HMD Global has officially unveiled the much-hyped Nokia 9 PureView phone at its press event in Barcelona on February 24th. While vendors such as Samsung, Huawei, LG, and others are rushing to pack three or four cameras on the back of their phones, HMD Global has jumped to five rear cameras. The company has also revived the ‘PureView’ branding with the new flagship. Is it truly an extraordinary camera setup or just another gimmick?
The Nokia 9 PureView phone is all about the cameras
The Nokia 9 PureView phone has the most rear cameras of any smartphone in the world. The device will be coming to the US, Europe, and a few other markets. But HMD Global told fans that it is a “limited edition” device that will be available only for a limited time. It has been priced at €599 in Europe and $699 in the United States. The phone will go on sale in March.
Past Nokia-branded phones such as the 808 PureView and Lumia 1020 had incredibly high 41MP cameras. But the new Nokia 9 PureView phone focuses on the camera count rather than the megapixel count. It has seven cutouts on the back panel arranged in a circular ring. Notably, the cameras are flush with the rear panel, meaning there is no camera bump. As expected, HMD Global has used Carl Zeiss lenses on its latest flagship.
Two of the seven cutouts are occupied by the flash and a 3D Time-of-flight sensor for depth mapping. Out of the five lenses on the back, three are 12-megapixel monochrome lenses and two are 12MP RGB lenses. All of them have the same f/1.8 aperture. That’s a bit odd because other multi-camera smartphones use different specs for individual lenses.
— Nokia Mobile (@NokiaMobile) February 24, 2019
The Nokia 9 PureView doesn’t offer better optical zoom. Its five cameras capture as much detail as possible for depth-based and HDR photography. When you take a picture, each of the five cameras shoots at different exposures and then it uses advanced AI to merge them into a single shot with tons of detail. HMD Global says the individual lenses could also shoot at multiple exposures to add more detail to the final image.
Nokia developed this camera setup in collaboration with Light, the company that had launched a 16-lens camera. Light’s original L16 camera was a disappointment. The camera maker was also rumored to launch a smartphone with nine cameras last year. Nokia 9 PureView uses Light’s Lux Capacitor camera processor to manage the five cameras.
The phone runs Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 main processor, which is designed to handle only three lenses. HMD Global also worked with Qualcomm to optimize the processor for the phone. Folks at CNET who tested a pre-production unit noticed that the phone captured stunning detail but the processing time was rather annoying, taking up to 10 seconds. HMD has promised to reduce the processing time in the final version of the phone.
The Nokia 9 PureView phone allows users to make real-time adjustments through the Pro Camera UI. You can adjust the shutter speed, exposure time, white balance and ISO. You can also shoot photos in RAW DNG. The photos can also be depth-edited after you’ve clicked them. The depth-editing functionality works with Google Photos, meaning images you’ve uploaded to Google Photos can also be depth-edited.
HMD Global has joined hands with Adobe to make life easier for photography lovers. Adobe’s Lightroom will come pre-installed on Nokia 9. The two companies have developed Lightroom presets optimized for the new Nokia phone. HMD Global claims its new phone takes better HDR images than any other smartphone in the market. You can also choose to have multiple focal points in bokeh shots.
Among other things, the device gets a 20-megapixel camera on the front for selfies. It still has thick bezels at the top and bottom. The device features a 5.99-inch P-OLED display with 2K resolution and HDR10 support. It also boasts an in-display fingerprint sensor and face unlock via the front camera for authentication and security.
Just like other Nokia phones, it runs the stock version of Android Pie and promises two years of Android updates and security patches. The Nokia 9 PureView runs last year’s Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor instead of the latest Snapdragon 855. The Snapdragon 845 is still powerful enough to handle any task you throw at it.
The phone allows you to record 4K HDR videos with spatial audio feature. The front and rear glass panels are protected by Corning’s Gorilla Glass. The device offers an IP67 rating for water resistance. It packs 6GB RAM and 128GB of internal storage. There is no 3.5mm headphone jack, which may disappoint some users. There is a decent 3,320mAh battery with wireless charging support.
The Nokia 9 PureView phone is not for everyone. It might take stunning HDR images, but the lack of a variety of different lens types means it good only for specific situations. Also, it offers only a single focal length, which some photographers may find restrictive.
Despite sporting five cameras on the back, the Nokia 9 doesn’t offer much versatility. Yes, it can take photos with great detail and offer a stunning depth-of-field photography experience, but it’s not for pro photographers. As for the number of cameras, we won’t be surprised to see other vendors putting six, seven, or even ten cameras on their phones in the coming months.