GSM Arena: A Raving Review of the Nokia 808

I have been writing reviews about smartphones in The Netherlands since years. But on this blog, I thought you would not consider my review of the Nokia 808 Pureview to be an "objective" view on the device, and I wouldn't blame you.

I tend to forgive (but not forget) its shortcomings, I like to admire what it can do and not focus on what it can't, and I don't really care it "only" runs on Symbian. Today I wrote on Twitter the Nokia 808 PureView is the first pentaband compact camera with a full-fledged touchscreen OS - and although I'm serious about that, I realize it's all in the eye of the beholder.

So I'm happy to give you some quotes from  the gigantic 10 page review that has just hit GSMArena about the Nokia 808 PureView. I'll give you a lot of quotes after the break, but I do urge you to read the full story yourself. Really. It's worth it. After those quotes I will give you some extra food for thought, I hope.

These are the quotes I'd like to share with you. I won't write them in italic since that's less easy to read. Untill the next image it will be nothing but quotes from the GSMArena's review:

- We conducted our usual sunlight legiblity test on the Nokia 808 PureView and it ended up our new champion. The contrast ratio of the ClearBlack AMOLED mounted on the smartphone in strong light is way better than anything we've seen so far.

- Many will find the camera bump rather ugly, but we think it adds to the phone's personality. Not exactly our ideal picture of a handsome phone, the 808 PureView feels rock solid and is more comfortable to handle than most would think.

- Symbian has faded into the background of the  smartphone scene, which is a shame since it finally caught up to the competition in terms of features with Belle and now we have Feature Pack 1 to polish it.

- With the Nokia 808 PureView you really don't notice you're running on a single-core processor. The app store battle has been lost though and in today's market, the apps are the main driving force behind smartphone sales.

- The Nokia 808 PureView handled practically every video file we tried - DivX, XviD, AVI, MKV, MP4 - there's nothing the phone is afraid of. Even 1080p videos played smoothly. Videos with AC3 or DTS sound worked too, even if they trip up most other smartphones.

- Even without the benefit of oversampling, the Nokia 808 PureView sensor produces photos with very little noise. The noise is kept low and the level of detail is amazing. This is enhanced by the sheer number of pixels available - when you open a full resolution photo and view it at 100%, you get much closer to the subject than with any other phone or even most digicams.

- the Nokia 808 PureView low-light performance isn't merely as good as its specs suggest - the handset managed to exceed our expectations. And it's not just still either - the 1080p footage captured in low-light environments comes out really great too.

- The videos themselves are excellent: smooth, free of noise and with great level of detail. Color rendering is identical to the one in still images, which is to say accurate, but a bit desaturated.

- The Nokia 808 PureView has an expectedly impressive set of connectivity options. Starting off with the basics, you get a true worldwide-ready phone: quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE and penta-band 3G with HSDPA (14.4Mbps) and HSUPA (5.76Mbps). Wherever there's a GSM network you'd get voice calls and data, which is anything but sluggish.

- On the surface, the Feature Pack 1 browser hasn't seen much change. Underneath, however, Nokia has done a great job at expanding the HTML5 support and making pages load even faster.

- it's not impossible for the 808 PureView become one of the company's bestsellers, even with all those Lumias around.

- As a phone, the Nokia 808 PureView could be the swan song of a platform worth many glorious chapters in smartphone history. There may be still a few more Symbians to come, but who will remember them over this unique gadget?

- So hats off to the Finns - there are no two ways about it. With the  Microsoft deal a gamble that's yet to pay off, with plenty of people unable to get over the way MeeGo was treated, with a market obsessed with software and apps, you'd think they'd have other things on their mind than developing what's probably the most revolutionary technology this industry has seen for quite some time. Madness? This is Nokia.

This great picture above (a screenshot I made from some video weeks ago) is just there to mark the end of the quotes from the GSMArena review. Again, I urge you to really read the full review as well. It's 10 pages and they're all worth it.

The  quotes I chose are quite positive since they underline my enthusiasm for the device, whereas the review of course mentions a few troublesome points as well. But much to my suprise, the review was even more positive than I expected. Maybe I can just add a few of the "negative" things I've experienced so far.

I already asked Nokia on this blog to please write an update for the Gallery, which has been deprived of many functions and possibilities it had in the Nokia N8, but GSMArena has that covered as well. However, the review doesn't notice the lack of Twitter integration, which seems odd when Facebook and Flickr integration is part of the software. Not being able to handle more than one account at the same time (noticed by GMSArena)  is definitely old-fashioned. This can all be taken care of in future updates though.

GSMArena furthermore is quite mild about the fact that you will need a separate app to use tethering. This app is free in a limited version and costs you €9 in the full version. I don't care about the €9 and not at all when there is a free version available as well. I just think Nokia should have offered it's own solution. I'm not a daily tethering user, but for many others (on the road with non-GSM enabled tablets) this might be considered a serious disadvantage.

And although GSMArena writes an impressive review to "try and cover every aspect of the most impressive cameraphone we've ever seen", they have - amazingly so - forgotten one I think absolutely stunning feature of the Nokia 808 PureView. I have to be fair though: in Barcelona at the Mobile World Congress I missed it the first day as well. Probably because you can't see it: the incredible sound quality of the recording.

Up until now I guess it's the most underestimated aspect of the innovations Nokia is presenting in their 808 Pureview. Just as in the full resolution pictures, the keyword is: no noise. Nokia calls it "Rich Recording" and it never ceases to amaze me. It will record even the loudest of sounds without clipping, and during concerts the balance of the sound - from low to high - is near perfect.

And you will hear none of the "hiss" that usually accompanies your recording. To underline that, I again will embed this video from Seasick Steve, singing a ballad to a girl on the Dutch festival Pinkpop, recorded live from the audience with the Nokia 808 Pureview. The sun as shining directly in the lense, so the picture looks a bit pale. The sound however... Headphones up and pump up the volume. Admire the clear sound and realize it´s not just the camera that Nokia reinvented with the Nokia 808 PureView.

Other than this, like the site concludes about Nokia, I conclude with a well-meant "hats off for GSMArena". Also, I think Nokia might have the dire needed hit in it's hands, although the company never saw it coming.