My Review of the Nokia 808 PureView
I changed my mind. First I thought you would consider me to be too biased to write a review about the Nokia 808 PureView - how could I be critical about a device I obviously love so much to start an international blogsite about it? But I'm not blind to its limitations, and I think you will appreciate to read about my experiences from the last weeks, since I'm still proud to be the first blogger on the planet to have gotten the best camephone on the planet.
Because - whatever you might consider negative about it - that's a fact: it simply is the best camphone on the planet. In this quite lengthy review - and a lot longer if you read all the linked previous articles - you will find my own and official pictures from the Nokia 808 PureView, or pictures I made using it.
Working with it, I've been giving the Nokia 808 PureView a great deal of thought. Why was I so enchanted with it since the first time I laid eyes on it? What inspired me so much to start the PureViewClub? How did I just feel people all over the world would rave about this phone? So I won't start with its specifications, I'll start with a few of my conclusions instead. From there you can read on about the specs and other features of the Nokia 808 PureView. And my criticism as well.
To start with some conclusions
The Nokia 808 PureView is the ideal smartphone for who always wants to be able to make pictures in the best possible quality, without having to bring another device like a compact camera. Since you always carry your cell phone with you, the Nokia 808 PureView is the perfect solution, an ideal smartphone that combines the great quality of its pictures with the ability to send or share those pictures directly with your friends and social networks. Not only over WiFI, but also using GSM networks in the whole world.
Besides, it offers complete GPS functionality with the totally free and worldwide coverage of Nokia Maps and - also free - turn by turn navigation from Nokia Drive. It serves as Musicplayer or FM-radio to keep you company on your trips. There's much more, you'll read about it below.
You won't find all this in a classic compact camera, however modern, not by far. And there are only a very few smartphones that offer all this content at the time - and none of them offers the quality of the 41MP camerasensor the Nokia 808 PureView boasts.
A big niche
Since it's running on Symbian, it's the stunning camera that's really the most important feature of the newest Nokia. That's why it is usually considered to be a "niche" product. But the longer I work on this blog and the more reactions I get, the more I sense this "niche " might consist of a suprisingly big audience worldwide.
I already wrote that Nokia might have a big hit in its hands without even knowing it. With hardly any campaign - none at all if you compare it to the introduction of the Lumia 900 in the US - the whole world seems to be craving for the Nokia 808 PureView. That must be kind of frustrating for Nokia that has already decided Symbian is a dead-end road.
Let's face it: not only this blogsite, much bigger and far more influential blogsites all over the world rave about the Nokia 808 PureView, inspiring many people to want one and try it out for themselves. Nokia seems to have a hard time to deliver so much demand in so little time, there are quite some complaints about that. And the ones that do already own their new Nokia, are complaining they can't get any accessories like... anywhere. That all kind of shows how unexpected this success is to Nokia.
Symbian - Nokia Belle - Feature Pack 1
And why? Because - like I wrote - Nokia gave up on Symbian. They didn't believe Symbian would sell anymore, not even if they would rename it to Nokia Belle, not even when they would add "Feature Pack 1". And let's face it, even the newest version of Symbian is simply not able to beat Android and iOS. I've already given Nokia Belle a great deal of attention in a three paged blog on this site, and if you really want to learn more about it I kindly ask you to read those pages as well.
For now I will say that Nokia Belle is really miles ahead of the last Symbian device you might have had in use, like the nokia N95. It's even much smoother and faster than the Nokia N8 or E7, if you are still acquainted with those devices. In fastness and smoothness it reminds me of Nokia's N9 on Meego, another platform Nokia has killed in the process. But it even has a comparable smoothness to - hold on - the Nokia Lumia series on Windows Phone 7. Mind you, comparable, not the same, but still.
And all this with a single-core 1,3GHz processor. Nokia Belle get's a lot of stuff done and the fact that the battery will last much longer than you are most likely used to with any modern smartphone can't be underestimated.
Stuff it gets done
Let me just sum up some of the things you will find in the Nokia 808 "out of the box" (mostly).
- Messaging. Of course you can send text and multimedia messages with the 808 PureView, it's a smartphone. But lo and behold, there is WhatsApp as well (you'll have to install it seperately, but it's free).
- Mail and internet And of course there is e-mail for Nokia Mail, Yahoo! Mail, Gmail, Hotmail, Exchange ActiveSync and you can specify "other" mail. You can only use one Exchange mail account however. The Nokia 808 browser supports HTML5, but browsing the web you will notice the resolution of the 4 inch AMOLED screen is quite low at 360 x 640 pixels.
- Work. The Nokia 808 offers Microsoft Apps, Lync and Office Mobile (for Word, Powerpoint and Excel). The Nokia 808 offers QuickOffice as well, but that is now more or less replaced by Office Mobile (which you will receive in an update by the way). It has OneNote if you have a Windows Live ID. There is an Adobe Reader app. It has a Zip utility too, a voice recorder and calculator.
- News, info and entertainment. It has a dedicated YouTube player, and offers news from CNN International. You can listen to FM-Radio, you can look up the music you hear using Shazam. Nokia Music is "just" the Ovi Store, doesn't include the brilliant streaming service Nokia offers on Windows Phone. There is a weather forecasting application pre-installed.
