MWC19 | The Nokia 9 PureView redefines smartphone photography with five cameras for US$699
After months of rumors and leaks, it is finally here. HMD Global's Juho Sarvikas showed off the Nokia 9 PureView at MWC 2019 and its five camera lenses have something in store for both amateurs and professional photographers alike. The Nokia 9 PureView is HMD's flagship offering and it truly raises the bar for smartphone photography — but not without a few caveats.
Before delving into details of the penta-lens camera, let's have a look at the specs. The Nokia 9 PureView is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 SoC (yes, it is dated but that's ok) and comes with 6 GB RAM and 128 GB storage. The phone sports a 5.99-inch pOLED QHD+ panel with Corning Gorilla Glass 5. The Nokia 9 uses an in-display fingerprint scanner that is located a bit higher than usual. The display is old school and has prominent top and bottom bezels with the top bezel housing the 20 MP f/1.8 camera. The IP67 rating ensures adequate water resistance.
Sarvikas emphasized that the Nokia 9 uses all aspects of the SoC including the CPU, GPU, ISP, and DSP that work together to make the best use of the five rear cameras. That explain why the Snapdragon 845 was used as significant time has gone into R&D. Using a Snapdragon 855 would mean delayed development and launch. The SoC can control all the cameras on the phone individually to extract the best possible dynamic range from the scene.
Coming to the most talked about feature of the phone, the penta-lens rear camera setup. There are two RGB and 3 monochrome sensors apart from a time-of-flight sensor for additional depth and a dual-tone LED flash. All the five cameras are 12 MP sensors with f/1.8 Zeiss lenses. The focal length is fixed for all cameras at 28 mm so there are no wide-angle or telephoto options. This somewhat lowers the versatility of the cameras for those who play play around with focal lengths.
Having said that, the cameras offer excellent dynamic range, up to 12.4 stops of light difference, and excellent depth on par with many full frame cameras. RAW shooting is available and HMD has partnered with Adobe to offer a version of Lightroom that can support this workflow. Since this is an Android One phone, extra software is a big no. Hence, Lightroom is not installed by default but is offered as an option during initial setup.
HMD has also worked with Google in tuning the Google Photos app to understand the new camera setup. Google Photos in the Nokia 9 PureView can adjust the focal point, bokeh, and also display DNG RAW files after the photo is taken. The depth info is stored with the photo as metadata that Google Photos can read for later adjustment. Speaking of depth information, the Nokia 9 can capture a whopping 1200 layers of depth data. The Pro Camera app has also been updated to support the new camera features. Video recording, though, is not as stellar and you are limited to 4K HDR 30 fps videos as of now. There is also no optical image stabilization available so you will have to rely on EIS.
A 3,320 mAh battery keeps the phone humming and it can be topped up via Quick Charge 3 as well by wireless charging. The headphone jack is missing so you'll have to rely on USB Type-C or wireless headphones.
Considering the fact that the Nokia 9 PureView isn't essentially sporting the latest chipset, HMD Global has priced it just about right at US$699. There is only one color and RAM/storage version in the offing and the production volume will be limited. That's right, no new units once stocks run out. HMD hasn't revealed the exact number of units being produced.
We may or may not see a Nokia 9.1 with the newer Snapdragon 855 SoC, but HMD has just taken smartphone photography to another level and we will be seeing more OEMs focus on multi-lens systems in this year and beyond.
HMD Global MWC 2019 Event