Could we ever see a phone camera sensor as big as the one in the Nokia 808 PureView?

| September 6, 2014 | 47 Replies

Red Nokia 808 PureView(48)

The purist amongst mobile photography would still crown the Nokia 808 PureView to have the best of the best in still image quality in most conditions.

It’s not relying on fancy/innovative powerful computational photography, just Nokia’s engineers working on the best hardware that they could cram into a phone. It still has the biggest sensor in a mobile phone and that counts for a lot.


Red Nokia 808 PureView(49)

Some amazing things were achieved when Nokia slimmed down the 808 PureView’s successor. In a slimmer space, Nokia pushed boundaries, getting awe from mobile reviewers as the overall package of smartphone and camera was untouchable. It worked better for more consumers, with OIS and the new camera UI making any snap a breeze.

But with the trend to make slimmer and slimmer phones, could we ever see a real optics hump again? I say real as Samsung’s approach to a hump was to stick zoom capabilities. Whilst that does provide some versatility in some sense, those wanting that unbelievable quality from a portable, pocketable device would need to look elsewhere. I’m not saying it’s bad, far from it.
MNB IMG_0595Lumia 1020 vs 808 pureview nokia

It’s a shame in a sense as slimmer profiles also means they’re less likely to have Xenon. I think that for me is quite a massive help for photos (particularly indoor/low light/evening/club shots).

I don’t know what the future has in store. Perhaps there’s some way to get around the size? Graphene? Perhaps other methods of camera sensor technologies can push imaging quality in other ways?

Rumours spread about the 1020’s successor as the new imaging king, along with the latest version of WP complete with an innovative 3D touch. It would have been something to ‘leap frog’ the competition in hardware and software. As you know, McLaren/Goldfinger was canned. Why? I can’t really say. 3D touch is still in development, but the whole package, at least in Microsoft’s eyes, wasn’t ready.


Perhaps they’re waiting to get more ‘power’ into it, like they could have done with the 1020 if they had time to sort out compatibility for a quad core processor. But then with delays, expectations rises. The reason the 808 and the 1020 amaze is because they’re ahead of their time. Wait long enough and folks will begin catching up. Remember how there was one metric that put the S5 ahead of both 1020/808 in terms of camera? 808 was still ahead in terms of quality. I think there were plenty that said that results actually showed the 1020 was also still better stills wise. But because the 1020 lacked in horsepower, it didn’t and won’t be able to catch up in video recording where 4K is becoming the new standard. Fortunately, when Lumia denim comes, the likes of the 1520/930/ICON will have revamped options.MNB IMG_1037Sophie Lumia 1020

Launching the 1020 when they did was appropriate. It got headlines and the Nokia name was shot up as leaders in imaging. PureView on the 1520/ICON was a much easier sell because of the reputation. Perhaps, and I’m hoping that’s the case, Microsoft are just waiting to be at a tipping point that their next device launch could truly make an impact? Some rumours suggested that McLaren was going to be ‘ONLY’ 20MP. How could that be a successor to 41mp? MP doesn’t necessarily mean quality of course. Whilst the 1520 is no 1020, it’s got a fantastic camera too. But I can only assume as part of the drive to make phones slimmer (and hump free), it’s becoming less feasible to have these big sensors. So whilst I ask if we would ever see something on par with the 808, I’ve began worrying if we’ll see a real 1020 successor also.

MNB IMG_1042Sophie Lumia 1020

Harlow’s comments that Microsoft (Nokia DS) will continue to pursue imaging may be slightly comforting, it’s not definitively answering what we want to know.

“Absolutely – we’re not end of the mission in camera technology, or in computational photography.

“We continue to invest in that area to bring the next greatest thing in high end imaging.”

We’re still of course waiting for that 16 lens camera. That’s another direction possibly in ‘next greatest thing in high end imaging’. I think I’d just prefer a 1020 camera on a 1520 body with updated processor, possibly higher res screen just for the sake of those who want indistinguishable pixels when you press your nose on the screen. That’s just me and the 1520 is already too big for a few of you, let alone adding a 1020 hump to it. Perhaps a 930/ICON + 1020 hump? They could taper the sides a lot to make it ‘deceptively slimmer’ e.g. Macbook air which would not actually appear that slim if the edges were uniform and flat like the 930/ICON.

Whatever they decide to come up with, I hope they do it soon. ‘Affordable Flagships’ are fun and all and a great way of getting ‘high end’ experiences to more everyday consumers. This approach helped Nokia/MS when they brought the likes of the 720/620/520. Those are amongst the windows phones I’m seeing daily, and now the 920 and 925s after prices have decreased and it makes sense as some say the new battleground isn’t high end anymore but the mid-range handsets.

But Microsoft needs a REAL flagship. One that truly represents the best of the best. The One from HTC could be considered a stop-gap processor wise but other than that, there’s no new major flagship for this year. In many ways that still rests on the 1520 from last year. When people consider how awesome Lumia are, many need to know that at the very high end, there’s something that will compete with the best from Apple, Samsung, HTC, LG, Sony etc. Many of the friends that I’ve convinced to get Lumia have done so on their experience with the flagship version. There’s much to be said about that ‘halo’ effect, that brings confidence to the brand and the consumer. But hey, anecdotal ramblings is not market research.

What would you be after in the next imaging king?

TL:DR I want a 1020 successor soon :).


MNB IMG_1040Sophie Lumia 1020


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Hey, thanks for reading my post. My name is Jay and I'm a medical student at the University of Manchester. When I can, I blog here at and tweet now and again @jaymontano. We also have a twitter and facebook accounts @mynokiablog and Check out the tips, guides and rules for commenting >>click<< Contact us at tips(@) or email me directly on jay[at]