Hands-on with the Nokia 808 PureView (and its controversial 41-megapixel sensor)

Hands-on with the Nokia 808 PureView (and its controversial 41-megapixel sensor)

Nokia’s press conference was a mixed affair (our live blog has the full recap). We learnt that the Lumia 900 was coming to Canada and Europe, we saw some new devices join the Asha range and we also welcomed the Lumia 610, Nokia’s cheapest Windows Phone to date.

We also saw a new handset that boasts a 41-megapixel camera sensor — yes, you read that right, fourty-one-megapixels.

Before we start looking into the Nokia 808 PureView, we must point out that it is a Symbian device, not a Windows Phone smartphone. That said, it still sports a 4-inch 16:9 nHD (640 x 360 pixels) AMOLED screen, 1.3GHz single-core SoC, 512MB of RAM and 16GB of internal memory.

However, the Nokia 808 PureView is obviously going to attract attention for its high-resolution 41-megapixel sensor with Carl Zeiss optics and its ‘new pixel oversampling technology.’

The 808 allows you to choose from different camera modes to get the best from your photos, whether it’s snapping a 38-megapixel shot (the maximum it will go) and resizing it to find detailed elements within the image, or choosing the standard 3-megapixel, 5-megapixel or 8-megapixel option and utilising the PureView technology to condense seven pixels into one for super sharp images.

The same PureView technology helps make the best of low-light conditions, working to keep the 808’s 1080p HD videos as clear as possible.

While the camera does pack 41 million pixel capturing elements, Nokia doesn’t recommend you use all of those at once. Instead, it says (PDF link) that 5 megapixels is more than enough. The phone uses the extra pixels in the sensor to ‘distill’ images down, using the information from 7 elements to deliver one pixel. This, Nokia says, allows it to deliver ‘lossless zoom’ of up to 3x for stills and better quality pictures at substantially lower resolution than the maximum available.

That isn’t to say that you can’t snap a huge image with it if you so choose. The recommended resolution may be 5MP, but you can get images as large as 38MP out of it if you wish.

We grabbed a hands-on with the device and whilst it is heavier than your average smartphone, you can understand why with the sheer size of the sensor in the camera section of the phone. This makes the camera protrude from the rest of the body, but it’s by no means ugly.

To demonstrate how crisp and clear photos taken using the Nokia 808 PureView can be, Nokia provided a set of images that shows incredible detail. Check them out below (click the images for the full resolution):

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