back to article Living with a 41-megapixel 808 PureView: Symbian's heroic last stand

Last year Nokia released to the world a mobile phone that is still unique. It's a smartphone with a 41-megapixel camera sensor, scooping up more detail than some professional DSLRs: it's the 808 PureView. When I say "released", that’s a little misleading. This showpiece won the Best New Phone gong at last year’s Mobile World …


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  1. JDX Gold badge

    Theory why it's Symbian only

    Nokia cannot afford a high-profile flop, putting something new and buggy into Lumia. So they put it on a 'dead' platform where nobody expects much from the OS, and which gets little interest outside professionally interested people. Develop the thing on Symbian, iron out issues and make improvements to UI, etc... then integrate the polished, real-world-tested, version in a way most people will think is a 1.0 product.

    1. fuzzie

      Re: Theory why it's Symbian only

      At the time it was released they claimed it was the result of five years' work. I suspect it's Symbian based because they had control all the way up the stack, from hardware to low-level drivers (it has some special video processor as well) and the OS and application stack. Imagine trying to do that R&D work with Microsoft who were struggling to get a basic/stable Windows Phone 7 out the door.

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Theory why it's Symbian only

      How easy do you think it is porting the stuff from Symbian to Windows Phone? What you suggest would only make sense if Nokia had more control of the OS which is where you need some of the tweaks to make this work. Is Microsoft about to embrace QT for the GUI like Symbian has?

      The market continues to accept products with impressive value propositions despite eventual shortcomings. By failing either to continue to provide Symbian phones or Windows phones with comparable functionality Nokia has traded a very hard-won technological advantage for the hope of market share which has yet to materialise. Its rivals have jumped in which is why Samsung is trading on the Galaxy phone brand with cameras.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: Theory why it's Symbian only

        I saw a comment on here from someone claiming to have worked on the Pureview project. He said that Windows Phone simply couldn't handle the huge data throughput to the processor. So they had to go for a cut-down version on WP8. It sounds believable, as MS wouldn't have had it in mind when doing their design, but I've obviously go no way of knowing.

        However, surely you could easily bolt the system on to any phone. You simply put enough processing power into the camera that it doesn't need the external OS for anything, and just hands over the finished pictures. Then it's just a case of writing a camera driver for the phone OS. Obviously that would be less efficient. I don't know whether you'd then end up having to re-write all the code, or whether you'd run/emulate Symbian on the camera. It might end-up cheaper to have an expensive chip running cut-down Symbian than to re-do the Pureview software. Hardware's forever getting cheaper, good coders aren't.

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: Theory why it's Symbian only

          He said that Windows Phone simply couldn't handle the huge data throughput to the processor.

          Shortly after the first I-Phone was released I was chatting to a friend who worked for Nokia in Finland. While I personally was not very impressed with the I-Phone at the time (remember it only had widgets) he rightly tipped it to be a real threat for Nokia. He also said that Nokia were struggling to get their camera functions to be as fast as Sony Ericsson. This would have been about 2008 which would coincide with the timeframe. You almost definitely want to avoid passing media through the CPU because it will be the bottleneck. You must be able to offload the work to a GPU and you need the OS' support to do that. This is presumably what Samsung has managed with the S4 which can merge the video from both cameras in real time.

        2. Dave 15

          Re: Theory why it's Symbian only

          Pretty much what was done for Symbian. The pictures don't go through the OS and the processing is done on the graphics chip. But you have to have an architecture that allows that and windows doesn't.

      2. fuzzie

        Re: Theory why it's Symbian only

        Maybe badly phrased by me.

        I didn't mean Windows Phone is technically incapable of doing it, rather that Nokia was experienced with Symbian, had all the developers in-house and could build the low-level PureView infrastructure themselves. Coordinating such a technically complex project with a new partner would've been very painful. Hopefully by now they have a much tighter working relationship with the Windows Phone 8 team.

        The latter would, of course, also have to be OEM neutral in the facilities they supply in the platform. More the pity that it's taking so long for PureView to find its feet post Symbian :(

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Theory why it's Symbian only

      > Nokia cannot afford a high-profile flop [...]

      Then why do they keep on releasing WP devices?

      (Sorry, couldn't stop myself ;-)

      1. Dave 15

        Re: Theory why it's Symbian only

        Nokia couldn't afford Eflop, he is why Symbian sales went off a cliff - that infamous burning platform email when Symbian sales at the time were actually increasing (sales were up though market share was down as more competition entered the market - market share at the time of the email was markedly higher than current iOS market share).

