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HMD unveils Nokia flagship smartphone with five cameras

Some reviewers were impressed by the Nokia 9's camera specs, but said the handset's other features may fall short in the very competitive smartphone market.

nokia9 pureview
HMD Global's Nokia 9 PureView camera. Image: Hmd

HMD Global, the Finnish firm licensed to produce and market Nokia smartphones, unveiled four new phones at this week's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

Most of the buzz online about HMD's presence at the world's biggest smartphone event this week surrounded the firm's unveiling of its flagship phone, the Nokia 9 PureView, which runs on Android.

Most flagship phones made by market leaders like Samsung and Apple are outfitted with two - or even three - cameras. The Nokia 9, however, has five cameras on the back of the device, each equipped with 12-megapixel sensors.

Each of the lenses is triggered when a photo is taken and internal software melds those five images into one, offering phone-based photographers the ability to create the out-of-focus 'bokeh' effects that not long ago were only possible through the use of traditional cameras with bulky lenses.

The company had help from San Fransisco-based camera firm Light in outfitting the multi-camera tech on the Nokia 9. Light recently released its own camera device, the 1700 euro L16, which utilises 16 separate lenses and sensors. The phone also features a front-facing camera for selfies.

HMD Global has been marketing Nokia smartphones for the past three years, and - like all phone companies these days - has tried to differentiate itself in the highly competitive and mature smartphone market.

Differentiation

Unlike rivals Samsung and Huawei - which both recently announced smartphones with foldable screens - HMD is aiming to differentiate by offering phones capable of taking great photographs, according to the firm's SVP Pekka Rantala.

When it launched operations a few years ago HMD said it was aiming to bring Nokia back into the mobile phone industry, saying that it wants the brand to become one of the top five in the market.

However, in terms of market share, the firm has not yet succeeded. According to smartphone sales data from Counterpoint Research, Nokia HMD was the ninth-largest holder of market share in 2018, with about one percent of the market.

Meanwhile the market leaders, Samsung and Apple, enjoy about 19 and 14 percent of the global smartphone market, respectively.

According to Counterpoint Research the smartphone market reached a peak with overall sales falling by around 4 percent last year. The research firm said that consumers were holding onto their phones longer and not upgrading them as often as in previous years.

Android One

Another way HMD has differentiated the Nokia brand is through the use of its "pure" version of Android, known as Android One. The majority of smartphone companies using Android commonly use modified versions of the operating system with many including pre-installed software.

Android One, which is made and licensed by Google, is an unmodified version of the OS that continually receives security and software updates, a service which many smartphone makers do not provide for their devices.

HMD said the retail price of the Nokia 9 PureView will be around 599 euros, which is well below the asking price of many flagship handsets from other firms. Apple's top model starts at well over a thousand euros while prices for Samsung's folding phone-tablet will start at more than 1,700 euros.

While no official release date has been set, it has been reported the Nokia 9 will go on sale next month.

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