Nokia Purity HD Headset Review

There’s a peculiarity in the technology world. Nokia is, in many ways, the undisputed media king. Dolby Surround Sound, untouchable cameras (HTC’s new flagship One series, boasting its camera, still pales beside the Nokia N8, not to mention the jaw-dropping 808 PureView), TV-Out, HDMI, superior audio output without headphones, and the 808 PureView records sound at such a high quality that it’s like you’re really there. Mass storage mode lets you drag any file onto the phone, and you can plug your USB stick into the phone and play the video, music or photos on a TV, which is great if you’re staying in a hotel. The N900 would wirelessly play media from computers on the Wi-Fi network, and these could then be played on the television via the TV-Out. And, if you were watching a film via TV-Out, you could multitask without interfering with the display on the television, say if you wanted to look up the actor on IMDB. Features such as these made Nokia phones incredibly close to genuine computers, and users were not left thinking “i’ll have to wait until i get back to my laptop”.

Yet, for some reason, Apple is considered the king of media. Apple, whose devices play only the iTunes file format – forget AVI files and click-and-drag here. Apple, who will play media from the phone or tablet to the television only if you own Apple TV. Apple, whose cameras have only just started to take decent photos provided it’s not nighttime, because an LED flash is apparently good enough. Apple, whose audio output through the iPhone’s speakers is so tinny and weak as to be barely listenable. Any sensible person would consider this a slight dichotomy – how could a company whose devices do more, regardless of the file format and output, and take better pictures, and sound better, and interfere less with the user’s actions, be considered inferior to a company whose devices do relatively little, and only if the user follows strict criteria?

The reason is probably because Apple invented the iPod, the go-to portable music player. Portable music is convenient, but it’s always been a trade off because of poor sound quality – audiophiles aside, many people neglect to think of the quality of headphones and consider them all equal. With the iPhone’s speakers so bad as to make music not worth listening to, it’s a sad fact that the supplied headphones aren’t much better. In recent times, though, headphones have received more attention, especially with the Beats headphones accompanying HTC handsets. Nokia has also been paying attention to this entertainment sphere and has now released the Nokia Purity HD Headset, designed to offer the best portable music listening experience ever. For those using them on a Nokia Lumia device, the headphone lead can also be used to pause, skip, forward or rewind tracks, answer calls and talk hands-free.

This is all good on paper, but do the headphones live up to the hype, especially the “High Definition” title?

In a word: Yes. The Purity HD headsets are extremely comfortable, designed for the padding to rest around the ears rather than on them. They come in a range of colours designed to match the colour of the phone, including black, cyan, magenta and white. The quality delivered through the headphones is second to none; few would argue against the fact that typically listening to music on a mobile phone yields a poorer listening experience than on a stereo or through other speakers. The Purity HD headset, however, seems to have finally overcome this. The audio levels sound exactly as they were intended, with a perfect blend of treble, mid and bass. Compared to other headphones, on-ear and in-ear, the difference in quality is noticeable immediately, especially on songs with prominent bass or low-end. Perhaps the ultimate positive result was that they even made the iPhone’s music sound good.

One of the main features of the Nokia Lumia range is the inclusion of music apps, like Nokia Music and Mix Radio. With Mix Radio, users can launch the app and choose a genre, from blues to jazz and pop to disco, then select a decade or a random playlist, with no login required, offline playback and no usage fee. In other words, the Lumia range provide a hefty amount of free music to be listened to at any moment in time even if the user doesn’t transfer any of their own collection to the device. And with top of the range headphones to accompany it, all Lumia owners can enjoy a stellar listening experience as and when they want to.

Apple made a huge marketing campaign over the iPhone containing an iPod. Perhaps now Nokia needs to make a similar campaign informing the public that they can have their own customisable, portable radio wherever they go, so they can break away from their standard playlists. And with the Purity HD headphones, they can finally enjoy listening to the music they enjoy the way it was meant to be listened to, no matter where they are.