- Voice control. Voice control is there with the software from Vlingo. Your Nokia 808 will also read your text messages to you if you like.
- Nokia location based. I've already mentioned Nokia Maps and Drive, I should add Public Transport and City guides .
- Social. The app that Nokia optimistically calls "Social" is offering Facebook and Twitter, but is in dire need of an update. Most users prefer Gravity, even if it costs you €9.
- Connections. The Nokia 808 supports NFC (Near Field Communication) and is meant for mobile payments and exchanging data like pictures. I've tested NFC on the Nokia Play 360° Wireless Speaker and it works perfectly (much to my relief I must say, I love that speaker but many phones offering NFC - except the Nokia N9 - won't connect to it). Furthermore is has DLNA Play, but I still don't have any DLNA equipment here, I can't tell you more about it. And still living without a HDMI-cable as for now I can't tell you more about the Big Screen functionality either, I'm sorry. I will update this as soon as I can.
- Pictures and videos. There is an app called Colorizit with which you can play around with the colors in your pictures. And there is an app called Silent Film Director which makes it possible to shoot a video in specific color styles: black and white, ´60s home video, ´20s movie, Sepia, Vintage Sepia and '70s Home Video. The app starts quite slow and the effect will be processed after you've recorded something with it. Processing takes a serious amount of time too, it took me minutes to process a short testvideo, but the effect can be quite charming I must say. It appears to be wise not to record in Full HD using this app, because it takes up too much of the processing power. In another post I will share some of the results using Silent Film Director.
- Apps. Most of what I mentioned above is "out of the box" or free to install, except for Gravity which is probably one of the most successful app in the Nokia Store. There are many, many more apps available, and since this review concentrates on the phone itself I think it will take too much of your and my time if I write much more about it. Moreover, I've already done a blogpost about the Must Have Apps, based on the input I got in the PureViewClub Forum.
So, is it complete?
That depends on what you care to use or not, but in all honesty I would have to say "no". There are a lot of apps that are simply not available for Nokia Belle, I have too many examples of missing apps I use on Android, I won't even go there for now. One thing however, the integration of Facebook and Twitter simply isn't good enough, compared to the other smartphone platforms.
Even worse, you'll find a "Nokia Recommends" app in the phone which promotes apps that aren't even available anymore - that gives it a bit of a deserted feeling, like nobody's looking after it at all. And since Nokia has declared Symbian more or less dead, it would not surprise me if that's the case.
Now that the Nokia 808 PureView appears to be a much bigger success than the company expected, it might be necessary for Nokia to reconsider some steps made in the past, at least for the next few years. Deciding to invest in Nokia Belle even longer doesn't sound as a completely ridiculous idea either.
Sharing my thoughts with my followers on Twitter I wrote: "The Nokia 808 PureView is the very first pentaband compact camera with a full-fledged touchsceen OS" and "Do you want a fantastic smartphone with a good camera, or a fantastic camera in a good smartphone? That's the question." After you've been reading all of the above, you'll understand what I mean by this. It's a nice smartphone, but much more than that it's a the best camphone we've ever seen.
Its primary function is to shoot pictures and video, its secondary function is the be able to send or share the results over GSM or WiFi, and yes, you can also call or send textmessages to your contacts. If you look at it in this order, the fact that the Nokia 808 PureView "just" has Symbian as platform is forgivable I believe.
Sure, I would have liked it to run on Windows Phone 7 as well. But it simply can't run on Windows Phone, which has to do with limitations of that OS up until now. Let's hope Windows Phone 8 will support what it takes for the PureView technology. Let's hope the next high-end Windows Phone 8 flagship will even offer PureView with the 41MP camerasensor, but somehow I doubt it.
So let's focus on the hardware again. I have been asked if the Nokia 808 PureView is very thick and heavy, as some reviewers appear to have written. Again, and it may sound cheesy by now, but it really depends on what you are used to.
The Nokia 808 weighs 169 grams, battery included. That is 9 grams less than the nokia E7, which I admit was quite heavy. It's almost 30 grams more than the iPhone 4S, 33 grams more than the new Samsung Galaxy S III - that even has a bigger screensize. So all in all, yes, I think you could call the Nokia 808 PureView on the heavy side, but it doen'st strike me as overweight at all.
Is it too thick? Well - it's certainly more bulky than every other smartphone at the moment, but as long as it serves its purpose (like carrying the casing for that lense and sensor, and a 4 inch AMOLED screen), again I really have no objection against it. Let's put it another way: the current size and weight to me would never be a reason not to want this camphone. But that won't surprise you, now you know that the old, but still strong horse called Symbian won't keep me away from it either.
The screen is about the most readable I have ever seen in clear sunlight. It's the AMOLED combined with the ClearBlack technology that makes this possible. It's made of "corning" Gorilla Glass, which is to say it's not completely flat and that it's very strong and scratch resistent. I'm not the kind of reviewer that will put a knife in it to test it though - I even have the factory protection on it, still.
