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Hands-on: Nokia 808 PureView

Hands-on: Nokia 808 PureView


Hands-on: Nokia 808 PureView

41-Megapixel Worth of Images

Our first glimpse of the Nokia 808 PureView was at MWC earlier this year. Smartphones these days typically come with a 5 to 8-megapixel camera, so it's no surprise that the whopping 41-megapixel camera on the PureView created such a stir. Fast forward three months, and this handset is finally on sale here. For those who are considering getting it, here's a recap of what this smartphone is all about, and our preliminary observations after playing with it first at the Nokia office, and then in our lab for the past two days.

 

  Key highlights of the Nokia 808 PureView 

  • Nokia Belle 
  • 4.0-inch ClearBlack AMOLED
  • 640 x 360 pixels 
  • 1.3GHz single-core processor 
  • 512MB RAM / 16GB onboard storage
    (microSD expandability up to 48GB)
  • 41-megapixel camera sensor / f/2.4 aperture lens
  • Nokia Pureview Pro imaging technology 
  • Carl Zeiss optics
  • Xenon flash / LED flash for video recording
  • 1080p HD video recording
  • 1,400mAh battery
  • 169g
  • 123.9 x 60.2 x 13.9mm (17.95mm at camera) 
  • Availability: 7 June, S$839 (inclusive of GST) without line contract. Available at Nokia retail stores, PC Show, all three telcos


Apps and Camera User Interface

Of course, the camera experience would be incomplete without the software aspect. The Nokia 808 PureView comes with a straightforward user interface that allows users to easily toggle and fully experience its functions. Here's a quick look at the camera user interface in a video captured during MWC 2012:

The Big Screen app gives users an overview of photos taken in a portfolio style (on a big screen, of course), which makes it easier for users to share their multimedia content with his or her audience. The app automatically kicks in when you connect the phone via HDMI but if it doesn't for some reason, you can access it via the main menu as seen below. You can control the app directly from the device via navigation keys, or with Nokia Big Screen supported Bluetooth remote controls. This app is not exactly new however; it has been around since early 2011. With that said, it will definitely complement the PureView experience, seeing how camera/multimedia-centric the device is.


Photo Comparison

We managed to conduct a cursory photo capture comparison between the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, the Nokia 808 PureView and the HTC One X. Unfortunately, we didn't have the Galaxy S III at hand.

Colors are relatively true to form across the board, with the HTC One X's being slightly whitewashed. Details are much fuzzier on both the Galaxy Nexus and One X (for example, the words "Original Cheese" on the Cheezels' pack cannot be clearly seen), as compared to the Nokia 808 PureView. Photos from the PureView are significantly sharper and display lesser noise. Will this mean that the Nokia 808 PureView will get a fighting chance against the big players?

While we are impressed with the PureView's camera, we feel that a better choice for Nokia would have been to swop out its outdated Symbian Belle OS for the WP7 platform instead. Symbian's very miniscule ecosystem (that is, one that lacks variety in terms of photo-editing, social media, communications and social photography apps) isn't enough to complement or enhance today's average smartphone user's photographic experience. On the flip-side, Nokia has plans to port the PureView Pro technology unto other devices in the future, although no specific time frame is provided at the moment.

Nonetheless, for those who want to get into the technical nitty-gritty, you can head down to our in-depth feature article by our resident camera reviewer, where he elaborates a bit more on what's so special with the PureView's 41-megapixel sensor. An interesting note to share: the special companion processor in the PureView which handles pixel scaling was a little tricky to develop because Nokia couldn't get hold of enough processing power, resulting in a 5-year development phase for the phone.

If you are still not wowed by the Nokia 808 PureView's photographic ability, check out its Flickr account, where Nokia has uploaded full-resolution sample images from the smartphone which you can download and inspect for yourself. Otherwise, you can head down to our lengthy hands-on article that we first shared during MWC 2012, when the phone was first unveiled. In the meantime, wait up for the PureView article where we compare it with (gasp!) actual cameras!

Nokia 808 PureView Imaging Specifications
Sensor
  • 1/1.2-inch, 41MP with pixel oversampling
Lens
  • Carl Zeiss optics
Focal Length
  • 8.02mm
35mm Equivalent
  • 26mm (16:9), 28mm (4:3)
Aperture
  • f/2.4
Lossless Zoom
  • 3x for stills, 4x for Full-HD 1080p video
Focus Range
  • 15cm - infinity (throughout the zoom range)
Construction
  • 5 elements, 1 group
  • All lens surfaces are aspherical. One high-index, low-dispersion glass mould lens
  • Mechanical shutter with neutral density filter
Total Number of Pixels
  • 7728 x 5368
Pixel Size
  • 1.4 microns