Nokia 808 PureView: An Ode to Mobile Photography

When in Manila and you want to get the best photos without a bulky camera, then it’s time to start saving up for the soon-to-be-released monster phone Nokia 808 PureView!

Nokia 808 PureView: An Introduction

Nokia 808 PureView

Do you remember when back in the day, one of your friends would whip out his or her mobile and brag about its camera, which amounted to just around 2 megapixels? Yes, such was the folly of the mid-2000s, but as technology marched on, so did the capacity of the cameras that were in them. Your once- prized 1.3MP is now but the front-facing call camera of many a Smartphone in today’s mobile world.



 Nokia was such a company that heavily invested on cameras in their phones. From their early color phones like the 6600, to the classic N-series devices like the N90, there has always been a niche that the Finns filled with their Carl Zeiss-lensed photography aids that doubled as ringers. Fourteen months ago, they solidified that claim with the 12-megapixel N8.



It was no surprise that people were once again in for a shock when Nokia showed up at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona last week. Having been in the backburner for quite some time, the boys from Espoo delivered something that once again left consumers with their mouths agape. It came in the form of the Nokia PureView 808 – a 41-megapixel monster of a phone!


Now if you are currently questioning my sanity, or on a lesser scale, Nokia’s, for making such a claim, let me tell you that all this hype is true. The Nokia 808 PureView has a 41MP Carl Zeiss camera at the heart of it. That’s three times the resolution of their last camera phone – the now-venerable N8.

Nokia 808 PureView

 The Nokia 808 PureView has a sensor size that can blow away most point-and -shoot digital cameras.


Nokia 808 PureView: The Business End

With a 16:9 resolution of 7728×4354 pixels (7152×5368 in 4:3), it can literally take billboard-sized photos and still retain quality. In fact, this camera blows out nearly every point-and-shoot camera in the market, and can even go toe-to-toe with low and mid-range SLRs – keep in mind that the Nikon CX sensor is 1”; the PureView’s is at 1/1.2”, and the highest-end point-and-shoot models that are offered today have 1/1.7” sensors. Come to think of it, with this kind of power, it makes the compact camera seem obsolete.

You may be thinking about how a phone could handle such massive photos. Well, frankly, it doesn’t. While the PureView has a maximum image sensor size of 41MP, only 38 of them are actually usable at any given time.  And even then, the phone usually takes 2, 5 or 8MP pictures. But don’t be alarmed – it still has the bang for its buck.

Nokia 808 PureView


Oversampling on the Nokia 808 PureView allows for loseless zoom.


 Nokia 808 Pureview: Oversampling

What the PureView does, however, is a process called ‘oversampling’. In this process, the big 38-megapixel picture is compressed into a smaller scale, with all those pixels squeezed at a ratio of 8:1 – which means that when you zoom in, instead of blowing up the pixels, you simply decompress the squeezed ones. That means even at 3x zoom, the picture is still at pin-sharp 5 or 8MP. Add this factor to the fact that it records video at 30 frames per second in 1080p, and you got yourself a phone that never runs out of pixels. To top it off, with the PureView function off, you can take pictures in all its 7700-pixel glory.

Nokia 808 PureView

The rest of the phone is comparably Spartan to the massive camera. A 4” ClearBlack AMOLED screen with 360×640 resolution isn’t exactly breath-taking, and neither is the 1.3 GHz processor or the 512 MBs of RAM. It has a 16GB internal capacity, with an SD-micro slot that is expandable up to 32GB, for all those pictures.  It’s also chunkier than the N8, and comes in black, white and red.



Despite Nokia’s declaration of the death of their longtime OS Symbian in favor of Windows Phone, the PureView packs the latest version of Nokia Belle – which brings into question why they continue to invest in what they call a “dead” system. Well, fact of the matter is this – the technologies fielded by these Symbian phones will eventually fall into the platforms of their WP successors. Nonetheless, it still got the Best New Mobile Handset, Device or Tablet award at MWC 2012 – not bad for a Symbian!

The verdict is this – while the rest of the mobile world is scrambling with their Androids and iOSes (Nokia isn’t an exception, having committed to WP), the Finns still see the importance and marketability of a well-built phone, and the niche that a world-beating camera can rake in. While it would be greatly appreciated that this technology would eventually be incorporated into Windows Phones, the humble Symbians, in their waning days, still prove their worth as a stable, no-nonsense OS that can run these wonders of photography.

Nokia 808 PureView

The Nokia 808 PureView in red


Personally, I have and use an N8, and for a while I was wondering if Nokia would have a successor for it. With the arrival of the Nokia 808 PureView, I can surely say that Nokia continues the legacy, the ode to mobile photography.  And who knows – maybe the Finns are onto something again, perhaps to reemerge themselves as a major player in today’s competitive mobile industry. Or, should Symbian sputter and die altogether unceremoniously in the hands of the public, this would then be but a herald for bigger and brighter things from the former leader in the telecom industry.

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