The Nokia 9 PureView: What we like and what we don’t like

Nokia 9 hands-on review
With five cameras in a spider-like design, the Nokia 9 PureView from HMD Global stands out from the crowd of smartphones coming out of Mobile World Congress 2019 in Barcelona. The five cameras work in unison to produce photos rich with information, which you can then edit to your heart’s content as the phone provides RAW files alongside traditional JPEG ones. It’s meant for photo enthusiasts, not necessarily a mainstream audience, which may partly be why it’s a limited edition phone.

While there’s a lot to like, there are features and omissions we dislike. Let’s take a look.

For our in-depth impressions, check out our Nokia 9 PureView hands-on review — or jump right to the good stuff, the first photos from the Nokia 9, thanks to a week of exclusive early access.

We don’t like the missing MicroSD card slot

The Nokia 9 saves a JPEG and RAW photo every time you snap a shot. The JPEGs are automatically backed up in “high-resolution” (as opposed to the original resolution) for free on Google Photos. The RAWs will end up eating into your free Google storage space, and we expect you’ll eventually need to purchase more cloud storage from Google as you snap more photos on the Nokia 9. The phone does come with 128GB of internal storage, but a MicroSD card slot would have gone a long way to helping photographers expand storage internally, rather than having to jump on a monthly subscription storage plan with Google.

We don’t like the slow processing

The biggest downside of the five-camera setup is the time the phone takes to process a photo. You get a preview as soon as you tap the shutter button, but you can’t do anything with it until 30 seconds later (sometimes more), as that’s just how long it takes to fully fuse and display these detail-rich images. It’s not a dealbreaker, but it may prove frustrating to some who want to quickly share photos to social media.

We don’t like the lack of optical image stabilization

What also may prove annoying is the lack of optical image stabilization. Granted, it’s tough to implement when there are five cameras on the back. Even Samsung’s triple camera Galaxy S10 lacks optical image stabilization in the ultra wide-angle lens. So if you have shaky hands, the Nokia 9 may offer more blurry photos than not especially in low light.

We don’t like the in-display fingerprint sensor

More and more phones have in-display fingerprint sensors, which is when the fingerprint sensor is placed under the screen on the front of the phone. Different manufacturers use different technologies, and so far we’ve had little to no issues with Samsung’s Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus, which uses ultrasonic tech for its scanner. The OnePlus 6T and Huawei Mate 20 Pro’s sensors failed quite frequently for us, and we had some issues with the sensor on the Nokia 9 after setting it up briefly, which isn’t promising. Thankfully, there is a face unlock option, but it’s meant more for convenience and not security.

We don’t like the bottom-firing speakers

If we could make it a rule, we’d ban bottom-firing speakers. Take a cue from Google and Razer and make speakers on flagship phones stereo and front-facing. It’s easy to block the speaker on the Nokia 9 because the sound only comes from the bottom, and that can mean shifting how you hold the phone to avoid this problem. There are already small bezels around the screen, so we’re not sure why HMD couldn’t put the bottom-firing speaker on the bottom bezel at the least.

Likes and gripes aside, we’ll be putting the Nokia 9 PureView through its paces over the next few weeks, so stay tuned for our full review.

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