With the recent update hitting several HMD made Nokia device, its only a matter of time before Android 11, the final major update hits the Nokia 9 Pureview, the only high-end Nokia device in the market for now. If we are lucky, the update should be available in the next few weeks since it will be Q4 soon. Unfortunately, not all Nokia 9 Pureview live to experience its final update as many have reported the early demise of the promising device. In the last 2 years, nothing have define neglect the way the Nokia 9 Pureview was treated by HMD Global. An experimental device, it would have been probably best to put the device for more rigorous test and make it available to developers instead than to the common user.

The device has been plagued with issues since the day it went on sale and the updates did not seem to fix the issue. My own Nokia 9 Pureview was dead a month after using it with no way of reviving it and Nokia Care replaced the device, an expensive experience since the device was bought from US. And it was due to this, I would not recommend the device to others, especially if it is not available officially in your market.

A unique imaging solution

The Nokia 9 Pureview is unlike any other in the market. Ahead of its time, like many other Nokia devices in the past, I am quite certain that other manufacturers would be exploring further on this unique solution to have a more DSLR like image quality especially when it comes to depth and natural bokeh effect. The 5 12MP sensors work in unison to create an image with HDR like never seen before, and details that can compete with other high-end device in the market. Unfortunately, the unique solution came with its own consequences. The SD845 processor cannot keep up with the demand, and even with Light co-processor it does not seem to be enough. It also seems that the device itself is designed to execute only one thing right, and that’s daylight imaging. Its performance in low light have been somewhat underwhelming as night mode algorithm on competing device seems to be on a league of their own. When it comes to videography, it is still the best when it comes to HDR recording but the stability and the intermittent choppy frame rate leaves less to be desired.

Despite all the flaws, it is still remarkable how HMD Global designed the Nokia 9 Pureview. When the device works, often, you will be astonished with the results. To the untrained eye, its hard to say that the images are taken by a mobile device. While the jpg processing produces a more contrasty look and sharpening which I personally feel is a tad too much, the RAW capture on the other hand gives a more pleasant and well-balanced output. The rich RAW capture puts this device ahead of its competitors, giving you enough data to manipulate and bring the best out of your creativity. This departure from capturing ‘Pure’ image sets this device apart from the previous Pureview offerings, giving rise to a new era of Pureview .

The Expectation

With Android 11 lurking in the corner, most users would be hopping for a more stable camera update. It is highly unlikely the camera will receive any new feature, something synonymous with HMD Global for now. However, there is also a remote possibility that the device may not even be upgraded to Android 11, if HMD feels that the camera system would deteriorate even further as Light Co is no longer in the mobile business.

At Present

On my recent trip, after a long thought, I decided to bring a couple of devices. Each representing the best of what was offered at the time it was introduced. The Nokia 808 Pureview, ahead of its time. The Lumia 950 XL, the culmination of all the research into creating a modern Pureview device. The Nokia 9 Pureview, the undisputable king in HDR and the Nokia X20 5G, the latest underdog.

Attached are samples of each device and I hope these answers one important question. Was the Nokia 9 Pureview a step in the wrong direction?

Scene 1.

The Nokia 808 with ND filter on manages to capture a well balanced image. Color, dynamic range and details are commendable for the device that gave birth to Pureview.
The Lumia 950 XL, culmination of years of research into Pureview, gave rise to this device. A warmer tone but pleasant otherwise.
The Nokia X20 5G, the underdog. Images are sharp , the colors are pleasant and overall well balanced. A slightly cooler tone.
The Nokia 9 Pureview. The sky is something that no other Nokia device can compete with the Nokia 9. The 5 lenses captures more that what we could see.

Scene 2.

Nokia 808. It captured the scene quite accurately, slightly dim. Notice the dark clouds behind?
Lumia 950 XL. The algorithm produces a much brighter image than the actual scene.
Nokia X20 5G. The tone is generally cooler with the X20’S algorithm .
Nokia 9 Pureview. The best depiction of the actual scenario. Dark clouds are preserved, bright areas are maintained. This is what hardware based HDR allows.

Scene 3.

Nokia 808. ND filters allows better details to be captured but generally filters all light. Great at its time but overshadowed by modern HDR algorithm.
Lumia 950 XL. The software based solution for HDR produces a crisp and useable image.
Nokia X20 5G. Good HDR but the cooler tone may be a turn off for some.
Nokia 9 Pureview. Again, the most well balanced image from the rest.

Scene 4.

Nokia 808. Full size.
Nokia 808. Cropped.
Lumia 950XL. Full size.
Lumia 950 XL. Cropped.
Nokia X20 5G. Full size.
Nokia X20 5G. Cropped.
Nokia 9 Pureview. Full size.
Nokia 9 Pureview. Cropped.

When it comes to details, all device generally have good amount of details. But for the sake of comparison, the Nokia 808 have a much more natural output, followed by Lumia 950 XL, Nokia 9 Pureview and Nokia X20 5G. The Nokia 9 Pureview does have the sharpest image here( check the borders of the Chinese words shown here, the border design is well seen) but it does that with sharpening. While it tends to have sharper image, the noise level also increases which is more notable in darker situation.

Scene 5.

Nokia 808.
Lumia 950XL.
Nokia X20 5G.
Nokia 9 Pureview.

Scene 6 , lowlight.

Nokia 808.
Lumia 950 XL.
Nokia X20 5G.
Nokia 9 Pureview.

When it comes to low light situation, it gets tricky with Nokia 9 Pureview. Generally, the images look good, provided that there are light source around for it to work its magic. In the absence of light, image gets noisier and not useable. The addition of tripod and using the Pro mode will definitely produce much better images in such situation but otherwise, this remains among the issues with the Nokia 9 Pureview. As tweeted by HMD Global’s then CPO, Mr. Juho Sarvikas, the complex algorithm and the usage of multiple sensors to capture a single image prevents addition of newer “Night Mode” in to the system.

4K HDR with OZO audio recording

(20) Nokia 9 Pureview , 4K HDR OZO Surround, Rajah Brooke – YouTube


The Nokia 9 Pureview remains the only mobile device in the market with a unique camera solution, which is limited by its processing power and and lack of better software optimization. While the patent for this camera solution is apparently owned by HMD Global, it remains to be seen whether HMD Global would be able to pursue this path without any assistance from Light Co.

One thing to be certain, in the quest to have a DSLR like image output from a mobile device, depth will definitely be one key area to be tackled. The Nokia 9 Pureview ‘almost’ executes this well but it is still not quite there yet, but still much better than artificial blurring.

While a flagship successor is yet to be seen, i do hope HMD Global would refine the Nokia 9 Pureview instead of abandoning this concept totally.

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