“Here’s what we make of Nokia’s latest flagship – the Nokia 9 PureView”

Nokia’s comeback under the aegis of HMD Global has been quite successful, it seems. That said, while customers across the globe have enjoyed the company’s affordable Android offerings, fans and critics alike are still waiting for Nokia to launch a proper flagship which could give the likes of Samsung’s Galaxy S10 (first impressions) a run for their money. Well, at MWC this year, the company took the wraps off the Nokia 9 PureView, a flagship which at first glance looks all set to carve itself a piece of the premium smartphone market, thanks to its headlining penta-camera setup at the back. I went hands-on with the device and here’s what I make of it.

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Last year, the editorial team at 91mobiles reviewed several smartphones from Nokia’s stables and I can’t think of a single device whose design didn’t leave a lasting impression on us. The company knows how to make good-looking smartphones and its latest offering is a looker too. The Nokia 9 sports a series 6000 aluminium frame and ships with glass on both the front as well as the back. However, unlike the Nokia 8 Sirocco I reviewed a while back, the Nokia 9 PureView feels more refined in the hand. The metal trim has been chamfered so as to not bite a user’s hands and there are no sharp edges on the device either.

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What’s more, despite shipping with a 5.99-inch display, the Nokia 9 PureView doesn’t feel massive in the hand. On the contrary, it’s one of the most comfortable devices I’ve held on a show floor in Barcelona yet.

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There’s plenty more to like about the design of the smartphone, mind you. For starters, the smartphone comes with IP67 certification, meaning it can survive accidental (or intentional) tosses in the pool. What’s more, you’ll also get support for Qi wireless charging with the device and therefore, you can simply place the Nokia 9 PureView on a compatible wireless charging tray to juice it up. And lastly, the smartphone features the now in vogue in-display fingerprint sensor as well as face recognition for seamless biometric authentication.

Nokia 9 PureView first impressions19For ports and buttons, you will find the volume rocker and the power button the right-hand spine, along with a dedicated Google Assistant key on the smartphone’s left-hand side. Unfortunately, the device omits the headphone jack, so you’ll have to resort to using a dongle to connect a pair of 3.5mm headphones.

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While the Nokia 9 PureView looks like most other Android flagships from the front, it has a distinctive design when you glance at its back. Reason being, the handset is the first smartphone in the world to ship with a total of five cameras on the back. That’s right, let that number sink in. Furthermore, instead of positioning the lenses in a straight line, Nokia has arranged the sensors (as well as the built-in flash) in a hexagonal pattern. What it results in, is a uniquely-styled design which is unlike any other in the market – talk about making a statement.

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For display, the company has opted to furnish its latest flagship with a 5.99-inch p-OLED screen with 2K resolution. Adding to the list of pros, the display comes with support for HDR10, making the media consumption experience that much more immersive. I’d also like to point out that unlike the Nokia 8 Sirocco, the display on the Nokia 9 PureView doesn’t slant into the edges, which as far as I’m concerned, is a good thing. You see, the bend in the display of the Nokia 8 Sirocco caused an unnatural colour shift, which was irritating to the eyes. On the flip side, my initial impressions of the panel on the Nokia 9 PureView are quite positive. The display got satisfactorily bright, and had no warping of colour shifting issues either.

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Let’s address the headlining aspect of the phone, shall we? The Nokia 9 PureView’s penta-camera setup at the back comprises three monochrome sensors and two RGB sensors, all of which work simultaneously on every shot. All the cameras on the back of the device sport 12MP sensors and consequently, every time you press the shutter button, all the five imaging sensors will capture the scene at different exposure levels. The smartphone then merges all the five shots into one 12MP photo by leveraging Qualcomm’s heterogeneous mobile computing platform, assigning tasks to the device’s CPU, GPU, ISP as well as the DSP. The result? A high-quality image with impressive details, both in the shadows as well as the highlights and superb dynamic range. That’s what Nokia claims, at least.

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What’s more, the Nokia 9 PureView also lets buyers capture uncompressed RAW photos and edit them instantaneously on Adobe’s Lightroom app for Android. You can even shoot 4K HDR videos with spatial audio on the device!

I don’t like leaving you guys on a cliffhanger, but unfortunately, you’ll have to wait a while before I can tell you about the smartphone’s photography prowess. I can however, give you a sneak peek at a camera sample shot using the Nokia 9 PureView.

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One thing is absolutely clear – the Nokia 9 PureView is the hottest property in the photography world right now. Oh, and the smartphone comes with a 20MP selfie shooter. Easy to miss out on one camera sensor when you’re talking about five, amirite?

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Alright, on to the not-so-good stuff. Nokia has been developing the Nokia 9 PureView for over a year and consequently, the smartphone ships with a dated Snapdragon 845 processor. Understandably, the smartphone will be playing catch up to current-gen flagships, especially when you factor in the 45 percent performance bump in devices backed by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 chip. Moreover, the smartphone is fuelled by a 3,320mAh battery, which even with Google’s Vanilla Android One skin, might not suffice for power users. That said, it’s too early for me to comment upon its battery life without taking the phone through its paces, so I’ll wait before giving you a proper verdict.

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To end things on a good note, the Nokia 9 PureView runs Android Pie and being an Android One device, should get security updates and software patches for a while. The handset has been competitively priced at $699, making it an enticing option for photo buffs. For more information on the smartphone, stay tuned to our blog.

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