Nokia 808 PureView review

Let's be honest: Nokia hasn't really been a brand you wanted to be seen with lately. However, the Finns have been making frantic attempts to change that lately, and they seem to be succeeding quite well.

Of course this 808 PureView doesn't compete for prices like Samsung's iPhone and Galaxy's do. With the 808 PureView, Nokia mainly wants to score on the visual level. This PureView is therefore the successor to the N8's up to now unparalleled camera capacities and is equipped with a 41.0 Mpixel camera. It sounds incredible, but it really is. Nokia even recorded a commercial with the camera as a promotional stunt!

It would be a bit unfair to compare this phone with the competition's phones because Nokia has created a whole new category here. It would be more fair to compare this phone with popular point-and-shoot cameras. We are going to give it a try anyway. Does this PureView make the promises come true? And what about the other features of this smartphone?

Nokia PureView

What's with the device?

The Nokia PureView 808 comes in a colourful rectangular cardboard box. The device lies in a cardboard holder. Below we find a headset with different sizes of earplugs, a strap with which you can dangle the device on your wrist, a USB cable and an attachment for charging. Everything is in black, although we have tested the white version of the Nokia 808 PureView. There are also some leaflets. The accessories look fine and make a solid, but not very surprising impression. Furthermore, the included battery has a capacity of 1400 mAh.


The first thing that strikes you about this phone, is that the Nokia 808 PureView is quite heavy and thick. This is of course due to the large camera lens, which is on the back of the camera. It almost looks like the phone has an old-fashioned picture tube. At first glance, the camera looks a bit clumsy, but its rounded shapes make it easy to handle. Except for the screen, the phone is made of plastic. It makes a solid impression, all parts fit together well. As said before, we tested the white version, but it is also available in red and black.


Below the screen we find an elongated key, which from left to right serves as call key, menu key and suspension key. With the latter the phone is also switched on and off. This is striking, because the on/off button is initially found at the top. On the right side we find the camera key, lock and volume key.


On top of that comes the micro-HDMI connection, the USB port and the connection for the headset. Only the HDMI connector is located behind a cover. There are no significant parts on the underside.


The back cover is easy to remove, and when you remove the battery from the phone, you can place the SIM card in its drawer.


The battery of our Nokia 808 PureView was empty when we received it, so we immediately put it on the charger for one night. With our intensive testing, it lasted a little longer than a day, a great result. To save energy, there are several possibilities, although they are a bit clogged up. For example, it is possible to adjust the time-out of the screen and the screen brightness. However, you are helped with the special energy saving mode. You will find this mode after pressing the on/off button. The device can also automatically switch to this mode if the battery level is too low.


However, the Nokia Shop also offers the program Battery Monitor. This gives very handy insight into how much and what you can still do with the remaining charge.

Call quality

The sound during the conversations is a bit disappointing: it all sounds a bit dull. Also, the sound is a bit soft at first, but this can be solved with the volume knob. Still, we are only moderately satisfied with the ringing quality of this device. While calling, there are plenty of possibilities: mute, speaker, use the keyboard, navigate through your contacts and settings.


The touchscreen has a resolution of 640 by 360 pixels and is made of 'unbreakable' Gorilla Glass. With its screen diagonal of 4.0 inches it has a pleasant size, which makes it easy to work with. Unfortunately, that HD resolution is very low for the size. The screen gives nice bright colors.

Nokia PureView display

The 'colour' black is also displayed brightly and clearly, which is especially noticeable when the screen is locked. This is, of course, thanks to the ClearBack technique with which the PureView is also equipped. You can set the timeout of the screen, as well as the font size. The autorotate works well, and is certainly not overly sensitive. Nothing is as irritating as a screen that jumps into horizontal mode with the slightest movement, but fortunately you don't have that problem with the Nokia 808 Pureview.


The operation of the device is partly done with the button at the bottom of the screen, but in practice you mainly use the touchscreen. The menu consists of four home screens that you can set up yourself with the help of widgets, however you will always find the icons at the bottom of the screen for accessing the application overview, calling and adjusting the menu. It's easy to swap between the different screens.



The Nokia PureView 808 is equipped with a clear and comprehensive phonebook. You can add the standard data such as phone numbers, email addresses, postal addresses and an image, but on top of that there is room for extras such as a nickname, function and all sorts of other additions.


It is easy to create groups and also navigating through the contacts goes smoothly, by typing the scroll or the first letter of the name.


Again, we've had few problems. Sending messages is very easy, the app does not differ from other Symbian devices. Funny is that you can also use an old-fashioned alphanumeric keyboard. However, most will use the full QWERTY format. There is even spelling correction!


Unfortunately the buttons are a bit small and sometimes he has trouble with certain buttons. A good alternative is Swype, which you can download from the Nokia Shop. Strangely enough, this version does not support Dutch. If you do, you will need to create a (free) account in from where you can download Swype beta in Dutch.


With the SMS you can add an image or video (from the gallery, or shot on the spot), or a sound recording, slide, template, note or business card. Useful is that you can use 'folders' to navigate through the inbox, sent messages, concepts and the outbox at once. You can also see delivery reports here.


Now Symbian Nokia Belle is not known for it because of its far-reaching Twitter and Facebook integration. Still, there are social networks that are just a small rag for the bleeding. It's not very good, but you can view and post messages on them.


In addition to the usual connection options such as Bluetooth and WiFi, the PureView also features NFC, an FM transmitter. The latter allows you to play music from your phone on your headunit via a frequency you can set yourself. Please note that this is prohibited in some countries when going on holiday.


Although the built-in browser is a lot better than previous Symbian versions, it's just not quite there yet. There are still some strange things in it, like double confirmations and hick-ups. It's still an improvement, but we still prefer the Opera browser. What's nice is the built-in data counter where you can even set a limit. Handy not to go outside your bundle.


