Nokia used to be the company you turned to for a cell phone, at least up until smartphones came along and pushed Nokia off to the sidelines in the U.S. HMD Global, which now manages the Nokia brand, thinks the Nokia 8 V 5G UW could be the device to change that, even if that name doesn't exactly trip lightly off the tongue.
Starting price: $699
Display (Pixels): 6.81-inch LCD (2400 x 1080)
CPU: Snapdragon 765G
Expandable?: Yes, up to 1 TB
Rear cameras: 64MP main (f/1.8); 12MP ultrawide (f/2.2); 2MP macro lens; 2MP depth sensor
Front camera: 24MP (f/2.0)
Battery size: 4,500 mAh
Battery life (Hrs:Mins): 8:26
Size: 6.8 x 3.1 x 0.35 inches
Weight: 8.11 ounces
If you're familiar with the Nokia 8.3 5G that arrived in the U.S. earlier this fall, then the Nokia 8 V 5G UW will be familiar. These phones share nearly every key feature, save for one — the Nokia 8 V is available through Verizon, the first time that a higher-end Nokia phone has been sold via a U.S. carrier in roughly six years.
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Will that help the Nokia 8 V 5G UW stand out in an increasingly crowded field of less expensive 5G-ready options? This Nokia 8 V 5G UW review will look at what sets this phone apart from the rest of the 5G crowd.
Nokia 8 V 5G UW review: Price and availability
The Nokia 8 V 5G UW costs $699 at Verizon, which seems to be the sweet spot for Snapdragon 765G-powered 5G phones. At Verizon alone, you'll find the LG Velvet, Google Pixel 5, Samsung Galaxy S20 FE and iPhone 12 mini all available at that same price.
Not only is the field of $699 phones getting crowded, but the Nokia 8 V is also getting squeezed by cheaper 5G devices. The TCL 10 5G UW is another Verizon exclusive, and this 5G phone only costs $399. You can pick up a Pixel 4a 5G through Google tied to Verizon's wireless service, and you'll only have to part with $499. In other words, it's going to take the Nokia phone some doing to stand out from the crowd.
Nokia 8 V 5G UW review: Design
The Nokia 8 V 5G UW doesn't skimp on size. I placed the phone next to an iPhone 11 Max — one of the biggest phones I have lying around — and the Nokia 8 V is noticeably taller at 6.8 x 3.1 x 0.35 inches. At 8.11 ounces, you're not likely to forget you're toting around the new Nokia phone.
Flip the device over and the first thing you'll notice is a circular camera array protruding from the phone's polycarbonate back. Plenty of logos greet you, too, from a vertical Nokia to Verizon's 5G label. Logos aside, it's a pretty slick look, though you will notice a lot of fingerprints on the Meteor Gray exterior.
I'm always happy to see a headphone jack like the one on the bottom of the Nokia 8 V, as HMD Global resists the temptation to follow the lead of other phone makers and remove that port. I'm less pleased with the buttons that appear on the Nokia 8 V. There's a Google Assistant button on the left side of the phone that can summon the virtual assistant and seemingly do nothing else. It's superfluous. The power button contains the phone's fingerprint sensor and is too recessed into the Nokia 8 V's frame to find easily; it also happens to be immediately under the volume toggle, so I wound up tapping that a lot when I meant to unlock my phone.
HMD placed a single speaker on the bottom of the phone. It's really easy to cover that speaker up with your hand when you're holding the phone in a landscape orientation — like when you're playing a game — and that can muffle the audio.
Nokia 8 V 5G UW review: Display
The reason HMD went big with the Nokia 8 V 5G UW is to house the phone's massive 6.81-inch FHD display. I'm not a fan of big phones as a rule, but even I have to concede that a screen this size is very immersive, whether you're playing games or watching video. Rummaging through houses in PUBG Mobile, I spotted details in some of the weapons and other gear that I came across that I never see on phones with smaller displays.
