The best mid-range smartphone for less than $587.32 is currently the Nokia 8. In addition to the nostalgic resurgence of the popular 31xx Nokia phones, the Finnish company is also focusing on the smartphone market. The Nokia 8 makes the technology in the premium segment accessible to a wider audience without making any major compromises. For example, the Nokia 8 was one of the first smartphones to be updated to Android 8 Oreo.
On the side of the equipment, most premium class mid-range smartphones can stand up to it, and even surpass it – or have you ever seen an iPhone with the option of a second SIM card? The issue of memory expansion is embarrassingly avoided in the premium sector so that in addition to the 32-gigabyte model with a hefty surcharge the version with 64 or 128 gigabytes can be sold.
We have expanded our test by seven new models: Among them are two models of Asus, the Zenfone 4 Max ZC554KL and the Zenfone 4 ZE554kKL, which despite the similarity in the type designation could hardly be more different. In addition, there was a direct import from China with the Elephone S8 with extravagant 6 “display. From the Huawei Group, the Honor 9 and the Huawei Mate10 Lite also had two candidates at their disposal, including Alcatel’s mid-range smartphone under the BlackBerry Motion Label and the Nokia 8 debut of an old, new-flag brand.
As long as they are still available, you ‘ll find the models from the previous review much cheaper: the Asus Zenfone 3 (ZE552KL), Huawei’s Huawei P10 Lite, and Lenovo, Motorola’s current licensee, the Lenovo Moto Z Play. In addition, the Samsung Galaxy A5 in the 2017 version and the Sony Xperia X Compact.
The Nokia 8 of license holder HMD Global leads our current leaderboard with a slight margin. Equipped with the latest processor technology, a very good display and not least the latest Android operating system, nothing is wrong here. The design and the high production quality will inspire you.
The Honor 9 from Huawei sets design accents: The back is made of transparent, high-quality plastic and gives the view of a wavy curved body free. With a 5.1-inch display, it is also the most compact smartphone in the test. It hardly bears in the shirt pocket but is equipped with the latest technology.
The back of the Asus Zenfone 4 ZE554KL is made of hard glass, which gives the smartphone a certain value. However, the technology behind the glass does not have to hide, after all, the Zenfone is our photo expert, with which you can still achieve good results in difficult conditions.
With the BlackBerry Motion manufacturer Alcatel in cooperation with the Canadian software company now also the middle class a smartphone with a focus on data security. Since the BlackBerry can also convince with other qualities, it is more than a company smartphone and therefore interesting for private use.
The Elephone S8 is a real bargain if you have no problem with a direct import from China. Also because of the large 6-inch display stands out from the rest of the test field. The design is borrowed from the Honor 9 and the 10-core processor pushes neatly on the gas – but the low price also takes its toll.
Again and again, the relatively short battery life of premium smartphones causes annoying comments from the owners. However, to ensure the longest possible battery life, it requires a battery with the appropriate capacity. But this, in turn, results in a corresponding size.
Large batteries, however, find no place in most premium-class slimline phones. This looks different in the middle class, where no one really wants to hold “the thinnest” in his hand. That’s why mid-range smartphones often have better battery life than premium cell phones.
Meanwhile, however, the battery technology itself has experienced a push towards miniaturization, so that the narrow hanger from the premium class can be even narrower and the middle class even with a fat battery anything but obese. The Asus Zenfone 4 Max ZC554KL can serve as a good example, with its 5,000 mAh strong battery, it does not carry more than the competition but lasts longer.
In order to achieve comparable measurement results, we fed the smartphones with a test video in FullHD and let it run non-stop. In order to demand a special smartphone, we also switched on the WLAN at the same time. We also documented the charging time of the smartphones in order to get a practical value on how long you have to wait in order to be able to fully use your smartphone again.
Better battery life than premium smartphones
The WLAN range has been tested under real conditions. In addition, you have to know that a comparison is only possible between timely together tested devices, as the radio transmission depends on many different factors – even bad weather can negatively influence them.
More and more often the smartphone replaces the compact camera – in any case with more or less everyday snapshots. Then the manufacturers have adjusted. In the supreme discipline, smartphones had to show how well their camera works. For this purpose, we have taken test photos under comparable lighting conditions, including Lowlight at 30 lux and under complex daylight conditions.