        Microsoft does not allow Symbian the flexibility to do a repeat of the amazing camera on a windows phone. They've scrapped their linux (even the later incarnation of a cut down android platform), they now have a S40 developed in China but losing profitability slowly and an out of the box Microsoft offering that the market doesn't seem to have taken to. It is possible Microsoft may yet get it right, but they have been at it for years - since mid 1990's - and have still failed.

        The sad thing is that Symbian actually is a good platform in a number of ways, slightly quirky in some as it was developed a very long time ago by Psion software - a British company - as 'Epoc32'. The S60 UI mess wasn't Symbian, it was entirely Nokias own creation. There was a touch screen version - way back in the '90's there were touch only, keyboard only and a combination UI's designed and built. UIQ - Sony Ericsson - made a decent touch screen only variation - long long long long before apple or google did anything at all.

        Apple and Google have both done decent enough jobs, they learned what was and wasn't working in a mature market and did that. The Symbian devices were cutting edge, they were the original smartphones, but for a little more get up and go in the management at both Symbian and Nokia the UI could have been fixed many years ago. As usual though the management became too bogged down in their own importance, in having engineers filling in timesheets, project managers explaining why over Christmas the timesheets showed they didn't have enough people on the project (doh - people didn't work on Christmas - as I explained every single year I worked for Symbian). The product managers spent too much time drinking wine with Nokia and not enough time working out what needed doing. The whole thing stagnated with it taking months to do stupid unnecessary things and no time at all being left to do the obvious. Its a shame, under different management things could have been so much better.

  2. Jess

    And why are Samsung setting up a Finnish R&D centre?

    Probably to hire the expertise of any ex-Nokia employees who had a hand in this (or the N8 or 9 for that matter.)

    The whole NoWin fiasco is a demonstration of how to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. The N8 was (and still is, to a reasonable extent) a very popular phone. The 808 could easily have carried this on. All the N8 was lacking was polish on the OS.

    The N8 is a fantastic phone, and there is nothing that temps me to replace it yet (other than this phone) maybe Samsung will come up with something by the time it is knackered.

    1. Steve Todd

      Re: And why are Samsung setting up a Finnish R&D centre?

      The problem is that Symbian just isn't well suited to a UI which demands fast and fluid updates. Add to that multiple departments inside of Nokia all pulling in different directions over the platform and tools. Whatever Elop did he wasn't going to get a polished, competitive version of Symbian in time to compete with iOS and Android.

      You can argue over the decision to go to Windows Phone, but dumping Symbian was a forgone conclusion.

      1. Mark .

        Re: And why are Samsung setting up a Finnish R&D centre?

        But by Elop's time, Nokia had done this - Symbian^1 around 2008-2009 was as good as Android imo even on the UI (each have their advantages and disadvantages), and Symbian^3 and onwards are reportedly a lot better still. My Nokia 5800 only feels slow compared to my Android phone because the latter has much newer hardware (and even then, is starting to get sluggish in places...)

        Symbian switched to using Qt as the UI, which is a great toolkit.

        Not that I'm saying there weren't reasons for dropping Symbian, it had become an old OS - personally I'm open-minded about the WP decision, but I can see that a lot of the critics would have been happier if they'd gone with Meego :)

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: And why are Samsung setting up a Finnish R&D centre?

          Debatable of your definition of old, Android is based on Linux which is based on Unix.

          Out of the box Belle seems more complete, Android still seems to be missing things (e.g. file manager, 'office' utilities, connection management, not even able to import .ics files received by e-mail or bluetooth into the calendar). Belle's app menu is more complete than most launchers supplied with the phone and isn't as fiddly as third party launchers. Even on Jelly Bean you can't choose the theme via a system-wide setting, that's down to the individual apps which have Holo Dark or Holo Light compiled in.

          Of course that can be fixed with apps... my phone came with five on-line shops which does seem like overkill but four of those turned out to be rubbish. Unfortunately one of the four can't be removed.

          While it might be possible to hastily fix Symbian to work with higher resolution screens and bang out a mobile, Symbian is still dead unfortunately, it doesn't have the app support that people expect. This is not a technical problem, it was entirely down to the burning platform memo.

      2. Manu T

        Re: And why are Samsung setting up a Finnish R&D centre?

        "Whatever Elop did he wasn't going to get a polished, competitive version of Symbian in time to compete with iOS and Android."

        Yet... The company formerly known as RIM held up high and did exactly what Nokia didn't do! Keep believing in their own native OS's. They took the best real-time OS from a fellow Canadian company mixed it with the best tech of their own and turned it into a jewel! Their new BB were released many years AFTER the N9 and 808!

        Nokia had 2 assets. Meego/Harmatan which took rave reviews even from the known anti-Nokia crowd and the only native European real-time OS which had proven it's reliability time and again. Which even defeated the mighty Windows Mobile!

