Layman’s Take on Nokia Pureview 808–You miss a lot without it


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After Nokia N8, there wasn’t any Symbian handset that would have been waited for this much in market and blogosphere as Nokia Pureview 808. After two short encounters with the same in one workshop first and then in Launch event, the legendary device finally decided to pay a short visit of 7 days to Layman’s Take itself. So, without wasting any time, let’s move further to know about the device.

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Just when it was becoming a fashion to bash Symbian on every next handset and no one was thinking that some big biased blogs would get lined up in front of Nokia ever again to get a preview for a Symbian handset, then there came a day, when Nokia 808 PureView announced itself with a bang at this year’s Mobile World Congress at Barcelona.

Trust me, it was a sight to watch the reactions of crowd and reading reactions on twitter. People like me who were online that time and were following the announcements, could still remember those goose bumps when they heard the words “41 Megapixels”. Instant reactions were like “WHAT THE FUCK”, “HOLY SHITTT”…

In an instant, all those announcements of first set of Quad Core Android handsets were looking so irrelevant and each & everyone was looking to know more and more about Nokia Pureview 808 only and why not? This was the best ever Mobile Camera that ever happened to planet earth and even when the best second was its own sibling Nokia N8, it doesn’t seem to allow anyone to come even close to the legacy that it will own for next coming years.

When I took it for review, till then a lot been said and shown about its camera, so I was to look over other aspects as well and was to review a Smartphone rather than a camera phone. Let’s see how it went …


Nokia Pureview 808 – The Unboxing

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Honestly speaking, its hard to wait and shoot an unboxing video when the thing in front of you is as exciting as Nokia Pureview 808 was to me at that moment. So, no unboxing video but I can present you pictures of the content inside the retail box.

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Keeping the box design same as Nokia N9\Nokia Lumia etc, the in-box contents of the Nokia 808 are the usual and include the following :

  • Nokia 808 PureView
  • Nokia AC-50 MicroUSB Charger
  • Nokia Charging and Data Cable CA-190CD
  • Nokia stereo Headset WH-209
  • NFC info card
  • Nokia Wrist Strap Black
  • Quick Guide, User Guide and Product information leaflet

Sad part was, after Nokia N8-00 and Nokia E7-00, Nokia seems to have forgotten those USB OTG cables or HDMI out cable from their retail boxes. Don’t exactly blame them but being a premium device, I was expecting same.


Nokia Pureview 808 – The Exteriors, The Design

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Much before the launch of Nokia Pureview 808, we seen a design leak, which was called as Nokia 803 right then. Honestly speaking, the design didn’t impressed many right then. Though once the design took a real world shape, then its really watchable that how beautifully Nokia translates a design to real world.

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Mine review unit was a white one though I loved the backside of black Nokia Pureview 808 more with the polycarbonate material as we seen in recent Nokia phones. This time it has a ceramic like finish. The texture of the hardened plastic around the device makes a lot difference when you take it in hands. It doesn’t look that shiny and cheap while assures you about it durability at the same time.

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It’s not that the white unit looks any less fab. The whole front is covered from glass only for most of the part. The black strip on the bottom side  of the back makes a comfy place for your hand while holding the device. Nice eye on details here Nokia otherwise it would have been a little slippery with its own weight.

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If you are annoyed from the fact that why its not built by anodized aluminum like Nokia N8-00, then I must tell you that despite of being a Touch Phone (No keyboard) and plastic built, its weight is almost close to Nokia E7, which was already in heaviest of he range. Just think how feasible it would have to put metal on Nokia Pureview 808.

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Before taking the phone in hands, my main point of concern was the doubts about the camera positioning on the back and yes the position of the speaker on the backside, so it was one of the first point that I checked about the build. The camera module has a stainless steal bezel and was curvy on the corners/sides unlike Nokia N8 that seems to be the logical evolution over Nokia N8. It has an open camera like Nokia N8 (without lens protector built-in), so the next point to check was if the glass over camera is Gorilla or not. Relaxed that it is Gorilla Glass means not that much prone to scratches.