Also, the computing power was put to the test, in fact, equal to two: With the benchmarks of Antutu and CF-Bench, the test devices were able to prove their computing power, the results are documented here as well as the test photos.
The Nokia 8 was until now the top model that HMD Global has launched under the venerable brand Nokia. At the recent World Mobile Congress (WMC), other models have been introduced that are rated above both the Nokia 8 and below.
The Nokia 8 has thus slipped into the field of mid-range smartphones, but against this background, it is hardly surprising that the current technology slumbers inside and a high-resolution display was installed. Both mark the top in our test. In addition, the smartphone has recently received an update to Android 8, which not only harmonizes nicely with the type designation but has also brought Nokia some additional features.
The Nokia 8 is in the beautiful unibody case, which is available in the colours Polished Blue, Tempered Blue, Steel and Polished Copper. The display, which is rounded off on all edges, fits almost seamlessly into the aluminium housing, only antennas that are fitted at the top and bottom are a bit off because they are not “painted in body colour”, which actually seems to bother some colleagues.
The Snapdragon 835, which is still widely used in current premium smartphones, is also used in the Nokia 8. Although it is flanked only by 4 gigabytes of RAM, this does not detract from the performance of the smartphone: in the Antutu benchmark, the Nokia even exceeds the 200,000 marks!
64 gigabytes of storage already in the basic configuration
Although the internal memory with 64 gigabytes is already quite well equipped, it can still be upgraded with a corresponding MicroSD card – if you need it, everyone must know for themselves. If not, a second SIM card can be used instead and the Nokia then used as a combined private and corporate smartphone.
As far as the display is concerned, the Nokia is on the safe side; the 5.5 inches are filled with 2,560 x 1,440 pixels, which corresponds to a pixel density of about 554 ppi. The display is active at least on the long sides to close to the edge, whereby the 5.5-inch model still remains quite narrow and can be operated well with one hand, even with larger hands.
The performance of the processor / RAM combination, the Nokia 8 is already exhausted, but that has its price because, with just under 3,000 mAh, the battery is more in the lower capacity range, which the Nokia then synonymous with a running time for our test video of something acknowledged over 10 hours.
The competition models are all equipped with larger batteries and a longer runtime – almost, because of all the Elephone drives with its 4,000 mAh does not even reach the 10-hour mark. In this respect, the Nokia is so pretty good in the race and then pick up when reloading then again: after 1:45 hours it is fully charged again, only the Honor 9 is even 10 minutes faster ready for use.
The Nokia 8 is a smartphone – accordingly, the orientation of the speaker held, no one wants to compete with a stereo system here, and thus is deliberately dispensed with a second speaker. The sound quality of the phone does not harm this in any way, neither while listening nor when talking and whether you have plugged in the headset or not.
For listening to music, the headset in most cases, but sound enthusiasts will be happy about the right headphone jack on the Nokia 8, there can easily connect higher-quality headphones or a better headset.
If you would like to use an audio streaming service like Tidal, Deezer or similar with your smartphone, you can look forward to it, thanks to the update on Android 8, the Nokia benefits from the audio codec LDAC implemented there. This makes Bluetooth transmission of high-definition music possible in the first place. As well as the inventor Sony more and more manufacturers also use this codec, the comfortable wireless high-quality music is hardly something in the way.
The Nokia 8, like most others, has a dual rear camera. Where others use the second camera for an extended wide-angle, this is used at the Nokia for artistic black and white photography.
When the light fades, everyone is weak
Nevertheless, there is still enough potential to hurry up on the style. The classic, manual influence on white balance and exposure make the compact camera – at least in good light conditions – superfluous.
When taking pictures in the wild, not all newcomers convince, the Elephone and the BlackBerry are the least with the extreme backlit situation clear, with different consequences. While the Elephone simply outshines mercilessly, the BlackBerry is still somehow trying to work out the blue of the sky. If necessary, instead of the smooth transition, there are clearly visible, clearly defined steps. The different colour matches are only in the direct comparison and problems with the sharpness and detail resolution were not noticeable in any test candidate.
