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Nokia 8 vs Galaxy S8: Can Nokia’s flagship Android trump Samsung’s mighty S8?

We compare the new Nokia 8 flagship device with another premium Android handset, the Samsung Galaxy S8, to see how these mighty mobiles stack up.

The Nokia 8 is the brand’s first Android flagship phone, packing top-end specs and a dual-lens camera for 599 Euros SIM-free. That’s a fair bit more affordable than Samsung’s brilliant Galaxy S8 handset, which currently costs just under £700 here in the UK.

On paper, the Nokia mobile actually sounds more enticing in many ways than Samsung’s S8. For instance, that Dual Sight snapper, created in collaboration with optics expert Carl Zeiss, appears to be a serious rival to the Galaxy’s single-lens camera. You also get the super-powered Snapdragon 835 chipset packed inside, along with a pleasingly pure version of Google’s Android OS.

So is the Nokia 8 really a smarter choice than the Galaxy S8? Here’s our full comparison, to help you decide which flagship to lay your money on.

Nokia 8 vs Galaxy S8: Specs

Phone Nokia 8 Samsung Galaxy S8
Screen size 5.3-inches 5.8-inches
Screen resolution 2560×1440 2560×1440
Fingerprint sensor? Yes Yes
Water resistant? Splash resistant only (IP54) Yes
OS Android 7.1.1 Android 7.1.1 + TouchWiz
Processor Snapdragon 835 Snapdragon 835/Exynos 8995
Memory 4GB 4GB
Storage 64GB 64GB
microSD? Yes Yes
Battery 3080mAh 3000mAh
Rear camera 13MP dual-lens 12MP
Front camera 13MP 8MP

Nokia 8 vs Galaxy S8: Design

When it comes to looks, we have to side with Samsung’s phone.

That edge-to-edge design is still stunning, even months after the launch. You’d never guess that the Galaxy S8 comes packing a 5.8-inch display either, as the handset is so comfortable to clutch, slipping into pockets and bags with ease.

In comparison, the Nokia 8 sports quite chunky bezels, especially above and below the display. That means you get very similar dimensions, even though the display is just 5.3-inches in size.

If you want a phone to take in the bath or snap some shower selfies, then Samsung is your best choice. The S8 is fully water resistant, so can survive a tumble into liquid, while the Nokia 8 is merely splash-proof. Still, while the Galaxy handset only comes with a glossy rear, the Nokia flagship can be snaffled in a choice of matte or ‘polished’ aluminium finishes. Both blowers offer a small selection of colours, to suit your personal tastes.

You also get a fingerprint sensor no matter your choice, although we prefer Nokia’s front-facing scanner. Samsung has housed the sensor around the back of the phone in a rather awkward position, which means you’ll occasionally have to fumble to find it.

Nokia 8 vs Galaxy S8: Screen and media

If you want super-crisp visuals, then you’ll be happy with either phone in this comparison. Both of these devices serve up 2K displays, although the exact resolution is slightly different thanks to the Galaxy S8’s stretched aspect ratio. Colours are punchy, brightness levels are strong and viewing angles are nice and wide, as you’d expect from flagship handsets.

Of course, the Galaxy S8 is well and truly future-proof, offering full support for HDR video streaming. That’s something you sadly won’t find on the Nokia 8. Although we’re yet to see much HDR content for mobile devices, the likes of Netflix will soon offer plenty of shows and movies to watch with these seriously impressive visuals.

Both blowers pack in plenty of storage space, to carry around a massive media collection. You’ll find 64GB of room no matter your choice, with full support for microSD memory cards.

Nokia 8 vs Galaxy S8: Features and OS

Although Android is the OS on both of these flagships, the design of each phone’s UI is quite different. That’s because while Samsung has tweaked the interface and added a bunch of new features, Nokia has stuck with a vanilla version of Google’s mobile operating system.

The Galaxy S8 offers up quite a lot of bonus functionality, on top of Android’s typical features. For instance, you can arrange a row of shortcuts to your favourite apps and contacts along the curved edge of the display, for fast access. Samsung’s own S Health app is on hand to keep tabs on your lifestyle and track your movements, complete with a built-in heart rate monitor. And a handy one-handed mode makes the phone easier to use on the go.

Wander over to our Galaxy S8 tips, tricks and best hidden features guide for all you need to know about these bonus bits.

By comparison, the Nokia 8 delivers a raw version of Android Nougat. Although you don’t get so many built-in features, this also means you don’t get any annoying duplication like you do on the Galaxy S8 (which packs two web browsers, as just one example). Nokia owners are likely to get a full upgrade to Android O ahead of S8 users as well.

Nokia 8 vs Galaxy S8: Performance and battery life

Samsung’s Galaxy S8 is one of the most powerful handsets around, boasting a Snapdragon 835 platform in the USA and China and Samsung’s own Exynos 8995 chipset in the rest of the world. Either way, you’re getting a smooth everyday experience and the ability to play the latest games with a perfect frame rate. You certainly won’t see any signs of ageing for quite some time either.

Likewise, the Nokia 8 also boasts Qualcomm’s super-powered Snapdragon 835 chipset. Android runs like a dream and we’d be surprised to see any kind of stutter or lag. Of course, you’ll have to check back for our in-depth Nokia 8 review to see if the new flagship really is a solid performer.

We’re yet to fully test the Nokia phone’s battery life, although the 3080mAh cell is ever so slightly more capacious than the Galaxy S8’s 3000mAh battery. We’re expecting the Nokia phone to offer a little longer than Samsung’s 24 hours of life, especially as it has a smaller screen to power. Still, both phones offer fast charge support, so you can expect close to a full recharge from just an hour at the plug.

Nokia 8 vs Galaxy S8: Cameras

When it comes to optics, these two phones offer pretty different tech.

Samsung’s Galaxy S8 sports a single-lens 12-megapixel camera on the rear, with an f/1.7 aperture lens and Dual Pixel autofocus. The result is near instant photo capture, with excellent results in almost any conditions – even low light.

Meanwhile the Nokia 8 packs a dual-lens camera, with two 13-megapixel f/2.0 aperture lenses working together to capture crisp shots. The Phase Detection Autofocus seems to be just as fast as the S8’s, and so far we’re impressed by the image quality on offer. Of course, while we’re yet to test the low light performance, we’re expecting Samsung’s blower to be the superior handset for tricky conditions.

What the Nokia 8 offers instead is some neat bokeh-style effects, thanks to the dual-lens setup. That said, the S8 does a fine job of replicating this effect with its depth-of-field photo feature, which simply takes a number of shots and merges them together.

Both phones can shoot up to 4K resolution video, as well as timelapse and slow-motion footage. You can also live stream your activities straight to Facebook or YouTube via the Nokia 8’s camera app, something not offered by the Galaxy S8 – despite Samsung previously supporting this with its Live Broadcast tool.

Pro photographers have a number of manual controls in either case, to get just the shot they desire. However, Samsung also has serious appeal for younger users with its selection of bizarre stickers and AR face masks, which range from the silly to the downright creepy. The Nokia 8 instead wants us to capture shots using the front and rear cameras at the same time, which HMD is calling a ‘bothie’.

Check out our Nokia 8 camera preview and in-depth Galaxy S8 camera review for more detailed information on these mobile snappers.

Nokia 8 vs Galaxy S8 video comparison

Here’s our video of the Nokia 8, stacked up against the mighty Samsung Galaxy S8.

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