MWC 2018: Can Nokia's Breezy New Sirocco Phone Stand Up to Samsung's Mighty Devices?

By Sam Rutherford on at

As slick as the designs on the Galaxy S8 and the brand new S9 are, some people just can’t get down with all the changes Samsung makes to Android on the inside. It’s an understandable complaint, especially since just a few year ago, Samsung’s TouchWiz skin (which is now called the Samsung Experience), was often responsible for causing phones to lag. But what if there was a phone with the good looks of a late model Galaxy S, but with stock Android inside? Well here’s your answer, it’s the Nokia 8 Sirocco.

Design wise, the Sirocco is basically a wider, edgier version of the Galaxy S8.

Just a quick look at the Sirocco (which is named after a legendary southerly Mediterranean wind) and a Galaxy S8 and you can immediately see the resemblance. Both phones feature a glass sandwich design with rounded sides. The only major difference is that the Sirocco sports a boxier 16:9 LCD display compared to the vibrant 18:9 OLED screen found on the Samsung.

The specs of the phones are quite similar too, with the Sirocco featuring a Qualcomm 835 processor, 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, Qi wireless charging, and even IP67 water resistance.

But as I mentioned before, unlike a typical Galaxy S device, there’s no TouchWiz gunking up the OS. That’s because the Sirocco is part of Google’s Android One initiative, which means the only kind of Android the Sirocco will ever use is pure stock. What a joy.

Around back, the Sirocco even has dual cameras, though, from my brief time with the phone follwing HMD Global’s launch event, it looked like HMD’s camera processing still isn’t quite as proficient as Samsung’s. On the other hand, HMD’s manual camera controls are fantastic.

After a quick examination of both the interior and exterior of the phone, it seems HMD’s biggest mistake was getting rid of the phone’s headphone jack. But as far as missteps go, that’s a somewhat minor offence, and I don’t want to take too much away from what seems like a very solid device. So for anyone out there who has ever wondered what it would look like if Samsung made a Galaxy S with stock Android, you finally have an answer: It’s the Nokia 8 Sirocco.

The lack of a headphone jack is the Sirocco’s only real mistake.

The Sirocco is due out in April for €750 (around £660).

Gizmodo UK is in Barcelona at MWC! Keep up with all the latest announcements from the show floor right here.