Under laboratory conditions with clearly defined light sources – not just from the front – it looks better, but here the edge sharpening is noticeable, which even makes our favourite. However, the Huawei Mate10 Lite is really blatant, which we already know from the P10 Lite. This leads to the edges of the motifs to so-called overshoots, which then look like a second edge. The two Asus smartphones do not allow such blunders, even the Elephone sharpened only moderately.
In the Lowlight shots, all smartphones, as expected, to their limits. Here each manufacturer enters a different compromise. The image noise resulting from the necessary amplification is attempted to “improve” in image processing by means of appropriate smoothing measures – which inevitably leads to many image details being smoothed out as well. Here again, our favourite meets a good compromise, the picture is not quite as bright as many competitors – but it’s already twilight anyway – so it’s not too much synonymous with the amplification factor. The consequence of this is that there is little noise, which in turn does not have to be ironed out so extremely smoothly.
Also, the Zenfone 4 can convince again, unlike the Max, where all contours are almost smoothed out. Only the Elephone S8 still gets an acceptable compromise, all others shoot from full tubes: lots of amplification, strong noise, plenty of smoothing, little details and blurry contours.
In terms of battery life, there is still room for improvement in the Nokia 8, the edge sharpening of the photos can most likely be adjusted to normal size by a corresponding software update. Thus comes as another possible disadvantage at best even the hybrid slot in question, which prevents you have to choose between the second SIM card or memory expansion, but this is in view of the lush equipment with 64 gigabytes rather a luxury problem.
The Nokia 8 has also convinced some tester colleagues of its qualities. Here is an overview of the current tests:
In the comparative test of Connect (3/2018), the Nokia reached only place 5 of 11 devices but also had to prevail against far more expensive competitors, such as Google Pixel 2.
In the chip (1/2018), the Nokia received the rating “very good” (1.4) due to its fast performance, good workmanship, extremely bright and high-contrast display and not least for the convincing cameras.
The PC World (1/2018) also rated the Nokia “good” (1.68) and described it in the price/performance as “cheap”:
»The display is extremely sharp and stable in viewing angle. Thanks to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 CPU, the device not only impresses with the highest scores in the benchmarks but also shows high performance in practice. The picture quality is good under optimal conditions. In mixed light, however – for example, in interiors – the double camera captures details with little precision. The sharpness of the recordings is also disappointing. «
The colleagues from Notebookcheck (12/2017) also took a close look at the Nokia 8 and were equally enthusiastic.
»The Nokia 8 scores with its high-quality aluminium housing and a very bright 5.3-inch QHD display. It gets even more sympathy through its high-end SoC Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, which together with 4 GB of RAM and the fast pixel accelerator Adreno 540 ensures a fast pace of operation at all times. In addition, there are long battery life, quick charging via Quick Charge 3.0 – and with the »Bothie« even a real unique selling proposition: the 13 MP camera of the Nokia 8 can simultaneously display photos and videos with its web and main camera in a split-screen format. Record mode, making it almost a double selfie. «
Also, only words of praise come from the testers of Computer Bild(08/2017).
»With the Nokia 8, the Finns hit the table with their fists. Design, display, performance and camera convince. The price is attractive for the performance offered, the innovative camera with double 4K recording a great surprise. «
Golem (08/2017) praises above all performance and processing of the Nokia 8:
»We like the Nokia 8 both in terms of design and technical features. The smartphone is powerful thanks to the Snapdragon 835, has enough built-in memory, a high-resolution screen and a good camera. The processing is except for the scratch-sensitive back of the painted models very good, the smartphone is with a display size of 5.3 inches also good in the hand. […] Also praiseworthy are the delivery with pure Android and the fast-import of Google’s security patches. «
Since the Nokia 8 is certainly not so good at all and it also has its price, we have listed here some alternatives that are either cheaper or not share the few weak points.
The Honor 9 comes from the home of Huawei, but of the subsidiary brand Honor. Both the products and distribution channels are sometimes significantly different, among other things, the Honor smartphones are a bit more aggressive price and mostly online traded.