        What happened afterwards is a badly written and worse directed horror movie! One man single handedly drove thousands of employees into poverty, turned factories into wastelands and ruined Europe's only telecom giant in LESS then one year! He is the WORST CEO in the history so far! Even Sinclair's catastrophes (C5 anyone?) are small fish compared to this!

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: And why are Samsung setting up a Finnish R&D centre?


      All the N8 was lacking was polish on the OS.

      But the problem with your argument is that Nokia had already had years of putting out Symbian phones. Even now, Belle is apparently a massive improvement, but still lacks polish. Now admittedly you could put a lot of that down to the fact they were dumping Symbian as it was being finished.

      But at some point Nokia needed to get an OS that wasn't nearly-but-not-quite. So your comment:

      The whole NoWin fiasco is a demonstration of how to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

      Is wishful thinking at best. Nokia have some amazing engineers, and have made some brilliant stuff. And they've had stuff half-finished on their drawing board for a decade that other companies would kill for. But in most cases they've failed to settle on one thing and damned well get it completed and out to market. From what I've read that's down to management. But there was no victory. You can claim there would have been, with just one more Symbian or Meego or Hanrattan or whatever updated. But frankly, I don't believe you. The evidence is very much against you. Clearly Elop and the board took the same attitude. They decided it was easier to buy in an OS from MS (even despite their mixed record in mobile) because they didn't trust themselves to sort out their own management processes. Something shown by the fact they hired an outsider to sort them out, and not an internal candidate. I wonder if that's because it was easier to abandon all projects and go outside, than for all the other competing factions at board level to surrender, and let one of their many OS projects win?

      It's a crying shame - and a huge waste of engineering talent.

      1. Jah

        Re: And why are Samsung setting up a Finnish R&D centre?

        Correct - failure was a management issues. The mangers did not have a clear vision. They started wiith a great portfolio including the original Series 90 platform. This could have been Nokia's iPhone in 2005/6, but they killed it.

  3. James 51

    One theory about why it is taking Nokia so long to get the technology into windows phone is that microsoft had an absolute strangehold over windows phone 7 specification and Nokia weren't allowed to use it. Starting to see some of it in Windows Phone 8 but a phone with the lens of the 920 with the sensor from the 808 would be hugely impressive.

  4. James 51

    The best camera is the one you have is not always true. I use to have a bridge camera I used at holiday or at parties. People where intimidated by it at when people let me take their picture they were awkward or stressed looking. When I used my phone I got a much more natural and relaxed looking people in them. Even though the quality of the image was much poorer, the photos were better.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well, I never thought I'd say this about Accenture :-)

    But it sounds like their former Nokia employees are doing a good job under their new management. Perhaps good enough to be a backstop in the event Nokia's WinPho strategy blows up in Elop's face? The camera is superb, and I hope they refine this and put it on a modern smartphone.

  6. Joe K
    Thumb Up

    Love the thing

    Bought mine last year, after your review of it being used in Stromboli, coincidentally as i was also going to stromboli and couldn't be arsed lugging about the big old DSLR.

    Performed admirably, and has ever since. Imagine my surprise to get more updates over the air yesterday, they just keep on tweaking.

    iTouch does for the mobile apps, though Nexus 7 has taken over there big-time.

    I'd rather have an excellent phone & camera, than an ok phone/camera/app-thing.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Love the thing

      I still keep thinking I'd like to dump my smartphone. Give me a 7" tablet and a dumb phone that can give it a WiFi hotspot. Which could work equally well with something like this, so I can dump my cheapy camera, and if it's got enough memory (or SD card slot) also my mp3 player.

      I'm still not happy with the compromises in any smartphone I've used. I'm sure one day they'll all do phone, email, sat-nav, internet, camera and music player well with enough battery to cope with multiple uses. But that still looks to be some time away, so I'm still carrying several bits of kit.

    2. Mark Jan
      Thumb Up

      Re: Love the thing

      I've had my 808 for about a year - from when it was first released and I've also been amazed at the frequent updates it has received, better than lot of "modern" OS equipped phones.

      I want an excellent camera on my phone. I find that I can do without most of the apps that other people can't seem to live without. I just need a robust phone and a camera which is available to me all the time. Just this past week I video'd a birthday party with the 808. Despite recording in challenging lighting and next to 1000W speakers, the results were excellent. I know that any other smartphone would have had massive audio distortion and dark images, but the 808s results were fantastic.

      Coupled with the best sat nav on a phone on the market, the two main criteria I seek (excellent camera and sat nav) are on one device. I wouldn't swap it for anything else at the moment.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Love the thing

        Had mine about 9 months now and love it despite its quirks. It's take the best pics of any camera I've ever had and belle is actually pretty fluid when some duff app isn't hogging all the memory. I use Nokia drive almost every day on my bike and can confirm after last couple of weeks it's actually pretty water resistant.

