Nokia 808 PureView review: the future of mobile imaging, wrapped in the smartphone past
The PureView 808 is easily the best cameraphone yet. But if you're obsessed with imaging quality, be prepared to compromise on performance and usability.
- Best cameraphone everSuperb video and audio recordingScreen easily viewable outdoors
- Low-res displayApp store lacks the range and breadth of rivalsSymbian Belle OS is temperamental and unintuitive
The Nokia 808 PureView has a 41-megapixel camera sensor. But you knew that. The crystallization of five years of imaging R&D has landed, and the timing couldn't have been better for Nokia. Alongside uncomfortable financial reading, its move to Windows Phone hasn't exactly set the smartphone world alight just yet. It's seemingly established itself as the go-to WinPho choice for American customers thanks to some aggressive pricing, but with news that the next iteration of Windows Phone won't come to the Lumia 900, many will hold out for Nokia's next handset. Whatever that device will be, it's likely to bring the same PureView technology we've got here on the Nokia 808 PureView -- a Symbian-based handset whose software has seen better days. However, OS be damned, it still blew away attendees at this year's Mobile World Congress. Impressive stuff, given that it's the same show where HTC's admirable One series debuted.
That huge sensor is paired with a new five-element Carl Zeiss lens and a refreshed flash with double the strength of the one on the Nokia N8 -- the existing cameraphone champ. But behind the technical bullet points, it's how Nokia maximizes the 41-megapixel sensor, oversampling with those pixels to create improved 5-, 8- , 3- and 2-megapixel images, reducing noise and improving low-light performance. However, when it comes to software, Symbian Belle (with Feature Pack 1 in tow) lags behind the likes of Android, iOS and Windows Phone in user experience and app provision. Similarly, the chunky handset flies in the opposite direction of the trend for slim smartphones. Is that camera module really all Nokia thinks (and hopes) it is? What's more, is Symbian relevant enough for such future-facing goodness? Let's find out.