Nokia 9 preview: Everything we know so far

UPDATED: Here’s what to expect from Nokia’s bigger, bolder Android flagship – and a possible Nokia 8 upgrade

05 February 2018
by Stuff Staff

Under new owner HMD, the Nokia brand came back to life in 2017 with a handful of Android-powered smartphones – but only one of them, the mid-range Nokia 6, was really worth considering.

The bargain-basement Nokia 3 was a little too underpowered to consider, while the flagship Nokia 8 just couldn’t compare to the top-end competition even with a competitive price point here in the Middle East. But maybe Nokia’s next big handset, purportedly the Nokia 9, will be the true comeback story for the legendary phone maker.

Rumours suggest that we’ll see the Nokia 9 very soon, and we have a fair idea of what to expect from this Nokia 8 successor. Here’s everything we’ve heard so far.

WHEN WILL THE NOKIA 9 BE OUT?

We’ll probably see new flagships from Samsung and LG in the next couple of months, but it sounds like Nokia might beat them to the punch with the 9.

Chinese site MyDrivers reports that the Nokia 9 will be unveiled on 19 January in the country, alongside a second-generation Nokia 8, although it’s not clear when either phone will actually be released. And an international rollout could come after the China launch, of course.

FACT OR FICTION?

We don’t have a lot of information to go on here, but given the specs (keep reading) and the likelihood that Nokia doesn’t want to compete with Samsung and other heavyweights for buzz this spring, a very quick debut sounds right to us.

HOW MUCH WILL THE NOKIA 9 COST?

Nokia may try to undercut pricier Android flagships with the Nokia 9, which a report suggests will land more in OnePlus 5T-like pricing territory.

According to MyDrivers, the base model of the Nokia 9 with 64GB internal storage may arrive at 3699 yuan (about US$570), while the 128GB model would be a bit higher at 4199 yuan (about US$645). That would be a fair bit less than the competition, assuming the specs hold true.

FACT OR FICTION?

The smaller Nokia 8 released at US$460 here in the Middle East which put it well below the competition. Hopefully Nokia plans to aim at around the same price range for this new handset.

WHAT WILL THE NOKIA 9 LOOK LIKE?

The prevailing trend for Android flagships over the past year has been super-tall, 18:9 (or thereabouts) displays that dominate the front of the handset, and that looks like the route Nokia may follow here.

While the Nokia 8 stuck with a pretty 16:9 approach with a big chunk of bezel and a generic iPhone-esque design, speculative renders of the Nokia 9 suggest we’ll get something much more akin to the Samsung Galaxy S8: a very tall, curved screen and just a smidge of bezel on the top and bottom.

In fact, the render looks like the precise middle ground between the Galaxy S8 and classic Nokia design: curved and stylish, although perhaps not as dazzling as the S8 itself.

There have been other renders in recent months, including one that looks like a very awkward Galaxy S7 Edge knockoff, but this one above fits the bill better than any we’ve seen.

FACT OR FICTION?

Super-tall and super-sleek is the order of the day if you want to compete with the Galaxy S8, so hopefully Nokia has learned its lesson from the uninspiring Nokia 8.

WHAT ABOUT THE NOKIA 9’S SCREEN?

The Nokia 8 had a Quad HD display, which is the standard for most high-end Android flagship phones, and we expect much the same from the Nokia 9 – albeit larger.

Well, slightly larger: specs found in a filing from the United States Federal Communications Commission (via GSM Arena) suggest a 5.5in display instead of the 5.3in screen on the Nokia 8. And if it’s a taller display at or around an 18:9 aspect ratio, then it may just look like a stretched version of the Nokia 8’s screen. We don’t have confirmation on that yet, though.

Here’s one big advantage, though: the FCC listing says it’ll be an OLED screen (made by LG) instead of the LCD found on the Nokia 8. That means inky blacks, improved contrast, and a screen that might be able to stack up against the Galaxy S8.

FACT OR FICTION?

The size and specs sound about right to us: that’d make it a little bit smaller than the Galaxy S8’s screen, assuming it does have a taller aspect ratio, but it could be just as crisp and colourful.

HOW MUCH POWER WILL THE NOKIA 9 PACK?

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 has been the gold standard for Android phones over the past several months, from the Galaxy S8 (in some territories) up through the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL.

It was also in the Nokia 8, and guess what? It’s also pegged for the Nokia 9. Qualcomm’s chip is still cutting-edge today, although the Snapdragon 845 is just around the corner and will probably feature in the next wave of flagship phones. So Nokia would be buying in on the tail end of its relevance.

The FCC specs suggest 6GB RAM alongside, though, which should ensure that the chip remains as zippy as possible while multitasking and handling high-performance apps and games.

FACT OR FICTION?

It’s fact, given the FCC’s specs, and it’s also totally reasonable: the Snapdragon 835 may be on the verge of being outmoded, but it’ll still be a speed demon even after that happens. This will be a plenty powerful handset.

WHAT KIND OF CAMERAS WILL THE NOKIA 9 HAVE?

The FCC has already given us all the details here: it suggests a pairing of a 13-megapixel and 12MP cameras on the back, plus a 5MP selfie shooter on the front.

Curiously, that’s a step down on both sides from the Nokia 8, which had 13MP+13MP on the back and another 13MP camera on the front. And the Nokia 8 actually disappointed with its back cameras, which struggled with exposure levels and focusing, and was serviceable at its best in a market packed with better options.

Maybe Nokia sees an opportunity to cut down on the price by using lower-end components – that’s the only upside we see, at least. But if the Nokia 9 can’t shoot better than the Nokia 8, then it probably won’t get a very strong recommendation from us, at least.

FACT OR FICTION?

We’re surprised to see the specs, but unless there’s an error with the FCC listing, that’s what we’ll get from the Nokia 9. It doesn’t exactly fill us with hope for the phone’s shooting prowess.

IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE I SHOULD KNOW ABOUT THE NOKIA 9?

Yeah, we’ve heard a couple of other things. Here’s the most important of them: the Nokia 9 is expected to ship with Android 8 Oreo out of the box. That’s wonderful.

The FCC listing also suggests a 3,250mAh battery pack, which is just a smidge better than the Galaxy S8 offers, and it’ll offer 18W fast charging as well.

We’ve also heard to expect IP67 water and dust resistance, but also a missing 3.5mm headphone port. Another one bites the dust.

Finally, the Nokia 9 might not arrive by itself. Nokia recently trademarked the Nokia 8 Sirocco brand name, a callback to the luxury versions of old Nokia handsets that last did the rounds in the early 2000s. It’s rumoured to build on the Nokia 8 with an LG-manufactured OLED screen (a step up from the Nokia 8’s LCD panel), dual selfie cameras up front, and extra on-board storage.

FACT OR FICTION?

No huge surprises in this space: Nokia is following the lead of many other phone makers in putting together a potentially compelling, flagship-level Android here. We’ll just have to see whether the design and price add up with those specs to truly stand above the competition.

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