The Nokia 8 smartphone is finally ready to be rolled out, meaning that there is a new competitor on the smartphone block. This latest mobile release is very much aimed at the premium end of the market, meaning that it will compete against the forthcoming iPhone 8 and Galaxy Note 8.

Nokia 8 smartphone
Image Credit: Evan Blass / Twitter (screenshot)

Nokia evolution

Of course, the Nokia name has evolved somewhat over the years, since it was a heavyweight in the phone niche. The company that produced the classic Nokia that once cornered the market no longer exists, with the brand now owned by HMD Global; a Finnish company whose revenue was a pretty paltry €13.5 million in 2016.

Although Nokia as a brand name hasn’t been a major player in the smartphone niche for some time, many consumers will fondly remember the functional nature of earlier Nokia releases. If the Nokia 8 smartphone can deliver an attractive and appropriately priced package then it could at least establish itself as an affordable alternative to the market leaders.

Nonetheless, it will undoubtedly be a massive challenge for the Nokia 8 smartphone to become a major player. Apple and Samsung currently account for around 70 per cent of the mobile niche, meaning that it will obviously be difficult for any new product to establish itself.

Major competition

This problem is particularly exacerbated by the fact that the iPhone 8 will be a revolutionary release later this year, and Samsung must do something outstanding with the Galaxy Note 8 to recover from last year’s Galaxy Note 7 fiasco. Meanwhile, the Google Pixel 2 is also due for release in the coming months, while the OnePlus 5 has also been warmly received.

The new Nokia 8 smartphone will thus deliver a Quad HD display, exceeding the resolution that was included in the iPhone 7 Plus last year. HMD Global has also divulged that the handset will benefit from a dual-camera unit, based on lens technology delivered by Carl Zeiss. The optical company had agreed a partnership with Nokia back in July, and it certainly sounds that the first camera product to result from this partnership is promising.

Another interesting aspect of the Nokia 8 smartphone is the introduction of what the manufacturer is dubbing the ‘bothie’. This is a new type of selfie photograph which, as the name suggests, is captured by two lenses. Both the front and back cameras will be involved in the production of this new photographic concept.

Commenting on the release and the new feature, Juho Sarvikas, HMD chief product officer, asserted that the bothie concept will be a major selling point for the Nokia 8.

“We know that fans are creating and sharing live content more than ever before, with millions of photos and videos shared every minute on social media. People are inspired by the content they consume and are looking for new ways to create their own,” Sarvikas suggested.

Smartphone display

HMD Global has also announced that the Nokia 8 will be armed with a 5.3-inch screen. This means that the phone can be placed firmly in the smartphone category, as 5.3-inches is not really large enough for the product to be considered a phablet.

Another interesting feature included in this forthcoming release is the inclusion of three microphones, which are collectively able to capture 360 degree sound. Referred to as Ozo Audio, this system has already been utilized by some of the biggest Hollywood film studios.

It is notable that this feature is a big part of the early marketing of the Nokia 8, as music playback and audio quality seems to be a particular focus of the smartphone industry recently. Apple has removed the headphone jack from its mobile range starting with the iPhone 7, with all developers also expected to follow suit in the foreseeable future. This is indicative of a switch to wireless playback, so it is interesting that the Nokia 8 smartphone will feature a different innovation.

HMD has also confirmed that the mobile will run off Android O, with the brand name of this generation having yet to be settled, although Android Oreo has been strongly suggested. Unlike the Google Pixel releases, the Nokia 8 smartphone will be armed with a ‘pure’ version of the operating system, unlike the tweaked version that Google utilizes for its own handsets.

Launching the Nokia 8, Florian Seiche, acting chief executive of HMD Global, indicated the belief of the company that the Nokia name could play a big role in selling the smartphone.

“We think with the Nokia brand and the combination of industry leading performance as well as immersive and innovative consumer experience, we will be immediately able to make a mark in the high end segment.”

Foxconn involvement

HMD has collaborated with the regular Apple partner Foxconn in the production of this mobile. This perhaps underlines the serious plans that HMD has for this device, as Foxconn will certainly be able to support high levels of production. This should be considered essential, according to Ian Fogg, head of mobile at IHS, with HMD dependent on a viable Nokia 8 release.

“HMD Global needs a successful Nokia-brand flagship smartphone to re-establish the Nokia brand in the smartphone market, because the Nokia brand was always viewed as innovative and high quality. It’s almost impossible to meet the expectations of the Nokia name offering only a selection of feature phones and low to mid-range smartphone models,” Fogg told CNBC.

Thicker bezels

While this latest release seems to have followed the trends of the mobile marketplace quite closely, there is one area in which the Nokia 8 smartphone has veered away from such trends. There are quite significant bezels included in this device, which goes against the general predilection of the industry for wraparound displays with slimmed down bezels.

Many consumers would welcome a Nokia-branded phone gaining traction in the market, and it would be interesting to see yet another player enter this increasingly crowded niche.

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