Nokia 8.1 review

No longer the flagship for Nokia

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Battery life

  • A 3,500mAh battery packed inside
  • OK performance, but isn't going to last you more than a day

If you’re after a mid-range phone with reliable battery life, the Nokia 8.1 will suit you. We haven’t got particularly excited about the battery life the Nokia 8.1 offers, but it’s reasonable enough.

You’ll get a solid day from a single charge of its 3,500mAh battery, but it won’t be capable of doing much more. The battery is far improved when you use the built-in automatic brightness as well, as that way the screen won’t be on full brightness at all times.

We used the handset for a day at full brightness and found the battery to die out around 10PM or so. That’s okay considering we were powering that screen to its absolute limit.

With automatic brightness on, the phone lasted up until midnight with a leftover 10% in the tank. With more limited usage you may get two days charge out of the phone, but it isn’t going to last any more than that.

We played a 90 minute video on the full with brightness up at 100%, and the battery went from fully charged to 80%. That's not atrocious, but it's not great either considering the similarly priced Honor 10 dropped to 84% in the same test and we weren't impressed by that either.

To recharge the Nokia 8.1, you’ll just be using the USB-C slot at the bottom of the phone. It doesn’t come with wireless charging built-in, which is a bit of a shame considering there’s a glass design.

Instead it opts for fast-charging technology, which is much more useful. That means you should be able to pump your phone up from zero all the way to full in a matter of a couple of hours rather than having to wait overnight for it.


  • Not as powerful as a flagship camera, but good performance
  • Focus isn't incredible, but high resolution dual sensor rear camera
  • Selfie shooter is top notch with a 20MP sensor

The camera on the Nokia 8.1 is suitable for a mid-range phone, but don’t expect top-end photo taking performance from this handset.

It can be quite slow, which means you may run the risk of missing the odd photo of moving objects. We often found moving objects such as animals were a bit too fast for the autofocus on the camera, resulting in blur.

On paper, the camera on the rear of the Nokia 8.1 doesn’t sound far off the Nokia 8’s flagship shooter. It’s a dual-sensor shooter with the main one being a 12MP f/1.8, while the second sensor (for depth sensing capabilities) is a 13MP one.

On auto mode, you’ll often get some good shots in high resolution. Low light is where the camera begins to struggle that bit more though and we found it really struggled at night to take a good shot.

In terms of video, you can record 720p, Full HD and UHD 4K video. That last one is largely useless if you're playing to watch it back on the Nokia 8.1 because it's only a Full HD display, but we found the quality of all video on the phone to be good enough for what you'll expect.

Like when shooting pictures, the camera isn't going to be stun you but it's good enough to take the odd bit of video you can upload to social media.

The selfie camera has a 20MP sensor, and that’s beneficial for video calling or if you want to take shots of your face for social media a lot. It’s only f/2.0, but the top-end selfie shooter that you don’t get on all phones will be a highlight for some.

We found the shots it takes to be clear and good, but again it won’t be able to blow you away with its performance.

The company’s bothie feature is also back, but this time it’s just referred to in the software as ‘dual’, which we assume refers to the dual cameras. That’s where you can take a shot at the same time on both the front and rear cameras.

This is a feature you can only get on Nokia handsets in 2019, but unless you’re regularly streaming video from your phone we struggle to think of many use cases for this type of camera format.

Camera samples

James Peckham

James is Managing Editor for Android Police. Previously, he was Senior Phones Editor for TechRadar, and he has covered smartphones and the mobile space for the best part of a decade bringing you news on all the big announcements from top manufacturers making mobile phones and other portable gadgets. James is often testing out and reviewing the latest and greatest mobile phones, smartwatches, tablets, virtual reality headsets, fitness trackers and more. He once fell over.