The Nokia 9 PureView is the misjudged smartphone of the year; a little genius. Simply because it is different from the others – and turns photography back into art.

We’ve  gotten used to getting results extremely fast because the Huawei P30 Pro , Samsung Galaxy S10 and Co. are designed as snapshooters. But the Nokia 9 PureView wants to celebrate photography as art again – and that’s exactly where its strengths lie: Those who love black and white photography and are willing to work a bit for the perfect picture will be using this phone and its five Zeiss Lenses get really happy.

The comeback of black and white photography

Traditionally, photography is actually an art that takes time and lives off deceleration. Photographers roam the nature, taking the time for the perfect photo, experimenting with the settings. Smartphones have democratized photography, but also diluted it.

We are no longer used to uploading normal photos today. Normal in the sense of #nofilter. Until last year was exactly this movement. A movement of people who wanted to share photos again without filters. Because filters give a drama, but they also distort the picture.

No wonder that the best photographers of our time – like Annie Leibovitz or Peter Lindbergh – are looking for the naturalness of humans and photographing big stars like Heidi Klum, Cameron Diaz and Helene Fischer in black and white; because it makes people approachable because it also shows small wrinkles in large divas.

Back to the roots 

The black-and-white photography sets the counter-thesis to our times: We over-fill skin impurities with filters and like to make the water a bit more blue, because Instagram. However, when we spend one or two photo trips with the Nokia 9 PureView, it quickly becomes clear: Nokia and its partner HMD Global do not open the possibility to save pictures in RAW format, because this works as a fancy marketing slogan. But because it gives the picture more life and depth.

This is how photography is brought back to its roots. The Nokia 9 PureView is not a simple smartphone: it’s not as fast as the Galaxy S10, it’s not as perfect as the Huawei P30 that retires your digicam . No, but it takes what we’ve forgotten – taking a bit of time and appreciating photography as an art worth. The Nokia 9 gently forces us to just keep quiet and live the moment.

Five Zeiss lenses for professional photographers

The Nokia 9 PureView is technically an interesting composition: Five cameras, installed in a 8-millimeter thin body. Nokia has always worked with Zeiss, even in the Samsung Huawei Apple era, the Windows phones could steal the show in terms of low-light performance the big ones often. Zeiss understands his business, after all, they come from the high-end sector; actually make primarily camera lenses for thousands of euros expensive Canon lenses.

So how does this Nokia Zeiss system work? Five lenses with 12 megapixels each on aperture f / 1.8 and a focal length of 28 mm simultaneously shoot a photo plus a ToF lens for additional depth information. Three of them are monochrome, dropping 2.9 times more light on the sensor. This gives us a lot more picture information than with a classic smartphone.

All for one, one for all

So not one lens does the job, but all five. In other words, each Nokia 9 PureView lens focuses on different areas of the image and creates a depth map, a depth map of the object, with a total of 1200 layers / image planes at a maximum distance of 40 meters. Most high-end phones only work with ten image layers.

Each lens focuses different areas of the image with different exposure times in the automatic. Switching to the Pro mode in the camera app, we can choose from five different white balance, from ISO 100 to 3200, choose the shutter speed 1/500 – 10 seconds and the exposure compensation between -2 EV and EV. Unusual for the smartphone photography.

This will give us tons of information to sync to a RAW DNG file. It’s like you’re shooting with five different smartphones at the same time, but each would be focused on another object in the image, with different exposure times. That’s pretty much wow, it shows where the smartphone photography moves.

A smartphone for professionals

But that also has to be said: It’s not an easy road for Nokia and HMD Global, because the synchronization of these five lenses takes a lot of time. Sometimes a little too much time, so updates should bring improvement. Also, the Nokia 9 PureView is a smartphone for professionals. You can shoot incredibly beautiful images with excellent dynamic range, but it takes time for image editing, such as with Lightroom, directly on the phone.

Just that this professional software is preinstalled, shows in which direction Nokia is developing in terms of smartphone photography: towards professional smartphone photography. Means: From a boring shot in the subway is a photo, which has more of a DSLR character – with really much dynamism, bright colors, a lot of details.

Especially on the ground, going in depth. If we load the photos in the test on the iMac and compare it with that of a Canon SLR, then the Nokia 9 holds similar detail sharpness ready.

A smartphone for extremely powerful photos

The reason why photographers prefer RAW photos is the amount of image information that can be manipulated at will. For example, you can make a slightly cloudy sky look like a storm by pulling down the saturation. Or if you take a photo of a street, then you often want to look a little more powerful in the evening mood, which reflects the windows of office buildings – that too can be made easy here.

This is the greatest strength of the Nokia 9 Pure View, but also the reason why most journalists do not recommend it. The Neuner is not an Instagram Phone. Unlike the Huawei P30 for example, it needs a lot of love in the post and also a little talent for it.

Depth shots: Five photos now, focus varies accordingly

You can imagine it like this: You are photographing along a street and in the software you then focus on a bike via touch, or a bus or the lady, who just so nicely rushes across the street with her high heels. And, for example, you can later focus on them because they make the picture alive and unique.

As happened at an event of Montblanc in Berlin: Toni Garrns bright eyes served me wonderfully in the test as a focal point ( see post ). Another example: when the sun is shining, it usually only casts light reflections on the ground. But we can push these reflections to a maximum and let a kind of marble slab reflect as much as if it were a mirror. This gives the picture an extreme component, which is exciting for photographers.

And otherwise: Sexy Body, Android 9 with Quad HD display

Beautiful Body in dark, shiny blue, light chrome trim, Gorilla Glass 5: From the design, we like the Nokia 9 Pure View very well. Unlike all other 2019, Nokia does not use a notch, so the edges of the display are clearly visible, but do not disturb the overall picture.

Also like the display: 1440 x 2880 pixels to 538 ppi, so really sharp 2K. The fewest phones come here, the brightness goes towards the Samsung Galaxy S10. The S10 has 1200 nits maximum brightness, the Nokia 9 max. 700, which in combination with the HDR display ensures a very good series experience in the plane to London or ICE to Berlin. Lasts a long time, thanks to the 3,320 mAh battery is easily a day in there, even with many photo sessions.

Only with the processor, Nokia has gone out of print: Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 is overwhelmed with the synchronization and often takes too long in processing, here would have been the 855er clearly better choice. Also, they should have installed 12 instead of 6 GB of RAM – this phone would benefit massively from more memory.

Conclusion: For the love of photography, but nothing for Snapshooter

With the Nokia 9 PureView succeed you special pictures. In particular, those who love the drama will be very happy with the high quality of his black and white shots. Also, the technology itself is fascinating to be able to set this idea retrospectively focus points for Bokeh. And you can get a lot out of Lightroom.

The Nokia 9 PureView (price: around 900 Euro) is not a Huawei P30 Pro, which delivers the perfect photo directly. But rather a phone for photographers who also like to invest a little time. Too bad that they have opted for the Snapdragon 845 with 6 GB of RAM. It’s a nice, a special phone. However, we hope for a special edition with 12 GB and 855 processor from Qualcom, because the CPU star of last year is a bit difficult with the mammoth task.