Wednesday, 13 February 2019 10:28

Nokia dubs new 8.1 model the 'value flagship'

Nokia 8.1 - Blue/Silver colour Nokia 8.1 - Blue/Silver colour

With competing flagship smartphones selling at prices anywhere from over $1000 to over $2000 in Australia, Nokia says its new 8.1 model for $699 "punches above its weight".

Like some other Android smartphone makers, Nokia is leading with its camera, stating its new Nokia 8.1 "punches above its weight with extraordinary imaging achieved by its highly sensitive, industry-leading camera sensor, ZEISS Optics and Optical Image Stabilisation".

This is because camera functionality is a very important part of modern smartphones, with incredible photos and video able to be taken today, as opposed to the previous Nokia era of smart feature phones in the early and mid 2000s where cameras were more of a low-res novelty.

It's also because iPhones are incredibly popular for smartphone photography as measured by the Flickr photography site, home to "tens of billions of photos", and which ranks cameras and shows that various iPhones are still the most popular cameras of all. 

Paired with a great camera is a great screen to view those photos on, and here, Nokia is also happy to boast that it offers "proprietary PureDisplay screen technology with HDR 10 support", matched with "highly accurate colour reproduction" that we're told "delivers enhanced viewing experiences even in bright sunlight, while the chipset ensures smooth performance for up to two days per charge".

As you'd expect, the company says that "all of this comes in a contemporary package with the precise craftsmanship expected from a Nokia smartphone", and naturally, it runs "the latest Android software, Android 9 Pie", for "the best Android experience with the latest innovations right out of the box".

James Robinson, country manager A/NZ of HMD Global, the company behind the new Nokia, states: “The response to Nokia 8.1 globally has been overwhelming so we’re excited to announce its arrival in Australia next week.

"As well as delivering the meticulous craftsmanship and build quality renowned to Nokia, this smartphone runs the latest Google software so fans can enjoy the latest Android innovations.

"With the new PureDisplay HDR screen technology, accelerated performance, high quality imaging and advanced AI 20MP for selfies day and night, our customers will be able to enjoy a premium experience at all times.

So, what is more detail on Nokia's camera, which the company boasts means "imaging excellence with flagship calibre imaging technology"?

HMD Global says "Nokia 8.1’s great low light imaging performance comes from a perfect blend of software and hardware. Its 12MP main camera with ZEISS Optics has an industry-leading 1/2.55” super sensitive sensor with large 1.4 micron pixels for precise light capture, delivering exceptionally detailed images.

"With its combination of Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) technology and superfast autofocus, the Nokia 8.1 doesn’t let shaky hands stop you from capturing crisp images and videos. 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."

Nokia 8.1 in Steel/Copper – article continues below:

What about the claim of "accelerated performance and PureDisplay"?

Here, HMD notes that "with smartphones rapidly becoming the default device for watching videos, you need a display tailored to the content you’re enjoying in the environment you’re in. 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.

"To watch all that vivid content on the go, you need exceptional battery life. The Nokia 8.1 lets you effortlessly enjoy 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.

"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."

Nokia also talks up its design capabilities, stating it offers "design that is made to the highest standards".

Here we're told this new phone "heralds a new era of precision craftsmanship and obsession with detail", as the Nokia 8.1 has been designed "with less than a hair’s width between materials, achieving the build quality and structural integrity expected from a Nokia smartphone, as well as making a true statement of clean, elegant European design."

Australians would probably talk about this being less than the thickness of a bee's nether regions, but European sensibilities surely prevented this being the way such thinness is described.

In any case, Nokia says that at the Nokia 8.1's core is "the strength of an extruded 6000-series aluminium frame with a die-cast 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 company also boasts that "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 come with three years of monthly security patches and two major OS updates."

Jon Gold, Director of Android One Partnerships, Google, said: "As an important partner for Google, HMD Global has enabled a diverse portfolio of Android One devices with a software experience that is fresh and secure.

"We're thrilled to continue our partnership with HMD Global on the new Nokia 8.1, the brand's first device with Android 9 Pie out of the box. Android 9 improves interactions on the Nokia 8.1 with intelligent and simple experiences, along with new Digital Wellbeing features.”

Nokia also states that "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 behaviour 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.

"As part of the Android One program, the Nokia 8.1 will receive three years of regular security patches and two major OS updates. 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."


The Nokia 8.1 will be available in Blue/Silver and Steel/Copper from 21 February at JB Hi-Fi and Officeworks for A$699 RRP.

Here is the Nokia 8.1 video, after which the specs are listed:


Key features:

  • 12MP main camera with ZEISS Optics has an industry-leading super sensitive sensor with large pixels for precise light capture, delivering exceptionally detailed images
  • Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) technology and superfast focus means shaky hands won’t stop you capturing crisp images and videos
  • Capture “bokeh” selfies with the 20MP adaptive front camera for the most epic selfies even in dimmer conditions
  • Create studio style portrait shots with the popular “bokeh” effect, enhanced with native shallow depth of field, as well as a 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
  • Unique two-tone design is augmented with two anodising processes and a diamond cut edges to deliver a bold statement
  • Stunning 6.18” Full HD+ edge-to-edge display housed within a beautifully refined and neat footprint
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 710 Mobile Platform for efficient and powerful performance
  • The Nokia 8.1 lets you effortlessly go through up to two days with one charge
  • Enhanced viewing experience with PureDisplay technology that takes your viewing to another level with incredible HDR10 videos that automatically adapt to the situation for the best experience
  • The Nokia 8.1 comes with Android 9 Pie, which includes AI powered features that make your device smarter, faster and adapts as you use it, so your smartphone gets better with time

Key specifications 


  • EDGE: 850, 900, 1800, 1900; HSPA: 1, 2, 5, 8; LTE-FDD: 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 20, 28; LTE-TDD: 38, 40, 41
  • Network speed: CAT6, 2CA, L+L , VoLTE , VoWiFi


  • Android 9 Pie


  • SDM710 (8x Qualcomm Kryo 360 CPU up to 2.2 GHz)


  • 4GB LPPDDR4x


  • 64GB internal user memory with MicroSD card slot up to 400 GB support


  • 6.18” FHD+ 18.7:9, PureDisplay (HDR10, 500 nits, 1:1500 contrast ratio, 96% colour gamut) 81% display-to-body area


  • Rear: 12MP, 1/2.55”, 1.4um, OIS, EIS, ZEISS, 2PD, Dual Hi- Cri flash;
  • Rear 2nd: 13MP FF depth sensing
  • Front: 20MP, FF, 0.9um

Connectivity & Sensors:

  • 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, BT 5.0, GPS/ AGPS+GLONASS+Beidou, ambient light sensor, proximity sensor, accelerometer (G-sensor), E-compass, gyroscope, fingerprint (rear)


  • 3500mAh, fast charging (18W)


  • Single speaker, smart amp, 2 mics, OZO surround capture, FM radio, aptX compatible


  • 154.8 x 75.76 x 7.97mm


  • 180g


  • Blue/Silver, Steel/Copper

Operating times:

  • Standby time: up to 24 days Talk time: up to 22 hours
  • MP3 playback: up to 15 hours Video playback: up to 11 hours

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

Alex Zaharov-Reutt is iTWire's Technology Editor is one of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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