        If Apple made the Jesus phone, then the 808 has got to be Lucifer's mobe. Here's a cool demonstration of the 808 in creative mode (scroll down the page):

        1. Manu T

          Re: Love the thing

          I love mine too. But I would have loved a few more settings especially spot- and center-weighted metering. Cranking up EV doesn't always cut it.

          My SGSIII does have adjustable metering. Though EV is only upto +2 or -2 while the 808 does a massive +4 and -4!

  7. LinkOfHyrule

    Man I thought you were going to review the Roland 808 drum machine...

    ...and praise it's contribution to Hip-Hop and Acid House beats and Oldskool Jungle basslines!


  8. AndyHagon


    Fantastic article, thank you! I have loved my 808 since January and I have taken some really amazing photos with it - like you say - photos I would've never have taken as I was carrying around a mediocre smartphone camera. A really great read, cheers. :^)

  9. Peter27x
    Thumb Up

    symbian vs windows phone

    I've just moved from a Symbian phone (Nokia C7) to a Lumia 920. It's quickly obvious that Windows Phone is a really young OS, compared to the feature rich and "mature" Symbian, There are so many little features that are missing from WP8.

    I also really miss the Situations app, I hope the developers port it across to WP soon (I think they committed to doing so).

    Nokia Drive is excellent, but the current Nokia HERE Drive+ Beta just doesn't have the features, surprising as it looked to be a cosmetic makeover.

    I get the feeling that Nokia either aren't investing as much effort into putting in the features into WP, to give the Lumia phones an advantage over other WP devices, or MS are restricting them too much. A Shame.

    P.s. enjoyed reading this review, thanks.

    1. Aoyagi Aichou

      Re: symbian vs windows phone

      " It's quickly obvious that Windows Phone is a really young OS, compared to the feature rich and "mature" Symbian, There are so many little features that are missing from WP8."

      Heh, you're putting it quite lightly. I do wonder what exactly is the relationship between Nokia and MS though. So far (ever since WP7 came out) it seems that Microsoft is merely using Nokia's name and assets and lets them do their Nokia progs ("here", etc).

      1. Dave 15

        Re: symbian vs windows phone

        Strangely enough winphone is NOT a young OS.

        I was working on it at Microsoft in the '90's and it had been going strong for many years before that. It used wince underneath with the windows mobile just really being applications on top. I also worked on epoc32 and later symbian (the same thing). Epoc32 was built from the ground up to work on battery devices - to have high performance, long battery life, safe applications (no trampling out of the end of strings etc) and be safe when the battery dies unexpectedly. Largely speaking it achieved these things well.

        The typical symbian phone comes stuffed with goodies that you have to buy for iphone, android or windows.

        1. Peter27x

          Re: symbian vs windows phone

          @Dave 15,

          Yep, true, WinPhone is based on WinCE. I guess I really meant the re-boot of Windows Mobile into Windows Phone with v 7.5 and now v8.

          The typical symbian phone comes stuffed with goodies that you have to buy for iphone, android or windows.

          I think the problem here is that the eco-system hasn't developed for Apps on Win Phone, there's lots of pretty poor apps out there. :(

    2. Joe K

      Re: symbian vs windows phone

      I just read on AAS that Win8 doesn't even have Sleeping Screen, as in no clock on the screen at all times.

      One of those little things i could not live without now.

  10. jungle_jim

    Wifi hotspot

    Can you use one of these for a wifi hotspot?

    I have a nexus 7 for all the app stuff so if I could use the 808's data that would make it very tempting..

    1. Andy Nugent

      Re: Wifi hotspot

      Haven't used it in years, but this used to work really well:

    2. Joe K

      Re: Wifi hotspot

      A free version of Joikuspot comes with it (the only limitation of free is that your spot is open, can't password protect it), works fine in a pinch, i paid £3 for it while it was on offer to get the full one.

      Its 3.5G is blisteringly fast, and works in places i've seen people round me get zero signal.

      Yeah my Nexus 7 has replaced the iThing for general app use. The 808 has all the phone-type apps i need, and usually free, like Checklist, Train Timetable, Sportstracker, Tweetian, Dropbox, etc.

      1. jungle_jim

        Re: Wifi hotspot


        Thanks for the info guys!

        1. Aleph0

          Re: Wifi hotspot

          Sorry to rain on your parade, but chances are it won't work for your setup.

          Symbian can only create ad-hoc wi-f networks, and Android (at least, up to the version 4.0.3 that my tablet sports) doesn't support ad-hoc networks, it can only connect to infrastructure-mode ones.

