Nokia 8 review: Nokia’s return to the high-end segment

68
DxOMark Mobile

The Nokia 8 is the first real Nokia-branded high-end device launched since the famous brand was acquired from Microsoft Mobile by its current owners, HMD Global, in 2016. The device is powered by Qualcomm’s top-of-the-line Snapdragon 835 chipset and comes with a dual camera that was developed in collaboration with Zeiss. The unit combines a 13 Mp RGB sensor with 1.12µm-sized pixels, an f/2.0-aperture lens, and optical image stabilization with a secondary 13 Mp monochrome sensor. Image data from both sensors is combined for more detail, lower noise levels, and better dynamic range. In addition to the usual contrast detection, the autofocus system uses phase-detection sensors and a time-of-flight laser for measuring the subject distance. In video mode, the Nokia 8 is capable of recording 4K footage at 30 frames per second. Older Nokia models, such as the 808 PureView, performed at a consistently high level in our testing. Read our review to find out if the Nokia 8 is capable of filling its predecessors’ large shoes under new ownership.

Key specifications:

  • Dual camera
  • 13 Mp RGB main sensor with 1.12µm pixels
  • f/2.0 aperture
  • Optical image stabilization
  • Secondary 13 Mp monochrome sensor
  • AF with on-sensor phase detection and laser assistance
  • Dual-tone LED flash
  • 4K video at 30 fps
  • 13 Mp front camera with f/2.0 aperture

Test summary

The Nokia 8 images show good white balance in bright light, but the level of detail is low and noise is very noticeable in areas of plain color.

In our testing, the Nokia camera was able to produce nice images in some situations, earning itself an overall Photo score of 72. That said, there is room for improvement in many areas, especially when considering the Nokia 8 aims to compete with the flagship phones from Apple, Samsung, Huawei, and other big name brands. Generally its images show good exposure and the Nokia struggles to capture a usable exposure only in our darkest 1 Lux test scene. Dynamic range is good, too, but only when the Auto HDR mode kicks in — which it often doesn’t, even in high-contrast shooting situations. White balance is usually accurate, but images sometimes show quite low levels of saturation and some noticeable color shading (differences in color rendering between center and edges of the frame). In low light, we also found some color rendering inconsistencies, with some tones slightly changing between shots of the same scene.

In terms of texture and noise, the Nokia 8 noticeably lags behind other flagship phones. Fairly strong noise is visible in areas of plain color, even in bright light, and levels of detail are generally low, with a lot of blurring of fine detail and textures. As you would expect, detail decreases further in indoor and low-light shooting conditions. In addition, the Nokia suffers from a very noticeable loss of sharpness in the field, with strong softness often visible towards the edges of the frame. Most other artifacts are well-controlled, however.

Detail suffers noticeably in this 5 Lux low-light shot. Color shading is also visible, with a pinkish cast at the center of the frame and green in the corners.

Thanks to a combination of three technologies — contrast detection, phase detection, and laser — the Nokia 8’s autofocus system is capable of producing accurate results in most situations. It does slow down considerably in lower light, though, which is useful to keep in mind when aiming to capture a decisive moment in dim conditions. Exposure and color are decent when shooting with the camera’s dual-LED flash, but some flash portraits show a noticeable red-eye effect, and just as with flash-less shooting, there’s a lot of noise and not a lot of fine detail.

Without a dedicated tele-lens or higher-resolution secondary sensor, it’s no surprise the Nokia’s results when zooming aren’t on quite the same level as the best in class. Using the digital zoom, there is very little detail and the image results quickly look pixelated, with noise fringing around edges. In fact, we can only recommend using even a 2x zoom factor in emergency situations — and overall, it’s arguably best to get as close to your subject as possible and avoid zooming altogether. Thankfully, the Nokia’s bokeh mode performs on a higher level. It cannot quite compete with the best in class, but the Nokia’s portrait mode is capable of producing a pleasant bokeh effect that is not too strong. Subject isolation it not always perfect, though, with some artifacts visible, and the mode doesn’t always trigger when it should, even when manually activated.

The Nokia is capable of producing nice results in its portrait mode, but subject isolation is not always perfect. In this sample, artifacts are visible around the subject’s hand (among other areas).
Even at a modest 2x magnification, zoom images show very low levels of detail and noise fringing around some edges.

At 62 points, the Nokia 8’s video score is lower than its still image performance, and this is mainly because of its low autofocus and stabilization sub-scores. The autofocus in our test unit often did not trigger at at all in low light, making videos in such conditions pretty much unusable; and with its strong overcompensation for handheld motion and deformation, the stabilization system performs on a very similar level as the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, a device that is now almost three years old. In addition, the Nokia 8’s video footage shows a narrow dynamic range, with highlight clipping in high-contrast scenes, and unstable exposure. Exposure stepping is noticeable when the illumination changes during recording, and as with stills mode, levels of detail are low. On the plus side, video clips show good target exposure and color rendering in bright light and well-lit indoor conditions.

