Nokia 808 PureView

The Symbian-powered 808 Pure View boasts an unbelievable 41 megapixel Carl Zeiss camera, paired with Dolby Digital Sound and 1080p HD video

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Editor's Review of the 808 PureView

Reviewed by on 4th July 2012

Much has been made of the PureView and the camera sorcery contained inside it that promised to make it by far and away the best camera on a smartphone ever seen. Nokia have always pioneered in this field, having released the first camera-endowed mobile phone - the 7650 - in 2002, before teaming up with Carl Zeiss optics a few years ago to give us the Nokia N8.

The 41MP snapper on the 808 PureView promised to take things to the next level, however. While most people expect it to deliver on this front, will the dated Symbian OS detract from its photographic brilliance?

Design & Build

As you can imagine with a phone featuring a 41MP snapper, the PureView isn't as slim as is the fashion with smartphones these days, packing 13.9mm around the waist. It's heaver than most smartphones, but this actually helps when it comes to image stabilisation.

True to Nokia's form though, PureView is nevertheless a good-looking piece of kit. It's encased in a ceramic coating which makes it feel safe in the hands, and gives it a wholesome, rich feel.

The 4" AMOLED display on the PureView is a perfect size, and Nokia's ClearBlack technology certainly goes some way to making the photos you take look remotely as great as they will when you upload them onto a computer. Viewing angles are fine, and it's responsive enough, but a strange pink tint doesn't do it any favours. With the quality of the camera, having a screen to justify would always be a tough task, so Nokia can be forgiven for falling just a bit short here.

OS & Performance

On paper, the 808 PureView is a beautiful phone that should dominate the camera-enthusiast corner of the smartphone market. However, its Achilles heel is the fact that it runs on Symbian. It may be the latest 'Belle' update to the OS, but it still feels dated and clumsy. The worst part of it is the insubstantial Symbian app store, which is now pretty much a relic of an all but dead operating system; a graveyard of apps, if you like.

The 1.3 GHz processor housed inside the PureView copes absolutely fine with the phone's basic functions and, of course, the beautiful monstrosity of a camera. Where it struggles, however, is with messaging, running apps and browsing. Performing most of these tasks is laggy, the keyboard is awkward, and pinch-zomming on the web browser is as fun as pinching blackheads out of your nose.

Granted, the high-end price you'll pay for this phone is mainly down to the brilliant camera, but the OS functionality is that of a budget smartphone.


Let's face it, unless you're some Symbian-obsessed madman, then the 41MP camera is the feature that you'd be buying this phone for, and you'll be glad to hear that it well and truly delivers on all the hype surrounding it.

Aside from the 41MP of raw pixel goodness, a major feature of this Carl Zeiss-designed beast is 3X lossless digital zoom. Where normally you'd need actual moving parts to achieve this, the PureView does it by taking a 2, 5, or 8MP subset of the image, essentially magnifying a portion of the screen without any loss in quality.

There are four resolution modes to choose from here - 3, 5, 8, and 41MP modes. Even if you're not using the full-steam-ahead 41MP mode, you'll still find that each respective resolution is better than anything else on the market. Details and colours are rich, noise is null and environmental lighting is a non-issue for this phone. The 41MP doesn't benefit from all the PureView technology features, but the detail you can get in a photo is truly jaw-dropping.

As you'd expect - and hope for - the camera software features have been overhauled from the Symbian defaults. Aside from the usual Automatic and 'Scene' modes, there is also a Creative mode, which allows you to toggle resolutions, colour tones and aspect ratios. Within this mode, you have what can best be described as sub-modes, such as bracketing, interval and self-timer. The most impressive of these is interval mode which effectively turns the PureView into a time-lapse camera. Very good for recording fruit decompose, or squeezing in 24 hours of an urban skyline into 10 seconds, or other creative pursuits that aren't quite so cliched as the ones I just mentioned.

The camera here is the first phone camera that can be a genuine alternative to legitimate high-end 'real' cameras, and this is a massive achievement for Nokia. On the camera side of things, the PureView really delivers.

Battery life, storage & connectivity

The 1400mAh battery is well-sized, and so it has to be if you're going to be getting trigger-happy with the impressive photography and video-recording options. A substantial day's snapping (particularly with the powerful Xenon flash) will get you a day's use out of your PureView.

Once again, the phone's storage capacity needs to take into account the fact that the camera here will see a lot of use, and the high-res shots will take up a lot of space. This has clearly been taken onboard by Nokia, who offer 16GB of internal storage, up to 32GB of microSD space, 1GB ROM and 512MB RAM. More than sufficient, although it's a mystery why they didn't pop a 64GB-capable microSD slot in just to be safe.

The PureView has all the wireless functionality you need to spread your professional-quality photos around various devices and social networks. WiFi, Bluetooth 3.0, DLNA and NFC are all accounted for here, and download speeds of up to 14.4Mbps will more than suffice for fast uploads of your photographic endeavours to the internet.


The end result with the PureView isn't surprising. The camera is incredible, the operating system is mediocre. Camera enthusiasts will probably be willing to make such a sacrifice, but those familiar with Android and iOS would find it difficult to convert to dated old Symbian.

Perhaps what's most exciting about this phone is the potential of the PureView technology. Nokia have already stated that they'll jack up their future Lumia phones with it, and with Windows Phone 8 just around the corner, this makes the idea of upcoming Lumia handsets very appealing indeed.

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Nokia 808 Pure View Specifications


123.9mm x 60.2mm x 13.9mm


169 grams


Full capacitive touch screen


Gorilla Glass 2.5

Size: 4.0 inches

Resolution: 640 x 360


Keyboard: On-screen

Operating System

Symbian Belle


Integrated NFC Chip



Internal: 16GB

External: microSD up to 48GB


CPU: 1.3GHz

A-GPS with maps



Data Speed

Up to 14.4 Mbps download speed
Up to 5.76 Mbps upload speed

Data Protocols



Wi-Fi: IEEE 802.11 b/g/n



Audio: 3.5mm stereo jack

Data: Standard microUSB

Quad Band

GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900



Bluetooth 3

A2DP for wireless stereo headsets



41.0 megapixel camera

Auto Focus and Xenon Flash

1080p Video Recording

At 30 fps

Face Detection

Front facing camera with video calling



Social Networking Features

Twitter and Facebook Widgets

Email Access



Battery Capacity: 1400 mAh

Talk Time: 410 minutes

Standby Time: 540 hours



Radio: FM with RDS

Audio supported formats

Playback: MP3, WAV, WMA, eAAC+

Recording: Supported

Video supported formats

Playback: MP4, H.264, H.263, WMV

Recording: Supported

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