        2. timple

          Re: Wifi hotspot

          Just be aware that a Nexus 7 will not be able to use the joikuspot since Android does not support the WiFi mode. Unlike iOS and symbian.

  11. Neil Hoskins

    "BBC’s iPlayer arrived on Symbian first"

    Couldn't swear to it, but I have a distinct memory of them doing it for the iPhone first, despite it being just an over-hyped feature phone (at the time), and the ubiquity of Nokia and Symbian (at the time). Or maybe it was downloading that iPhone got first; something really annoyed me anyway.

    1. Chris Redpath

      Re: "BBC’s iPlayer arrived on Symbian first"

      I'm pretty sure that the Symbian iPlayer app shipped preinstalled on the n96 supported downloading in around 2006, and most of them after that did while the windows media DRM was in use.

      Haven't used a Symbian in a couple of years so I don't know the current situation.

    2. Maharg

      Re: "BBC’s iPlayer arrived on Symbian first"

      iplayer on iphones was in 2011

      I was using it on a nokia in 2010

      1. cocknee

        Re: "BBC’s iPlayer arrived on Symbian first"

        I was using it in 2008/9 on Nokia 5800Xpress. Downloading was the killer app for me, sitting on trains, planes etc catching up on TV which has only recently been available on iPhone etc. was first on N96

        Still able to download on my N8 though streaming has gone but never used it much anyway.

        Though mostly do that on my iPad now

        Still don't know what to replace N8 with! Waiting to see what the summers PureView on Windows will be..... May get an 808 before that

        1. timple

          Re: "BBC’s iPlayer arrived on Symbian first"

          Yes you can still download programs on iPlayer for symbian which is more than you can do on Android currently.....

  12. Neil Hoskins

    Other significant selling points:

    - Removable battery: you can either replace a clapped-out one or upgrade to an enormous Mugen replacement that will last you several days away from mains power.

    - SD card so you're not going to run out of storage. You also used to be able to install apps to SD card on Symbian but I don't know if this is still the case.

    1. Joe K

      Re: Other significant selling points:

      It is.

      Whack a 32 or 64gig card in there and it becomes a handy portable media player too, thanks to the HDMI out.

      Plays everything i've threw at it, even dodgy newsgroup mkv's, without issue.

      Just found a similar feature, a guy who's used it for the past year:

  13. h3

    When he starts going on about apps - Symbian has some great apps. (As does palm os) however I have no interest whatsoever in any of the examples he lists.

    I think those old app designs where as soon as you open the app you get everything straight away on one screen are far more useful than the modern type.

  14. Aoyagi Aichou

    Why don't you just...

    Slow browsing? Opera, please...

    On an unrelated note, am I the only one who misses hardware keyboards or at least physical 4-way arrows and an "enter"? Buttons that can be used while the device is in pocket? Etc? Oh well...

  15. Blubster
    Thumb Up


    Good word - had to Google it though.

    Crepuscular - pertaining to, or resembling twilight; dim; indistinct.

    Always new that reading theRegister was an education.

  16. James Hughes 1

    Broadcom GPU

    The smooth zooming wasn't done by Nokia or Accenture engineers but by the guy sitting over the desk from me at Broadcom (Cambridge), who supplied the GPU. In fact the majority of camera software work was done here, including the video stabilisation (that was a pain!) although there were some Accenture contractors involved, a couple in software work, the rest in testing.

    As for why Pureview is still not yet on the Windows - AFAIK there are still no Windows compatible GPU's that can handle the sensor. I've heard rumours of some interesting camera tech from Nokia/Toshiba (the Pureview 41MP sensor was developed by Toshiba) on the horizon, but still nothing has appeared.

    As to the phone itself, I have one, and the biggest problem is the very erratic wireless. The latest update fixed it for a while, but after a few days, stopped connecting to my home router and has never recovered. Works fine in other places, and the router works fine with every other devices I've ever tried to connect. Most odd. Battery life is great, and it's a solid bit of kit compared with the S.Korea devices I now work on!

    1. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

      Re: Broadcom GPU

      As the author of an app that does large downloads, that wireless bug is a thorn in my side. It's only on some devices, and only with some WLANs. My wife's N8 on carrier software doesn't exhibit it; mine, on UK Generic software, does. Go figure.

      That alone is an indication of why it wasn't possible for Nokia to continue with Symbian. Some design decisions, perhaps taken nearly a decade ago, have made the codebase so complex that qualification and bugfixing became an endless nightmare.

      1. Joe K

        Re: Broadcom GPU

        Its a hardware fault, apparently, a dodgy batch of capacitors made it onto the board.

        The latest updates fix it in some cases, but some people need to send the phone in to get the bad cap replaced.

      2. Dave 15

        Re: Broadcom GPU

        And you think that Android, iOS and Windows don't suffer from the same?

