Nokia 9 PureView Test: Our Complete Review – Smartphones

    Expected for many months, the Nokia 9 PureView has finally been officially presented during the MWC 2019. Focusing on the photo and targeting purist photographers, the smartphone is equipped with nothing less than five devices behind him. What to fully satisfy the image hunters? We tell you everything in our comprehensive test of the Nokia 9 PureView.

                                    Nokia 9 PureView
            OS version
                            Android 9.0
                            Android Stock
                Screen size
                            5.99 inches
                            2960 x 1440 pixels
                Pixel density
                            550 dpi
                            Snapdragon 845 to 2.8GHz
                Processor (CPU)
                Graphics Chip (GPU)
                            Adreno 630
                RAM memory
                            6 GB
                Internal memory (flash)
                            128 GB
                Camera (backpack)
                            Dual 12 Megapixel sensor
                Camera (front)
                            20 megapixels
                Video recording
                            5.0 + A2DP + LE
                            LTE, HSPA, GSM
                Supported bands
                            2100 MHz (B1), 800 MHz (B20), 1800 MHz (B3), 2600 MHz (B7), 700 MHz (B28)
                            2x nano SIM
                Ports (Inputs / Outputs)
                            USB Type-C
                            3320 mAh
                            155 x 75 x 8 mm
                            172 grams
                            699 €
                        Product sheet
                                                    | Test
                                This copy was lent to us by the brand.
The Nokia 9 PureView may have been officialized by HMD at the MWC 2019, the smartphone appeared for the first time online, through many leaks in the middle of 2018. Many rumors were then part of a launch that would have been gradually rejected by the Finnish brand. Now that the smartphone is official, the design of the Nokia 9 PureView seems to confirm this hypothesis alone.

The latest HMD has indeed the appearance of a smartphone of 2017 that should have been released in 2018 to be finally postponed in 2019. Certainly, its aesthetics will delight consumers put off by the notch, but difficult not to notice the borders especially thick of the smartphone. Above and below the 5.99-inch screen, there are indeed large 9 mm flanges. On the left and right sides, there is 3 mm between the edge of the screen and that of the smartphone. One can understand the interest of borders as broad on the upper part of the smartphone, with the integration of the camera for the selfies and the speaker, but we would have preferred that HMD integrates a second loudspeaker on the front, like the Pixel 3, on the lower part, to enjoy a stereo sound. There, we just have the impression of a loss of useful surface that could have been occupied by the screen.
Without this aging design, the aesthetics of the Nokia 9 PureView suffer from almost no defects. The smartphone is particularly thin with 8 mm thick. Above all, the five photo sensors on the back of the camera, backed by a depth sensor and a flash, do not suffer from any outgrowth. The glass back of the smartphone is perfectly smooth, to the point that we do not even feel the touch fingerprint reader … normal, since it is integrated within the screen itself. More annoyingly, the smooth appearance of the back of the Nokia 9 PureView makes it particularly sensitive to slipping when it is not placed on a perfectly flat surface.

Regarding the connector keys, we find on the lower edge a USB-C and speaker, on the right side the power and volume keys and on the top edge the door for the nano-SIM card and the microSD storage extension. For the headphone jack, it's simple: there is none.

Overall, the Nokia 9 PureView is pretty good in hand with its slightly rounded back and beveled metal edges. The device is particularly well finished, although we regret that it is a little too imposing for comfortable use with one hand, especially because of its wide borders. It is also appreciated that the smartphone is IP67 certified, which guarantees protection against dust and in the context of immersion up to 1 meter of water for 30 minutes.
For its screen, the Nokia 9 PureView incorporates a 5.99-inch POLED panel displaying a QHD + resolution of 2960 pixels by 1440. What allow a resolution of 550 pixels per inch (dpi). A very good resolution that should not allow you to distinguish pixels individually, and even offer a comfortable display for virtual reality.
At first glance, there is a particularly high contrast on the screen. This is logical, since it is a POLED slab, and each pixel is backlit individually. In addition, the screen of the smartphone is particularly bright and allows to use the Nokia 9 PureView comfortably, even by large sun outdoors. Nevertheless, we will notice a fairly cold temperature of the screen with the basic setting.

