MWC 2012: Hands-on with the 41-megapixel Nokia 808 PureView smartphone

Hello: Cameraphone evolved

MWC 2012: Hands-on with the 41-megapixel Nokia 808 PureView smartphone

If ever there was a device that deserves to be labelled a 'cameraphone', the Nokia 808 PureView is it.

The headline feature - a stonking 41-megapixel camera sensor - is both the best and, to be honest, the most noteworthy thing to talk about when it comes to this Symbian (Belle, service pack one) device.

Yes, I was asked to mention that last part by a rep at the stand, obviously terrified that I'd chuck the phone into the critical bin purely on the basis of its OS.

Let's get the phone part out of the way

That terror is justified, as Symbian (Belle, service pack one) looks terribly out of date, especially when placed in such close promixity on Nokia's MWC stand to arguably the most attractive mobile OS on the market: Windows Phone.

It may pack in certain features that fans of Symbian will point to as reasons for its superiority over iOS, but for the casual observer (or, say, someone playing with the phone for 15 minutes at a trade show), the look of the icons and the way you navigate feels terribly dated.

Also, it doesn't help that on a purely aesthetic level, the rather heavy 808 PureView underwhelms. In other words, the device looks a bit cheap. The rumoured price tag suggests otherwise, however, with one retailer pegging the device at around £400 unlocked (thanks, T3).

Say cheese

If it is sold at retail for that amount, the 808 PureView does at least have a good excuse for doing so: the camera.

And, boy, is the camera good. Using a Carl Zeiss lens and the famed 41-megapixel sensor, the 808 produces images that no other cameraphone on the market can match.

One thing to note, mind, is that the headline feature says 41 megapixels, yet the maximum resolution for a picture is 'just' 38 megapixels.

It's more likely you'll use the 8- or 5-megapixel settings, though, since they allow you to digitally zoom in multiple times without losing clarity, and improve (through oversampling) the straight up image you get at the lower resolution.

If Nokia can incorporate this camera technology into something other than a Symbian (Belle, service pack one) handset, it would be a real system-seller.

As it is, the 808 Pureview seems to be more of a good camera than phone, but it will be well worth having a play around with just for the 'wow' factor when it appears in UK shops around May.