Nokia 8 V 5G UW Review: Too Little, Too Late
Nokia 8 V 5G UW: A mmWave 5G Phone With Great Battery Life But Lackluster Cameras
Nokia 8 V 5G UW is a relatively expensive mid-range
phone from a storied brand that’s been trying to make a comeback
into the US market. Essentially, it is Verizon’s mmWave 5G version of
the global Nokia 8.3 5G, a Snapdragon 765G-based handset that was
announced back in March but shipped in September — by which time
it had to contend with some stiff competition. This is our quick-take review of this new option from Nokia in the US.
At 171.9 x 78.6 x 9mm and 230g — and with a large 6.81-inch
screen — the Nokia 8 V (for short) is a big and heavier phone. It
feels substantial but looks pretty generic. Its build quality is high,
but while the rear is shimmery glass, the mid-frame is glossy
plastic — which seems out-of-place for a $700 handset. It’s
available in just one color (Meteor Gray), but two things stand
out: its substantial (10mm) chin below the display, and its Zeiss-branded rear camera pod.
Nokia 8 V 5G UW Camera Configuration
This circular bump is significant but attractive, and incorporates
a 64MP main shooter, 12MP ultrawide, 2MP macro lens, and 2MP depth
sensor. It’s flanked by a dual LED flash, and the back panel also
includes Nokia branding and Verizon’s obnoxious 5G logo. In front,
the 6.81-inch 1080p IPS screen features a punch hole in the top
left corner for the 24MP selfie camera, and thick bezels by
today’s standard (not to mention that prominent chin).
lock key (which doubles as a capacitive fingerprint sensor) on the
right side. The bottom is home to a headphone jack, primary mic,
USB Type-C port, and mono speaker. A Google Assistant button is
located on the left edge, and a secondary mic along the top.
There’s a generous 4500mAh battery under the rear glass, but no
wireless charging or IP rating for water resistance.
Here’s our unboxing video before we continue…
and 5G Platform
|Display||6.81″ FHD+ IPS, 2400×1080
|Storage||64GB + microSD
f/1.8 Main PDAF – 12MP f/2.2 120º Ultra-Wide – 2MP Macro –
|Front-Facing Cameras||24MP f/2.0
4K @ 30fps, 1080p @ 60fps, 1080p slow-mo
|Dimensions||171.9 x 78.6 x 9mm|
|Connectivity||802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0+LE,
NFC, USB-C, LTE, 5G
|Pricing||Find the Nokia 8 V 5G UW Starting at $700|
Nokia 8 V 5G UW Display Quality
The Nokia 8 V packs a 6.81-inch FHD+ (2400 x 1080 pixels,
386ppi) “PureDisplay” IPS panel with a 20:9 aspect ratio and 60Hz
refresh rate. It’s powered by a chip from Pixelworks, that enables
always-on HDR. While the punch hole in the top left corner looks
modern, the obvious bezels and chin feel out of place. The screen
struggles with brightness, especially in direct sunlight. Overall,
it’s just no match for the OLED panels on most phones in this price range.
Nokia 8 V 5G UW Camera Performance And Image Quality
in its handsets — including a long-time Zeiss partnership.
Unfortunately, the Nokia 8 V doesn’t live up to this legacy. In
fact, these shooters are barely competitive. Spec wise, there’s a
64MP f/1.8 0.8-micron main shooter (without OIS), 12MP f/2.2
1.4-micron 120-degree ultrawide (with AF), 2MP macro lens (without
AF), 2MP depth sensor, and 24MP f/2.0 0.9-micron selfie camera.
the lack of AF on the macro lens. Interestingly, the ultrawide
(which has a 16:9 sensor) features autofocus — making the
dedicated fixed-focus macro even more redundant. Video is captured
at up to 4k 30fps in the rear, and 2k 60fps in the front —
stabilized, with stereo audio. There’s also a super stable
“action” mode (1080p 30fps), and macro video mode (1600×900).
Cinema mode allows 4k 24fps 21:9 video recording with manual
controls that supports the H-Log format, and includes a bunch of
color filters and lens flare effects. You’ll also find the usual
slow motion and time lapse options. Night and pro (manual) photo
modes are available on both the main shooter and ultrawide, but
not the selfie camera. Like on other recent Nokia phones, portrait
mode offers several (Zeiss-curated) bokeh lens effects.
