Nokia's Pureview flagships, Samsung Galaxy Note 3, Sony Xperia Z1 Compact and: Jolla (1)

Thank you for your patience all. I've been enjoying "some" peace of mind, but I've been walking around with six smartphone cameras lately nevertheless. The three Nokia PureView flagships of course (808, 1020, 1520), the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, Sony's Xperia Z1 Compact and one (more or less) new kid on the block: the Jolla phone.

Jolla: a short introduction
Before I go on with my first comparisons, let me explain a little bit about Jolla. I won't write a review of the Jolla phone here - it's not what the PureViewClub is about, but I will provide you with some background information before I share some of its shots - and compare it with some of the big guns out there.

Jolla 3

First of all, for those who don't know, Jolla was formed by about 80 ex-Nokia employees who started the bold adventure to take "the road not taken". After Nokia took the decision to leave Symbian and choose Windows Phone, they started their own company to create a new smartphone based on their own OS called "Sailfish".

It will remind you of MeeGo when you see it for the first time, but there are differences, for instance in the way you "swype" your way through the menu. I found their initiative brave and inspiring (I have a natural sympathy for the underdog I guess), so I decided to order one and show my support.

Jolla 11

To be able to offer more applications than available in the original Jolla Store, you have the possibility to use Android stores like Yandex for applications - interestingly enough, it's the exact same route Nokia now takes with it's "forked Android" Nokia X devices.

As I already own a few Android devices, I've been waiting for the Jolla Store to grow, which it apparantly does, but as an average user, you will still need to turn to Android I guess. Without wanting to offend anyone, I think the Jolla phone still is a bit of a "geeky" device. I have the Jolla for a few months already to be honest, but I've been waiting for updates before writing anything about it.

Jolla 14

Jolla has been a somewhat disappointing experience for me in the beginning, although I really did like its design from the start: in a worldwide market loaded with different brands that all have their own devices, it's no small achievement to think of a design that is genuinely new and original.

The Jolla slogan is "we are unlike" and that is very well chosen. You'll recognize a Jolla smartphone directly by it's looks and the same goes for the Sailfish user interface: there's simply nothing like it (apart from MeeGo maybe, which never was a very large OS).

Jolla 8

You can even buy a different " other half" - a new back cover that will directly change the way your Jolla screen looks like - and there are more "other halfs" to come, putting a different emphasis on the way you use your device. Only thing is I find these other halfs quite expensive at €29 (but I will get one if they think of realizing one that is centred around the camera functionality :-)

After its recent, important update to "Ohijärvi" the Sailfish OS has left the beta stage. Also, the (only 4MP) camera has seen a major impovement in terms of settings etc. Now you can adjust Light sensitivity (from ISO 100 to 400) and choose different white balance (Cloudy, Sunny, Fluorescent and Tungsten).

You can tap to focus or set it to infinity or continuous autofocus. You can set a delay up to 10 seconds. Still, it's no more than 4MP: 3264 x 1840 pixels in 16:9, and you can't shoot in 4:3. Here's a shot I captured from the Jolla settings menu.

Jolla Camera Settings

After this introduction I think it's safe to compare what I got from the Jolla phone compared to the ones you've already seen here featured before: "the big guns" as I've called them already. They all are a bit or even a lot more expensive than the Jolla phone you can order for €400 - with one exception, the Nokia 808 PureView.

It will even be quite hard to buy the 808 PureView new, but it's not impossible and over here you'd pay a bit more than €200 for it (and if it's a good smartphone camera you're after, that's a no-brainer).

First comparison
I took the six phones to the large store where they don't mind at all when you use their great interior collection as subject for your shots (I've been sharing shots from that store here and here earlier). They do appreciate it if you ask before you start though.

And it's almost Easter, so I captured the fluffy Easter bunnies first :-) Let's start with how the 6MP camera of the Jolla captured the sweet scene inside.

1 Jolla Easter

Since I just mentioned the only "cheaper" alternative, here's the 5MP result from the Nokia 808 PureView.

1 Nokia 808 Pureview Easter

You can see there's not just a difference in size (6MP vs 5MP) but also in focal length: the Nokia 808 PureView will give you much more in your shots (as always, I didn't move an inch).

The other smartphone with the longer focal length is the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact, so let's have a look what it captures from the same scene (in 8.3MP).

1 Sony Xperia Z1 Compact Easter

I think it's safe to say its focal length is somewhere between the Nokia 808 PureView and the Jolla. The Xperia Z1 Compact is more expensive than the Jolla by the way, with a suggested retail price of €549 over here (and 36,990 in India for instance).

Another device from which we already know it has longer focal length (so showing less of the subject in the shot) is the Galaxy Note 3. Much to my surprise, it shows even less of the scene than the Jolla...

1 Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Easter

And here"s how the Lumia 1020 and Lumia 1520 captured the same scene in 5MP PureView

1 Nokia Lumia 1020 Easter 5MP

1 Nokia Lumia 1520 Easter 5MP

Now all devices were on automatic, and you may notice the Jolla phone gives the most "pink" result, whereas the Lumia's give a bit "cooler" impression of the shot.

Now, let's have a look at the crops I got from these shots - starting with the lowest resolution of 5MP (the 808 PureView and both Lumia's). Fourth crop is from the 6MP (Jolla), followed by the 8MP (Xperia) and 9.6MP (Samsung in 16:9). Hover your mouse over the shots to be sure which camera was used.  

1 Nokia 808 Pureview Easter

1 Nokia Lumia 1020 Easter 5MP

1 Nokia Lumia 1520 Easter 5MP

1 Jolla Easter

1 Sony Xperia Z1 Compact Easter

1 Samsung Galaxy Note 3 EasterWell, as far as "fluffiness" goes, it's obvious the Jolla isn't really able to show much details. The "fur" of the Easter bunnies appears to have turned into a mushy substance with its 6MP camera. It's even downright embarassing in comparison, but hey - it's a relatively "cheap" smartphone as well...

The Nokia 808 PureView and Lumia 1020 offer the best result, obviously profiting from their 41MP sensor and PureView oversampling As may be expected, the 5MP result from the Nokia 808 PureView even shows the most detail (most likely due to its bigger sensor size).

But the differences aren't that large. Moreover (I have to be honest with you) I just now discovered the Nokia 808 PureView was still on ISO-200 in just about all shots I made with it during these comparisons. Now you see that "keeping the last settings" so many wish to see on the Lumia 1020 may be a disadvantage as well...

The 5MP result from the Lumia 1520 isn't far behind, but does show a bit more detail than the Xperia Z1 Compact - which oversamples from 20.7MP to 8MP.

No oversampling is used in the Samsung Galaxy Note 3. You'll just "zoom" into its 9.6MP result (in 16:9 aspect ratio) much closer in a 640 x 360 crop. Comparing that to the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact, I think it's obvious it clearly loses in detail.

There is much more - I have five more different scenes, so that means thirty shots, crops and screenshots for you - but I think this first post has become long enough as it is with my short introduction about Jolla.

I hope to be able to post the next comparisons later this week, and I hope that you found this one revealing to begin with. I think it's already pretty obvious you won't spend your money on the Jolla for its camera - but I reckon you didn't expect that to begin with.

Update: after I learned the Jolla doesn't shoot in 4MP like I first thought (for some reason), but 6MP in fact, I corrected that above. Also, I changed the order in which I presented the crops. With a 6MP resolution, the cropped results even look a lot worse than I was willing to "forgive" a 4MP resolution.

You'll find all the original shots in a dedicated set on Flickr. Please don't hesitate to share what you make of all this. And please join the PureViewClub

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