The buttons are all on the right side of the screen (facing it). A volume rocker will serve for zooming in and out when making a picture or video, there is a small central slider button to wake the device up or put it to rest, and the lowest one is a dedicated camerabutton that will wake up the phone as well (it's a setting you can switch off by the way).
And of course you have the three buttons below the screen you've seen on previous devices, a left button for calling, a central button for menu and a right button for hanging up calls (or starting the phone, put it on silent, turn offline mode on, power saving mode on, lock the phone or switch it off - all that in one button ;-)
Under the hood
It's a worn-down comparison but I'll stick to it anyway: what's under the hood? When you open up the Nokia 808 of course - you might say - you'll find the battery. But there is no logic in that anymore. The Nokia N8 already had a non-replaceble battery, like with the Lumia 800 and 900. You'll find it in the new iPhones, you've seen it in the Sony Xperia S and HTC One X: being able to change the battery is becoming "old fashioned", and I'm really glad it still is possible in the Nokia 808 PureView (and the Samsung Galaxy S III for that matter).
Now we can at least see with our own eyes the battery is a BV-4D Nokia battery providing you with 1400 mAh which I must say is quite a lot for its size. Under the battery you wil find two slots, one for the Micro-Sim and one for the micro-SD. And however micro it is, Nokia claims it will support up to 32GB (which it does), others say Nokia claimed 48GB (which I can't confirm) and it might even support up to 64GB (which I can't check).
Did the engine of the Nokia 808 PureView ever let me down? Yes, to be honest. Since I have it, more than two weeks now, it has stopped during making a video for three times. The screen just turned black and there was no other way to revive it but to get the battery out and put it in again - the classic hard reset. After that it started up normally and went on like nothing ever happened.
Of course that is annoying, but remember I've been making tons of testvideo's with the device. There is no saying how or when this happens. I've been making video's of more than half an hour in Full HD ( in my car for instance) without any problem. Maybe it's a question of a bit too many apps being active in the background, I simply don't know. But I would bet on multitasking being the problem, also because it occurs so irregularly. Let's hope a software update will take care of whatever is necessary to fix this rare phenomena.
In the box and accessories
I hope you don't mind me sending you over to previous blogs now and again, but you might have seen these pictures on many other blogs as well: the very first unboxing pictures of the Nokia 808 Pureview. Mayby too happy to be able to share them, I first put them online without my watermark, reason for some blogs to claim my pictures and even put their own stamp on it without ever mentioning the source (I would like to refer to these blogs as " losers").
The content of the box is allright, it's not perfect. There is no HDMI cable, there is no USB-on-the-go cable either. That's a bit disappointing while Nokia put both in the box with their N8 and E7. Even more dissappointing is the HDMI cable from those appears not to work with the Nokia 808.
The headset has a nice design, but no volume control as one of my followers on Twitter pointed out. Other than that I guess it's standard: charger, cable, headset and a wrist-strap which might be handy on holiday (I hardly ever use things like these). You can find much more pictures in - here is yet another link - my first impression of the Nokia 808 PureView.
There are a lot of interesting accessories for the Nokia 808 PureView as well. The only problem is they are almost impossible to come by, if you're not blogging for sites like Slashgear.com or AllAboutSymbian. I'm not jealous - I was first anyway ;-) - I'm just concerned about customers who are getting annoyed not being able to spend their money on Nokia products.
So, that's it I guess. Wait - I'm not reviewing the camera here? Not the video capacities? No zooming? Not even Rich Recording I can never stop to promote as the other revolutionary innovation Nokia materialized in this device?
No, I've been doing that for the past weeks and put so many pictures and video's online it sometimes surprises me you're not totally fed up with it already ;-) But! You can judge for yourself. A lot of the pictures I made are on the Flickr PureViewClub Photostream. A lot of video's can be found on YouTube and some of those in remarkable better quality on Vimeo.
No more criticism than? Yes, one more thing. I don't understand why the Picture Gallery has so little possibilities compared to the Nokia N8 and even Nokia 603. Earlier - and this is the last link to one of my pervious blogs - I've written a long blog addressing Nokia about this issue.
One quote: "In previous phones, when one picture is marked, you can just touch others pictures to mark those as well, and in the menu you can choose to send or delete them, unmark them (or mark all), or add them to an album.This is not possible in the much more sophisticated Nokia 808 PureView , and I can’t think of a reason why. You can only choose the option “Add tag”.
It' s very unpractical and even stranger when you realize that the Nokia 603 runs on Nokia Belle Feature Pack 1 as well. I'm hoping for an update that will take care of this, since it will be much more fun to use my Nokia 808 PureView.
As you know by now, I love this device, it stole my heart at first sight, literally, during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, february 27, 2012. It could be made a bit better though, even within the limitations of Nokia Belle.
And I'm convinced that the sheer quality of the pictures and video will make a lot of people forgive the fact that it's running on the classic platform Nokia has officially abandoned. Below, to conclude, another version people scream to want: the red version of the Nokia 808 PureView.
Nokia, tell the people where they can get it and there is no way you will keep it in the shop that sells it. Get it out there! Get the accessories out there! Get the first necessary updates out there! I'm dead sure I'm not the only one loving the Nokia 808 PureView :-)