Nokia has been doing a good job since HMD took over its management and production of new products and services. Last year’s Nokia 7 Plus was one of the best phones it has ever made in recent times, but it took a detour from that spirit with notch-equipped releases later on that have been good, yet unexciting.
The 7 Plus’s successor is surprisingly the 8.1 that I have been playing with for more than a month. Similar to the 7 Plus in 2018 and Android P (at that time), its upper hand, at the moment, is it being part of the tens of phones that can test drive Android Q that also features a member from TECNO: The Spark 3 Pro.
I flashed the Q build an hour or so ago and things are coming up quite impressively.
- The UI is mostly the same, but it can now be spruced up with a dark theme, which is darker on the notification shade and grey-ish in the settings.
- Some Google apps have also been splashed with a dark coat, including Photos.
- Permissions appear to have been improved; you can grant access at that instance. You can further police them in the settings for groups that are super paranoid about permissions being rogue sometimes.
- You can silence notifications so that they arrive as stealthily (they don’t show on the notification area, but when you pull the shade down, they will be there).
- I haven’t tested phone calls and SMS but I guess they work just fine.
- There is no Google Now page on the left panel.
- Gesture-based navigation is missing as well, which I don’t care about because I love my three buttons. You can’t summon the notification shade with a fingerprint sensor swipe, though.
- The camera app is terrible, effectively making this beta useless for folks who may want to use it from day to day while snapping pictures.
- I have noticed some speed improvements too.
I will test this build further and report my comprehensive findings at a later date.
Here are some screenshots: