Nokia 9 PureView vs. Google Pixel 3: Do five camera lenses beat one?

Three years ago, Nokia was a forgotten brand — but with HMD Global’s help, the company has launched a series of high-quality, affordable devices. It’s not just something the company does, but something it cares deeply about. “This is personal for most of us,” Cristian Capelli, an executive with the company, told Digital Trends in a recent exclusive interview. “We really want to see Nokia where it belongs. The way we do products, really starting with the consumers — it just makes sense.”

The latest fruit of the partnership is the new Nokia 9 PureView. The Nokia 9 PureView comes with quality specs and a nice design, but the most interesting thing about it is the camera system, which packs a whopping five camera sensors. So how does the phone compare to what many consider to be the best camera phone, the Google Pixel 3? We put the two head to head to find out.

Specs

Nokie 9 PureView Google Pixel 3
Size 155 × 75 × 8 mm (6.10 × 2.95 × 0.31 inches) 145.6 × 68.2 × 7.9 mm (5.73 × 2.69 × 0.31 inches)
Weight 172 grams (6.07oz) 148 grams (5.22 ounces)
Screen size 5.99-inch P-OLED 5.5-inch AMOLED
Screen resolution 2,880 × 1,440 pixels (538 pixels per inch) 2,160 × 1,080 pixels (443 pixels per inch)
Operating system Android 9.0 Pie Android 9.0 Pie
Storage space 128GB 64GB, 128GB
MicroSD card slot No No
Tap-to-pay services Google Pay Google Pay
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
RAM 6GB 4GB
Camera Five 12MP sensors (two RGB sensors, three B/W sensors) Single 12.2MP rear, dual 8MP and 8MP front camera
Video 2,160p at 30 frames per second 2,160p at 30fps, 1080p at 120fps, 720p at 240fps
Bluetooth version Bluetooth 5.0 Bluetooth 5.0
Ports USB-C USB-C
Fingerprint sensor Yes (in-display) Yes (back)
Water resistance IP67 IP68
Battery 3,320mAh

Quick Charge 3.0

Qi wireless charging with Fast Wireless Charging 10W

2,915mAh

Fast charging

Qi wireless charging

App marketplace Google Play Store Google Play Store
Network support AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon
Colors Midnight Blue Just Black, Clearly White, Not Pink
Price $700 $800
Buy from Amazon, B&H, Best Buy Google
Review score Hands-On 4.5 out of 5 stars

Performance, battery life, and charging

Google Pixel 3 review
Simon Hill/Digital Trends

Considering the Nokia 9 PureView is a flagship device in 2019, you would expect it to feature the all new Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor — but it actually features the last-generation Snapdragon 845. That’s still a pretty powerful chip, and should be perfectly fine for most users. Coupled with that processor, you’ll find 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. The Pixel 3 also offers a Snapdragon 845 processor, along with 4GB of RAM and options for either 64GB or 128GB of RAM.

The battery on the Nokia 9 PureView comes in at 3,320mAh, while the Pixel 3’s battery is 2,915mAh — though considering the fact that the Nokia device has a larger display, the battery may not last all that much longer. Both phones have fast charging tech, and they can both charge wirelessly too, but the Nokia device may charge wirelessly a little faster.

Considering the extra RAM and the slightly larger battery, the Nokia 9 PureView is the winner here.

Winner: Nokia 9 PureView

Design and durability

Nokia 9 hands-on review
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The overall design of the two phones is pretty different, though that’s not necessarily a bad thing. For starters, the Nokia 9 PureView features a 5.99-inch display on the front with rounded corners — it’s a good look. The phone doesn’t really have an edge-to-edge display, a hot trend in many 2019 phones, instead opting for a forehead and chin, which makes it look a little dated. The back of the phone might be the most interesting part of it: There are seven modules on the rear, five of which are cameras, with one flash and one “time-of-flight” sensor for depth data. Apart from that, there’s only a Nokia logo — the fingerprint sensor has been moved inside the display.

The Pixel 3 isn’t necessarily much more modern-looking. While the Pixel 3 XL features a somewhat edge-to-edge design, the smaller Pixel 3 instead looks a little dated, with a forehead and chin of its own. On the back of the Pixel 3, you’ll find a fingerprint sensor and a single camera lens, in stark contrast to the multitude of lenses on the Nokia 9 PureView.

