Nokia 808 Pureview – Cameraphone No. 1

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With its 41-megapixel sensor and other high-quality optics, the 808 PureView is the ultimate cameraphone – however, this good-looking Nokia handset is severely let down by the outdated Symbian OS it comes with

Back in 2002 Nokia introduced the world to the cameraphone with the launch of the Nokia 7650.

That camera had a basic 0.3-megapixel sensor, that was capable of handling photos of up to 640 x 480 pixels. Since then Nokia has pretty much led the way when it comes to cameraphone innovation, thanks to a range of market-leading handsets.

However, with the arrival of the Nokia 808 PureView complete with its staggering 41-megapixel sensor, these previous models pale into insignificance. This smartphone is not so much a step forward for cameraphones as a giant leap.

Nokia’s PureView technology has been in development for five years and pretty much turns the notion of how we take photos on its head. The results are nothing short of astonishing and Nokia has
managed to outshine even its own flagship Nokia N8 with the 808 PureView, putting all rivals in the shade.

Unique design
The 808 PureView looks good but doesn’t particularly stand out when viewed face on. Its stylishly curved edges clearly mark it out as a Nokia device and it has the standard layout of buttons and controls. It’s an understated, simple look with screenlock, camera and volume controls on the side and a thin strip providing menu and primary phone functions below the 4-inch AMOLED screen.

The main chassis is crafted from tough plastic and, unlike the Nokia N8 which used a unibody design, Nokia has reverted to an older design on the 808 PureView, with the SIM card and Micro SD card slots accessible by removing the battery.

This phone is the first Symbian device to support Micro SIM cards, so if you’re upgrading you’ll either need to contact your service provider for a new SIM, or if you’re brave and skilled enough you could trim your current SIM card down. We don’t recommend this for most users, though.

The problems began when we turned the phone over. Weighing in at 169g, this is a heavy device to be carrying around every day and the camera’s sensor housing is huge. This means the chassis is noticeably top heavy, so we found that the phone has to be held it in a very specific way in order to feel comfortable in the hand. In its favour, however, this extra weight does give the chassis a nice feel and balance, when holding and using it as a camera.

Vibrant display
Nokia has also used its own ClearBlack technology on the 808 PureView’s screen. This unique two-layer filter is designed to reduce screen reflections and let you view the screen in even the brightest sunlight.

The effect is excellent and we found the screen easy to see at all times. Whether viewed outside or under bright office lights the display looks great, adding to the PureView’s usability as a cameraphone.

If you’re accustomed to working with high-resolution smartphone displays you may be a little frustrated by the 808 PureView’s screen, however. Sporting the same 360 x 640 pixel resolution as the older Nokia N8, it lacks the sharpness and crisp image quality found on comparably priced handsets such as the Galaxy S III and Apple iPhone 4S. As a result, images lack the level of definition we’d liked to have seen on this otherwise excellent AMOLED display.

Full article in Mobile News issue 522 (September 10, 2012).

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