HMD Global has been churning out Nokia handsets faster than I can keep up with, it seems like just days ago that the Nokia 7.1 was released and now we’re talking about the 8.1.
The handset comes packed with all the usual standards from the Nokia brand including ZEISS Optics and Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS).
It also has proprietary PureDisplay screen technology with HDR 10 support along with highly accurate colour reproduction which the company says delivers enhanced viewing experiences even in bright sunlight, while the Snapdragon 710 chipset can last for up to up to two days on a single charge.
Juho Sarvikas, Chief Product Officer, HMD Global: “We’ve seen great success in the value flagship category with each of our smartphones in this class consistently introducing new premium experiences to our fans. With the Nokia 8.1, we are further pushing the boundaries in this segment. We offer accelerated performance with a first-class processor architecture, dual cameras with an industry-leading sensor, OIS and ZEISS Optics for great low light imaging, and our new PureDisplay HDR screen technology.
“As well as delivering the meticulous craftsmanship and build quality of the renowned Nokia smartphone design, we have also brought the Android 9 Pie experience to our fans, so they can enjoy the latest Android innovations including new Digital Wellbeing features. Our fans are at the heart of every design and engineering decision. We want to give them premium experiences – we hope they agree that the Nokia 8.1 embodies engineering excellence at great value.”
HMD Global says that the Nokia 8.1 has great low light imaging performance which according to them “comes from a perfect blend of software and hardware.”
The main camera is 12MP with ZEISS Optics and a 1/2.55” super sensitive sensor with large 1.4 micron pixels for precise light capture, delivering exceptionally detailed images. A wide aperture ensures you can capture sharp pictures even in low light conditions, allowing longer exposure times that can be manually controlled with the Pro Camera mode.
The 20MP adaptive front camera lets you capture the ultimate night-time selfie, as it enhances how much light it is able to capture by combining four pixels into one super pixel. You can also shoot movies like a pro with 4K video and relive your memories as if you were still there with high fidelity Nokia spatial audio stereo surround sound recording.
Create studio-style portrait shots with the popular “bokeh” effect, enhanced with the Nokia 8.1’s native shallow depth of field, coupled with its secondary 13MP depth sensor. Unleash your creativity with the Pro Camera UI for the ultimate control over your photos, or take your #Bothie game to the next level with AI-powered 3D personas, masks and fun filters in your photos and videos, all of which you can livestream directly without leaving your camera app.
Accelerated performance and PureDisplay
The Nokia 8.1 is the second Nokia smartphone to come with PureDisplay screen technology for an enhanced viewing experience. Visuals are taken to another level with HDR 10 delivering higher contrast, great clarity, and over a billion individual colours to ensure images remain accurate whether you’re in a dark room or bright sunlight. Playing games or watching videos, your display will deliver the best possible experience.
According to, the Nokia 8.1 lasts up to two days with one charge. Long-lasting power combined with the Snapdragon 710 Mobile Platform means the Nokia 8.1 can get through any task without breaking a sweat, with 35% faster graphics and 20% higher performance than the previous generation, the Snapdragon 660. It also has twice the AI power, thanks to a multi-core AI Engine which combines a brand-new architecture for efficient performance. Qualcomm aptX audio support also means music lovers can enjoy high quality sound wirelessly over Bluetooth.
Take the smartphone to a whole new dimension by combining the physical world and digital content with AR core support. Through apps like Human Anatomy, Magic Plan, and Jenga AR, you can visualise and learn about the nervous system in 3D, create a floor plan for your next remodel just by walking around the house, and stack blocks on your dining room table with no need to tidy up after your tower collapses.
Design that is made to the highest standards
At its core is the strength of an extruded 6000-series aluminium frame with a diecast centre for efficient use of materials. Exploiting the elegant contrast between the curved glass, polished metal and the sand-blasted finish, the Nokia 8.1’s unique two-tone design is augmented with a dual anodising process, building on the finish that fans loved on the Nokia 7 plus. Diamond cut edges deliver a bold statement with the durability to withstand the knocks of everyday life.
The Nokia 8.1’s stunning 6.18” Full HD+ edge-to-edge display is housed within a beautifully refined and neat footprint, so you can enjoy your favourite movies and apps on a big screen comfortably on the go, giving you even more screen than the award-winning Nokia 7 plus which as a 6” display.
Pure, secure and up-to-date Android 9 Pie, reinforced with Android One
The Nokia 8.1 is the first Nokia smartphone to launch with Android 9 Pie out of the box. It joins the comprehensive line-up of Nokia smartphones in the Android One family, which means it delivers the best version of Android innovations and software experiences. Nokia smartphones with Android One offer great storage and battery life right out of the box and come with three years of monthly security patches and two major OS updates.
Jon Gold, Director of Android One Partnerships, Google:
The Nokia 8.1 comes with Android 9 Pie, which includes AI-powered features that make your device smarter and faster while also adapting to your behavior as you use it, so your smartphone gets better with time. The Adaptive Battery feature limits battery usage from apps you don’t use often, and App Actions predicts what you’re about to do so you can get to your next action quickly. These features further streamline your device’s functionality and your overall Android experience. The Nokia 8.1 also combines the capabilities of Google Assistant with Dual-Sight, so you can ask it to take #Bothie pictures and videos, and even command it to livestream to YouTube for a convenient and seamless experience.
The Nokia 8.1 will receive three years of monthly security patches and two major OS updates, as guaranteed in the Android One programme. In addition, Google Play™ protect scans over 50 billion apps per day to keep your phone safe from malware, making the Nokia 8.1 among the most secure phones on the market. It also comes with easy access to helpful innovative services including the Google Assistant, which helps you get things done throughout the day, as well as Google Photos with free unlimited high-quality photo storage. Nokia 8.1 is part of the Android Enterprise Recommended programme which means it is recommended by Google as best choice for professionals.
The Nokia 8.1 will be available in three colour combinations, Blue/Silver, Steel/Copper, Iron/Steel, starting mid-December and will retail for an average global retail price of 399 € (R6 281 at the current time of conversion), exclusive of taxes and subsidies.
We’ve reached out to HMD Global’s South African representatives for confirmation of local availability and pricing and will update this article once that information has been received.