        All software has bugs and some are intractable. All of these 'OS' run on phones with a variety of hardware - I suspect there are bugs on one windows phone that don't show on others because of this. It is the same thing for any situation where the entire h/w spec is not permanently fixed. No reason for this to cause any problem with continuing with Symbian

        1. Manu T

          Re: Broadcom GPU

          "And you think that Android, iOS and Windows don't suffer from the same?"

          I almost went to war on Finland because of that shoddy Lumia 800. I was about to sue Nokia-Care, Nokia Belgian HQ, the chain that sold me the Lumia and the nokia-appointed repaircenter. My Lumia went 3 times back for repair. When it got back for a third time (a screen replacement) most of the side-buttons didn't work. They couldn't fix one thing without breaking something else. Then there was the abysmal battery life on the lumia 800 (which Nokia kept promising to fix with a software patch which never came), the awefully quiet sound, a severly crippled featureset (e.g. no BT transfers at all), most of the things that you took for granted on ANY phone didn't work intuitive or simply didn't work at all (try adding a ringtone to a Lumia 800, oh dear!)

          Compared to my Windows Phone 7 experience, Symbian is a godsend! Despite its "flawed" browsing experience or less then optimal email-client. At least you can HEAR your 808PV when someone calls.

          And when you missed the call there's a noticable blinking light (on the menu key). On the Lumia's there's nothing, zilch, nada!

    2. Haku

      Re: Broadcom GPU

      "stopped connecting to my home router"

      If your router is on channel 1 and you're having connection issues, manually set it to another channel (like 6 or 11).

      1. James Hughes 1

        Re: Broadcom GPU

        Hmm. I think sending my 808 back for a new board may result in Nokia keeping it...something to do with the prototype screen on boot...

  17. Mark .

    Lots of Symbian users still out there...

    My most popular app is just passing the 2 million mark after 16 months - the Android version is around 10,000 downloads. My most recent app got around 1000 downloads per day on the first few days on Symbian, and averages around 500. On Android, it's getting around 20 per day on its first few days.

    Of course, I suspect that this is more down to less competition than a larger userbase, but (a) it shows that Symbian really is undercatered for, with the demand to supply ratio far higher than other platforms, and (b) there are still a lot of Symbian users still out there (and around 50% of my downloads are still from Symbian^1 2008-2009 era phones, suggesting smartphones are kept in use long than you might think).

    The number one best selling smartphone in history is the Symbian Nokia 5230 released in 2009 - it will be sad to see the platform go.

    (I found that I could usually get the apps I wanted on Symbian - more apps on Android just means 10 that do the same thing instead of 1, and the Android versions are more likely to have ads... The main lack for Symbian has been for non-software companies that offer an "app" for their website or service, and it's annoying that these almost always ignored Symbian even in its heyday of number one platform until 2011. But still, on a smartphone, just use the website...)

    1. Joe K

      Re: Lots of Symbian users still out there...

      Wow. I've been looking at the amount of reviews and downloads apps still get on Nokia's so called "dead" store and wondering if it was it was actually the case.

      Sure, most of the reviews are foreign, but thats a huge market still out there using these things.

    2. Dave 15

      Re: Lots of Symbian users still out there...

      If you look at the Symbian based phones that were sold, the reliability and longevity of those devices, the range of them (keyboards, touch screens, small, large...) then it is of little surprise that the new comers just don't have the same numbers of current users.

      If you want a smartphone with a proper keyboard what can you buy? Only an old Nokia. Even the 808 doesn't have a proper keyboard. I guess there might be an iphone at some time, or a windows phone eventually or maybe even an android out there that has a numeric keypad that I can use when I am walking, but when you walk into the phone shop on the corner they basically all look the same - a lump of plastic around a screen with a single button at the bottom. It is not what I want, and I am not the only one who sticks to an ancient Symbian because it is better than the modern replacements.

      1. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

        Re: Lots of Symbian users still out there...

        The Nokia Store also serves Series40/Asha devices (and Maemo/N9 too). S40/Asha accounts for the bulk of downloads, but it's true that Symbian users are still downloading more apps than you'd image.

  18. pear

    Pretty happy with mine

    I just need to use it more often for photos!

  19. Tapeador

    No swype-type keyboard = completely useless for me

    long-term RSI means I can't do tappy-tappy on a phone without lots of pain so this wouldn't be viable. looks great otherwise (if i but had the dosh..)

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: No swype-type keyboard = completely useless for me

      Here are two versions of Swype for Symbian...

