Takes amazing photos and videos; Attractive design; Good Maps and Navigation apps
Outdated Symbian operating system; Low-resolution display; No HDR mode; Much fewer apps than Android and iOS
With a 41-MP camera, the Nokia 808 PureView takes the best photos we've ever seen from a phone, but it's not good enough in other ways.
Is a picture worth a thousand words? How about $700? That's the going price of the unlocked version of the Nokia 808 PureView, a phone with a 41-megapixel camera, the highest yet on such a device. The technology behind this camera enables some the best photos we've seen from a phone. Actually, this device is a camera first and a smartphone second, which is why you should wait for Nokia's PureView magic to hit the Lumia line.
However, because of the gently curved back, which has a slightly gritty surface, the 808 didn't feel awkward to hold--especially when taking pictures. The handset also slid into our pants pocket easily. It's certainly a lot easier to hold in one hand than the massive Samsung Galaxy SIII (5.4 x 2.8 x 0.3 inches), although that phone is a much lighter 4.7 ounces.
At the top of the Nokia 808 is a covered HDMI port, microUSB,and a 3.5mm headphone jack. The right side of the device has a black volume rocker, a sliding lock switch and a dedicated camera button.
All in all, despite its bulk, the Nokia 808 is very elegant, and looks and feels like a premium device. It feels solid enough so that we wouldn't fear for its life if we were to accidentally drop it.
The 4-inch AMOLED display on the Nokia 808 uses ClearBlack technology, which makes colors look very bold. Explosions were bright, and blacks and other dark scenes in an "Avengers" trailer didn't suffer from noise and artifacts that we've seen on many other smartphones. Averaging 488 lux, the Nokia 808's screen is far brighter than most smartphones, too. The average is 303 lux.
Too bad the Nokia 808's display has a resolution of 640 x 360 pixels, which is lower than you'll find on some BlackBerrys. What makes this even more tragic is the fact that all those gorgeous photos you took appear grainy and pixelated on the screen.
We found it fairly easy to type in portrait and landscape keyboards on the Nokia 808. We like that the QWERTY layout uses the entire width of the display, but found it a little cumbersome to use the number pad, which is jammed in the left side of one of the secondary keyboards. We'd also like to see a ".com" button when typing in URLs. However, we did appreciate the gentle haptic feedback and predictive text feature.
But it's more than just the hardware that's impressive. The camera app uses oversampling to make those 41MP shots into an 8-, 5-, or 2-MP image. As a result, images are much crisper, and there's much less noise than you'd find on a similar-size image from any other camera phone.
You can adjust everything from the ISO and the exposure to the lighting compensation and video stabilization.
One feature we wish the camera app had was HDR. While the app can automatically take three photos at different exposures, it can't combine them into a single shot, as with the iPhone.
As with still images, 1080p video shot with the Nokia 808 PureView was excellent. Even in one of the most difficult shooting scenarios--a nighttime fireworks display--colors were bright and crisp, and there was no noise in the surrounding night sky. Zooming was very smooth, though the camera had trouble focusing at times; we had to put our finger on the screen to select the area we wanted it to focus.
Microphones on either end of the Nokia 808 also ensured the sound of the fireworks was as impressive as the spectacle. Even though we were a few miles away, the camera picked up the thuds of the explosions well.
This phone's oversized, rounded icons for apps look pretty basic, but we like the small circle that appears at the upper left-hand corner of any app that's running. (For those unfamiliar with Symbian, in order to close an app, you must press the Hang Up button while in the app itself.) Pulling down from the top of the screen reveals notifications, such as the active wireless radios, as well as any running apps.
One thing we like is the black-and-white clock on the lock screen, so you can find out the time without pressing a button.
The 1.3-GHz ARM 11 processor and 512MB of RAM in the Nokia 808 isn't going to wow anyone, but it provided enough power to allow the phone to scroll smoothly through transitions, open apps quickly and play a few rounds of "Asphalt 6" without issue.
The phone has 16GB of built-in memory, but can be expanded via a microSD card. That's a highly recommended upgrade, considering the size of the photos and videos.
Still, riding on AT&T's HSPA+ network (which amusingly shows up as "3.5G" on the Nokia), sites loaded fairly quickly. The NYTimes' mobile site loaded in about 9 seconds, and Laptopmag took about 20 seconds.
However, some of these apps aren't up to a par with those on Android and iOS. For example, the Facebook app simply shows friends' updates on the main screen; a button at the bottom opens a second screen showing icons for News Feed, Me, Friends, Inbox, Events, Requests, Photos and Notifications. The YouTube app merely opens the browser.
The Nokia 808 comes with 802.11n Wi-Fi, as well as Bluetooth and NFC. We attempted to share photos via NFC by touching the Nokia 808 to a Samsung Galaxy SIII, but while we felt the "bump," were unable to send files in either direction.
An unlocked device, the Nokia 808 PureView can accept microSIM cards from AT&T and T-Mobile.
Call Quality and Battery Life
We couldn't get as accurate a battery life time on the 808, because the screen kept dimming and then brighten when a new page would load. However, in anecdotal use, we were able to use the phone for most of the day taking photos, playing games and surfing the Web.
Nokia estimates that users should see about 6.5 hours of talk time from the Nokia 808; of course, this time will be greatly impacted the more photos and videos you take, especially if you use the flash.
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|Form Factor||Candybar Touchscreen|
|Operating System||Symbian OS|
|CPU||1.3GHz ARM 11|
|Memory Expansion Type||microSD Card|
|Display (main)||4 inch AMOLED/640 x 360|
|Bluetooth Type||Bluetooth 3.0|
|Front Camera Resolution|
|Talk / Standby Time||6.5 hours|
|Size||4.9 x 2.4 x 0.56 inches|
|SAR Rating (Head)|
|SAR Rating (Body)|