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Is the Nokia 808 PureView more of a camera than a phone?

The Nokia 808 PureView camera phone contains a 41-megapixel camera, complete with Carl Zeiss lens; and in light of that fact, we have reviewed it as a camera instead of a phone.

The 808 PureView was announced at Mobile World Congress 2012 and as the first camera focussed phone from the Finnish outfit since 2010. Two years ago, Nokia launched the N8, equipped with a 12.1-megapxiel camera, which was a bit of a revelation at the time. Cameras of that calibre just weren’t seen in mobile phones, but a lot has changed since then.

Much has happened since the N8, including Nokia's decision to drop Symbian as the OS for its high-end handsets. This was in order to adopt Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 OS on its flagship range of devices, such as the Lumia 800 and 900. Only the Nokia 808 PureView still runs Symbian, with the same Belle version of the OS that we first saw on the Nokia 500 from last year.

It has taken Nokia five years to bring the 808 to market, which, to some degree explains the use of Symbian. Five years ago, Windows Phone 7 was a long way off and the partnership between the Seattle software giant and the Finnish phone manufacturer hadn't even been considered. Therefore, Symbian was the only platform for the 41-megapixel camera phone.

The use of Symbian isn't the only reason that we've reviewed the 808 PureView as a camera, though. We felt that consumers who wanted a cutting edge Nokia smartphone would be looking at a lumia device, whereas someone looking for a high-end camera that could also make phone calls, might consider the PureView. The 808 is, essentially, a high-end, compact camera, and Nokia has invested a significant amount of time and effort to make it excel in this regard.

The Symbian platform itself is a rather basic OS when compared to the likes of Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android, while lacking the quantity and quality of availavle applications. Nokia adopting Windows Phone 7 and now Windows Phone 8, guarantees a better level of applications and it is apps that sell an OS these days, more so perhaps, than the phone's hardware.

Another reason to view the 808 PureView as a camera, is that it doesn't look like it will be a popular phone at retail. It appears that mobile phone networks aren’t keen to adopt the phone, with a number of UK networks that do carry Nokia handsets revealing that they will not be stocking the 808 PureView. This confines the 808 PureView handset to SIM free, unlocked purchases, with a priced of around £500.

Rob Kerr is a journalist with more than 14 years experience of news, reviews and feature writing on titles such as Wired, PC Magazine, The Register, The Inquirer, Pocket-Lint, Mobile Industry Review, Know Your Mobile and The Gadget Show. The mobile phone world is his real passion and forte, having owned a handset as far back as 1994 where he has seen them grow from just a business tool to a necessity in everyone’s everyday life.