Nokia 808 PureView is a Camera First, Phone Second

The Nokia 808 PureView, officially announced at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, brings new meaning to the term “camera phone.” While the phone-side specs are not particularly exciting, the camera specs are borderline unreal – a 41 MP sensor (that’s not a typo) with continuous auto-focus during 1080p HD video recording.

Actually, the 41 MP sensor on the Carl Zeiss lens is more window dressing than anything. The part you should really get excited about is the pixel oversampling technology that can condense multiple pixels into one for more efficient compression. That camera tech also means 4x lossless zoom, which is incredible for a smartphone. Usually, if any zoom is included on a smartphone, it’s digital zoom that creates a lot of distortion and makes for ugly pictures. There will be none of that with the 808 PureView, which you can use to zoom in on pictures even after you’ve taken them to reveal more details, without the picture suffering from blurring or distortion. Add good low-light performance into the mix, and you have the first camera phone that can truly compete in terms of quality with a standard point-and-shoot digital camera.

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The phone’s specs aren’t overwhelming, but get the job done. The 808 runs on a 1.3 GHz single-core processor and runs Symbian Belle. Before you go slagging off Symbian, note that Symbian is one of the few operating systems that can actually handle the imaging technology that goes into that camera, so there’s a method to Nokia’s madness. There is only compatibility with 14.4 Mbps HSPA, for network speed. The 808 has a 4” display in 360 x 640 resolution.

We had the opportunity to check out the device ourself, and were blown away with the amount of detail the camera can capture and how well it handles low light situations. Check out our gallery to see an example of how much the camera can zoom in on the details in a photo. Video produced by the 808 is also incredibly rich and detailed. The camera even does a great job of picking up audio and is able to pick up 140 decibals, while the average camera phone can only pick up 100.

If all you’ve ever wanted was a unified device that can make calls and actually take high-quality photos, this is the device you’ve been waiting for. The camera tech on the 808 PureView represents a rare genuine step forward in smartphone camera tech, number of megapixels aside. This is an impressive feat of engineering.

Press Release

Chance Kinney contributed to this report.

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