When it comes to durability, neither is all that durable: They’re both made from glass. The Pixel 3 does have IP68 water-resistance, however, while the Nokia 9 PureView only comes in at IP67. The difference? The Pixel should be able to survive a foot and a half deeper underwater for up to a half hour. Bottom line, don’t take either one swimming.

Winner: Tie

Display

Pixel 3 Best Phone 2018

The display on the Nokia 9 PureView is better in almost every way than that of the Google Pixel 3. On the Nokia 9 PureView, you’ll get a 5.99-inch P-OLED display with a resolution of 2,880 × 1,440 pixels and a pixel density of 538 pixels-per-inch. The Pixel 3 is also an OLED screen, but it’s only a 5.5 inch one, with a resolution of 2,160 × 1,080 pixels, and thus a pixel density of 443 pixels-per-inch. The display on the Nokia device is bigger and a higher resolution, and because of that it’s the winner.

Winner: Nokia 9 PureView

Camera

exclusive look at first photos from the nokia 9 pureview review feat

The Nokia 9 PureView and Google Pixel 3 couldn’t take more different approaches to camera tech. While the Google Pixel 3 has one single lens and uses artificial intelligence to process things like bokeh, Nokia fits a whopping five rear-facing lenses on the Nokia 9 PureView, in an attempt to offer enough features for any occasion. All five of the sensors are 12 megapixels; three are monochrome sensors and two are color sensors. The sensors have an f/1.8 aperture. The Pixel 3’s sensor sits in at 12.2 megapixels with an aperture of f/1.8 and optical image stabilization — a feature that’s missing from the Nokia 9 PureView.

On the front of the Nokia 9 PureView, there’s a 20-megapixel sensor, while the Google Pixel 3 has a dual front-facing camera with two 8-megapixel sensors, one of which is an ultrawide sensor.

We’ll have to wait and see which phone really sports the better camera tech, but based on exclusive early testing of the Nokia 9 PureView, and months of using the Pixel 3, we know that both phones deliver excellent photos.

Winner: Tie

Software and updates

Google Pixel Buds
Google’s wired Pixel Buds Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Both the Nokia 9 PureView and the Google Pixel 3 offer very clean Android experiences, and both should get quick updates. The Nokia 9 PureView features Android One, which means that Nokia isn’t shipping it with any extra software. Because of that, the phone will get updates to new versions of Android as soon as they’re available, and will support security updates for at least a few years. The Google Pixel 3 doesn’t have Android One, per se, but it still has stock Android and will get updates as soon as they’re available, considering the fact that it’s made by Google.

Winner: Tie

Special features

Google Pixel Stand
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Both the Google Pixel 3 and the Nokia 9 PureView have a few special features to speak of — though considering the scaled-back software, neither has a ton of extra features. The Google Pixel series seems to be getting smarter and smarter, and the Pixel 3 offers things like Screen Call, which allows you to see real-time transcripts of phone calls, and Now Playing, which shows you what music is playing. As mentioned, you’ll also get all the A.I. smarts in the camera.

The Nokia 9 PureView is almost devoid of special features, save for the camera processing tech. Because of that, the Google Pixel 3 is the winner here.

Winner: Google Pixel 3

Price

The Google Pixel 3 is available now from the Google website and many online and in-store tech retailers, where it starts for $800 for the 64GB version — though if you want the 128GB model, you’ll need to pay $900. The Nokia 9 PureView is decidedly cheaper — it’ll come in at $700, though it’s only being manufactured in a limited run, making it harder to get your hands on. It is available from Amazon, Best Buy, and B&H Photo, but once it sells out, don’t expect it to go back in stock.

Overall winner: Nokia 9 PureView

While the Google Pixel 3 is an excellent phone, offering decent performance and a great camera, the Nokia 9 PureView edges it out with its slightly better display, extra RAM, and larger battery. That said, you really can’t go wrong with either of these two phones — and when the Nokia 9 PureView sells out, the Pixel 3 is an excellent option.

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