The Nokia 8 V 5G UW uses an LCD panel, and I think that has some impact on the colors showcased by the device. Everything looks fine in scenes that are bright, like the colorful outfits on the wrestlers in an episode of GLOW that I streamed on Netflix or on the desert planet Arrakis in the trailer for the upcoming Dune movie. But once the action moves into the shadows things start to look murkier on the Nokia 8 V's screen.
Our testing found that the 113.9% of the sRGB color gamut, while the p-OLED panel on the LG Velvet managed to recreate 140.6%. The Pixel 5, which also features an OLED screen captured 128.8%. The Nokia 8 V is about as accurate as its rivals when it comes to colors with a Delta-E rating of 0.29; the LG Velvet got a nearly identical 0.30 score. (The closer to zero, the more accurate the colors.)
However, the Nokia phone lags the competition when it comes to brightness. We measure the Nokia 8 V at 358 nits with adaptive brightness turned on. That's well off the pace set by the LG Velvet (567 nits), Pixel 5 (610 nits) and iPhone 12 mini (505 nits). When testing the phone outside, I had to crank display brightness all the way up on the Nokia 8 V.
Nokia 8 V 5G UW review: Camera
HMD proudly points out that its Nokia 8.3 models features Zeiss optics in its PureView camera array, as the phone maker looks to stake its claim that the Nokia 8 V 5G UW belongs among the ranks of the best camera phones. It certainly doesn't skimp on cameras to back up that claim.
The Nokia 8 V features a 64MP main camera and a 12MP ultrawide angle shooter with a 120-degree field of view. Both the main and ultrawide shooters support Super Night mode for low light photography. A 2MP macro lens and 2MP depth sensor round out the rear cameras.
The Nokia 8 V fares well when shooting some Star Wars-themed tiki mugs outside on a partly day. It captures details that are harder to spot in the photo taken by the OnePlus Nord N10 5G, from the swirls in C3-PO's eyes to the curve at the top of the wampa mug. For whatever reason, the background on the Nokia 8 V shot has more of a blur than I'd like, but overall, the focus of the shot is on the mugs, where it should be.
The corner of the kitchen housing my oven can get pretty dark, with only a harsh overhead light to illuminate things. Perhaps that's why this photo of a pasta sauce I was making turned out so dark when shot by the Nokia 8 V. Half the pot seems lost in shadows and the meatballs lack the definition that exists in the Pixel 4a 5G's photo. The color that is in the Nokia photo is fairly rich — that's a fairly dark red for the sauce — though the more orange-ish tint in the Pixel photo is probably truer to life.
Speaking of dim lighting, I took a photo of the miniature hat collection I have decorating my basement office right after sundown to see how the Super Night mode on the Nokia 8 V measures up for low-light photos. The answer, when compared to the Pixel 4a 5G's best-in-class Night Sight, is not very well. The Pixel photo looks fully illuminated, and many of the logos on each helmet are clearly visible. The Nokia shot is still a little dark, and the logos on the Astro, Met and Cleveland helmets are lost in the shadows.
The Nokia 8 V redeems itself with its ultrawide angle lens, which captures a much wider view than the comparable camera on the Pixel 4a 5G. (We have to crop the photos to fit inside the slider up above, but trust me — there's a lot more detail to the sides that the Nokia ultrawide angle lens include in its shot.) The sky's a deeper shade of blue in the Nokia photo, and that's reflected in the water. The plants along the shoreline look greener, too, which makes for a much more colorful shot overall.
So long as phone makers keep insisting that people want macro lenses on their phone, I'm going to have to keep taking photos, even though I suspect that few people will ever make use of a dedicated macro sensor. Still, the NOkia 8 V's version did a pretty good job, picking up the details on some late-blooming tomatoes in my garden. I like that mini-tendrils on the tomato vine are visible, and the macro lens really captures the texture of that still-green tomato.
Some people may prefer how the OnePlus Nord N10 handled the shot, using shadows to bring greater definition to the red tomatoes in the background. But I think the Nokia phone produces a better overall shot by drawing your attention to the tomato in the foreground.
