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Nokia 9 Pureview test: five-camera smartphone with five-star pictures

Nokia Pureview 9 gives you five cameras to take pictures with. Find out what they do, how they even take pictures and how the image quality actually is in our test.

Only recently, dual-camera smartphones were still a novelty. These days, there are already various three- or even four-camera options. Nokia 9 Pureview sets out to offer up even better pictures with its five cameras.

Two of the five cameras at the back of the Nokia 9 hide colour sensors. The other three contain monochrome sensors, better at detecting light intensity. As soon as you take a picture all five cameras fire, after which the phone’s software compiles one single image from these five separate pieces.

The built-in Snapdragon 845, the exclusively dedicated to pictures Light co-processor and the phone’s six Gigabytes of RAM need to seriously work to achieve this. Patience is required to view an image in your gallery directly after taking it. The whole process takes a few seconds at the least. However, there’s enough of a buffer to where you can take another picture immediately after without any problems.

Something more annoying on the other hand is Google Photos. As a pre-installed gallery app, it needs to deal with mountains of data. Even pictures that were taken a while ago still require a few seconds to be viewable – even though the data is on the smartphone itself. I deactivated picture synchronisation. Even when simply zooming in, the app needs to think for a moment.

Voyage to the North Sea

In general, the picture quality on the Nokia 9 Pureview is soothingly powerful and seems natural. Even strong contrast doesn’t create any problems, whereby it must be noted that HDR is always on without an option to deactivate it. The amount of detail is noteworthy, but this still isn’t enough to elevate it from the rest of the expensive smartphones out there.

Sun and shadows are no problem.

Something that does separate the Nokia 9 Pureview from the competition is its ability in creating wanted blurriness in a picture. No matter if you want to apply the Bokeh effect on a person, an object or some scenery: Pureview divides the picture into 1200 layers instead of the usual twelve. You don’t automatically see the Bokeh effect. You first need to find the depth options in your gallery’s editing software. Now you can move the point of focus as well as decide how detailed you want the fore- or background.

The intricate branches are causing the Bokeh-Effekt some problems.

This process works best if the object in focus is in the foreground. Nokia 9 Pureview can also deal with hair better than most other smartphones – still, even here some thin strands will disappear. Problems often pop up when you want to have an area in the middle distance in focus while fore- and background are blurred. Even all those additional layers aren’t great at helping the software recognise what should be detailed or blurred.

Greyscale and zoom

In my opinion, another plus for the Nokia 9 Pureview is its greyscale function. Thanks to its three monochrome sensors, it can take actual black and white pictures instead of sucking all the colour out of normal ones. This results in impressive snapshots with clear structures and well separated shades of grey.

Nokia 9 Pureview simply turns off its colour cameras for pictures in greyscale.

In truth, there are actually six cameras on the back of the Nokia 9 Pureview. The sixth one doesn’t actually contribute any picture data, however. Instead, it measures time of flight, which is why it’s called a ToF camera. Another developer who does uses this camera is LG in their new G8 ThinQ. However, they apply it to the front of the phone, allowing it to recognise gestures some distance from the touchscreen away, allowing contactless controls. Nokia uses ToF technology to assists its autofocus. Without exactly measuring duration, however, it didn’t seem to me as if Pureview’s camera app was any faster or slower at focussing than any other smartphones.

All five Nokia 9 Pureview cameras have the same focal length. You’ll have to do without the semi-optical zoom that some smartphones possess. Still, the camera app lets you choose between double and quintuple magnification. According to Nokia, the five cameras give its product more substance than the digital zoom of other smartphones. The magnification on the Nokia 9 looks fine in the end, but after some further inspection it still lacks the quality of its optically zooming counterparts.

Standard focal length.
Double zoom.
Quintuple zoom.

Darkness is currently the thing separating good smartphone cameras from very good ones. I had high expectations for Nokia 9 Pureview’s night mode, due to its five cameras and especially its three light-sensitive monochrome sensors. I was sadly let down. Even in low-light, the five cameras still manage to have visible images. Still, when it comes to evening out light and dark areas, brightening up the image or the quality of details, it’s still limping behind other smartphones with explicit night modes – the Google Pixel 3, Huawei P30 Pro or Mate 20 come to mind. Currently, software is still beating hardware. Nokia 9’s only advantage: its five cameras give it significantly lower exposure times than the competition.

Selfies and RAW editing

Nokia 9 Pureview’s front side only has one camera. Selfies have a 20-megapixel resolution and carry HDR, which can be toggled on or off. Images with active HDR usually look much better than ones without – especially the colours. The quality of details generally tends to be high with these selfies. Not every smartphone with a front camera resolution this high manages this.

Nokia 9 Pureview allows you to save picture in RAW format. This only really is useful when you plan on editing your pictures later on. If you prefer having a completed picture seconds after taking it on the other hand, I’d recommend you save this storage space for something else. You don’t need to transfer RAW files onto a computer to edit them. You just need the right app. The pre-installed picture editor can only remove haze, however, and Snapseed couldn’t open RAW pictures, even if the description said it could. Adobe Lightroom CC is the most useful app, even if the full version does require a monthly subscription.

