HMD’s Nokia-branded smartphones have earned a reputation for offering solid features at affordable prices. But for the most part they haven’t pushed the boundaries for what we expect from a modern smartphone.

The company’s new Nokia 9 PureView is the first example of what it looks like when HMD/Nokia tries to get distinctive.

Like many other flagships launching this year, it’s a smartphone with a high-resolution display, an in-screen fingerprint sensor, and plenty of memory and storage. But it’s also the first to pack five cameras onto the back of the phone.

The Nokia 9 PureView will be available in March for $699 and it goes up for pre-order in select markets starting today.

All five of the cameras have 12MP image sensors and Zeiss Optics. Two of the cameras are RGB for wide color capture, while the other are monochrome cameras designed to capture more light.

HMD says every time you snap a picture, it takes at least one image with all five cameras — in some situations you can get a single image that’s up to 240MP, although more often than not you’ll get a lower-resolution picture that leverages the multiple cameras for pictures with less noise, better color, and better light.

You can also shoot in black and white natively, without the need to convert color images.

While the Nokia 9 PureView is the first smartphone to feature this many cameras that work together to capture a single image, it might not be the last — HMD worked with Light to create the camera system used in this smartphone.

Light, which released its own multi-lens camera a few years ago, has big plans for the smartphone space. This week the company announced it’s partnered with Sony to create reference designs for smartphones with multiple cameras using Sony image sensors and we could start to see more multi-camera devices later this year.

Snap a photo with the camera app and the smartphone fires up all five cameras and then stitches together a photo based on data captured from all five cameras. The result should be higher contrast and dynamic range than you’d get from a single camera.

Nokia says the system can capture up to 10 times more light than other smartphone cameras. And users can adjust the focus of an image after it’s captured, thanks to depth-of-field information captured by the multiple cameras.

What’s interesting about this type of multi-camera system is that all the cameras work together to capture a single picture. Unlike multi-camera phones from Apple, Samsung, Huawei, and others you don’t get to switch cameras for features like telephoto zoom lenses or ultra-wide image capture.

It’s closer to what Google does with its Pixel smartphones, capturing multiple images and combining data to create a single high-quality picture. But Google does that with one camera and a bunch of software tricks. HMD does it with five cameras.

Basically HMD and Light have come up with a hardware-based solution that’s similar to Google’s software-based one. It’ll be interesting to see in-depth reviews of the Nokia 9 PureView to see how it stacks up against the Google Pixel 3 in photographic quality.

Other camera features include support for RAW image capture, 4K HDR video recording, and shutter speeds of up to 10 seconds.

While the camera system is the phone’s most distinctive characteristic, for the most part the phone’s other specs look decent. The Nokia 9 PureView has a 6 inch, 2880 x 1440 pixel pOLED display with an in-screen fingerprint sensor and support for HDR10 content.

There’s no notch, but there are bezels on the top and bottom of the screen.

The phone features 6GB of RAM, 128GB of UFS 2.1 storage, and a 3,220 mAh battery, USB Type-C port, NFC, and Qi wireless charging.

One odd choice? The phone will ship with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor rather than the newer Snapdragon 855 chip powering many new Android flagships this year.

On the other hand, that may help keep the price lower than some of its competitors.

Like most other recent HMD/Nokia phones, the Nokia 9 PureView is an Android One device, which means it’ll receive regular OS and security updates for at least two years.

HMD is also launching a few cheaper (and less impressive) phones at Mobile World Congress, including Nokia 4.2, Nokia 3.2, Nokia 1 Plus, and Nokia 210.


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5 replies on “Nokia 9 PureView is the first smartphone with 5 rear cameras”

  1. Interesting seeing so many multi-camera designs. Not sure what end-user advantages this really has except for light-gathering. I can see (some) advantages for serious shutterbugs but… this smaller/niche group has got many more options among standalone digital cameras.

    Now… a hardware-based optical zoom in the 5x range – that, I think, would turn heads. It’s taking way too long to get there.

    1. I still think phones should use a single large sensor, and a decent lens.
      And people that want the extra zoom, or extra macro, or extra bokeh should use an accessory. Or try the phone’s software-based solution first to see if its sufficient.

      Adding extra camera’s, at the expense of the opportunity to make the main one larger/better…. doesn’t seem like a sound strategy. Not to mention it makes the phone more fragile, have a smaller battery, and simply too expensive.

      Designers should work with the laws of physics, not against it !!

      1. Putting a big sensor and a decent lens is working against the laws of physics, if you want a thin phone.

        1. Exactly: I don’t want a thin phone. I want a decent phone (8mm?), without an External Lens attached.

          You can attach a telescope for all I care, since, I would be grasping it two handed like a DSLR at that point and thickness would not be an issue (not going to try to cram a large DSLR Removable Lens into my pocket, lol).

  2. “Other camera features include support for RAW image capture”

    That’s…going to be interesting. Does it leave with you 5 simultaneously captured images then?

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