Conclusion

With top-end processing components, a 5.3-inch QHD IPS display, and an IP54-rated aluminum uni-body, the Nokia 8 is a high-end device inside and out, but the performance of its camera module lags behind our (admittedly high) expectations. The Nokia is capable of producing decent still images, but in many situations, it cannot match the image quality of the cameras in current high-end phones from most competitors.

68
DxOMark mobile
Nokia 8
72
DxOMark Mobile
photo
62
DxOMark Mobile
video

Pros

  • Good target exposure in all conditions
  • Generally good white balance in all conditions
  • Fairly good dynamic range in high-contrast scenes when HDR kicks in
  • Good subject isolation in portrait mode

 Pros

  • Good color rendering in bright light and indoor conditions
  • Accurate target exposure under indoor and bright light conditions

Cons

  • Low levels of detail in all conditions
  • Strong exposure instabilities in some high-contrast scenes
  • High levels of noise in all conditions
  • Color shading in all conditions
  • Zoom capabilities are low : a strong loss of details and slight noise instabilities are visible.
  • Strong loss of sharpness towards the edges of the frame

Cons

  • Strong residual motion and deformations on handheld videos
  • Poor autofocus efficiency in low light
  • Unstable exposure is unstable visible exposure steps during changes of illuminant
  • Very limited dynamic range
  • Low levels of detail in all conditions
  • Martin Jeřábek

    Test LG V30 PLS.

    • David Muñoz González

      Don’t think they will… it’s… sketchy that they charge a fee… for “advising” the companies how to make better cameras, and a “coincidence” that the companies that did not wanted their “services” don’t get tested. Take the v30 for example it’s a videocamera phone, but, because LG didn’t pay DxO Mark for their “guidance” they aren’t reviewing it.

      • ‘Omiros Nerantzidis’

        How dare they ask money for their services from poor LG!!? Unacceptable!

        • Carter Uzzell

          They are bleeding money in terms of mobile devices, and have been for a while. Not necessarily defending LG, but they’re on a streak of 11 quarters of losses.

      • flodxomark

        Dear David. We have designed our DxOMark scoring system with one obsession: develop and implement a robust and independent test protocol which can be accurately repeated time after time, and thus all devices we test are treated the same way. We try and test as many cameras and devices as possible but for various reasons, and we’ll test the LGV30, but we cannot communicate our testing roadmap in advance.

      • Guglielmo da Baskerville

        Intelligent observation. It is as if in a maintenance booklet of a car Renault reads: We recommend Chevron petrol (instead of Total). Because?

  • MrWalker1000

    nokia historically has been able to take better pictures than apple or samsung. kind of sketchy that all of the sudden according to dxo it can not live up to apple and samsung. heh

    this company has become a sell out

    • Duel

      Camera needs software and hardware. Most what you see in photos comes from software. Hardware is great from everyone, the difference comes from calibration and all the stuff what phone does without you knowing, you only see the final photo. Not the one which comes from the camera. Clearly Android is slowing down Nokia camera, which they haven’t experienced that much yet.

      • Francisco Gallardo

        not really a fan of Android

      • MrWalker1000

        nokia lumias had amazing hardware the zeiss lens is the best out of any company. The software on the nokia was also next level.

        nokia lumia took some of the best pictures in any phone. and even apple is using an engineer from nokia for their smartphones.

    • Bicitografo

      The Nokia of today has virtually nothing to do with the “historical” Nokia, same brand, totally different organization and devices…

      • Jorge Pinera

        Sorry, you are not informed, come to Espoo and see

      • Francisco Gallardo

        it’s not Nokia it’s a company that uses the badge but nothing to do with the original Nokia

      • Samuel

        The people who run Nokia are different, the buildings and staff are mostly the same i think. They were bought from Microsoft Mobile by HMD. Maybe HMD is focusing on other features rather than a top snapper. They offer good value for money and tried to be more the more hip and cool android device with the boothie feature.

      • D. Van Nostrand

        Inherent noise in this Nokia phone looks very much like typical noise found only in virtually all “lumia” branded devices like 920, 928, 929,930 1020 etc…all the way to the latest Microsoft Lumia 950 series. I know this device is not attached to any lumia branding and that branding has been long gone, but I personally don’t think the noise thing is coincidence. Even white balance in some instances it seems to be similarly warm.

      • Kosh Nagykövet

        That is far from accurate. HMD Global’s CEO is the former CEO of Nokia. Most of the workers are from Nokia. The HQ of HMD Global is literally next to the HQ of Nokia in Finland. Zeiss is not doing business with anyone, but they immediately joined HMD Global? Google was immediately partnering HMD Global as well.

