HMD Global, the Finnish company that licensed the rights to produce Nokia phones, first revealed a Nokia-branded Android flagship back in August. At Mobile World Congress today, HMD is launching the Nokia 8 Sirocco, an upgraded variant that comes with some surprising design changes. HMD has opted for glass on 95 percent of the Nokia 8 Sirocco, with a tiny stainless-steel chassis than runs along the sides.
The result looks rather impressive, and the fingerprint reader has been moved to the rear to reduce the bezels at the front. The entire phone is curved towards wedge-like points at the edges, with a design that hides the usual ugly antenna lines. It feels small, light, and thin as a result of these changes, although the chamfered edges might take some getting used to.
The Nokia 8 Sirocco is powered by Qualcomm’s 835 processor, 6GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage. At the center is a 5.5-inch pOLED display (2560 x 1440) that looked like it had good viewing angles and calibration during my brief look at the device. HMD is also using a dual-camera system at the rear with a 12-megapixel primary camera and ZEISS optics. The front-facing 5-megapixel camera also has a wide-angle (84-degree) lens for selfies, and of the software will support HMD’s “bothie” mode to take a photo using both the front and rear cameras simultaneously.
While the camera software on the Nokia 8 was rather underwhelming and basic, HMD is upgrading it for the Nokia 8 Sirocco. There’s a new Pro Camera mode, and it’s rather similar to what you might have found on the old Nokia Lumia devices. It provides manual control over the camera settings in a radial menu, with options to change white balance, focusing, ISO, shutter speed, and exposure compensation. It’s useful if you like to get more control over what you’re shooting.
As HMD has switched to a glass device, there’s also wireless charging on the Nokia 8 Sirocco. While that’s a welcome addition, HMD has decided to kill the headphone jack on the Nokia 8 Sirocco. You’ll need to use USB-C or Bluetooth headphones, or make use of the USB-C to 3.5mm headset adapter in the box. The Nokia 8 Sirocco will be available in April priced at 749 euros ($920).
Alongside the Nokia 8 Sirocco, HMD is also launching two mid-range devices. The Nokia 7 Plus has the same camera system as the Nokia 8 Sirocco, but it swaps the glass exterior for a ceramic coating on an aluminum chassis. The Nokia 7 Plus includes Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 660 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage.
The 6-inch LCD display (2160 x 1080) on the 7 Plus is 18:9 so it’s extra-tall, but the device still feels more like a 5.5-inch handset. The bezels look similar to Google’s Pixel 2 XL display, and HMD has placed the fingerprint reader at the rear to help with that. HMD plans to make the Nokia 7 Plus available in April for 399 euros ($490).
HMD is also introducing a refreshed Nokia 6. The new Nokia 6 runs on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 630 processor, with 3GB of 4GB of RAM, and 32GB or 64GB of storage. HMD has moved the fingerprint reader to the back of the 5.5-inch (1920 x 1080) device, and added a 16-megapixel camera at the rear with ZEISS optics. The updated Nokia 6 will be available in April priced at 279 euros ($343).
All of HMD’s latest Android-powered phones (with the exception of the Nokia 1) will join Google’s Android One initiative. It’s a program that’s designed to provide pure Android on handsets, and something that HMD had been doing before. This will mean Nokia-branded Android phones will get the latest monthly security updates, and stick to Google’s vision of Android design and UI.