My daughter may have averted her eyes when it came time for me to test Portrait mode on the Nokia 8 V 5G UW, but that phone still produced a very good shot, adding a stylish blur to the background while keeping her hair, face and clothes very much in focus. You can see the freckles on her face, and the Nokia camera also faithfully recreated the texture on her sweater.
Even with my daughter staring into the sun, her face isn't washed out, though the Pixel 4a 5G has done a better job by keeping the colors of its photo warmer overall. Still, I'm not at all disappointed by what the Nokia 8 V did here.
Color tone also is the deciding factor in this selfie face-off between the Nokia 8 V 5G UW and Pixel 4a 5G. The Nokia's 24MP front camera seems overwhelmed by some of the light, and a result, the left side of my face is a little overexposed. The Pixel 4a 5G doesn't have this problem, reproducing my face in a nice, warm tone.
It seems that a leaf from the fig tree appearing just beyond the part in my hair flummoxed the software on the Nokia 8 V just a little bit. It's not very blurred, while that same leaf blends into the background in the Pixel 4a 5G selfie.
Nokia 8 V 5G UW review: Performance
Phone makers producing 5G phones have settled on the Snapdragon 765G as their mobile processing platform of choice, and the Nokia 8 V 5G UW is no exception. It's easy to understand why — while the Snapdragon 765G isn't Qualcomm's most powerful chip, it can handle most of the things smartphone users throw at it, and it's got an integrated X52 modem. It's also not as expensive as the Snapdragon 865 in leading Android flagships, which means phone makers can keep costs down.
As a result, the Nokia 8 5G UW and its Snapdragon 765G processor turn in results on benchmarking tests that are fairly consistent with phones that use the same chipset. The Nokia phone's single- and multicore scores of 610 and 1,930 on Geekbench 5 are in line with the LG Velvet (619 and 1,927) and well ahead of the Pixel 5's numbers (596 and 1,617). The Nokia 8 V also outperformed the Motorola Edge (595 and 1,867), which uses a slightly less powerful Snapdragon 765 chipset.
Of course, the Nokia 8 V 5G UW doesn't even come close to matching the performance of the identically priced iPhone 12 mini. Thanks to that phone's class-leading A14 Bionic chip, it turned in a multicore Geekbench 5 score of 4,123, the best result we've seen on that test.
When it comes to graphics, the Nokia 8 V's performance finished well ahead of the Pixel 5 on 3DMark's Wild Life Unlimited test. The Nokia phone recorded 1,670 frames (10 frames per second), topping the Pixel's 1,160 frame (7 FPS) result. But the LG Velvet more or less matched the Nokia phone with a result of 1,680 frames (10 FPS).
The most processor-intensive apps probably won't run as smoothly on the Nokia 8 V 5G UW, though I had no problem playing PUBG Mobile apart from the occasional stutter. I could switch apps seamlessly and stream video to my heart's content.
HMD Global adds 6GB of RAM to help out the Snapdragon 765G, but only equips the phone with a meager 64GB of storage. You're able to add up to 1TB via a microSD card.
Nokia 8 V 5G UW review: 5G
One of the main attractions for the Nokia 8 V 5G is its 5G compatibility — and not just any 5G. Because this phone has been tailored specifically for Verizon 5G, it works with the high-speed mmWave-based 5G towers Verizon has put up in parts of 55 cities around the US. Verizon's reliance on mmWave has allowed it to claim the title of fastest 5G network, at least in the early days of the new technology. Connect with one of Verizon's mmWave nodes, and you can watch download speeds blast past 1 Gbps while those around you make do with 100 Mbps speeds.
To enjoy those speeds, though, you've got to be in line of sight of one of Verizon's mmWave towers, which means being outside — mmWave doesn't deal well with windows and walls — and in very specific locations. Verizon has also launched a nationwide 5G network that reaches 1,800 cities and 200 million people, though with slower speeds. This is the flavor of Verizon 5G you're more likely to experience with the Nokia 8 V 5G UW.
