etc. Instead I just store my photos and downloads in Spotify and Netflix etc to the card.

Waterproofing might be important to you depending on your needs. If you need it this probably isn’t the phone for you.

But for everyone else who wants a solidly built, good value well spec’d phone this is a great buy.

Fully recommended.

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