In the display settings of the smartphone, we can see that four modes are available: vivid, cinema, basic and dynamic. Dynamic, the default mode, also adjusts the calibration of the screen automatically according to the content you see on the screen. Given this adaptation, we used the bright mode, quite similar to the dynamics in the basic menus, and the cinema mode to measure the screen at the probe.
In vivid mode, we can see that the Nokia 9 PureView screen offers infinite contrast thanks to the integration of a POLED panel. The maximum brightness is also at the level, with an excellent score of 850 cd / m², at that of the Galaxy S10. Note, however, that the bright mode tends to cool the white balance too much, with a temperature measured around 7500K. The cinema mode makes it possible to greatly attenuate the presence of blue light on the screen, passing at an average temperature of 6500K, corresponding to a perfectly neutral white light.

Finally, the Nokia 9 PureView has a screen compatible with HDR10 certification. In short, it will decode HDR encoded videos in 10 bits and will therefore display more information, whether for the colors, contrast or brightness of different information. This results in much richer images on compatible YouTube videos. Unfortunately, the Nokia 9 PureView is not yet certified Netflix, it is not currently possible to enjoy the HDR on the streaming platform of movies and series.
The Nokia 9 PureView is equipped with the latest version of Android, namely 9.0 Pie. It is also provided at the box outlet with the security patch of February 2019, one of the most recent, and is also labeled Android One. In other words, like most recent Nokia smartphones, the Nokia 9 PureView should take advantage of at least two years of Android feature updates and three years of security updates.
In addition, Android One requires, the Nokia 9 PureView offers an interface almost identical to that of the stock version of Android. Basically, there is an application drawer on the desktop, but also Google Discover left, the search bar under the dock of the five applications highlighted, and a settings menu almost similar to that of Google Pixel smartphones.
There will be some differences in background, such as the presence of a PureDisplay option in the View menu to calibrate the screen, a different photo application to manage the different options of the smartphone, or an option to double-tap the screen to wake the smartphone. Nevertheless, the overwhelming majority of the interface is identical to that of a Pixel smartphone, to the point that it is not possible, for example, to navigate with buttons at the bottom of the screen, but only with the gestural navigation.
Other differences between Pixel 3 and Nokia 9 PureView include the use of biometrics to unlock the screen. Like the latest Google smartphones, the HMD device can be unlocked by 2D facial recognition. If this system remains less efficient than those of Huawei or Apple with the Mate 20 Pro or iPhone XS, the integration of a security layer called TrulySecure nevertheless makes it quite effective. When I tipped the smartphone to a photo of me displayed on my computer screen, the Nokia 9 PureView did not unlock and was not fooled.
A fingerprint reader in the screen
In addition, the Nokia 9 PureView offers no fingerprint reader on the back, but directly within the screen. This one is rather well placed and falls easily under the thumb. However, like the OnePlus 6T or the Mate 20 Pro, the fingerprint reader uses optical and not ultrasonic technology like the S10. In concrete terms, this means that the smartphone must be taken out of standby so that it can detect the imprint and therefore not be able to light it on the fly. Above all, the detection of the fingerprint is quite capricious and it often takes several times to get out of the smartphone standby. Fortunately, HMD has announced that a fix will improve things.
Last but not least, the Nokia 9 PureView offers the L1 certification level for the Widevine DRM system, allowing it to play HD video on major video platforms like Netflix, Molotov or myCanal.
For playback of audio files, the Nokia 9 PureView has a single speaker, located on the lower edge. The one above the screen, for calls, is only used for that, calls. The sound quality of the smartphone clearly lacks fishing, not only with a maximum volume low enough, but also a spectrum that lacks bass.
Note also that the Nokia 9 PureView is devoid of headphone jack. It will therefore necessarily go through the USB-C. Fortunately, an adapter is provided directly by HMD Global, especially since the headphones offered with the phone are headphones using a jack.
Finally, for Bluetooth, the smartphone is compatible with aptX codec. A codec that will allow you to transmit audio files up to a quality of 350 kbps provided you listen to your music with a headset or an aptX compatible speaker.
Surely, with his back covered with nothing less than five devices, the Nokia 9 PureView is based on photo performance. Designed in partnership with the start-up Light, already at the origin of the L16 camera, the photo module of the Nokia 9 PureView actually captures five photos at the same time at different exposure settings. The five snapshots are then analyzed and processed by a dedicated chip, designed by Light, followed by a JPG snapshot, and possibly a DNG RAW file if you have enabled the feature.