      Swype Store

      Swype Beta Labs

  20. Andrew Peake

    If only

    I could justify buying one of these but the Nokia N8 just keeps going and going. It's even survived being dropped down 3 flights of stairs and until it breaks I can't justify to SWMBO splashing out on another phone

    1. Maharg

      Re: If only

      My advice for the N8? Look after it and treat it well, love it, mine survived a lot but eventually died in a muddy festival related incident, I made the mistake of walking into a high street phone store and saying “I had an N8, it has died, I would like to get a new phone with a really great camera, to replace it.”

      The person in the store said certainly, these are our best camera phones, so I chose one that was the same price as when I got my N8 all those years ago.

      Nothing you can easily get on the market compares to the N8, I ended up with a Sony Xperia, and there is so much noise in anything other than bright sunlight it’s just horrible, (yes I have changed the settings, it just cant compare) the Samsung’s, HTC etc were not much better, and any that did have a half decent camera had a pathetic amount of memory with no removable SD slot.

      For the first time in 3 years I have to carry a digital camera with me, instead of just the N8

      1. Jani-Matti Hätinen

        Re: If only

        Just buy another one on eBay while you still can.

        I recently stocked up on used E71s and E72s (three of each). Didn't get the spare phones because they break, but because I keep losing the damn things. And in a year or so, even used ones will be almost impossible to find and I'm sure as hell not switching to a bloody touchscreen keyboard PoS with a 12 hour battery.

  21. Jerome 0


    Minor point, but you can only argue that "what the 808 is doing with every photo is HDR" if the camera is "distilling lots of pixels into a few good ones" from shots taken at two or more different exposures. It's not my understanding that the camera does this by default (please correct me if I'm wrong).

    1. James Hughes 1

      Re: HDR

      No, the camera simply averages out pixels form one exposure - does NOT take them at different exposures.

  22. Martin Eyles

    Calendar Sync

    You can sync the calendar to Exchange automatically. I have this feature turned on on my 808 to sync to my work exchange calendar and contacts, and it is pretty reliable.

    I don't use Google's calendar, but I understand that this now longer allows direct exchange connection, requiring a third party paid service (Nueva Sync I think) to convert their new calendar protocols back to exchange.

  23. illiad

    hey even 100 MP wont be good as DSLR...

    the problem is the *tiny* sensor and the lack of a good OPTICAL zoom and lens....

    the only way Nokia can do it, is what Samsung did, with its galaxy 3 camera...

    The PENTAX 645D DSLR has a large, high-performance image sensor (measuring 44mm by 33mm) and PENTAXoriginal image-processing technology, and also has professional, changeable lenses..

    If Nokia can emulate this, that is the only way it will work... BUT would you carry such a big phone in your pocket, as well as a good lens for it???

    1. James Hughes 1

      Re: hey even 100 MP wont be good as DSLR...

      Yes, a big lens makes a difference, but so does having lots of pixels. And the quality of the sensors is going up all the time. I think you would be surprised how good a top spec modern sensor and ISP is - maybe not top DSLR quality, but all those pixels DOES make a difference.

  24. Bad Beaver

    I was into video

    I would totally pick this up. For the money, nothing can really touch it, video and audio are both excellent. Just look for concert footage taken with it. Symbian Belle is also very workable on a device as powerful as the 808.

  25. timple

    Calendar sync

    Andrew, if you are using Google you need Googasync. Allows full sync including multiple calendars.

  26. 808user

    calendar and browser

    Thank you for the great article! Fun and informative read for sure.

    As far as the calendar, it works very well with mail for exchange.. I have it synced up with my Microsoft outlook account and it works great.

    The browser, the only way to speed it up is to switch off:

    Auto reload

    java script


    it speeds up quite a bit.. I find it acceptable.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    With the Nokia 'EOS' (code word) the pureview tech will be coming to Windows Phone in July apparently.

    1. James Hughes 1

      I'll believe that when I see it....maybe someone now has a Windows compatible GPU that can run to 41MP - but I not heard of one.

    2. Manu T


      Sure and it'll come with Santa too....

      In fact didn't they promised the best camera with the 920 too? They even had to resort to fake advertisments to sell it.

      IF Nokia release a full 38mp PV-system on the Windows Phone then they have a hell of job to do to rewrite the WP-included camera-app (which I strongle doubt they can or may!). The current camera app has almost no additional settings beyond turning the flash on or off.

      I'll see it when I see it. Until then the only good camera phone is this 808PV.

      Besides my requirements are a bit more than a smooth tile face and camera. I also want an FM-transmitter, full 2-way call recorder and local Syncing with Outlook/MS Office. I also want a file manager with bluetooth sending (even to other phones with other OS's like Android)

      In fact in Windows Vista and 7 is a "sync center" or "mobility center" build in to no avail (as it doesn't work with WP? MS Own PIM can't be locally synced over e.g. USB to a phone with an MS build OS? How lame is that!!!