Even then, coverage is finicky. I live in a place with very good Verizon coverage, but only occasionally does the 5G indicator flicker on the Nokia 8 V's screen — I can pick up a 5G signal in my kitchen, for example, but not in my backyard. Even then, 5G download speeds are slower — like, by a lot — when compared to what I normally get from Verizon's LTE.
In other words, 5G remains a work in progress. If you get the Nokia V 5G UW, you're doing so with the understanding that Verizon's network is evolving and better, faster days are — hopefully — ahead.
Nokia 8 V 5G UW review: Battery and charging
Our 5G phone testing to date has indicated that 5G connectivity chews up and spits out the battery life of these handsets, requiring big power packs to get the devices through the day on a charge. The Nokia 8 V 5G UW looks to combat this with a 4,500 mAh battery, but unfortunately, it's not enough.
The Nokia 8 V 5G lasted an average of 8 hours and 26 minutes on our battery test, which involves setting the phone's screen to 150 nits of brightness and then having it surf the web over cellular until it runs out of power. That's roughly 90 minutes less than the average smartphone lasts on our test, and it's also below the performance we've seen from other 5G phones. I tested the Motorola Edge, another $699 5G phone, on Verizon's network, and it held out for more than 12 hours. Other 5G phones like the Pixel 5 (9:29), Galaxy S20 FE (8:58) and iPhone 12 mini (7:28) turned in times closer to the Nokia 8 V's result.
Don't expect the Nokia 8 V 5G to charge back up quickly, either. Using the included charger, we got the phone back to a 34% charge after 30 minutes. Apple's 20W charger — which is sold separately — can get the iPhone 12 mini back to 60% in that same time. The Motorola Edge, not exactly a speed demon when it comes to charging, reached 36% after half-an-hour.
Nokia 8 V 5G UW review: Software and special features
HMD Global calls the Nokia 8 V 5G UW "Android 11 ready," which is a nicer way of saying that the older Android 10 comes pre-installed on the phone. There's no timeline on when to expect that Android 11 update, though HMD says you can expect both that update as well as next year's Android 12 to land on your phone. That means a relatively up-to-date phone through the end of 2022.
The version of Android installed on the Nokia 8 V 5G UW is fairly clean, and for the most part, you won't find duplicate apps replicating the functions of Google's preinstalled apps. However, because this is a Verizon phone, you will have a lot of Verizon apps to deal with. Some, like the My Verizon app for managing your account with the carrier, are perfectly welcome. Others, like Verizon's Digital Secure, Cloud and Call Filter apps seem unnecessary. And I'm not sure why Yahoo Mail comes pre-loaded on the phone when I've already got a Gmail app — I mean, other than the fact that Verizon owns Yahoo and would appreciate it very much if you use that service.
Nokia 8 V 5G UW review: Verdict
The Nokia 8 V 5G UW has a problem, and it's not one that has anything to do with the phone's hardware or software. After running tests for this Nokia 8 V 5G UW review, in fact, I found plenty to like about this particular handset, from its excellent ultrawide angle camera to the fact that it supports Verizon's high-speed flavor of 5G.
The problem, though, is that the Nokia 8 V 5G doesn't offer anything that at least one phone in its price range doesn't do better. The LG Velvet is a more stylish looking 5G handset. The Motorola Edge lasts longer on a charge. The Pixel 5 takes better photos. And if you're willing to look beyond Android devices, the iPhone 12 mini is one of the best phones overall. All of these phones cost the same as the Nokia 8 V, and with the exception of the Motorola Edge, all of them support Verizon's 5G network, too.
If you're a Verizon subscriber looking for a 5G phone for less than $700, the Nokia 8 V 5G UW certainly will find its way onto your shortlist. Whether it winds up being your ultimate choice depends how much you want a large screen and a top-performing ultrawide angle lens.