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Nokia 808 Pureview review

The world's best camera phone, but it's let down by Nokia Belle's failings
Thu Aug 09 2012, 17:16
Nokia 808 Pureview three quarter

Product Nokia 808 Pureview
Website Nokia 808 Pureview
Specifications 1.3GHz ARM 11 processor, 512MB RAM, 4in 360x640 Clearblack AMOLED screen, Nokia Belle OS, 16GB internal storage, microSD support for up to 32GB, 41MP rear-facing camera with Carl Zeiss optics and Xenon flash, HD 1080p video, VGA front-facing camera, Dolby Digital Plus, HSDPA and WiFi connectivity, 1400mAh battery, 124x60x13.9mm, 169g
Price £500


WHEN the Nokia 808 Pureview was first announced, we didn't think it would make it to market. The handset's 41MP camera seemed more likely a novelty than anything else, and we were confused as to why Nokia had loaded the phone with its ageing Symbian software rather than Windows Phone 7. However, we were wrong, and we now have our hands on the real thing. Unsurprisingly, its 41MP camera is superb, but does this justify the £500 price tag?

Camera

When it comes to reviewing the Nokia 808 Pureview, there's no other place to start than the camera. At an astonishing 41MP, Nokia has equipped this phone with the largest camera sensor ever to feature on a mobile device.

First off, it points out that the Nokia 808 Pureview camera isn't for the faint hearted. The device features a huge array of imaging options, which took us a good while to finally get our head around. Also, if you're wondering, "what's the point of a 41MP camera?" - the handset uses a technique called pixel oversampling, where a lot of information is crammed into a few, but 'truer' pixels, resulting in sharp, detailed images.

As well as a 41MP sensor, the Nokia 808 Pureview features a Carl Zeiss lens that boasts five aspherical glass elements in one group and a mechanical shutter, a feature that promises crystal-clear images even in poor lighting. It also has two different flash components seated on the rear of the phone, a top-end Xenon flash for shooting stills and an LED light for capturing video. All of this makes for a fair amount of bulk on the rear of the handset, but it's still lighter than your average professional camera.

Nokia 808 Pureview back

You can fire up the camera using the dedicated key even when the phone is locked. The 808 Pureview greets you with three shooting options: Automatic, Scenes and Creative.

The automatic setting does just as you'd expect, and lets novice users treat the Pureview as a standard 5MP point-and-shoot camera, the only difference being that images look absolutely gorgeous compared to those taken on your average smartphone.

We rarely used the Scenes mode on the Nokia 808 Pureview, although it's a good setting for those who fancy doing some modest tinkering with their snaps. For example, you can tell the device whether you're taking an image in landscape, portrait, at night time mode or choose from a number of preset scene types.

Things get more interesting when you switch to the Creative setting, an option that lets you capture images at a whopping 38MP. There's also an option to capture at 34MP, by selecting the 16:9 ratio option. In this setting, there are also a number of buttons to be fiddled with, letting you customise colour tones, exposure, contrast, saturation and scenes. Although it took us a while to get our head around this at first, the on-screen sliders and buttons are fairly easy to get to grips with.

Nokia 808 Pureview test Scenes

Although we noticed that the camera often struggled to focus on objects close-up, we couldn't fault it on picture quality. Snapping an photo - be it of your mug on your desk or the Olympic stadium - image quality is simply superb. Doing a reverse pinch-to-zoom shows you just how much detail this camera is capable of capturing, a feature that enables you to zoom deep into photos and crop the bit you want.

Based on image quality, the Nokia 808 Pureview is undeniably the best cameraphone available on the market today, albeit a bit bulky and difficult to use at first.

 

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