The Nokia 8 comes in polished and matte finishes. The Polished Blue and Polished Copper models can take over 20 hours to reach their high-gloss mirror finish. Even the matte Steel and Tempered Blue versions have to go through a 40-stage process of machining and anodizing.
The phone starts life as a single block of 6000 series aluminum that reaches a final form 7.9mm thick (but with a tricky variable radius curve). We have to wonder, though, both Apple and Samsung moved to the more rigid 7000 series to keep phones from bending. Has HMD designed the metal shell well enough to prevent that? The company does claim that it took aluminum "to the next level". We're ready to give them the benefit of the doubt given the impeccable build quality the Nokia 6 has.
The Nokia 8 is a beautiful phone, anyway, no question about that. Of course, the market's aesthetics preferences have shifted since the Nokia 6 (which debuted the New Nokia's design language). Bezel-less phones are the new hotness while the Nokia 8 has classic looks with top and bottom bezels.
The top bezel houses the 13MP selfie camera, which has a Zeiss lens and autofocus. We mention this as often as we can - selfie cams with fixed focus are prone to blurry photos. There's no dedicated flash on the front, but the screen could step in if more light is necessary.
The bottom one houses the fingerprint reader and capacitive keys. Gorilla Glass 5 with chamfered edges guards the screen, with the keys and camera on the front.
Some might have hoped for OLED, but HMD stuck with IPS LCD. It's a 5.3" panel, a bit smaller than the Nokia 6's screen. It is much sharper, though, thanks to its QHD resolution (1,440 x 2,560px). And it should be much brighter, maxing out at 700 nits (vs. 450 nits for the mid-range model).
HMD (like Sony and HTC) did not go for a bezel-less design, but it did enable an Always On display.
The Nokia 8 measures 7.9mm at its thickest point and curves to 4.6mm on the sides. There's also the tiniest of camera bumps at the back - it's just 0.4mm but it's there. At 160g, the phone strikes a good balance between feeling sturdy and keeping weight in check.
Moving around the back, there's the dual camera and the Zeiss logo is hard to miss. But let's leave the camera details for later. For now, let's cover some internal details.
The antenna placement is similar to the Nokia 5's - there's an antenna on top and another one on the bottom. This allows the phone to adjust to your grip since you can't block both antennas simultaneously. HMD claims this improves reception and goes easy on the battery.
Nokia and Qualcomm worked together to make sure the Snapdragon 835 chipset to ensure it can handle livestreaming from two cameras simultaneously. To keep the chip in top shape, HMD used a heat pipe and a graphite shield to draw the heat away.
We do wish they upped the water resistance - IP54 (dust and splash resistance) doesn't quite feel like enough on a flagship. Not when the competition (Samsung, Apple, Sony, HTC, LG) offers IP67 and up.
We are glad to see the 3.5mm headphone jack, though. That said, the Nokia Active Wireless Headset was unveiled alongside the Nokia 8. With a matching design machined out of aluminum and with water and dust resistance, maybe you'll want to forgo wires. And if not, there's also a USB-C port on the bottom (it's a Gen 1 port, 5Gbps).
That USB port also delivers up to 18W of power to the battery thanks to Quick Charge 3.0. The battery has 3,090mAh capacity, not huge but not bad either.