Specifically, this system allows the paper to capture up to 10x more information than an identical photo sensor. Indeed, each of the five cameras of the Nokia 9 PureView is similar on paper to the other four, with sensors from 12 megapixels to 1.25 microns photosites, while the optics is a 27mm equivalent wide-angle classic with an opening of f / 1.82. However, despite these similarities between the five sensors, there is a difference in size in terms of use. Only two of them are responsible for capturing the different shades of color, while the other three are only monochrome and will analyze light and details. These black and white sensors can capture up to three times more light than RGB sensors.

Note however that the Nokia 9 PureView does not interpolate these different shots to push an image with a definition greater than 12 megapixels, and it does not offer the possibility of using other optics. The zoom will necessarily be digital and no ultra-wide angle is proposed. Yet this is one of the main trends of the photo on smartphone in early 2019. Too bad.
A quality at the level of the Galaxy S10
In order to evaluate the photo performance of the Nokia 9 PureView, we confronted it on several JPG photos to the latest Samsung Galaxy S10. For the following photos, you will find on the left the snapshot taken with the Nokia 9 PureView and on the right that of the Galaxy S10:
From these few snapshots, we can draw several analyzes. Already, the Nokia 9 PureView has more trouble than the Galaxy S10 in the dark areas as can be seen in the pictures of the square or small colorful passage. It must be said that the smartphone does not offer night mode.
Nevertheless, it manages the strong dynamic ranges much better, starting with the light of street lights and neon lights. Unlike the Galaxy S10, no trace of light trails or strong halo around light sources. We will especially appreciate its precision and sharpness of details, whether beard hair on portraits, both indoors and outdoors, or tree branches particularly detailed on landscape photos.

If the Galaxy S10 may have a tendency to artificially warm colors and slightly increase the saturation, HMD wants to be absolutely neutral with the Nokia 9 PureView. This is reflected in Omar's photo on the outside, with a cooler color, more faithful to the real light, than on the photo of the plant, where the green remains quite dark. The Nokia 9 PureView is certainly not flashy, but it is not there for that.

The power of RAW
If you want to change the image rendering more deeply, it is possible to capture the images in RAW. To do this, simply open the Nokia 9 PureView photo application, then access its settings and select "Save RAW files in DNG format" in the option "Support for RAW files ".
This capture mode will allow you to play with much more information than a simple JPG photo. You can develop the shot in a dedicated application like Adobe Lightroom and play more with light, more bright areas, black areas or push one color more than another. An option that should delight photographers who like to spend hours retouching their photos.
As an example, I have taken a single photo below. The model on the left is the version released in JPG of the smartphone and the second one is that resulting from the development of the RAW file:
It will nevertheless be noted that the data recovered for the RAW file only come from the main sensor, the one positioned at the center of the photo module. Although more information is rendered with this type of format, it will be more difficult to play with high dynamic ranges unless you put your hands in the grease settings on Lightroom.
The same goes for photos captured in portrait mode. The Nokia 9 PureView benefits from a very effective portrait mode with a fairly precise delineation of the background blur. You can also edit it later using the Google Photos app. You can then choose not only the point of focus, but also delimit the level of blur, and the presence of blur in the foreground or not. In the photo below, for example, I have successively made the focus on the face of Wolf, then on that of Simon.
Unfortunately, these photos taken in portrait mode thanks to the camera's "Bokeh" option can not be saved in RAW format and thus developed with Lightroom. It's a bit like the picture performance of the Nokia 9 PureView: the smartphone is very rich in features, unfortunately it seems constrained by the limitations posed by Android.
A very frustrating slowness
Clamping is also question as to the operation of the photo application. Each time you take a photo, it takes about 10 seconds for the Nokia 9 PureView to display the final rendering of the image. A time that can be even longer if you take several photos at once and the chip dedicated to image processing is quickly overwhelmed.

Although we know that the chip is designed by Light and that it alone is able to manage the fusion of the five images captured, we can not help but think that the treatment would have been faster if it had been backed by a Snapdragon 855 and not Snapdragon 845 from last year.
Selfies and video
For selfies, the Nokia 9 PureView uses only one camera with a 20-megapixel sensor with a lens opening at f / 2.0.
We quickly see that the smartphone has trouble with selfies, especially outdoors where it struggles to manage the high dynamic beaches. Indoors, however, we appreciate a level of detail quite correct, including facial hair or skin texture. Nevertheless, if the Nokia 9 PureView allows you to enjoy a software portrait selfie mode, it remains quite limited with a hair delimitation including quite random.

For video, the smartphone can record 4K files without stabilization at 30 frames per second, in Full HD stabilized or Full HD HDR.

