Of the handful of manufacturers building phones for Microsoft's mobile platform, Windows Phone, only one has really stirred the kettle. The partnership with Nokia was announced early last year and only recently have we seen the fruits of their union. The Lumia series has slowly been infiltrating the U.S. market since January and most who have managed to get their hands on a Lumia device have only had good things to say.
And if the past three months are any indication for how the rest of the year will go for Nokia, 2012 could be a big year for the company. Their carrier relations as well as consumer interest in the American wireless market dwindled over the past couple years. But the last few months have only been positive for the company that once lost its grip on the mobile market.
Back in February at Mobile World Congress, Nokia announced a new Symbian device amongst a crowd of other, more powerful Android counterparts. Yet the Nokia PureView 808 was easily one of the most memorable devices at the show, even if it will never officially come to the American market. It had one very unique and notable feature: a 41-megapixel with Carl Zeiss optics.
Not long after the PureView 808 was announced, it was also revealed that Nokia would be bringing PureView technology to their Windows Phone lineup in due time. Sure, a 41-megapixel camera is a bit ... excessive – far more than anyone would ever need for sharing to Twitter or Facebook. But you won't ever hear me complaining about a phone's camera being too good. The sample photos – though I'm sure they were touched up and taken by a professional photographer – were absolutely fantastic. And to be honest, this definitely made me a little excited for the future of both Nokia and Windows Phone devices.
But a leaked image from this morning, which is presumed to be the first Windows Phone to feature PureView technology. Pictured above, you can see three big, curvy hunks of plastic, one with the typical three Windows Phone capacitive buttons below the display. From the profile of the pink device, we can see that the middle is relatively thin, at least in comparison to the top portion, which contains the enormous camera, and the jutting chin (or lip) at the bottom.
Other than the same 41-megapixel camera, the alien-looking phone is said to feature a 4.3-inch curved glass HD display and a dual-core processor with Adreno 320 GPU.
Like I said, you will never hear me complaining about something being too good, especially not a camera. I'm a photo-taking nut. That said, there is one condition. In a few scenarios, form overtakes function. A smartphone is certainly one of those scenarios.
Aside from the camera, the PureView 808 was nothing special. And it was, in every way imaginable, an eyesore. Nokia's penchant for beautiful design was sacrificed for functionality; the PureView 808 is a whopping 13.9mm thick. And I'm willing to bet that's measuring only the thinnest part of the phone, not the enormous camera hump. Comparing this to something like the Lumia 900, which is only 11.5mm thick, it's a brick. Other (much more powerful) phones are measuring nearly half that – the DROID RAZR is a mere 7.1mm thick.
And this is exactly why I hope this leaked thing – whatever it really is – is fake. The market is not ready for such an advanced camera. Likewise, the technology is not ready for the market. If Nokia has to throw design to the wayside just to cram an enormous, awesome camera in a phone, I don't want it. And if I – the guy who pretty much wants everything – doesn't want it, who will?
Microsoft and Nokia only have a few shots at creating a desirable platform and phone, respectively, that's cohesive and functional enough to pull people away from their existing investments in the iOS and Android ecosystems. The Lumia 900 and Mango are a good (not great) start. But just because they could release something like the device pictured above, just to release something different, doesn't mean it's a good idea. It would be a leap in the wrong direction.
If, instead, they play their cards right, refine the technology and package it in something more like the existing Lumia devices, it could be a major hit. Patience is key. Don't go all-in before the entire hand is dealt.
The PureView 808 is an awesome proof of concept. Yes, Nokia can make phones with awesome cameras. But they should stick with okay cameras and beautiful phones until they can produce the best of both worlds.
What say you, folks? Form over function? Or is it the other way around? Do you like the ... phones pictured above? Or, like me, do you hope they're just some sort of test devices that never see the light of day?