Nokia 808 PureView review: Photo Finnish

GSMArena team, 22 June 2012.
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Final words

The Nokia 808 PureView is getting a lot of attention - if nothing else, the Finns have sparked people's curiosity to unprecedented levels. This review is just the latest in a series of articles we've posted to try and cover every aspect of the most impressive cameraphone we've ever seen.

The camera is of course the single most prominent feature of the 808 - both in terms of physical appearance and level of interest. It beats every other phone camera at still photography and the flexibility offered by the camcorder is unmatched. And don't forget the zoom - the loss-less digital zoom alone is enough of a reason to make this cameraphone a great buy.

In good light you can stand next to someone with a DSLR and keep your chin up. And with its xenon flash, the PureView comes out smiling even in most low-light scenarios.

The Symbian experience is light years ahead of what it was on the 5800 XpressMusic. The OS has caught with to the competition with numerous UI and usability updates, and it's lightweight enough so even the 1.3GHz single-core processor of old architecture delivers a fast, fluid experience.

There are a couple of things to consider though. Symbian is good now, but users have already moved on and the developers followed (not that devs ever got too enthusiastic about the touch-enabled Symbian). Apps are the single most important feature of a smartphone ecosystem today and Symbian is lagging behind in that department with no chances to catch up.

The other issue is physical dimensions - the 808 PureView is very thick and quite heavy, probably more than what many people are willing to accept.

Still, back in the day, the Nokia N8 sold 4 million units in under a year, so it's not impossible for the 808 PureView to become one of the company's bestsellers, even with all those Lumias around.

The Nokia 808 PureView is a unique device, one that has virtually no alternative. What we can do instead is list the phones people will probably end up buying after admiring the 808's camera, but deciding against it for reasons like comfort and practicality.

Millions of people already own an Apple iPhone 4S or a Samsung Galaxy S III and their cameras are good enough for the casual consumer. Plus, those people will be unlikely to leave their comfy app ecosystems, where they've probably already spent a good amount of money.

The Sony Xperia S tries to bring back the old glory of the 12MP shooters. Though the jump from 8MP to 12MP seems tiny after seeing the PureView 38MP photos, it's still 50% more pixels. The Xperia ion is also an option with the same camera, but bigger screen.

If you're in a part of the world where it's available, you might want to look at the HTC Titan II. It has double the megapixels with a 16MP camera, but Windows Phone 7.5 is in the same boat as Nokia Belle. Not to mention that the image quality isn't as good as the high resolution might make you believe.

Apple iPhone 4S Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III Sony Xperia S HTC Titan II
Apple iPhone 4S Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III Sony Xperia S HTC Titan II

As a phone, the Nokia 808 PureView could be the swan song of a platform worth many glorious chapters in smartphone history. There may be still a few more Symbians to come, but who will remember them over this unique gadget?

As a sign of things to come, the 808 PureView signals something brighter. PureView, combined with the purchase of Scalado's impressive camera technologies, point to a Nokia that will continue to dominate the phone photography field.

Couple that with Nokia's knack for sturdy, well-designed hardware and the exciting Windows Phone 8, and the company suddenly looks a lot more likely to claw its way out of the slump.

The Nokia 808 PureView will have a prominent place in the Nokia Hall of Fame. We're likely to see a ton of short films and music videos shot with the 808 (like we did with the N8), which will keep the phone in the public eye.

So hats off to the Finns - there are no two ways about it. With the Microsoft deal a gamble that's yet to pay off, with plenty of people unable to get over the way MeeGo was treated, with a market obsessed with software and apps, you'd think they'd have other things on their mind than developing what's probably the most revolutionary technology this industry has seen for quite some time. Madness? This is Nokia.

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