A more powerful Xenon Flash and probably for the first time on a Nokia, we see Xenon Flash and one LED flash together means no compromise about either still shots or if you wanted that tiny video light courtesy to LED Flash.

One of the other important thing that many might skip is it’s capability to do Automatic Fill-Flash. For people who are not aware of this jargon, in simple words, Fill flash is a photographic technique used to brighten deep shadow areas hence protecting your pictures from un-necessary over exposure and giving well brightened shots even in uneven light scenarios. Many of dedicated point-n-shoot camera had it, but I am not sure if I seen in on mobile cameras that commonly.

Also as about protection part, I heard some of the early devices in India received a plastic cap in the package content as lens protector like the one found in most point-n-shoot cameras.

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The other odd thing about the design part was the Call/End buttons at the bottom, which even though are better but quite similar to those on low priced Nokia 5800 or some other similar phones. As you would have noticed, the call end key works as power key as well. I welcome the decision of keeping the familiar Red/Green combination but unable to understand the logic behind not provided them as capacitive keys (like they were on Nokia C7/Oro etc) and keeping them as single plastic strip.

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The top of the device contains usual Front Camera (still VGA), Ambient sensor, Proximity sensor and earpiece in middle.

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The top of the device contains 3.5mm Audio jack, an open MicroUSB port and a covered HDMI port that is quite different from Nokia N8-00. Nokia N8-00 had HDMI Mini C Connector while Nokia 808 has HDMI micro Connector at the top. While functionality wise, it doesn’t matter for the end user (technically both has 19pin but different layout), the thing that will matter for most, is the fact that they can not use their old HDMI Mini Converter from Nokia N8-00. I would say, I hated this kind of cap over HDMI port, why not slider like the one in Nokia N9/Lumia 800?

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The bottom of the device is curvy means the device can not stand on a flat surface on its own, same about the sides. Middle of the bottom has the usual earpiece with strip hole at the left corner.

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The right side of the device has a physical camera key, a lock button and volume key. Somehow I liked the way, Nokia didn’t tried to mix the keys with the device color and kept it metallic only on their red and white versions. The left side of the device is plain without any buttons on it.

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From the front of the device, one notices the CBD display only as there are no prominent bezels like Nokia N8/E7 etc. The CBD AMOLED Gorilla Glass screen is convex with curves at the corners, even though curves are not that like those on Nokia N9 or Nokia Lumia 800, but still it gives a nice feeling while swiping the fingers on it.

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There been some doubts over ancient nHD resolution in days of 720p displays and I won’t deny that I would have liked a higher resolution for viewing those magnificent pictures that it takes, but good thing is, the display is RGB rather than some Pentile screen. Add that with ClearBlack technology and you get deep blacks, well saturated colors and superb sunlight visibility. GSMArena Review even calls it the best contrast ratio on any mobile screen they would have ever seen while Galaxy S3 is a far second.

I will still say that the display won’t seem new to people who might have seen Display of Nokia E7 with Nokia Belle on it.

In the defense of ancient resolution for the high end device, I would say that considering the fact that no more new resources being allocated to Symbian by either Nokia or developers means, it would have been officially last nail for Symbian if Nokia would have tried to up the resolution in the way, Apple gone recently with retina. It was safe to remain with same resolution and it was a good thing for older products too.

The sore point with Nokia Pureview is definitely its thickness along with weight. With 123.9 x 60.2 x 13.9 mm dimensions. Though the same actually will make those users feel good who like their phones as substantial.

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Spec sheet might make you feel that Nokia Pureview 808 is just 1mm thicker than Nokia N8, but let me remind you of the fact that at camera bulge, Pureview 808 is around 18mm thicker. Let’s some more pics of these two legends together to understand the difference better.

DSC05525The above image shows that despite of plastic in place of metal, how much better Nokia Pureview 808 looks from front over Nokia N8.

