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Nokia 8.1 redefines mid-market value #ExpectMore
4.8Overall Score
Name: Nokia 8.1 2019 Price (RRP): $699 Manufacturer: Nokia

The Nokia 8.1 is the latest in a long line from a very new company with a great heritage to live up to.

Gadget Guy has reviewed so many Nokia’s we often joke about rabbits and Nokia designers having nothing to do on those long, cold Finnish nights. Well, the Nokia 8.1 proves that given enough time Nokia can make a truly great phone.

Fortunately, the Nokia 8.1 is not a follow up to the Nokia 8 Sirocco (review here) that while good, missed the mark. It is the logical step up from the Nokia 7.1 that blew us away with its $499 price tag and value for money.

I want to preface the Nokia 8.1 review by an observation about Nokia price and GadgetGuy ratings (in brackets)

  • 8.1 2019 $699 (This review and gets 4.8 stars)
  • 7.1 2018 $499 (Review here 4.9 for its fantastic feature/value)
  • 6.1 2018 $399 (Review here – 4.3)
  • 5.1 Plus 2018 $299 (Review here 3.8)
  • 3.1 2018 $249 (Shootout here)
  • 2.1 2018 $199 (Shootout here)
  • 1 2108 $149 (Review here 4.0)
  • 8110 4G Banana feature phone $129 (First look here)
  • 3310 3G feature phone $89 (Review here)

Nokia’s winning strategy is to have a phone in all segments. Do not be concerned by the 2018 or 2019 moniker – its more for me to help identify them from the previous versions.

How we rate smartphones

Apart from specifications, we need to slot them into a market segment. Over the past few months, those segments have seen Apple’s insanely eye-watering XS/Max, new entrants like the Galaxy S10-series and by the time you read this Huawei will have the P30 series.

We review against different paradigms for each category.

  • Foldable $2500+
  • Premium Flagship $1500-2499
  • Flagship $1000-1499 (this used to be our highest segment)
  • Premium mid-market $800-999
  • Mid-market $500-799
  • Mass-market $200-499
  • Value pre-paid <A$199

It is important that we compare Apples with Apples (because that iOS all we can do) and Android phones within various price bands.

For example, Nokia’s 7.1 redefined the ‘bang-for-buck’ equation for mass market phones by offering features only found in premium/mid-market phones like 5.84-inch, FHD, HDR10 screen, Qualcomm 6XX Snapdragon, Zeiss lens camera, Wi-Fi AC, Quick Charge and Android One Pie – amazing.

The Nokia 8.1 has a lot to live up to.

In the box: Nokia 8.1

Nokia 8.1

Australian Website here

  • Handset
  • Charger 5V/3A, 9V/2A, 12V/1.5A (18W) Qualcomm Fast Charge 3.0
  • USB-A to USB-C 2 cable
  • 3.5 mm earbuds and mic

The first impression

The review model is a very dark blue, almost black in colour. I quite like the Nokia simplicity – style with a metal band around the edge, the fingerprint reader on the rear (under the dual Zeiss lens camera). Overall it has a solid, quality feel yet at 180g it does not feel too heavy.

It has a 6.18-inch ‘notch’ edge-to-edge screen that is bright and colourful. Android One Pie is clean and uncluttered.

JB Hi-Fi also has the Steel/Copper version that looks very masculine indeed.

Buy here – or you will regret it

We issue the standard warning that you must buy the genuine Model with Australian firmware as it works on all Australian Carrier LTE bands and can make a 000-emergency call without a sim.

The Model number is TA-1128 SS 464 ANZ SKU: 11PNXL21A15. What this means is that it is 4/64GB and has a dual hybrid sim slot, unlocked and Australian firmware for Telstra, Optus and Vodafone (and their resellers).