Why Nokia really made the 41-megapixel PureView

Why Nokia really made the 41-megapixel PureView

Summary: The Nokia 808 PureView has the largest sensor in a smartphone available on the market today, but without operator support Nokia is unlikely to sell many. So why the uber-cameraphone even exist?

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TOPICS: Smartphones, Nokia
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  • When the 808 PureView was announced at Mobile World Congress in February, the Finnish handset maker managed to take the world by surprise: who would have expected it to launch a proof-of-concept type device on a platform it had already said it was discontinuing?

    But then, that was probably one of the reasons Nokia made it.

    Despite pledging allegiance to the Windows Phone operating system, the company wanted to show that it still knew how to do R&D, to reassure customers for the Windows Phones devices that lay ahead.

  • 808 PureView screen

    It's also likely that Nokia will in future drop the unnecessarily large 41-megapixel sensor (which ultimately only produces an 8-megapixel photo anyway) and take the PureView software and branding to the Windows Phone platform.

    In that case, the 808 has done a pretty good job of getting the PureView name into people's consciousness — after all, Nokia was previously known for delivering 'best in class' camera phones and it needs to be known for something other than good maps to survive.

    That the PureView isn't running on Windows Phone OS is more accident than design: I suspect we would have seen the Nokia 808 PureView on the Microsoft platform back in February if the platform supported camera sensors that large, but right now that's not the case.

  • Nokia 808 PureView

    While Symbian may be looking dated as a fully-fledged smartphone OS, it still delivers a lot of the functionality you'd find on the Android, iOS or Windows Phone platforms - albeit in a less user-friendly way.

    Nevertheless, with millions of Symbian-based handsets already on the market, the platform undoubtedly has a few fans out there who'll be pleased to see the arrival of another Belle handset.

    While the decision might be intended to somewhat placate Symbian fans, whether Nokia will be able to convert them into Windows Phone users remains to be seen.

Topics: Smartphones, Nokia

Ben Woods

About Ben Woods

With several years' experience covering everything in the world of telecoms and mobility, Ben's your man if it involves a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or any other piece of tech small enough to carry around with you.

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37 comments
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  • When you don't have much, you flaunt what you got ...

    Nokia for a long while only had the Nokia N8. They spent HOURS and HOURS on the Nokia Conversations flogging the fact that the N8 had a great camera. That's all they had to talk about. I think this new camera is great, for the 3% of the population that wants that good of a camera in a smartphone. Stephen Elop doesn't really understand what he did to Nokia. He may never realize it. For now, Nokia will continue to wait for Windows Phone 8 and not really innovate a lot that the majority of consumers want.
    jkohut
    • A lot more than 3% want a good camera in my opinion...

      EVERYONE likes taking good pictures, but not everyone likes to lug around an additional camera. I would argue that 90% of the population wants a good camera on their phone. Certainly, everyone I know that has a smartphone uses the camera, and usually complains of the lack of quality.
      kstap
      • "3% of the population that wants that good of a camera"

        Most are happy with a 5MP or 8MP camera. That was my point, especially if other things are less appealing (i.e. OS, number of available applications, form factor, etc...). The 3% was a guess, but we will see how well this phone sells and see how wrong or right I am.
        jkohut
    • 41 megapixels is meaningless

      feature porn. The limiting factor on a phone camera these days is the lens.
      baggins_z
      • Ignorance is not an asset

        "41 megapixels is meaningless"

        This just shows a complete lack of understanding as to how the pureview works. Do your homework.

        Hopefully the pureview will mark a transition away from windows phone and back to Meego or symbian.
        Sean Mcmahon
        • *NOTHING* will bring Symbian back.

          Symbian is dead and it's not coming back. It was outmoded several years ago and it's even more outmoded today. It was difficult to develop to and Nokia has dumped essentially all of the Symbian developers in the trashcan. The PureView exists on Symbian primarily because that was what Nokia's camera engineers had to work with as a development platform.

          MeeGo is probably just as dead, although the former Meltemi engineers are trying to get themselves hired-out en mass; if that were to happen, you might still see Maemo/MeeGo/Meltemi make it to market.
          Atlant
          • Symbian died because Stephen Elop killed it...

            it is still capable. It is currently doing just about anything that Android or iOS can do. It was a bit difficult to develop for, but probably not a lot more so. It should have at least been held onto until Meego and/or Windows Phone were allowed to mature. Nokia is suffering for that decision as we speak.
            jkohut
          • That much is true.

