Packaging and accessories
The set, with which I received the smartphone, covers a colourful box in which we can find a 5V/3A; 9V/2A; 12V/1,5A charger, USB-USB-C cable and earphones with a remote for answering calls with replaceable plugs. There is a paper manual and a needle for opening the tray for SIM/microSD cards as well.
Housing and display
The smartphone is composed out of two glass panels connected with a metal framed arced on edges and milled. This design distinguishes Nokia 8.1 from other smartphones with Android on the market. The housing has a deep, blue colour (Navy). It looks elegant and is perfected in the slightest details – but the glass panels attract all kinds of dirt and make the smartphone slide on every not entirely flat surface. The housing has 155 x 76 millimetres, the thickness of the housing on edges is 8 mm and the whole weighs 178 grams. The ergonomics of the phone is great as well. It lies in hands comfortably, lock and volume control buttons on the right edge are easily accessible, while the index finger hits exactly the fingerprint scanner at the back of the device. 8.1 does not boast with an IP certificate, so the smartphone is neither dust- nor waterproof.
The display is big (6.18 inches diagonal), bright and it has a high contrast. Its ratio is 18.7:9, and the whole display takes around 82% of the front panel. It does not give way to more expensive smartphones from the competition when it comes to the quality, it supports HDR10 and it has an appropriate resolution – 2280 x 1080 pixels (pixels density on the level of 402 ppi). What is more, we can change the colours mode in settings in order to adjust the image to our own preferences. There is the night time mode as well. The contrast and the black level deserve a commendation as well – thanks to this the darkened area around the notch cannot be distinguished from the housing.
Yes, even though you cannot see it, Nokia 8.1 has a notch. In default it is hidden - and the software does not allow us to uncover it. Usually the notch configuration can be found in Settings in the Display tab, or sometimes it can be hidden a bit deeper, in programming options (Full bezel setting). In Nokia 8.1 we cannot find it in any of these places, and in order to uncover the darkened area we need to use an external software. From Internet sources this is only in the European Nokia 8.1 model distribution and it is because of patents issues – in models designed for other markets (let us remind that in China Nokia 8.1 is the X7 model) the notch options are available. It is good that the symmetry of the display is not disturbed by the notch, but I will complain about something else – arced corners of the display. They are much rounder near the lower edge than in the upper one.
Above the display there is the notch, in which we can find the front camera, speaker for calls and sensors. On the lower frame there is the manufacturer’s logo. The front panel is supposedly protected by NEG (Nippon Electric Glass), that is the Japanese competition of the Corning company (source). This is an important information for those wearing glasses with polarizing filters – in the vertical orientation the image is strongly dimmed, while in the horizontal we can use it without any problems.
Backs of the phone are made out of glass, which comes with a typical set of advantages and disadvantages. Its advantages are mainly attractive looks and a feeling that we are holding a higher-shelf device. Its disadvantages are mostly a low resistance to physical damage (glass does not deal that well with falls), it instantly catches dirt and fingerprints and it slides on not entirely flat surfaces. Unfortunately, the manufacturer does not add a cover, which would not only eliminate the problem with the camera that stands out, but it would help to keep the phone clean as well.
On the back of the device we can find the centrally placed dual camera, located on a module that stands a lot above the housing, there is a dual-tone LED flash as well. Slightly lower we can see the round fingerprint scanner and the manufacturer’s logo. In the lower part there are markings, the Android One logo and certificates.
The fingerprint scanner’s work is fast and precise – I had no problems with unlocking the device this way. This solution supports the second biometric security – facial recognition.
On the upper edge there is the 3.5mm minijack and the speaker’s hole, while on the lower one there is the external speaker, microphone’s hole and the USB-C socket. On the left side we will find a tray for SIM and microSD cards – this is a hybrid solution, in which we can either mount two nanoSIM cards or a one SIM card and a memory drive. On the left edge the manufacturer has placed the lock and volume control buttons. They are placed only a bit higher than the housing, which sometimes makes it difficult to find them without looking.
And to sum up a few words about its durability. I have carried the phone loose in my pocket or in my purse and glass panels were not damaged at all, but I have noticed some scratches on the metal, milled surface part of the frame.