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With the selfie camera, it is possible to capture also in 4K and HDR. However, in the video captured below, the rendering remains rather weak in the management of the high dynamic ranges. The microphones are also very sensitive to the sound of the wind.

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Earlier, we talked about the Nokia 9 PureView's design, which looked particularly dated in an era when all smartphone manufacturers had managed to reduce the borders of their devices. However, this is not the only mark of the delay of the release of the smartphone. Indeed, the Nokia 9 PureView was announced at the MWC 2019, at the same time as the first smartphones with the new Snapdragon 855 processor. The problem is that the Nokia 9 PureView is equipped with the Snapdragon 845 processor. This is certainly a high-end chip, but already a year and will soon be exceeded by the performance of Snapdragon 855.

In use, we note however that the Nokia 9 PureView does not suffer from any slowdown. The smartphone is perfectly fluid in – almost – all uses, with the exception of the photo, as we have seen previously. In 3D games, the smartphone does not particularly blush its performance. On Fortnite launched by default in epic quality with a 3D resolution at 75% and a frame rate of 30 IPS, the game is fluid most of the time, despite very slight slowdowns. On PUBG Mobile, the Nokia 9 PureView is seamlessly flush with its default settings with HD graphics, high frame rate and even turning off the automatic graphic adjustment. However, we will note some freeze when force ultra image mode, especially when driving vehicles.
Nokia 9 PureViewSamsung Galaxy S10Xiaomi Mi 9Google Pixel 3 XL
SoCS845Exynos 9820S855S845
AnTuTu 7.x280 052316 966370 355257 684
PCMark 2.09 5137 7818 8389 081
3DMark Slingshot Extreme4 5824 3575 4993 028
3DMark Slingshot Extreme Graphics5 1015 2606 3553 238
3DMark Slingshot Extreme Physics3 3792 7523 7372 467
GFXBench Aztec Vulkan high (onscreen / offscreen) 13/13 FPS20 / 16 FPS23 / 16 FPS12 / 14 FPS
GFXBench Car Chase (onscreen / offscreen) 19/35 FPS37 / 39 FPS36 / 42 FPS15 / 26 FPS
GFXBench Manhattan 3.0 (onscreen / offscreen) 48/82 FPS58 / 86 FPS60 / 101 FPS29 / 48 FPS
Sequential read / write740 / 205 MB / s815 / 194 MB / s796 / 189 MB / s608 / 228 MB / sec
Random Read / Write35.4k / 6.5k IOPS35.5k / 6.3k IOPS37.1k / 37.1k IOPS32.6k / 36.3k IOPS
In order to evaluate the performance of the Nokia 9 PureView, we compared it to some of its competitors, be it the Pixel 3 Google, also particularly renowned for its photo quality, the Xiaomi Mi 9 which benefits from 'an even more aggressive price-performance ratio and the Samsung Galaxy S10. Despite its rather dated chip, we see that the Nokia 9 PureView is doing relatively well. The smartphone is doing better than the Pixel 3 XL with the same chip and even surpasses the Mi 9 and Galaxy S10 on computing power tests like PCMark 2.0.
With its battery of 3320 mAh, the battery life is one of the big dots of the Nokia 9 PureView. It happened to us several times to arrive at the end of the day with only 10 to 15% of battery, especially when we chained the photo captures.