            > It should have at least been held onto until Meego
            > and/or Windows Phone were allowed to mature.
            > Nokia is suffering for that decision as we speak.

            Both of those statements are *VERY* true; Elop was a fool to torch Nokia's two existing platforms in favor of a still-uncertain future.
            Atlant
          • @Atlant

            You've clearly never examined Symbian in detail: It has increasingly lagged the rest of the mobile OS' & platforms over the last few years. By today's standards, Symbian's developer toolset was awful, its marketplace & store facilities were non-existent and it had NO mindshare and no possibility of increasing mindshare in users or app developers.

            In short, Symbian was a dead parrot that had shuffled off its mortal coil and gone to meet its maker.

            Meego? It was stillborn.
            bitcrazed
          • Doing everything Android or iOS can do?

            You mean "except sell", right?

            And with regard to Symbian being difficult to develop for, the moment you took your average C/C++ desktop programmer and started explaining to them about the need to use Symbian's Clean-Up Stacks, String Descriptors, no exceptions, and all the other ways, big and little, that Symbian didn't quite do either C++ or POSIX, their eyes glazed over and you lost that developer.
            Atlant
          • @jkohut

            "Capable" doesn't cut it these days.

            iOS is Apple-only. Android is a race to the bottom. Windows Phone is the only mobile platform around that ISN'T trying to copy/mimic iOS. In doing so, Microsoft is providing OEM's an alternative and very compelling platform upon which to differentiate themselves from their competitors.

            Nokia must be delighted to have avoided Samsung's recent penalties.
            bitcrazed
  • Maybe because they can?

    I agree. Doesn't seem to make a lot of sense. It's not subsidized and it doesn't come in one of the three leading mobile operating systems. I could see this with WP7 but Belle? My guess is they still want to show the world that Nokia is still capable of pulling off something awesome. Honestly, I would get one just for the camera if it came with Android and was subsidized. I'd pick it over another phone.

    Maybe a bunch will go on sale in the USA on eBay in a year or so for a hundred bucks or so? I'd be interested then....
    dvanderwerken
  • when

    did they struggle to sell their windows phone devices? Figures please.
    danjames2012
    • When ou have to "give it" away for free

      That is a sign you're struggling. When your company is bleeding cash, to a point there's speculation that you might not exist in six months, you're struggling.
      Jumpin Jack Flash
  • Shipping is a feature

    Instead of developing a great feature and sitting on it until the Windows Phone 8 devices come along, Nokia could build it as a prototype on Symbian, get the attention now, improve it for Windows Phone and get two bites at the cherry. With the markets acting like headless chickens, looking good seems to matter as much as selling units...
    mary.branscombe
  • This phone is DOA

    Think about this...

    From the late 1990s there has been a boom in digital photography... Most who want a good camera already have one.

    Now, people want a smartphone and again, more than half already have those...

    Of the current smartphones, the Galaxy Note, HTC Rezound, Galaxy S3, HtC One x, iPhone 4, and iPhone 4s are all good enough with their cameras...

    So my question to Nokia would be, "Why should I give up a good all around smartphone for an average phone with Pixel Binning Technology and none of the benefits of a real camera?"
    slickjim
    • Couldn't stop laughing.

      OK, so you wrote that 2 months ago .... bet you're feeling a little silly now that Nokia have realised it as an 8meg feature in a Windows Phone.

      Looks like the smart people had it pegged as a marketing ploy all along.
      Pastabake
  • pointless

    When you see an article with a title that starts with 'Why', you expect to find some kind of an answer in the text that follows.

    This article does not answer its own question - why does it exist?
    ForeverSPb
    • Exactly

      I expected him to have at least some attempt at answering his question. Instead, he enumerated what we mostly already knew, and posed the question you would have expected an answer for from his headline.
      WebSiteManager
    • True: pointless article

      My thoughts exactly. Most of everyone already knows what he said and are wondering the "Why" ourselves.

      What kind of loser writes a "Why" titled article and ends it with the same question?
      TruthSeekr99