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Nokia 808 PureView: Monster Camera, Dead Software

Nokia's 808 PureView smartphone can take 38-megapixel pictures, buts runs Symbian Belle, not Windows Phone 7.
Nokia today announced two smartphones at Mobile World Congress--only one of them running Microsoft's Windows Phone platform. The company took to the stage early on Monday in Barcelona to show off its latest hardware.

The Lumia 610 is a low-end smartphone for younger, less-wealthy customers. Microsoft worked to reduce the spec requirements of Windows Phone 7.5 Tango so that Nokia could build this phone, which really ramps down the internal goods.

The Lumia 610 has an 800MHz single-core processor, 256MB of RAM (which is half what WP7 used to require), and a 5-megapixel camera. The screen is small, measuring 3.7 inches, but it still has 800 x 480 pixels. Despite the slower processor and halved RAM, the 610 was speedy when I used it.

[ Which gadgets look to steal the spotlight at mobile's big show? See Mobile World Congress Preview: 10 Hot Devices. ]

The 610 fills the bottom of Nokia's Lumia range, falling under the 710, 800, and 900 in the lineup. It will be sold in Europe and other markets later this year for about $254.

So what's the deal with the 808 PureView? There were cheers from some attendees of Nokia's press conference when Nokia's Jo Harlow announced that this 41-megapixel monster runs Symbian Belle, and not Windows Phone. Symbian Belle is Nokia's dead-end, out-going smartphone platform. Nokia will cease making Symbian handsets entirely this year, if not early next year. In fact, the 808 PureView is probably one of the last Symbian Belle phones to be announced by Nokia--if not the last one.

Nokia last year gave up on Symbian as its main smartphone platform and switched to Microsoft's Windows Phone. The Lumia series of devices are the result of that switch. Nokia still sells Symbian devices, but most of them were announced in late 2010 and early 2011.

Symbian aside, the PureView was the brain child of two Nokia engineers who wanted to bring the most insane camera ever to a smartphone. The camera can take images at 5-, 8-, and 38-megapixels. What's most interesting about this camera is that even at 5-megapixels, you can zoom in incredibly far and uncover amazing detail.

The Symbian Belle operating system isn't bad, but it doesn't have a lot of the flexibility of modern OSes such as Android or Windows Phone. The 808 PureView will surely be a hit in the ultra-niche market it serves, but it will never be a phone for mainstream consumers.