Results confirmed by our ViSer autonomy test. On this test of personalized autonomy, which mixes Web consultation, taking photo, 3D game and periods of standby, the smartphone held for 8:30 before going from 100 to 10% of autonomy. A very weak result, lower than the Google Pixel 3 XL for which we regret "insufficient autonomy". After an hour of video playback on YouTube, the Nokia 9 PureView has gone from 100 to 90% battery life. A rather average score, the best smartphones managing to stay around 95% and the worst down around 84%.
For charging, the Nokia 9 PureView can rely on its USB-C and the 18W charger included. We could not test the 18W charger offered by HMD in the box, but we did our tests with a competitor charger, also compatible Quick Charge 3.0 and 18W (12V / 1.5A, 9V / 2A, 5V / 3A) . In the first half hour of charging, the smartphone went from 11 to 38% battery. In one hour, it reaches 72%. However, the end of charge is quite slow since it will take a total of 2h14 for the Nokia 9 PureView to go from 11 to 100% battery.
Finally, note that the Nokia 9 PureView is compatible with wireless charging Qi up to 10W.
Network & Communications
The Nokia 9 Pureview is compatible with all 4G bands available in France, whether 2100 MHz (B1), 1800 MHz (B3), 2600 MHz (B7), 800 MHz (B20) and even the 700 MHz (B28), mostly used by Free Mobile. The smartphone should therefore have no trouble capturing the 4G anywhere in the territory, provided it is covered by antennas.
Note also that the smartphone is compatible with Wi-Fi 5 (ex a / b / g / n / ac) and MIMO 4 × 4 for better reception and better Wi-Fi speed. The smartphone is also compatible with Wi-Fi. VoLTE and VoWiFi protocols. For Bluetooth, there is a version 5.0 that will extend the scope and especially the stability. Nevertheless, by manipulating the smartphone by hand, we have had some slight cuts with a Bluetooth headset.
During calls, the Nokia 9 PureView behaves particularly well. Noise cancellation is very effective for your correspondent who will not hear vehicle noise even on the major Parisian boulevards at peak times. Your voice may appear slightly metallic at times, however, without losing its clarity.
Finally, for geolocation, the Nokia 9 PureView is compatible with GPS satellites, Glonass, Beidou and Galileo. The location is fast, with less than three seconds between the opening of Google Maps and accurate location in the middle of Paris.
Prices, availability & alternatives
The Nokia 9 PureView is already on the market. It is offered at a price of 699 euros in one color, dark blue. Only one configuration is available, with 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage.
Where to buy the Nokia 9 PureView at the best price?
At this introductory price, the Nokia 9 PureView faces the Google Pixel 3, also gifted for the photo, which saw its price drop to 640 euros. The Samsung Galaxy S10e, affordable version of the high-end Samsung is not left out, from 620 euros. Finally, the Huawei Mate 20, one of the best smartphones of 2018, can now be around 700 euros.

Photo gallery

                        Nokia 9 PureView Test The verdict
                                In terms of design, the Nokia 9 PureView ticks almost all the boxes. It does not offer a notch, it integrates a fingerprint reader in the screen and dresses with a glass back. Too bad, however, that the headphone jack is missing and that the fingerprint reader is so capricious.
                                With its Nokia 9 PureView, HMD manages to deliver a particularly optimized slab. Between its POLED design, its very bright brightness, its cinema calibration at the very good temperature and its excellent definition, it is a faultless for HMD Global.
                                Featuring Android 9.0 Pie and the latest security updates, the Nokia 9 PureView is part of the Android One label. The result is an interface that can be limited in functionality compared to some competitors, but an excellent follow-up of the updates promised by HMD.
                                This is where the problem lies. Having accumulated delays, the Nokia 9 PureView offers a chip that is already one year old. Even more than the performances at stake, it is the slowness of the rendering of the photos which proves very frustrating in the long run.
                                The Nokia 9 PureView is a smartphone oriented to photographers and it feels. The pictures are particularly licked, well defined and with excellent color rendering. However, we would have appreciated a little more modularity, with for example a night mode and different optics for the zoom or ultra-wide angle.
                                The Nokia 9 PureView can be quite limiting on its autonomy. Without being a disaster, it will often happen that you run out of battery at the end of the day. It's a shame, especially for a smartphone oriented to the photo, when we know that taking pictures is one of the most energy-consuming uses on smartphone.
                    The Nokia 9 PureView is a strange smartphone, a bit like a Google Pixel 3. If it is not necessarily a good smartphone, especially because of its average autonomy or its performance behind, it excels in photography, especially on its price segment. The smartphone offers shots particularly successful with a lot details, whether on faces, landscapes or objects. We appreciate the neutrality of colors and the fact that the smartphone seeks above all the precision. Nevertheless, we would have liked more. Because at a time when most high-end smartphones have two to three sensors to offer more different optics, it's a pity that the Nokia 9 PureView remains confined to its fixed focal length. Too bad it does not offer night mode.But after all, it is a smartphone oriented to photographers and in this he wants to be as neutral as possible. Why not after all. Especially since with a relatively affordable price of 699 euros, the Nokia 9 PureView is more aggressive than ultra-premium smartphones that approach 1000 euros. At this price, it is finally a rather accessible camera.
                        Good points
                        A very fine design
                                                            Excellent overall photo quality
                                                            Wireless charge
                                                            Three years of assured updates
                        Negative points
                        Slow photo rendering
                                                            No night mode in photo
                                                            No zoom or ultra wide angle
                                                            Limited autonomy
                                                            (no headphone jack)


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