Nokia 808 PureView review – The last Symbian

The Nokia 808 is nothing short of a wonder,a miracle. The looks of the phone don’t and can’t tell much about what goes on inside, about what the 808 is all about.

The device has a very weird shape, going from beautiful to outright ugly depending on the angle you look at it from. The hump on it’s back is responsible for this transmogrification of the device. The curved body, however, is a pleasure to hold, fits neatly in the hand and the polycarbonate shell that covers the phone’s back provides an excellent grip.

The front of the phone is dominated by the 4 inch display covered in Gorilla glass. The hardware buttons are grouped in a plastic strip much like the 603 and the Lumia 710. The display is curved like on the Lumia 800, but the curvature is not as prominent as on the WP device. The curved display makes swiping left and right easier and the phone also slides in and out of you pocket easier.

On the right hand side you’ll find the volume rocker, the lock/unlock knob and the dedicated camera key. The camera key fires up the camera application even when the phone is locked.

On top of the phone you’ll find the HDMI port, the micro-USB port and the 3.5mm jack port. The HDMI port is protected by a plastic lid, and considering you won’t use it everyday, that’s a good thing.

The box contains the phone itself, a data cable and charging adapter, and a pair of hands free headset. I was kind of disappointed because I was expecting accessories at least like the N8 box. There is no USB-On-The-Go cable and no HDMI cable either. For such an expensive phone, I think those two were supposed to be in the box.

On the back of the phone you’ll find the gigantic camera hump that hides the amazing 41MP camera sensor. The camera is helped by the Xenon flash which is said to be 4 times more powerful than the unit on the Nokia N8. The camera can shoot 38MP photos in Creative mode, 8MP photos in PureView mode and record full HD videos at 30 frames per second. The cherry on the top here is the fact that the 808 provides lossless zooming while recording videos, which is a first for smartphones.

The phone is powered by an 1400mAh battery which is good for about two days of moderate to heavy usage, including shooting photos and videos.

Unfortunately the micro-SIM card and the SD card slots are located under the battery so they are not hot swapable.

If you’re thinking of buying this phone you’d better do your homework first. This phone is going to offer you so many shooting modes that you won’t know where to start and where to finish. Don’t get me wrong, that is a good thing, no, actually an amazing thing. This phone will shine in the hand of a person who knows he/she’s way around a camera. That does not mean that non camera savvy people cannot use it. Just switch to the PureView mode and you’ll get some amazing 8MP photos without breaking a sweat.

The phone is powered by a 1.3GHz CPU which is helped by a dedicated camera GPU to process the enormous amount of data the camera sensor captures. The device packs 512MB of RAM, 16GB of onboard storage and it’s animated by Nokia Belle Feature Pack 2 formerly known as Symbian Donna.

Feature Pack 2 is the last steer in the MeeGo direction that was started with the original Belle. I don’t know about the performance improvements that Feature Pack 2 brings because I have no means to compare Feature Pack 2 with it’s predecessors. All I can say is that the last Symbian iteration runs unbelievably smooth on the 808. Considering the experiences with Feature Pack 1 that other people wrote about, I believe that Feature Pack 2 is indeed an improvement.

Feature Pack 2 mainly brings changes to the aesthetics of the OS and not so much on the functionality. The only major functionality change is the portrait QWERTY keyboard that has been almost completely replaced. I say almost because in full screen edit mode, for example, the old QWERTY shows it’s ugly head once again.

A new button has been added to the homescreen toolbar, and that is the search key, which is a shortcut to the search app. No biggie there.

The context menus now appear all centered and that is a good thing since you no longer have to chase the context menu around the screen. This change also brings consistency across the OS. The apps menu has also been refined and now looks more like the menu Qt apps have, with the first and last menu elements having rounded corners.

As with any device, there are some pros and some cons. Here they are in my opinion.


– Mind blowing 41MP camera
– Xenon flash
– Amazing camera app – very customisable helps you make the most out of the amazing camera sensor
– Speed is better than ever
– Good battery life for a smartphone
– Lock/unlock knob is very useful
– The curved glass display is a real treat
– ClearBlack display has really deep blacks


– Symbian is dead a.k.a. In maintenance mode
– Web browser still not as fluid as should be with heavy pages
– nHD resolution it’s kind of stretched on the 4 inch display
– Poor choice of apps compared with rival app stores
– Way too thick by today’s standards
– Lack of a power button makes accidental shutdown a real problem until you get used to how it works


For Symbian fans this is the phone of their dreams with a decently sized display, a fast processor, amazing camera and superb build quality. The price however, will be a setback for those of you who are not crazy about having a phone that can shoot photos better than a digicam, but the 701 will provide the same user experience considering the similar specs.

All in all the 808 is a competitive smartphone. The only glitch that I can complain about is the web browsing experience that is not on par with today’s top shelf smartphones. The web experience is the fastest Symbian has ever seen, but compared to Windows Phone or Android it’s in the mid-range. It’s not a showstopper like it was on first generation Symbian devices. It seems that Nokia had managed to finally find a hardware combination that brings Symbian into the present of smartphone OS’s. Too bad this is the end if the line for Symbian.
The Nokia 808 is proof of what Symbian could have been and but never got the chance to become until it was to late. It’s ironic that Nokia manged to bring Symbian to a competitive level two years after it practically buried it. It’s Nokia’s latest, last and greatest Symbian. It’s Symbian’s greatest device and death sentence all in one.

Java senior developer, Nokia enthusiast, amateur blogger at TechMobility and NokiaTips. My Motto is: Your rise, you fall, you’re down then you rise again. What don’t kill ya makes ya more strong

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