        There is so much connection between the two companies, one could only think that there was a clause in the Microsoft – Nokia agreement we do not know about which somehow forbids Nokia to directly produce phones.

        • R&D – Foxconn. Sam chin the head of the Board of Directors of the HMD, previously held the position of Chairman and SEO Foxconn International Holdings

          • Kosh Nagykövet

            Alright, not the CEO, but the CPO. I used the wrong term because my mother tounge is not English.
            Nonetheless, it does not diminish my point.

          • HMD is only concerned with the promotion and sales, R&D is engaged in full Foxconn, and to a greater extent a focus on China. Even software writes them to another company. Nokia was only a brand

  • Samuel

    Would have been interesting to see a comparison to a Lumia 950

    • Abdu

      I have both and Ive tried several same shots with both and they practically looked the same even when zoomed (after taking the shot). In the dark though, the Lumia 950 was better.

      So I feel with a software update fot the camera of the Nokia 8, the image processing could be improved a lot.

      I remember at one point when Microsoft was fiddling with the camera for the the Lumias, the quality went lower than when I bought it but after two updates, it not only went back to normal but better than before.

      • Francisco Gallardo

        the lumia camera yeah they went bad but later improved I have two lumias one an 820 and a 950xl and have an good picture quality the algorithm for processing it’s excellent

      • Samuel

        It did go downhill but it seems to be as good again. Plus, according to AAWP, the image quality all round is far better than the Nokia 8. I know that’s not necessarily the most objective review but as it was barely tested back when it was released and is forgotten now, its the only place to find comparisons with the 950.

  • warez

    Camera software and post-processing needs improvement. They need it to be tuned with their upcoming Lumia Camera app.

  • Anonymousl

    Maybe changing the focus point during the low light shoot can change things to better.

  • Anonymousl

    To be honest, some times Nokia 8 can gives more appealing photo than the big brand. You review could reflect the ability of a phone to capture the details and clarity. But not the overall experience. Like Google pixel has more exposure problem. I respect your professionalism however if you use it in real day life where no one would bother the pixels. Nokia 8 will looks better.

    • David Martrano

      I still think the Nokia8 is a good effort. So the camera ain’t the best but at it’s price is still a great buy. For myself this is a very good offering!

      • Anonymousl

        My Nokia 5 recent oreo beta gives me a new camera app and now by sitting inside my bedroom i can shoot the cooking stove outside of my room nicely without white exposure problem. Yes there are windows next to my cooking stoves. Nokia is keeping its promise.

    • Francisco Gallardo

      it’s weird but you don’t get much having an Mercedes Benz of your driver is bad, Android algorithm for post processing pictures is terrible even having the best sensor and Crystal or lens.

      • Boogieman

        Algorithms can be upgraded OTA, a crappy sensor on the other hand like in IOS devices…well ure left with crap from the start till the end. Its a VAZ lada engine with a shiny bodywork and overworked comercials. Some people buy the sales talk and some are smart enough to stay away 😉

  • Anonymousl

    Nokia 6(2018), next up.

  • Fu Frederick

    Frankly, this review surprise many even between all the big brand. Personally I compared the image from iPhone 8, Huawei mate 10, I do not see such a big difference. In fact, in many cases Nokia can shoot much better than those brand. Low light noise and zoom are the major problem when comparing to Lumia models with higher pixels sensors.

  • Anonymousl

    HOW NOKIA 8 DEDUCTED MARKS( A warm support always from Nokia fans to Nokia, we know you have tried. We hope you can be better.)
    1.”sometimes show quite low levels of saturation and some noticeable color shading (differences in color rendering between center and edges of the frame).”
    2. some color rendering inconsistencies, with some tones slightly changing between shots of the same scene.
    3. but some flash portraits show a noticeable red-eye effect, and just as
    with flash-less shooting, there’s a lot of noise and not a lot of fine
    detail.
    4.Using the digital zoom, there is very little detail and the image
    results quickly look pixelated, with noise fringing around edges.
    5. Subject isolation it not always perfect, though, with some artifacts
    visible, and the mode doesn’t always trigger when it should, even when
    manually activated.
    6.Detail suffers noticeably in this 5 Lux low-light shot. Color shading is
    also visible, with a pinkish cast at the center of the frame and green
    in the corners.

    VIDEO
    1. The autofocus in our test unit often did not trigger at at all in low light.
    2. the Nokia 8’s video footage shows a narrow dynamic range, with highlight clipping in high-contrast scenes, and unstable exposure.
    NO VIDEO SAMPLE HERE.

  • D. Van Nostrand

    To me this is like if someone wanted a Lumia family sensor but a basic 13MP sensor of 2015/2016 (same noise and overly warm white balance). This is like a modern phone, but for pure camera performance it’s somewhere between a 950 and a 930 for performances but with less megapixels. I know this is not a Lumia phone, but inherent qualities of noise and white balance , color are very similar.