However, the Honor 9 hardly leaves the impression, it comes from the Smartphone Grabbelkiste, one compares it with the Huawei Mate10 Lite, which is acted approximately at the same price, then the honor clearly better off. Although it is a bit smaller, which can also be an advantage, the hardware is noticeably better equipped than the Huawei.
The processor works befittingly with eight cores, which are clocked at 2.4 and 1.8 GHz. Incidentally, the Honor is more powerful than his brother Huawei, which also prove the performance tests. In addition, the lush 64 gigabytes of memory, which is part of the basic equipment and can be further increased if necessary with a microSD card, unless you prefer a second SIM card. Since the Honor has a hybrid slot, not both can be done simultaneously.
The two cameras on the back split up, in an RGB for colour shots and one for artistic black and white shots. The colour camera does its job very well when there is enough light, but bends quite quickly in twilight and brings noisy pictures to the display.
As a compact, potent companion, the Honor is doing very well.
Asus ZenFone 4 (ZE554KL)
The Asus Zenfone 4 ZE554KL is not only priced in a higher league than the almost same-named Asus Zenfone 4 Max ZC554KL, the back is made of hard glass, which is less prone to scratches than most metal unibody cases. In case of damage, the glass can also be replaced quite easily.
Here, too, 64 gigabytes of memory are actually enough pre-installed memory, which, however, can be topped up if necessary. That’s not so strange considering the very good photographic qualities. However, the Asus Zenfone 4 also has a hybrid card slot which can accommodate either a microSD card or a second SIM card.
Also on Zenfone 4 are both sockets on the bottom.
The Zenfone 4 from Asus uses one of the two cameras for an extreme wide-angle.
Although the Octa-Core processor is also a Snapdragon with above-average performance, this is partly due to the generous amount of memory, after all, the Asus shows off with 6 gigabytes of RAM. The energy source is a 3,300 mAh battery that provides power for more than 15 hours of nonstop video. One of the reasons for the modern connection technology with USB Type-C socket is that the energy storage device is fully operational again in less than two hours.
The Zenfone 4 ZE554KL is particularly good as a camera replacement, in addition to the already good picture quality per se, offers the smartphone partially semi-professional intervention and control options in the image quality.
The back of the BlackBerry Motion is neither dominated by glass nor metal, quite businesslike and above all, as it is known from BlackBerry, there is a non-slip, hard-wearing soft-touch surface, emblazoned on the unmistakable logo of the Canadian manufacturer.
What is not quite true, because Blackberry controls only the operating system, which is a modified Android. The main component is a tool called DTEK, with the help of which the owner can rid the smartphone of possible security risks without extensive IT knowledge. At least that’s the plan and thanks to the catchy traffic light interface, I can at least greatly help with the support of full-text help that my BlackBerry is immune to most attacks.
This apparently always requires some development work, because otherwise, it is almost impossible to explain that the interior of the Motion is not working with much of the dewy processor technology. However, one could also speak of proven hardware, because at least on the part of the interfaces, the BlackBerry Motion is up to date, which is reflected in the type-C jack as well as in the NFC support for Bluetooth connections.
But the camera will then bake it again, it is enough for snapshots with sufficient light, you can not ask for more. For those who value security, the BlackBerry is a solid and, above all, secure smartphone.
The Elephone S8 turns out to be a real bargain with a large 6-inch display, and the Helio processor used also sports big numbers: ten cores, grouped into two or four together, depending on requirements, for well-dosed performance.
The benchmark measurements show that it is not about sheer performance, but rather about their efficient use. So the Elephone can keep up well with the Zenfone 4 and the Huawei Mate10 Lite but has to beat the Honor, our favourite anyway.
Nevertheless, the processor needs a good basis, which is provided by the Elephone of a 4,000 mAh battery. Unfortunately, this only enough for a mediocre 9 hours of continuous video.
On the part of the operator, the Elephone also goes its own way, a single multi-function button replaces the otherwise three touch panels existing control panel.
The connection for the headset has been saved, as well as the headset itself, but a matching adapter included, from USB Type-C to jack. Those who have the courage to the underdog or generally would like to have a larger screen than 5.5 inches, should make friends with the Elephone, especially for the price.