Months after the phone was first announced at the Mobile World Conference in Barcelona, the first reviews of the Nokia 808 PureView have been published online by major names like Engadget and The Verge. The reviews seem to match initial impressions – this is a one of a kind phone, armed with the best mobile camera in the world but also one of the worst operating systems.
Let’s start with the good stuff. That 41 megapixel rear shooter is as good as we thought – with the brilliant PureView technology, it’s possible to take 34-megapixel images that look better than 5-megapixel images taken with the best mobile cameras that have come before – quite a feat considering the quality has to be seven times better to even be comparable. It’s so hard to find noise or artefacts with this camera, even on its highest output setting. At 5-megapixel, it’s even better, producing brilliant images thanks to its clever oversampling technique.
Now for the bad stuff – and unfortunately this includes everything from the non-imaging hardware to the operating system. The phone uses a 640 x 360 display which is ridiculously far behind the times – three years ago, WVGA was the standard, and that’s 800 x 480. Oh the irony, to be using the world’s best mobile camera with one of the worst displays ever to grace a mid-2012 smartphone, and a costly one at that.
The OS is Symbian Belle, and it’s so dated now it’s embarrassing. The few applications that exist and feature-poor, operate slowly and often glitch or crash. Even basics like web browsing and playing media fail harder than you would expect. You can reliably cause the phone to completely crash as well – just go to a content-rich site in the web browser, switch to landscape mode and try to scroll. Thankfully, at least the camera app is fine.
So there you have it – a brilliant camera, a braindead phone. In my mind, that’s far short of what you should expect for a smartphone, particularly with the sim-free Nokia 808 PureView costing all of $600. So avoid this phone, and wait for Nokia to inevitably make this same technology work on Windows Phone – now that could be a good combination.