REVIEW | Nokia 9 PureView

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Smartphones have many uses but the most common today, outside some calling, is that of a camera. Document your life or use it professionally; the roles are endless. All the smartphone manufacturers are outdoing themselves to make the best camera smartphone on the market, and the number of lenses is key to this race.

The Nokia 9 PureView has no less than 5 discreet cameras on the back and one on the front, a staggering total of 6 cameras on the phone itself. Do more cameras make this the best camera smartphone yet; Steven Ambrose sets out to see how Nokia 9 PureView performs.

Nokias return to Smartphones after a long slog through Windows Phones was smart, strategic, and successful. Nokia started at the Midrange, and lower end of the Android market and the combination of excellent features for the money with a little Espoo Finnish pizzazz resulted in reliable quality and great value.

Nokia’s unbroken run of excellent midrange devices led to a shot at the top with the Nokia 9. It is not surprising that the camera was where Nokia decided to differentiate as Nokia cameras along with Carl Zeiss optics have long been a skill for Nokia.

The cameras

It starts with 7 elements on the rear Gorilla glass 5 panel, of these 7 elements only 5 are cameras, one is a flash, and another a 3D TOF or time of flight camera for depth enhancement. Nokia clearly wins the number of cameras war hands down with the Nokia 9.

The rear cameras consist of 3x 12MP f/1.8 Monochrome and 2x 12MP f/1.8 RGB with a 3D ToF camera. The front camera is a 20MP F/1.8 with Tetracell pixel binning, which combines four pixels into one pixel in low light. Selfies are great with excellent low light ability. The rear cameras are all fixed focal length of 28mm.

The magic on this was Nokia and QUALCOMM’s work in making all these lenses work together to offer enhanced low light and raw picture data for class-leading dynamic range. Lossless digital zoom is one of the benefits. Overall the smart computational ability to combine more lenses into one picture is an intelligent answer to bigger longer lenses in traditional cameras.

The hardware

The Nokia 9 PureView includes a slightly older chipset from QUALCOMM which does not compete with 2019 flagships processors. The effects of this only becomes apparent with extreme gaming and most importantly when taking pictures. There is a slight lag while the Nokia 9 PureView processes all that data into one picture and this can be a little disconcerting.

The overall design is a standard looking smartphone with Gorilla glass front and rear and good build quality. The total thickness of 8mm and a smooth rounded back make the Nokia 9 PureView feel solid but comfortable in hand. The flat front and shiny bezel feature do make the Nokia 9 PureView look a little dated when compared to the flagships from Samsung and Huawei.

The 5.99 OLED screen does not feature a notch, a feature that many may enjoy, with an 18:09 ratio and Quad HD resolution. An under-display fingerprint reader also matches all the competition. The screen is competitive but not as good as Samsung’s S10. Overall the build size and feel of the Nokia 9 PureView is high end and very competitive with other flagship models.

The Nokia 9 PureView comes standard with 128 gigs of storage and 6 GB of main memory which is needed for all the memory intensive photographic processing. There is no headphone jack and charging is via a USB C connector

The battery

The Nokia 9 PureView is powered by a 3320 mAh battery, which is a touch small in today’s market.

The Nokia 9 PureView supports both fast charging and wireless charging, and an 18-watt fast charger is included in the box. I got around 50% charge in 30 minutes a full charge takes about 2 hours. Overall the combination of an OLED screen and Android 9 resulted in good battery life with a full day under heavy use. A 20-minute top up in late afternoon took the Nokia easily to the end of the day.

The software

Android 9 in its cleanest form is a significant promise of the new Nokia range, and the Nokia 9 PureView is no different. This clean Android install in called Android One and promises to keep your Nokia right up to date with the latest security and performance updates from Android.

Nokia guarantees two years of updates to their devices and quick updates to the next version of Android as it comes out.

I found this clean version of Android to be easy to use without the added confusion of manufacturer versions of standard Android apps. There are a few enhancements on offer from Samsung and Huawei in their versions of Android that I miss, but overall the lack of clutter makes the Nokia 9 PureView a pleasure to use.

Android fans will still find a broad range of customisation and add on apps via the App store. The only customised app that Nokia use is the Camera App and considering the rear camera setup and the focus on camera enthusiast for this device, it makes sense.

The Camera app is easy to use for most users and makes good use of all the rear sensors. I did find that all the data from the cameras made taking pictures slow to render onto the screen. Once loaded the options to manipulate the image and apply all sorts of professional effect were well executed.

Nokia also offers Adobe Lightroom via download which uses the raw camera data to excellent effect and computer grade photographic results are possible right from the Nokia 9 PureView screen.

Conclusion

Photography enthusiast to the fore on this new Nokia. No other device on the market offers the same combination of hardware software and capability as the Nokia 9 PureView for photography. The Pureview branding adds the Nokia 9 PureView to a long line of groundbreaking camera phones from Nokia.

In my use of the Nokia 9 PureView, I felt that the camera software and hardware combination of the Nokia 9 PureView is a bit of a work in progress. So much of the capacity of the cameras are in the software. For everyday picture taking the Nokia, 9 PureView offered excellent photos. The results were very good but, in some cases, not as good as some of the leading flagship phones from Apple, Samsung, and Huawei.

The ability to use the raw camera data and manipulate the pictures to almost professional level will appeal to true photography enthusiasts. However, the more average user will find the speed and quality of the Nokia 9 PureView in photography to be a challenge, especially compared to other top-end devices.

The Nokia 9 PureView price can excuse some of the other hardware choices such as the use of last years Qualcomm 845 processor and a slightly unpredictable fingerprint reader. Overall these choices were not a problem, but the Nokia 9 PureView is not as smooth or fast as some of the other flagships, albeit at far higher prices.

The Nokia 9 PureView picture ability will no doubt improve as Nokia refine the software, as it stands its a good device at an excellent price with a camera setup that enthusiasts will love. I don’t think the Nokia 9 PureView was intended to be all thing to all people and its niche in the photography world may carry it through.

The price of the Nokia 9 PureView is around R11,849.00 which is excellent value for what is on offer the rear camera setup sets the Nokia 9 PureView apart in a crowded multi-camera market. The Nokia 9 PureView overall perforce is very good.

As always try before you buy.


Steven Ambrose | Techhuman | @ambio | mail me |

For more information | www.nokia.com |


 

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