Happy 2019! If we're going to already start picking out smartphone trends for the new year, "add lots and lots of cameras" is looking like a pretty good front-runner. Samsung is already on this path with devices like the Galaxy A9 and upcoming Galaxy S10, both of which have four cameras on the back, but now it looks like HMD's Nokia brand is going to one-up everyone with five rear cameras. Over the last weekend of 2018, both Evan Blass and MySmartPrice shared imagery for the upcoming "Nokia 9 Pureview," which promises to be the highest-end HMD Nokia phone to date.
The Nokia 9 first leaked in September, when the trypophobia-inducing camera array immediately turned heads. The rear camera setup features seven holes housing five cameras, with the extra two holes used for an LED flash and what looks to be a sensor cluster. For the first time, a video from MySmartPrice gives us an idea of what all of these cameras are actually supposed to do: it promises the phone will take "5 simultaneous shots," which will result in "10x more light captured" compared to a regular camera sensor. This sounds a lot like the computational photography work Google does with a single-lens Pixel camera, where it takes multiple shots in rapid succession and merges them all for better low-light shots. The multi-image idea is proven to work, but we'll have to see if extra physical lenses improve on it.
The video also promises a "2K" 5.99-inch display, a Snapdragon 845 SoC, 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, an in-screen fingerprint reader, Qi wireless charging, and Android 9 Pie with two years of updates. We don't get to see the top and bottom of the device in the video, but previous renders have shown a USB-C port on the bottom and no headphone jack.
The rumors call this Nokia's "flagship" device, and while it would be the highest-end phone from the brand, it's hard to see this competing with the $800+ flagships out there from other companies. First, I'm not sure that front design is going to cut it, with sizable top and bottom bezels that seem dated in a world of tiny notches, camera holes, and slide-up, all-screen devices. Second, the video claims it's shipping with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, which is last year's high-end smartphone SoC. 2019 is all about the Snapdragon 855, and we've already had device announcements featuring the new chip.
Of course, like every Nokia product, the Nokia 9 will live and die by the price. It's not going to match up to the $800+ flagship phones out there, but it doesn't have to be priced at $800. HMD's Nokia phones have made a name for themselves in the Android world by tackling price points no one else is touching, offering excellent value for the price and shipping with stock Android. Hopefully the Nokia 9 follows this trend. There's no word on the launch date, but we have both CES and Mobile World Congress coming up.