To set up your own WiFi Hotspot, Nokia has included the program JoikuSpot. Unfortunately, this is the free 'Light' version, where there is little you can set up. However, it is a start.



It is ironic that Nokia of all people comes with a 41 megapixel camera phone, because the company never wanted to participate in the "megapixel-race" before. They also came relatively late with an 8 megapixel phone; the N86. That was very good by the way (the camera then), but that's an aside. PureView is not just a name, but a technique. The 41 megapixel is not used to shoot photos in a maximum of 41 megapixels, you mainly shoot photos in 5 or 8 megapixels. That does not mean that the other 36 megapixels remain unused. On the contrary. They are used to boost the quality of that 5 megapixel photo. Oversampling, that's what it's called. Not only does it make photos very sharp, they can also be shot in little daylight. The bigger the sensor, the more light can fall on it. In this way you shoot very good pictures in the evening and in the dark. The 1/1.2 inch sensor is even bigger than many Canon PowerShot's and Nikon's CoolPix-series.

Pureview camera sensor
The PureView sensor next to an 8 and 5 megapixel sensor

Another advantage is that you can zoom in because of the large sensor. Zooming with your phone is usually not recommended because it is the so-called digital zoom. It will conjure up pixels that aren't there, which doesn't make the image sharper. Actually, you would rather zoom optically, so with a lens (lens), but that hasn't found its way into mobile phones yet. Phones that did were very big and the quality of the pictures was poor. The last phones with optical zoom date back to around 2006. Nokia comes up with something else. By using a sensor that is large enough, and whose pixels are close enough to each other, you can still zoom in. No digital zoom, but no optical zoom either. Precisely because of this feature, the PureView becomes a real competitor of the popular point-and-shoot camera. It should therefore come as no surprise that Nokia wants to compete in precisely this product category. And it is a fact that Nokia is fulfilling all its promises with this camera. With the 808 PureView, you will never have to take a separate camera with you on holiday again, because the quality of the photos and videos is simply fantastic and no other phone comes close.


The photo camera has three recording modes: automatic, where the camera determines everything, scenes, where the camera determines the most important settings, and creative, where you can set everything yourself. You can then adjust the sensor mode (PureView or maximum resolution), the resolution (8, 5 or 2 MP), ratio, JPEG quality (normal or super fine), the color tones (normal, vivid, sepia or black and white), recording mode (normal, bracketing mode (taking a number of consecutive shots) interval or self-timer), saturation, contrast, sharpness, and preferences (grid for viewfinder, camera sounds, video stabilization, focus assist lamp, capture when phone is locked on or off). Of course, you can also adjust the Xenon flash, as well as the ISO value. It is also very handy to have a physical camera button on it.


Without exaggerating, this is the best camera in a smartphone we've ever seen, without adding anything superfluous. You can crop the photos or edit them in another way, for example with red-eye reduction. And if the photo is to your liking, you can send it via a message, bluetooth or upload it to Facebook or Flickr. The camera app includes a hotkey to place your photo directly on your pinboard.


The video camera, equipped with a maximum resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels and continuous autofocus, also delivers exceptionally good work. Bright colours, no shocks or other drawbacks: it is completely credible that you can shoot a commercial with this camera. You can even edit and edit your movies professionally. Furthermore, there are different modes: for sunlight, cloudy weather, artificial light, or fluorescent light. These options are also available on the camera.


Another important feature of the video camera is Rich Recording. Shooting videos in high quality is one thing, you want good sound with that. Usually telephone cameras produce that tinny sound. The PureView records sound in CD quality and you can hear the difference. Bootlegs will never sound the same again.

By the way, the photos and videos can not only be viewed in the camera app itself, but also in the gallery, where they are displayed in nice tiles by date. We recognize this of course from the Lumia. All in all, we just love this camera.

Existing programs

The available programs are displayed in a grid, which you can classify yourself. For example, you can put the most commonly used one at the top. But also an alphabetical or list view is possible. Here we list the many programs: contacts, messages, web, gallery, calendar, email, shop, videos, search, maps, music player, camera, large screen (which allows you to view the phone's screen on an HD television), DLNA Play, Youtube, social networks, By car (navigation), logbook, zip manager, CNN, weather, Vlingo Voice (voice control), Shazam, QuickOffice, World Traveler, Nokia Music, Card Loader, Message Reading, Check-in, Guides, JoikuSpot Light, F-secure, Communicator, ColorizIt (a funny little extra that lets you color your photos yourself), Adobe Reader, Microsoft Applications, Public Transport, Facebook, Twitter, Nat Geo, Calculator, Clock, files, fm-radio, dictionary, notes, voice recorder, Microsoft Lync, Powerpoint, office mobile and OneNote.


Actually, Silent Film Director, which allows you to add background music to your movie and the strangest effects - such as an effect that makes your movie look like a home video from the seventies - can be considered a game. Then there's BounceBoingBattle, a funny game you can play together via NFC or Bluetooth. And other games are of course easy to download.


Okay, so the Nokia 808 PureView is certainly not the perfect phone. On the contrary: a good browser and proper integration with Facebook and Twitter is a prerequisite anyway, and in that respect the device absolutely does not meet the requirements of 2012. But that's not what you buy this phone for. Buyers of the N8 were not deterred by that either. You buy this phone in front of its camera.

Yet Belle has come a long way and the PureView is fine as a daily phone. Updates are even released on a regular basis, and Nokia sometimes releases extra applications that are worth downloading. So you will not be left in the lurch, even after purchase. Secretly, we can hardly deny what PureView would look like on a Windows Phone. That combination could bring Nokia back to the top.

Until then, however, there is this 808 PureView with which you can surprise a lot of people.

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