Display und storage

The Nokia 9 Pureview’s 5,99 inch P-OLED display is just what you’d wish for. With a 2880 x 1440 pixel 2K resolution, this image quality is detailed and not blurry. Its colours are intense, but still seem natural. As this smartphone is primarily meant to take pictures, the touchscreen needs to serve as the camera’s display – something it manages very well. At any given moment, the screen is very visible, even in direct sunlight. As long as you’re not in power-saving mode and the brightness is turned up to a reasonable level.

A bright, high-resolution display.

The Nokia 9 Pureview’s internal storage seems to be big enough at 128 Gigabytes, offering capacity for thousands of pictures. It doesn’t really matter that you can’t expand the storage capacity with a microSD card. However, if you record a lot of videos and save pictures in RAW, then this capacity might still fill up quickly, requiring external storage.

Aside from photography, you don’t need to concern yourself with Nokia 9 Pureview’s other hardware. It doesn’t just have enough juice to operate the display and open apps smoothly. It can also handle graphically challenging games such as PUBG Mobile without a problem. Traditional smartphone usage doesn’t bother the 3320 mAh battery too much, easily lasting a day. You should bring a battery pack with you on a day trip, however, if you plan on taking a lot of pictures with the brightness turned up to combat glare.

Finger print sensor and facial recognition

You can access Nokia 9’s camera app without unlocking the phone. Still, we need to talk about accessing this thing. Aside from PIN, patterns and passwords, facial recognition and fingerprint detection can be used parallel with these functions. Facial recognition is reliable at unlocking your phone – as long as its bright. At night, the display isn’t a sufficient light source.

The fingerprint sensor is located under the display.

Alternatively, there’s the fingerprint sensor, located underneath the display. It works by having a camera that looks through your screen in a way in order to read your fingerprint. However, this process is slower than a traditional fingerprint sensor and pretty unreliable on Nokia 9. It rarely recognised my finger on the first attempt. OnePlus 6T is more reliable and Samsung Galaxy S10’s ultrasound technology is quicker on top of that. To add to this, Nokia 9’s fingerprint sensor was also basically useless at night. No light, no unlocking. With your fingerprint, at least.

Software with an update warranty

Nokia 9 Pureview does gain a point by participating in the Android One programme. This means that Google’ current smartphone operating system Android 9 Pie isn’t just the only OS you’re guaranteed. Nokia guarantees Android updates for two years and security updates for three. During my tests, for example, the April 2019 security update arrived hot and fresh.

Additionally, Android One secures a clean interface on start-up without any pre-installed apps, aside from the usual Google ones. The developer isn’t making any demands and isn’t annoying you with apps you can’t uninstall. You can instead calmly install your own apps and easily adapt the interface to your liking with the launcher.

Five cameras are good, but not always better

Nokia 9 Pureview is a well-crafted smartphone with a neat design. My only point of criticism currently: The glass back cover is easily smudged, and without a protective cover can easily find its way out of your hand and onto the floor. With a non-binding 649-Euro price tag you get some completely sufficient equipment equal to 2018’s top smartphones. Their prices have sunk to about this level in the meanwhile.

The hyped up five-camera system doesn’t completely fulfil Nokia and Zeiss’ promises, but isn’t without advantage. These include the layers of focus, the sleek greyscale images as well as RAW format possibilities. I’ve already mentioned the many different scenarios which make the Nokia 9 Pureview an especially worthwhile purchase. Everyday pictures during daytime are on the same level as many smartphones out there, and if you want to photograph in the darkness, I’d get the Pixel 3 or Huawei P30 Pro.

  • 9 Pure View (5.99", 128GB, Dual SIM, 12MP, Midnight Blue)
  • 9 Pure View (5.99", 128GB, Dual SIM, 12MP, Midnight Blue)
  • 9 Pure View (5.99", 128GB, Dual SIM, 12MP, Midnight Blue)
CHF 649.–
Nokia 9 Pure View (5.99", 128GB, Dual SIM, 12MP, Midnight Blue)
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Avatar

Jan Johannsen, Hamburg

  • Content Development Editor
When I was but a young student, I'd sit in my friend's living room with all my classmates and play on his SuperNES. Since then I've had the opportunity to test out all the newest technology for you. I've done reviews at Curved, Computer Bild and Netzwelt, and have now arrived at Galaxus.de.