If watermarking pictures is your thing, the Nokia 8 V packs some
interesting settings beyond the standard “Shot on Nokia”. We have a
couple niggles with the camera interface, though. The digital zoom
resets to 1x as soon you switch to another app, and there’s no quick
way to select 2x zoom other than pinching the screen until you reach
the desired magnification (the macro button is where the 2x button
is found on other handsets).
Both the main and selfie cameras benefit from 4-to-1 pixel binning
— outputting 16MP and 6MP images, respectively. The resulting
photos and videos are acceptable, as long as you don’t mind muted colors and lower contrast. Zoomed shots are oversharpened, and often
underexposed. Low light photos are okay, and night mode helps,
especially on the main shooter. Selfies are decent, but macro shots
are poor on account of the 2MP fixed-focus lens.
Overall, this camera system is in need of some serious tuning.
Even affordable Snapdragon 765G phones like the $450 Moto One 5G
and $400 TCL 10 5G UW do a slightly better job. When it comes to
imaging, the Nokia 8 V trails far behind the $700 Pixel 5, $500 Pixel 4a 5G, and €399 OnePlus Nord, and even behind the so-so $600 LG Velvet. It’s just a shame, considering what Nokia’s capable of
— especially given its $700 price tag.
Nokia 8 V 5G UW Audio, Data, And Call Reception
(band n5, 850MHz) and mmWave 5G for Verizon. Obviously, when you
can find it — like here in San Francisco — mmWave 5G is insanely
fast. While the earpiece sounds loud and clear for calls, its mono
speaker distorts at anything beyond 3/4 volume when listening to
music. At least the headphone jack delivers clean audio, and this
handset features aptX HD over Bluetooth.
Nokia 8 V 5G UW Performance And Battery Life
performance matches other Snapdragon 765G phones we’ve reviewed.
This is no surprise considering how uniform benchmark results have
been across these devices. It’s pleasantly responsive no matter
what you’re doing — from productivity to entertainment to gaming.
Nokia’s clean build of Android definitely helps here, but the lack
of high-refresh rate is noticeable if you’re already used to it.
The Nokia 8 V pairs Qualcomm’s speedy Snapdragon 765G with 6GB of
RAM and 64GB of storage, plus microSD support up to 1TB. While 6GB
of RAM is mostly fine (it’s the bare minimum required to run
Android smoothly these days), 64GB of storage is just stingy for this phone’s price point. Other specs include CAT18 LTE, WiFi 5 (802.11ac),
Bluetooth 5.0 (LE), NFC, A-GPS/ GLONASS / BeiDou, and the standard
roster of sensors.
|PCMark Work 2.0
|3DMark Slingshot Extreme
Battery life with the Nokia 8 V 5G UW is solid. Obviously, combining a Snapdragon 765G
with a 4500mAh power plant and a 60Hz display results in a very efficient
device. We typically saw screen-on times of about 7 hours on a
full charge, leaving us with 20% to spare after a busy day.
Unfortunately, the Nokia 8 V only
includes 18W fast charging and lacks wireless charging. On the biometric side of things, at least this phone’s capacitive fingerprint sensor is quick and reliable.
Nokia 8 V 5G UW Software And User Experience
The Nokia 8 V runs a pretty clean build of Android 10. As a
bonus, Nokia is promising two OS updates, plus security updates
for 18 months. That’s great news — as long as Verizon’s also on
board. Everything is where it’s supposed to be, and we basically
have no complaints here, other than the bloatware. Predictably,
the Nokia 8 V comes with a dozen useless pre-installed apps from
Verizon and others, some of which can only be disabled.
Nokia 8 V 5G UW Review Summary
table than the $400 TCL 10 5G UW or $450 Moto One 5G. Its design
and build are nice enough (if not just a bit bulkier than you might expect),
performance is good, battery life is excellent, and stock Android
is always welcome. But its display is too dim (especially in the
sun) and its camera configuration is a miss — which is uncharacteristic
little bang for the buck. $700 buys you Google’s Pixel 5 (also
with mmWave 5G support), or Samsung’s Galaxy S20 SE (with a
Snapdragon 865 and telephoto shooter). Both pack far better
cameras (with OIS), wireless charging, and water resistance
(IP68). We want Nokia to succeed, but for this to happen, it needs
to step up and compete. Instead, this time, it stumbled.