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Hands-On: Nokia PureView 808

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Feb 27, 2012, 4:29 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Nokia couldn't make a big splash at Mobile World Congress without bringing one new Symbian Belle smartphone to the fold. The PureView 808 claims to be the best camera phone ever. Is it?

The PureView 808 is an interesting monster. Not only does it claim to have the highest-rated camera ever at 41 megapixels, but it is also a thick, beefy phone.

The PureView 808 is a Symbian Belle phone. That means it is running the newest version of a platform that Nokia plans to abandon in the not-too-distant future. Why it chose to endow its dead-end platform with such an amazing camera is beyond me, but them's the facts.

The 808 shares its design language with other Belle phones, such as the N8. It is made of sturdy, strong plastics that are smooth and feel good in the hand. The 808 is a chubby phone, however, in order to accommodate the massive camera sensor that's embedded within. You can fit it in your pocket, but it's going to be a bulky lump.


The controls are all along the right edge of the phone, including the camera button, power/lock key, and volume toggle. They worked well enough for me. The camera module on the back is enormous, and the lens can be protected by a sliding hatch that opens and closes.

The user interface was relatively quick and smooth. I didn't notice any performance problems with the device, and was pleased that to see some of the modifications made by the Belle update (additional home screens, etc.). The camera user interface follows the same path set be earlier Nokia devices, and uses a series of panels and drop-down menus to make adjustments to the settings and different capture modes. The camera works quickly and didn't lag when focusing or capturing images.

The camera module is an interesting bit of technology. Technically, the highest resolution image it can capture is 38 megapixels, even though it is called a 41-megapixel sensor. It can also capture images at 5 megapixels or 8 megapixels for more manageable file sizes. The reason it has a 38-megapixel option is so that it can offer users the ability to zoom in to see incredible detail.

The sample images Nokia had on hand were obviously taken professionally and looked fantastic. It's hard to gauge, however, what sort of results everyday people will get with the 808 PureView.

About the author, Eric M. Zeman:

Eric has been covering the mobile telecommunications industry for 17 years at various print and online publications. He studied at Rutgers Newark and University of Kentucky, and has a degree in writing. He likes playing guitar, attending concerts, listening to music, and driving sports cars.

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Feb 28, 2012, 7:03 PM

question on the camera.

So, it take a 38 MP image (or 41). The quality of a picture doesn't necessarily fall within the camera sensor, but also includes the lens aperture, the processing RAW chips, the product software.

So my question is. How long does the phone take to process a picture at maximum resolution? The HTC One can take 8 mp pictures at 4 per second. Who would want a device where you have to hold the camera button down for 2 second,3 seconds, 5 seconds?

If it can take the 38 MP image and process it instantly, I think you have an amazing camera. If it takes a lot of time, then you lost me (well you lost me when you reported it was a Symbian device).
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