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The two legendary cameras. On one side, Nokia N8 has a camera that matches the color to rest of body, while looses the edge with the fact that the bulge is abrupt in nature rather than smooth curves on Nokia Pureview 808.

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And finally you can yourself see that how big the camera bulge is for this time.

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Now after opening the back and removing the battery, you see two easy places for microSIM and microSD card. The slots are similar to what I have seen in my Nokia N82 and I find them much more easier to interact  with than any other slot mechanism so far.

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The battery this time is BV-4D 1400 mAh that is not only supposed to last longer than 1200 mAh Nokia N8 battery, but coupled with Belle Feature Pack 1, it actually prolongs the battery life by at least more than 50% than Nokia N8 that too when we talking about surfing etc. If we talk of just snapping pictures, then I seen it running for more than one day which never been the case with Nokia N8.

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Nokia Pureview 808 – The Interiors, the power within

When we compare Nokia Pureview 808 with Nokia N8, then we find it one step up on every spec.

  • Dimensions 123.9 x 60.2 x 13.9 mm, 95.5 cc,169 g (while N8 had 113.5 x 59 x 12.9 mm, 86cc,135g)
  • Nokia Belle Feature Pack 1 (while N8 recently been updated to Nokia Belle)
  • 4” CBD AMOLED Corning Gorilla Glass Screen with a nHD resolution of 360×640 pixels, 24 bit RGB Capacitive Multi-point touch display
  • Texas Instruments 4377622 1.3GHz Single Core ARM11 CPU, Broadcom BCM2763 GPU @ 250 MHz with 128 MB (N8 had 680 MHz ARM11 CPU with Broadcom BCM2727 chip, GPU @ 200 MHz with 32 MB)
  • 512 Mb RAM, 1 Gb ROM, 16 GB Mass Memory, MicroSD Support up to 32 Gb
  • HSDPA Cat10 14.4 Mbps, HSUPA Cat6 5.76 Mbps, WLAN IEEE 802.11 b/g/n
  • Same Penta-band connectivity as Nokia N8
  • 3D Accelerometer, Ambient Light Sensor, Compass (Magnetometer Sensor), Proximity Sensor
  • 41 Megapixels AF Carl Zeiss camera with a huge sensor size like 1/1.2”, ND Filter, up to 4x lossless zoom
  • A bigger Xenon Flash with Fill-In Flash along with one LED to assist in low light video recording
  • 1080p @30 fps video recording along with Nokia Rich recording audio
  • FM Radio, FM Transmitter, Composite TV-Out
  • 2 Microphones inside serving purpose of Stereo Audio Recording
  • Micro SIM Support only
  • DLNA Certification, Bluetooth Stereo Audio, HDMI Micro Connector, NFC Support
  • BV-4D 3.8V 1400 mAh removable battery

So, you can see Nokia decided not to leave any part of experience that you have had with Nokia N8 and upped almost everything.

Better Screen Tech, Better processor, Better RAM, Much Bigger & Advanced GPU, Better Still Shots, Better Video, Better Audio Recording, Better Xenon Flash with Fill-In Flash, Inclusion of LED Flash, Smaller MicroHDMI connector, Better HSPDA/HSUPA speeds, official DLNA certification, NFC Support on board, bigger battery and MicroSIM to stay updated in tech.

Don’t look at other handsets in market and consider yourself coming from just Nokia N93\N82\N8 and tell me that why you should not go crazy about Nokia Pureview 808 if you loved Nokia N8? Nokia has proven themselves as big daddy of imaging again when none of the competitors were even ready to challenge their 2 years old Nokia N8 yet.


Nokia Pureview 808 – The Camera, The Industry Shaking Megapixels for a mobile

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I remember the discussions at Nokia Conversations & in blogger circle when we were discussing about the logical successor of Nokia N8 and the possibility of optical zoom. I remember many a people who said at that time,

Dear Nokia! Please give us a Camera Phone without any compromise and we will buy it, no matter how thick it is, no matter how bulky it is. Do not compromise on sensor, Do not compromise on Carl Zeiss, Do not compromise HDMI, Do not compromise Xenon Flash, Do not compromise ISO capability, Do not compromise the underlying imaging tech, Do not compromise the turnaround time between two snaps.

