HMD Global’s camera approach has been somewhat unique in that each device has different sets of priorities and processing algorithm. It seems like they are still trying to create a balance experience while catching up with the competition.
There are many notable camera devices from HMD Global, but in today’s comparison , I will be highlighting on a few devices that are still relevant to highlight their strength and weakness. In this camera analysis, the winner is whichever that you deem worthy. The essence of a good photo is the ability to capture the moment as accurate as possible but with the rise of AI computation, these images are generally altered to produce photos that are processed to be ‘more ‘ than what it actually is. For majority of the users out there, this is what they prefer, an image that can be shared instantly in social media without the need of extensive editing. For a small subset of users, they prefer a purer image as it was perceived and have more granular control over what needs to be altered.
Launched in December 2018, the Nokia 8.1 is the oldest device in the comparison. It is one of the best mid-range device produced by HMD Global. It packs a modest 12MP sensor coupled with a 13MP sensor for depth. The camera is supplemented with an AI for post processing but unfortunately, the AI input seems to be a miss with distorted white balance and a nightscape that does not work after the final update.
Next in the list is the Nokia 9 Pureview. It is a one of a kind device made in collaboration with Light Co which has 5 12MP sensors , working simultaneously to produce a rich 12MP image. The highlight of the device is the ability to capture details hidden by shadow, a rich depth map and one of the best RAW images. Unfortunately, the device is somewhat experimental and plagued by instability and lack of support.
Nokia 8.3 5G is currently the most powerful device on HMD Global’s portfolio offering the Android 12 experience. This device was initially announced in March 2020 , packs a primary 64MP sensor coupled with an impressive 12MP ultrawide sensor with large 1.4micro pixel and a 2MP depth and 2MP macro camera. In my experience, the images are sharp but tends to be noisy. But it has the best ultrawide camera on a Nokia device with class leading night mode algorithm and the best 4K video stabilization till date.
The Nokia XR20 5G ,launched in August 2021 is the toughest smartphone by HMD Global which is currently my primary driver. It has a dual camera setup, a primary 48MP camera and a 13MP ultrawide camera. The images taken are quite good but it does miss the white balance more often than not.
With all these devices introduced, lets begin the comparison.
More samples in my video here :
Devices like Nokia 8.1, Nokia 9 Pureview and Nokia 8.3 5G have already reached their maturity while the Nokia XR20 5G is still fairly new.
Each of these devices are still capable to be a daily driver with some adjustments made. In all the images above, it is clear that each image processing algorithm is different. The Nokia 8.1 surprisingly have the most balanced and natural output if the AI scene detection is switched off. Images are not excessively sharp and the colors are more natural. The Nokia 9 Pureview has a few factors that determines the outcome of the image, mainly the availability of natural light and whether each shot was maximized as theoretically it can shoot at anywhere between 60MP and up to 300 MP worth of data. The Nokia 8.3 5G shows what Quad Binning sensors does, brighter image by default but images tend to be on the warmer side but still pleasing to the eyes. The Nokia XR20 5G has a capable sensor and should be receiving more updates in the future and hopefully it addresses the weird green casting on each image. If the white balance is tweaked to have similar output as the Nokia 8.1, the Nokia XR20 5G will be the most satisfying device to own as it already excels in built quality, battery life, charging time and general performances.
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