Nokia 808 PureView

£520
Price when reviewed

Hardware-wise, there isn’t much to shout about either. The processor is a 1.3GHz single-core ARM unit, there’s 512MB of RAM and it comes with 16GB of internal storage, with a microSD slot for adding a further 32GB. The 4in display is topped with scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass, and it’s bright and vibrant too. But the resolution is unthinkably low at 360 x 640, an astonishing decision given that this phone’s main purpose is to snap and view such high-resolution photos.

We could live with that if the 808 PureView was a pleasure to use, but it runs Nokia Belle (the operating system formerly known as Symbian), which its parent company has publicly condemned to the scrap heap. Technically speaking, Nokia Belle is a big improvement on what went before, with multiple Android-style desktops and widgets, and a simple, flat app launcher, also in the style of Android. We also like that Nokia has preloaded the handset with Microsoft Office Mobile, complete with a PowerPoint app that can view or edit files, and versions of Word and Excel that allow documents to be created as well as viewed and edited.

Nokia 808 PureView

Nokia’s OS continues to be the very epitome of efficiency – after our 24-hour battery test, the 808 PureView had 80% left on the battery gauge, which is nothing short of remarkable. Keep away from demanding apps and this phone is capable of lasting longer than two days. Add your Twitter and Facebook accounts, take a few shots and videos and the gauge drops more quickly, but we found on average we were able to get over a day and half of use.

However, it’s easy to see why Nokia made the jump to Windows Phone, because this OS is far from the slick experience we’ve come to expect from modern smartphones. The default keyboard, for one, is the worst we’ve used in quite some time. It is possible to replace it with Swype, but even this has its problems on the PureView, getting in the way of how search fields autocomplete.

The OS is littered with annoying little inconsistencies. The Gallery app lets you upload photos to Facebook or Flickr, for instance, but if you want to upload to Twitter you have to do so via the separate Nokia Social app, which aggregates your Facebook and Twitter feeds – there appears to be no universal extensible sharing capability, as available in iOS and Android.

If you want to read your full Twitter feed from the widget, you have to tap a tweet or status update, then hit the Menu button and select the All Activity option. Adding a Gmail account using the standard method will only synchronise your mail – not your contacts or calendar – and doesn’t give you the option to have email delivered as it arrives. The shortest interval for updates is five minutes.

Nokia 808 PureView

General performance, meanwhile, is distinctly below par. Running the SunSpider JavaScript test took 4,211ms, far slower than your average flagship Android handset. Panning around media-rich web pages felt sluggish and slow, and of the handful of games we downloaded from the understocked Nokia Store, only Angry Birds felt really smooth and polished to play.

Verdict

The final problem is price and availability. At the time of writing, no UK network had taken on the 808 PureView, and the SIM-free price is a hefty £520. That puts it in an awkward position. In smartphone terms, we’d hesitate to spend this much on a handset with such a low-resolution screen and a second-tier operating system. If it’s a great camera you’re after, you’re better off spending your money on an SLR, notwithstanding the innovative features and stunning quality.

In many ways we love the Nokia 808 PureView. It’s crazy, it’s completely different and it’s amazing in so many ways, and we have great respect for the way Nokia has splashed out on the technology and made it work so spectacularly well. But it’s so good it cannot be long before Nokia puts it in a “proper” smartphone – perhaps one of the first Windows Phone 8 handsets slated to appear some time at the end of this year – and when that happens, it won’t be such a tough sell.

Battery Life

Talk time, quoted11hrs
Standby, quoted22 days 12hrs

Physical

Dimensions60 x 18.4 x 124mm (WDH)
Weight172g
Touchscreenyes
Primary keyboardOn-screen

Core Specifications

RAM capacity512MB
Camera megapixel rating38.0mp
Front-facing camera?yes
Video capture?yes

Display

Screen size4.0in
Resolution360 x 480
Landscape mode?yes

Other wireless standards

Bluetooth supportyes
Integrated GPSyes

Software

OS familyOther

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