At that time, people were even ready for movable components in the mobile to achieve a real loss less zoom. We even debated about the possibility of Liquid Lens for lengths though little idea we had that what great people at Nokia Imaging Team have in their mind.

First of all, Nokia took the same theory forward that they experimented with Nokia N9 and Nokia Lumia by using a bigger sensor that gives almost close resolutions for both the aspect ratios 4:3 and 16:9.

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As you can see that it allows them to make most of the sensor size for either of aspect ratio.

While most smartphones in market use 1/3.2" size sensors with 1.4µm pixels size, Nokia had two options; either to use a smaller pixels size like some 1.1µm to achieve more pixels for marketing gimmicks or to simply raise the Sensor size (resulting in big bulge on the phone) to achieve the real thing beyond just megapixels. Being a Nokia, the first option was simply a NO GO.

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So what we seems to see in Nokia Pureview 808 is a Toshiba HES9 CMOS image sensor (CIS), featuring a 41 MP resolution along with analog Devices AD5814 (suspected lens driver solution for the Carl Zeiss lens assembly). (Ref: Link). The SOC used here is some custom solution developed by\for Nokia only coz even latest of SOCs doesn’t support such a big resolution that Nokia have managed with their chip.

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There are five lenses inside that one lens that are stacked over each other to make the biggest lens from Nokia side till date.

Getting a big sensor and fitting it inside a Mobile Phone wasn’t the least of the challenge when you think of the challenges ahead to it. You need to have a GPU that is fast and capable enough to handle not only 1088p video recording, but the kind of high frequency CD Quality Rich Stereo Audio Recording, post that you need a faster NAND ROM to write the produced photos and quickly process them within milliseconds. You also need to have a mesmerizing Camera UI so that user might not be confused into plenty of options offered by the very capable camera and forgetting enjoying the fun of just capturing what he wants (happens often with DSLR users).

Above all were not some simple tasks and if any mobile company could have done it better then it was the one who introduced Camera to mobile phones for the first time and were makers of Nokia N90, Nokia N82 and Nokia N8 likes. Nokia Pureview 808 Camera wasn’t only an achievement for Nokia, but it was an achievement for the big name Carl Zeiss as well.

*Image courtesy AAS

But then for Nokia, it wasn’t about the hardware only, there are two more things that play a prominent role in this truly unreal camera experience; Pureview Tech and Nokia  Rich Recording.

1. PUREVIEW TECH

Best way to know about Pureview tech is to go through this white paper but I will try to put some bits and pieces here as well in layman terms.

Pureview means oversampling of high resolution images and making one superpixels out of 7-8 pixels which helps in 3 objectives: Best of image quality, excellent low light performance, lower image size and then lossless zoom.

The camera shoots at full resolution that is around 38MP and then in Pureview mode, rather than providing the biggest size of picture, provides you the best quality of picture at either of 3MP, 5MP or 8MP Pureview mode. Not only that but you get an amazing feature that is lossless slide zoom. Just pinch zoom on some part of your viewfinder and the camera silently zooms to the object without loosing any of the pixel coz the camera just utilizes the large sensor available.

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Didn’t get it? Check it by above graphs. If you are shooting in 38MP mode then you don’t get any lossless zoom, if you are in 8MP Pureview mode, then you get 5x lossless zoom, if you are in 5MP Pureview mode, then you get 8x lossless zoom and if you are in 3MP Pureview mode then you get 14x lossless zoom. Obviously, full zoom in any mode means real pixel rather than Pureview pixel.

2. NOKIA RICH RECORDING

While Nokia already stunned the pundits of industry by providing a 1080p video recording with a single core handset, they didn’t missed to complement the best the image sensor with the best of audio sensors as well. The end result was Nokia Rich Recording.