15 comments

3000 / 3000 characters

User Digitalkurt

Ob 2, 3 oder 10 integrierte Kameras. 'Fotografieren' mit dem Handy ist für mich immer noch knipsen. Wenn ich fotografiere, dann mit einer richtigen Kamera mit richtigen Objektiven. Mit Sensoren die grösser als ein Stecknadelkopf sind und mit einem Gerät, das ich richtig in der Hand halten kann. Klar, die Qualität von Handy-Bildern ist heute deutlich besser als die von Digitalkameras in der Anfangszeit. Auch ich benutze das Handy um mal etwas zu dokumentieren oder Freunde mit einem Whatsapp-Gruss aus den Ferien neidisch zu machen. Aber 'Fotografieren' ist das für mich nicht. Aber eben, das ist nur meine Meinung. Wenn die Handy-Fotografen zufrieden sind, ist das ok.
Ich warte noch darauf, dass Canon oder Nikon ein GSM-Modul in ihre Kameras einbauen. Wäre das toll, wenn ich mit meiner Kamera telefonieren könnte ;-)

22.05.2019
User Anonymous

Hatte schon Samsung.. ein Hybrid zwischen Handy und Kamera.
Wird eher weniger passieren. Schon gar nicht von Canon oder Nikon die seit Jahren total innovationslos sind. Dann eher von Sony oder Olympus

22.05.2019
Answer
User 240gMehl

Softwarebokeh - zum kotzen :P

22.05.2019
User eric_chappuis

la photo d'exemple du bokeh est une catastrophe. Sur la droite, il y a une zone nette à une distance qui devrait etre floue.

22.05.2019
User Luther 1545

Bei gutem Licht und am Tag macht die Kamera scharfe und schöne Aufnahmen, die allerdings meist ein paar Sekunden brauchen um verarbeitet zu werden. Bei LowLights oder gar Nachtaufnahmen enttäuscht es auf ganzer Linie. Im direkten Vergleich zu meinem P20 Pro sind die Bilder viel zu dunkel und verlieren schnell an Details.

Meiner Meinung nach ist das Nokia 9 in bezug auf Kamera und Videos noch nicht Final. Hier wird es noch einige Optimierungen via Updates brauchen. Deshalb, wer eine gute Point & Shoot Camera sucht ist (derzeit) beim Nokia 9 falsch!

22.05.2019
User Anonymous

Da ich aktuell Huawei Jünger bin, muss ich mir für die Zukunft zwangsweise (hoffentlich ändert sich hier noch was) Gedanken machen... :) Dieses Smartphone fällt bei mir leider, wegen dem doch etwas kleinen 3320-mAh-Akku, durch.

22.05.2019
User Andremarty13

Was hälst du vom Pocophone F1?

22.05.2019
User tea_baggins

Asus Zenfone 6 könnte für dich interessant sein.

22.05.2019
User John Franco

Zitat: "Da ich aktuell Huawei Jünger bin, muss ich mir für die Zukunft zwangsweise Gedanken machen." Ich verstehe nicht wieso das alle denken. Auf kurz oder lang kann man so wieso nicht sagen was mit Huawei / Honor passiert. Das ganze Blacklist Gedöns kann ja auch wieder aufgehoben werden. Ich werde auf jedenfall abwarten was Huawei für Lösungen bei ihren Neu-releases bietet. Eventuell entsteht ja was unerwartet gutes.

22.05.2019
User Anonymous

@Andre: Habe kurz die Spez durchgelesen. Preis- Leistungsverhältnis scheint zu stimmen. Wie sieht es heutzutags mit Xiaomi Geräten aus? Kämpft man sich da noch immer teils durch chinesische Menus? ;)

@Tea_baggins: Das Zenfone 6 hat tatsächlich mein Interesse geweckt. Hast du bereits Erfahrungen mit ZEN-UI (oder wie sich die Oberfläche nennt) sammeln können?

@John: Der Kampf zwischen Huawei und USA ist schon sehr lange im Gang. Daher denke ich nicht, dass dies scho schnell vorbei sein wird. Weiter erachte ich es als schwierig ein alternatives OS auf den Markt zu bringen... Klingt für mich ähnlich wie die Versuche von Blackberry... Trotzdem wünsche ich mir natürlich ein Happyend für Huawei. Die haben die letzten Jahre echt geile Geräte rausgebracht. :)

23.05.2019
User Andremarty13

In der Globalen Version kann man alles auf Deutsch einstellen.

23.05.2019
Answer
User kevin.marielli

For RAW and image editing you can install snapseed, total free and more power than Adobe Lightroom.

Nice phone but the battery is "a problem", not so performace like the Nokia 8.

22.05.2019
User stefanhaustein

Immerhin kann man es auch zur Trypophobia-desensibilisierung nutzen :)

22.05.2019
User dgch2013

Danke für diesen Artikel. Schön wie ihr Stärken und Schwächen hervorhebt. Das s/w Foto finde ich sehr gelungen, die unteren dürften mit bisschen Nachbearbeitung sehr ansprechend sein.

Hätte aber gerne ein-zwei Vergleichsbilder mit einem aktuellen iPhone oder Samsung gesehen. So quasi Kameraqualität vs. automatische Nachbearbeitung.

23.05.2019
User porci82

J'ai un nokia 9 Purewiew et je le trouves top!
Je pense que le logiciel va s'améliorer comme bien souvent pour offrir encore plus d’efficacité au caméras, mais l'actuel est déjà top!
Et cet Android sans surcouche constructeur, qu'elle classe!

06.06.2019