Is Nokia’s magnum opus fifth time lucky or is this another marketing ploy?
It’s safe to say that with the number of camera sensors on the back of a smartphone are a strictly increasing graph in 2019. The long-rumored Nokia 9 Pureview sits atop the company’s acclaimed lineup with a first in the industry: a staggering five cameras.
After HMD’s revival of the legendary Nokia brand, and back-to-back hits in the midrange smartphone segment, the manufacturer aims to deliver on their flagship promise. With all the buzz around the phone after the late February release, questions remain. Is the camera enough to justify a flagship asking price? Is the five-camera setup, and an added depth sensor, sheer overkill? Is the camera any good at all?
Before the device was revealed, devices like the Huawei P20 Pro had revolutionized smartphone cameras with their triple rear cameras. The Nokia 9 was expected to do even better than the Huawei flagship, and indeed it appears to be doing just that—but only in certain departments.
The Nokia 9 PureView features five main cameras on its back: Two RGB sensors, and three monochrome sensors. Huawei and Nokia are the biggest advocates of monochrome sensors and there’s always been doubt as to whether the monochrome sensors are actually any good on devices aimed at the average consumer.
The snapper setup has been devised in close collaboration with Light, who previously produced a 16-camera device, the L16. Qualcomm has also worked closely on the Nokia 9 PureView to ensure that the Snapdragon hardware can drive this camera, using the image signal processor to best effect.
There are five Sony sensors, each 12-megapixels with 1.25µm pixels, positioned behind Zeiss lenses. Three of these sensors capture monochrome and two capture RGB (color) with the idea that monochrome sensors capture all the light data and detail and add that to the RGB data to create an image.
The extra lenses mean it can use bracketing – taking simultaneous images at different exposure settings effectively – to get data that a normal camera wouldn’t. For one, it may capture light and dark images of the same scene and merge them.
It’s a system with a broad dynamic range with the aim of giving you lots of details whatever the scene. Nokia is working with Adobe Lightroom for processing of the RAW file it produces, to enable extensive tweaking before the image is produced.
Consequently, those cameras will capture at least 60-megapixels worth of data, but it could be up to 240-megapixels. Nokia is also giving the user a “tripod mode” option where one may be able to hand-hold a night shot for up to 10 seconds.
At 1200 layers, it will be able to capture about 120x data compared to that of a normal phone, meaning that there’s no “portrait mode” per se, but shooting in depth mode will mean you can take that shot and then decide the point of focus – like the human eye.
If you’re still paying attention in this flood of photography jargon, the hands-on camera tests and samples of the Nokia 9 PureView makes it clear the phone takes excellent images. How excellent, remains to be seen over time, but from initial impressions, Colors are natural, detail is great, and like most reviews have pointed out, depth is absolutely groundbreaking.
If it isn’t already clear by the amount of image science buzzword usage in this article which is unlikely to appeal to the average smartphone user out there, Nokia seems to hope the phone will, instead, capture the hearts of a different crowd: photography enthusiasts.
Will it be the best smartphone camera ever? Possibly, yes. Will it be easy for the end user to get the potential out of it? Probably not.
On the front, the Nokia 9 sports an edge to edge display with the bottom and top chins while for biometrics, an in-display fingerprint scanner, and a decent 20-megapixel front camera.
The handset sports a 5.99-inch Quad HD pOLED HDR 10 (2560×1440 pixels) with Corning Gorilla Glass 5 protection. The 9 PureView is powered by the Qualcomm octa-core Snapdragon 845 chipset which has been clocked at 2.8GHz and welded to an Adreno 630 GPU. The Nokia 9 gets 6GB of RAM and option for expandable storage. The Nokia 9 runs Android One OS.
The Nokia 9 Pureview also includes an in-display fingerprint sensor, single speaker with a smart amp, water-resistant rating (IP67), three mics with spatial recording, Dual 4G VoLTE, Bluetooth 5, GPS/ GLONASS, Dual Band Wi-Fi (2.4GHz + 5GHz), USB Type-C support and a 3320mAh battery which supports fast charging and QI wireless charging.
The phone is yet to release in India, so the display, software experience, look and feel remain to be seen, while it is expected to hold a hefty Rs 50,000+ price tag.