Nokia’s new PureView 808 has a 41MP sensor. Gimic or useful?


The digital cameras in our phones have been getting better and better, 5MP cameras are now commonplace. Some are really cameras with phones built in, because the problem has been getting good quality images into a thin smartphone!

As a possible solution to this, Nokia have added a 41MP sensor to its new PureView 808 smartphone. The result is a camera that takes better pictures than other smartphones and in some cases, better pictures than the majority of compact digital cameras.

The phone has a 1/1.2-inch sensor, which is notably larger than the sensors in other phones and indeed much larger than what you’ll find in compact digital cameras. The camera also has a Carl Zeiss optics lens.

However, it is important to understand that it never actually takes 41MP images. One reason is because the file sizes would be too big but the main reason is because it actually uses the additional megapixels to capture more information, which it then turns into better images.

In the standard automatic mode, the Nokia 808 takes 5MP images. In this mode, seven of the sensor’s native 1.4 micron pixels work together as a single “superpixel” to create images that look better. This is particularly evident in samples taken in low-light, a place where most phone camera perform poorly.

There is also a creative mode, which offers a lot more options. Photographers can take 16:9 format images at 34 megapixels and 4:3 images at 38 megapixels; these options will be very useful for cropping and zooming in on images. The ISO can be set up to 1600 and the exposure and the white balance settings can be altered. Photographers can use continuous autofocus or tap on a particular part of the image to focus. This is much more flexibility than you get with most phone cameras.

The camera has two different flashes. A Xenon light for quick shots and a LED light that is better for video shots.

It has a number of video camera modes, including the ability to take up to 1080p video at 30, 25, 24, or 15 frames per second; as well as 720p or VGA video.

The sensor allows up to 4X zoom while in 1080p mode and much more zoom in lower-resolution modes.

The sound recording of the camera is much better than you would expect from a smartphone. Nokia has added a “rich recording” mode and incorporated better microphones, which will make a big difference in video recordings.

It is a Symbian phone, a bit surprising in an age when Symbian is mostly taking a back seat to Windows Phone.

It looks to have a good number of Nokia apps, but the user interface isn’t at the level of Android or Windows Phone these days. Still, it’s a powerful phone and will sell for about £375.