Nokia 8.1 handset pumps up the midrange with Android 9 Pie

Do you want one of the nicer phones, but the constant removal of microSD slots and headphone jacks is keeping you down? Meet the Nokia 8.1, the brand's rather attractive new high-midrange handset.

The Nokia 8.1 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 710 chipset coupled with 4 GB of RAM. At first sight, those specs look like a downgrade from the Snapdpragon 835-based Nokia 8 Scirocco, but that's not the whole story. The newcomer has a 6.18" screen with a resolution of 2280x1080 (according to GSMArena) which works out to 408 PPI. Nokia points out that the display supports HDR10 and says it covers 96% of an unspecified color gamut; we wager that figure refers to DCI-P3 coverage.

The camera bump at the back contains a now-common dual-snapper setup with a 12-MP wide camera along with a 13-MP telephoto shooter. Both cameras offer optical image stabilization and use Zeiss optics. Those with a penchant for self-portraits should make good use of the 20-MP selfie cam. Nokia says the cameras have Bokeh-simulation functionality, studio lighting simulation, and support for Google Lens.

If you look at the Nokia 8.1's sides, you'll notice that its metal frame has a two-tone design, a refreshing note in the recent symphony of samey-looking phones. The rather pudgy display notch is a little off-key, however. There's 64 GB of built-in eMMC storage, and a microSD slot is ready to take in cards up to 400 GB. The 3500-mAh battery supports 18-W fast charging, and the juice is delivered via a USB Type-C port at the bottom. There's no wireless charging support or water resistance, though.

Over in the software aisle, Android 9 Pie stands ready to serve. Nokia says the battery management kung-fu of the latest Android should let the phone last two days on a single battery charge. The Nokia 8.1 is also part of the Android One initiative, meaning there's little in the way of built-in software crud, and buyers are guaranteed two years of software upgrades. 

HMD says the Nokia 8.1 should be available widely in mid-December for around 399€, or around $375 without VAT. Buyers get the choice of dark blue, dark purple, and silver finishes.

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