The above official video explains the Nokia Rich Recording and if you still don’t believe then see the same in action yourself.

The above video was taken when I attended a Nokia Workshop about Nokia Pureview 808 in Delhi.

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One more amusing thing about Nokia Pureview 808 is the combination of a large sensor allowing long focal length and large f/2.4 aperture. Check out the above shot, such shots were a reality for DSLRs only earlier, not any more. Additionally, aperture is kept at a maximum when you zoom in, so you get faster shutter speeds and reduced noise.

Nokia has managed to prove yet again that Its NOT the technology, but its what you do with it.


Nokia Pureview 808: Nokia Belle FP1 – What it got in sleeves

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Many like me always wished that what if our Nokia N8 also had some 1GHz or more processor in place of those Asha devices, wished if some camera like N8 skills would have had some Cortex A8/9 like processor too. So, finally we have a top end Symbian device equipped with all the bullets and with one 1.3 GHz Processor. Considering the reputation of Symbian to even multitask very well with less resources, with 1.3GHz Processor and 512 Mb RAM, this thing should fly and it does.

From the above video demo, you can get an idea that how snappy the interface is with a plenty of animations brought in. A number of new widgets for your home screen now.

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One of the noticeable UI change is the new Task manager. Animations are butter smooth now considering the fact that we have got around double processor over Nokia N8 and similarly doubled RAM while the software got more polished with FP1.

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While rest of the UI and apps seems more or less, there are some changes in the Gallery which seems to have gotten kind of oversimplified. No albums, no multi-select and no way to check details of a picture. Albums are gone and only way to organize pictures is image tags (by default pictures would be tagged with Dates). The reason behind this simplification of Gallery is the performance considering the fact that many might wish to take shots in full 38 MP mode only and that might make the Gallery pretty heavy to scroll through so the optimizations were needed and look like some of the well known features taken a shot here.

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I seen options for Facebook and Flickr upload, but couldn’t find if any other service can be added as well. Also for cropping some picture, one doesn’t need to go into image editor but the same can be done from the Gallery itself. Overall, one will find the Pureview 808 Gallery performing butter smooth despite of having such large size images inside.

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Nokia has bundled some of the interesting apps with Nokia Pureview like Silent Film Director and ColorizeIt, which might be some big fun for anyone using them.

DSC05400 After Gallery, the other app that has got simplified is the Video App. Gone those days with options to check properties of the video. Just a capable app which performs like a dream on various codecs and doesn’t let you down even on high bitrate 1080p videos.

Now comes the Camera Interface that got very much needed makeover for Pureview 808.

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Did you notice the option of ISO 1600 – ISO 50?

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Also some new options to provide native assistance for HDR or slow motion photography.

Nokia 808 PureView has a focal length of 8.02mm, which combined with the f/2.4 aperture makes some really DSLR likes pictures, though the downside is, you need to be steady and accurate about your shots to get the best out of it (still far from hard enough like those DSLR). The same fact seems to be responsible for my complaints with its Macro Mode, which I definitely felt less closer than my Nokia N8. Even Macro Mode doesn’t allow Pureview 808 to focus more close than 20cm. Obviously you can still zoom-in to get your desired results and easily beat 12mp closeups of Nokia N8, but still its not that easy to utilize full 38MP for a super close shot like 10cm.


Some of my shots with Nokia Pureview 808

I will always regret that why the review period of device was just 7 days or why I had so little time to play with the device myself due to other engagements. Now when I look back then I feel that I could have done so much with the Nokia Pureview 808 Camera. May be next time, when I buy one for self. Still I managed to take some nice photos and a video.

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The above shot was taken at sunset time with still some light remaining, focused over leaves.

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The above shot was taken at a similar lighting level while focusing on single object and defusing the background.

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The above shot were taken from the same position, just by using tap to focus to focus on foreground once and then focus on background in second.

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Light getting more lower and still you can see plenty of details in the shot.

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One more low light capture.

