Talk of the Nokia 9 PureView, or imagery showcasing its eye-catching camera hardware, has been floating around for months but finally, at HMD Global’s MWC 2019 launch event, the phone was finally made real.
After almost an hour with the device, I was able to toy around with its Android Pie-powered user experience and more importantly, get to grips with the fundamentals of its unique camera system.
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Nokia 9 PureView Price and Release Date
The Nokia 9 PureView is available for pre-order from February 24 and launches in March, with a proposed retail price of $699 (US). Additional regional pricing will be added as and when it’s revealed.
There’s every chance that you’ve seen the Nokia 9 PureView already; its existence leaked almost as much as the Samsung Galaxy S10‘s did and talk of what HMD Global might be cooking up with the return of the PureView name has also been floating around for a while too.
Nokia 9 PureView – Camera
Now that the phone’s finally here I was able to gauge just what the company’s been up to and it would seem it’s all about that new camera, or rather cameras.
Where the Huawei P20 Pro ventured into then-unknown territory with its impressive triple camera arrangement, HMD has thrown out the rulebook and given the 9 PureView a total of five 12-megapixel rear sensors, alongside an LED flash and a ToF (Time-of-Flight) imaging sensor.
All of these cameras rely on the same underlying module, with two geared towards RGB light while three are tuned to only pull in image data in black and white. HMD says that this setup allows the phone to capture the “full spectrum of light”, supposedly absorbing more than 2.9x the amount of light compared to your typical phone camera setup.
In developing the phone’s unique arrangement, HMD partnered up with computation photography specialists Light, responsible for the sixteen-sensor-laden L16 camera. From Light, the PureView draws on both specialist hardware and image processing algorithms to pull off its imaging tricks.
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For starters, the phone actually consolidates data from each of the five rear sensors each time you take a snap and depending on the scenario, the phone may use multiple shots from its various rear cameras, meaning between 60 and 240-megapixels’ worth of data is distilled into a final 12-megapixel image.
The 9 PureView’s camera promises unprecedented detail and dynamic range (up to 12.4 stops), plus the ability to gauge some 1200 layers of depth information (smartphones conventionally leverage just 10 layers) ranging from 7cm up to 40m. HMD has even baked depth controls into the Google Photos app, so you can refocus and toy with this feature after the fact.
RAW/DNG support is also part of the equation and what’s more, HMD has worked with the Adobe Lightroom team, so that all that additional image data is available for manipulation. Lightroom for mobile will also benefit from a 9 PureView centric lens in a future software update.
Nokia 9 PureView – Performance
Interestingly, the phone is powered by last year’s Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 SoC instead of the 855 that many of the flagships at MWC 2019 are toting. This comes about as a result of the work needed to tune and tie support into Light’s dedicated chip and the multi-camera setup at play, but for some that might be reason enough to leave the 9 PureView well alone.
It’s a trait that also held Light’s L16 camera back, which was still using a Snapdragon 835, long into the 845’s reign.
Beyond the camera, the phone feels like a more cut-and-dry high-end Nokia phone. A near-unaltered Android 9.0 Pie software experience, Qi/PMA wireless charging, Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 fast-charging, 6GB of RAM, a near-6-inch 2K pOLED HDR10-compliant flat display with an in-display optical fingerprint sensor.
These are all things that 2018’s, and indeed some of 2017’s, phones brought to the table, suggesting that the phone’s appeal and success leans almost entirely on that new camera.
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