  • Pedro Miguel Alves Rodrigues

    There’s a new camera app coming with updated Image processing, faster shutter speed and redesigned app with a way better manual mode

    • Pedro Miguel Alves Rodrigues

      And will probably fix the autofocus issues and all that..

      • Guglielmo da Baskerville

        In fact the photos taken with Nokia 8 that I see on the web made by non-professionals are better than those I see on this page and comparable to those of Google pixel. How come?

        • Pedro Miguel Alves Rodrigues

          True. I don’t take their review seriously anymore.

          • Qrbz Steve

            DxOmark benchmark system is a JOKE, they trade score for their paid service, never trust their review anymore, Dpreview is far honest and fair, shame on DxOmark.

      • Anonymousl

        I can’t seem to see any pixel when the Nokia 5 getting a brighter sky images . This review takes different scenery shot from what they do with Google Pixel 2. I will hope they do the same shot again. Really disappointed with the so called new testing method.

  • mohammed

    Where is the LG V30??😒😞

    • Nomaned el pelele (hctmania)

      No pay no rewiew

      • Boogieman

        Exactly, that is why apple consistently show good score with a comparingly crappy camera module. No money.. No honey, no…..
        Most low tech people don’t know though and buys a Samsung or an iPhone. Sad but this is the way you make a big brand bigger without innovation. Nokia is unbreakable, low cost, top spec and performs admirably (even more so with googles photo app, so yes software need tinkering but software can be fixed via ota. A crappy camera module like iPhone (i have 7+)… No remedy beyond the limits of the sensor.. aka behind competition already).
        The bokeh Image is a joke!! On dxomark review and likely edited. Even the pre production (early review) Nokia 8 showed perfect bokeh Photos. Taken directly and edited after (you are free to choose here on Nokia 8 as opposed to iPhone where you have to choose bokeh when taking image.. Due to lack of dual sensor with same format)

  • Ivan Navi

    Why not mentioning IMX258 sensor? Especially it is utilized in LG G6? This clearly points that apart of just meh sensor it’s also Nokia’s lack of competence in software

    • bad soft, bad optic

    • Moisés

      G6 got bad score on old protocol.
      Lower score than G4 and G5.

      If they retest, it might score less than 80 probably.

  • Mattia Cognolato

    68 hahahahaahahhahahahahahaahahah ma che dite

  • Экраны для TAXI

    НОКИА – мусор на фоне СОНИ

  • Nicolas

    Its possible to nokia 8 camera will better if is actualized the software?

  • ابوعزيز تيوب

    nokia 😍8

  • Boogieman

    Beaten by the midranger meizu 7 acc to “trustworthy” dxomark, this review makes me laugh 😂 at the word”trustworthy”

    https://www.dxomark.com/meizu-pro-7-plus-dual-cam-dual-screen-powerhouse/

  • Petr

    RIP Nokia

    this current imitation is bad joke

  • Alex K.

    I forgot to write that low light photos were a disaster with Nokia 8.
    I also forgot to write that actually I did not read this review. I only comment based on my experience with Nokia 8

  • ابوعزيز تيوب

    Nokia does not die Nokia is back kill from killing it

  • Phoneadopteer

    Where is the lg v30 review?! Is this site completely biased against lg. It’s been a few months now

    • flodxomark

      Hello, We do our best to cover most important lenses and cameras. We’ll review this mobile as soon as we can, but can only advise you to stay tuned, as we’re not communicating about the roadmap in advance.
      Thank you for your patience.

  • Khalid Shaikh

    Hey DXO team I have a question on your testing skills
    Are you people testing the camera on the default manufacturers UI If so then here are my doubts and I hope you will make me clear this
    By using the manufacturers Camera UI you people are scoring the handsets in terms of both the hardware and software interfacing imaging algorithm which I feel it’s biased scoring scheme.
    Inspire of doing that why don’t you build up ur own camera UI with some standard reference imaging algorithm and test the true hardware potential of the camera so that we can clearly understand who has the better camera hardware and also compare it with the default camera UI of the manufacturer.
    I hope u got my point of view….
    Thanks

    • flodxomark

      Dear Khalid,
      Thanks for your interest and trust. We test each device with hardware and software that will be used by the final user. Most of the time the camera is used with the default camera application.
      There are many attributes that significantly depend on the camera software solution. A third party application would be interesting but it would not get a more accurate evaluation of the intrinsic capabilities of the device. Each Manufacturer put a lot of effort in both aspects (hardware and software). Regards,

  • Moisés

    XZ1c, V30, Z2 Force, Mi A1, U11 Life and XA1+?

  • mahi aslam

    may be they are refuse to give some money to Dxo-shit

  • Stolik

    Please make test Sharp Aquos S2. Thanks