      Nokia blew it for me with their abandoning of Harmatan (which was almost production ready) and as for MS... After their horrid abandonment of Windows Mobile users they blew it for me! Fuck them both!

    3. Manu T

      Current Qualcomm MSM8960 Snapdragon designs can only handle 13mpixel camera modules. MS only use this SoC for WP8 ATM. This either means that Nokia created a custom chip (with Toshiba perhaps) to downsample the sensor image to 13mp in real-time. Or they simply have a BSI 13mp camera module with ois and xenon-flash and sell this as pureview.

      The first is exactly like 808 pureview (true pureview) the second is fakeview (like Lumia 920).

      Now add 2-way call recording and USB/BT/wifi syncing (client confidentially prohibit me from using clouds) and I might "look" at it.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Symbian Belle is also available on the Nokia 700 ...

    ... which I got from Tesco for free with £10/month for 500mins, 500MB, etc. It is an amazing phone - it has everything including OLED, NFC, SD cards, compass, Bluetooth modem, etc. in a very small/light package with a 6 day standby battery. Only last week SkyDrive appeared for download, so it is still being supported after a year. Basically, most apps you need are 'in-built' and integral to the phone - including Angry Birds! One app to buy is Star Chart - an amazing program that puts the compass thing to good affect. There is one downside and that is the fixed focus 5Mb camera - it is no good for close-ups. Check out ebay for a bargain.

    1. Manu T

      Re: Symbian Belle is also available on the Nokia 700 ...

      "here is one downside and that is the fixed focus 5Mb camera - it is no good for close-ups. "

      The "trick" is to use a magnifying glass :-)

      for example:

  29. stylinred
    Thumb Up

    Love the 808

    If social networking is for you fMobi is the best facebook client out there on any platform

    if the stock music player isn't for you QuasarMX is for you as good/better than anything you'll find on android

    the stock internet browser has become extremely responsive and fluid over the last few updates (which didnt indicate a browser update but hey it runs worlds better on my phone)

    I would like to move to android mind you not because symbian is bad but because everything else is guaranteed to continue to advance. While Symbian is certainly getting updates and not just bug fixes its future isn't guaranteed anymore so yes I am waiting to move to Android when a sufficient product comes out to meed my needs and when Symbian doesn't do it for me anymore although for now its doing it just fine

  30. Jan 0 Silver badge

    '808 state'

    Thanks for the sub heading.

    My opinion of Andrew Orlowski has just risen (if only by a smidgen).

  31. Manu T

    "rotten to the very end, and slow and poor at rendering pages."

    Stop repeating the anti-Symbian propaganda! It doesn't suit you! You should remain open-minded and above all fair. You seem to forget that Symbian on the 808 ONLY runs on a 1,3GHz single core Arm11 cpu with a lowly 512MB of system RAM. This is no a quad core ARM Cortex-A9 (Exynos 4) with multi-core Mali400 GPU like the popular sweetheart of El Reg.

    I've filmed a small clip showing you that the Nokia's WEB is NOT SLOW at all. But that Web is very competent considering it's modest system demands. This clip includes visiting the El Reg website amongst others.

    The trick is to disable ECMA-script which is indeed the achiles heel of Web (and many other webbrowsers). In fact the only browser that has FAST ECMA-script rendering is Google's Chrome. Fast Javascript is in fact it's main attraction!

    But even with Javascript turned on Web is not bad considering it's modest demands. But you give the illusion that this phone is incapable of browsing the web.

    "The built-in messaging client only handles one Exchange ActiveSync account at a time"

    So does many other email clients on phones so... including many Androids.

    "let alone basic features such as flagging messages."

    Oh please... flagging messages was/is a typical outlook feature and is not relevant to the majority of people whom only use email on their phone as a temporary stop-gap. I find perfect local outlook syncing more important then many "exchange" accounts. At least when you flag a message on the desktop and sync your phone the message shows it flag!

    "And the OS no longer supports CalDev calendars"

    Which lacked one important feature (password encrypted logons) which is the probable reason why Nokia removed that feature altogether. Let's not forget that Mr. Elop killed off the entire Meego and Symbian workforce so adding new features (or improving existing features) to the OS had been compromised by the time the 808 got released!

    Luckily there seemsto be a small skeleton crew at Accenture working on some minor tweaks and small improvements/bug-fixes for Symbian. But regretably most Symbian users don't expect much anymore.

    This is PURE Elop's doing!

    Anyway, out of the box and the few shortcomings not withstanding the 808 is a great device and it's a damn shame that the last remains of the last European native OS is left to die! The creators whom started Epoc all those years ago must be disgusted by all this!

    It's filmed using a Samsung SGSIII >:->

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