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This is an example of panning shot where the person taking the shot remain static and moves the hands holding the camera with the speed of object. As you can see that the light is very low so the shots are taken with ISO 800 (Nokia Pureview 808 can go max up to ISO 1600).

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This shot was taken at the moment as the last one, just used ISO 1600 this time.

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Also checkout the above shot that was taken in a dark night with ISO 1600 from a long distance (2nd floor of my apartment and at least 3-4 houses away)

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Once again the magic with Touch to Focus and Bokeh Effect, this time at India Gate.

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Now making use of full zoom. Not happy with the first shot (crop of the original) as I earlier pointed that sometimes you may struggle with Macro Shot if not careful. But second shot taken with full zoom gives satisfaction.

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Now the above is what makes Nokia Pureview 808 special for any person. Such lovely shots of loved ones.

Now its time for video. The above is not the best one to demonstrate the capabilities of Nokia Pureview 808 video recording caliber or even Nokia Rich Recording, but still it should give you an idea that what a beast this small device is.


Conclusion – To Buy or Not to buy

Its very hard to say NO for any device like Nokia Pureview 808, even though rest of the experience feels seriously outdated in reference with changed habits of users over the time. Apple failed to make an impact over emerging markets but Android has hit the ground level at there too. Best in class camera is still important for people but the same time, other sharing services too. They need Instagram, they need their Social apps to be at par with other platforms once they finish shooting. Nokia Belle FP1 sure ups the game a little but its still insufficient to pull people back who have given themselves to other platforms.

But if we look back over positives, then considering the fact that Nokia N8 kept its legacy till now, it doesn’t seem that there would be any challenge to Nokia Pureview 808 in coming years (including even Pureview Lumia) and if you are not with it then you will be living with a compromise on that front even after knowing that the solution is out there. There will not be any mobile Camera at par with Nokia Pureview 808 in coming 1-2 years for sure considering the fact that Symbian is optimized for such Camera and other platforms still in learning phase.

In addition, Symbian offers real multi-tasking, most accurate voice navigation in industry and some other special benefits like Nokia Music unlimited downloads of DRM free music. So, if you decide to buy Nokia Pureview, then you are assured of some big perks that are definitely not available with others.

What could be a better travel companion for one other than a Camera Phone like Nokia Pureview 808 that does provide world’s best voice based navigation for your car without using even Data services, remains connected all the time due to strong signals & Penta Band, doesn’t make you miss any moment due to the details it capture with each shot, allows you to share them effortlessly (due to lower size of Pureview shots, <1mb each), entertains you with music via either services like Nokia Music or even saved songs via USB OTG or SD Card support and during all this time runs longer than any of other platform due to prolonged battery life of Symbian.

At the end, again its on you to buy it or not coz considering the premium price, if you buy it then you will miss a few things and if you don’t then you obviously miss the best Mobile Camera in the world.

So this was my views about the devices, now its your time to express your views about it. I would awaiting for your comments, friends.

Author: Nitish Kumar

I love to write and raising voice, sharing thought and heated debate is a kind of passion for me. Jobwise I am just another Computer professional handling Infra and designing solutions for a big Indian Media house but I love to write, sketch, photography and a lot more.

14 thoughts on “Layman’s Take on Nokia Pureview 808–You miss a lot without it”

  1. nice review, but 1 thing isn’t correct. When you were talking about the oversampling and the zoom you said that when you have for example 14 times oversampling, you can too zoom 14 times.
    You have to square the amount of oversampling to know how much you can zoom, so 14 times oversampling will become around 3,75 lossless digital zoom.

  2. I love your review sir. I still will not buy one for myself, but I have huge respect for the way you approach the 808. Congratulations!

  3. Sir I upgraded from nokia 701 to nokia 808, everything was going great but after some days of purchasing I started facing very unexpected issue with 808, it is camera hanging problem. As soon as I switch on my camera all options were invisible, always I have to factory reset the device to again make it start working for the next two to three hours. Kindly help my device to recover from this serious issue.

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