Nokia 808 PureView vs Apple iPhone 4S

If you have been itching for a smartphone camera breakthrough in your life time, the Nokia 808 PureView is the one the fits the bill. Unfortunately the PureView camera technology has been years in the making, and developed with the idea that the handset will be running Symbian, so all the camera interface and APIs are tied up to the aging OS the handset is running – Nokia Belle.

Still, is it worth to consider the Nokia 808 PureView if you are rocking, or intend to get Apple's finest – the iPhone 4S – with its steel and glass design and more than half a million apps army behinds its back? Read on our quick comparison to find out...


You'd have to be a total function-before-form kind of guy to call the Nokia 808 PureView design good compared with the svelte iPhone 4S made of premium materials like glass and steel. The 808 PureView looks like Quasimodo in comparison, and we are not only talking about the hump on the back here, but also the front with its physical navigational keys bar, and the rough plastic used for the chassis, which make it look like a Symbian phone from a few years ago.

Granted, the chubby 14mm device with a big 41MP PureView camera sensor hump feels very solid in the hand, and the heft is not nearly as we would expect from one with such a monster camera. It is also pretty easy to use with one hand, not only because of the 4” screen, whose size is good for one-handed usage, but also because the hump on the back makes it easier to hold.

The iPhone 4S feels more “edgy”, but solid as well, and is even easier to operate with one-hand, thanks to the smaller display. On the other hand, you get all the ports and slots you may wish for, like microUSB, HDMI-out and microSD with the 808 PureView, and there is a removable battery inside, whereas with the iPhone 4S you only get a proprietary dock connector. Both handsets utilize micro-SIM cards, though.


The AMOLED screen of the Nokia 808 PureView is with a very low pixel density compared to the Retina Display on the iPhone 4S, due to the 360x640 resolution splashed over a 4” display. It makes reading and browsing pretty unpleasant experiences in comparison with the 640x960 pixels on the 3.5” screen of Apple's best.

What the AMOLED screen has going for it is the stellar antireflective coating that comes with Nokia's ClearBlack layer, making for the brightest AMOLED screen we've seen to date, helping tremendously for good visibility when shooting outside under direct sunlight. The iPhone 4S also has a very bright 500 nits screen, and, since it is IPS-LCD, viewing angles are very wide, just like on the 808 PureView.

The other difference between the two, besides the pixel density, is the color representation – the Nokia 808 PureView AMOLED display exhibits the typical for the technology oversaturated, to the point of gaudy here colors, while the Retina Display covers a more narrow gamut, making its colors appear natural in comparison.

Nokia 808 PureView 360-Degrees View:

Apple iPhone 4S 360-Degrees View:



1. -box-

Posts: 3991; Member since: Jan 04, 2012

A nice balanced and concise comparison. Thank you! I'd have the 808. No amount of OS gimmickry would take me away from the functionality and capability of the 808. Yes, it lags, and there aren't as many apps for it, but it exceeds my needs, and until the next Symbians arrive (if ever) or PureView makes its way to Windows Phone, this is my most coveted device

34. WWEraw

Posts: 3; Member since: Jun 30, 2012

next symbian OS will be the Belle FP2 maybe carla and donna

41. Stoli89

Posts: 333; Member since: Jun 28, 2010

Carla = Belle FP1 Donna = Belle FP2

2. bobfreking55

Posts: 866; Member since: Jul 15, 2011

this is okay, but seriously? the iPhone again? why not with the n8? don't blame them if they go calling you iPhoneArena again. anyway, i believe that Symbian still packs a punch against iOS 6. lol. and I like the Pureview's design better, though thick.

4. OptimusOne

Posts: 694; Member since: May 22, 2012

symbian is awesome, except for the apps and the browser

42. Stoli89

Posts: 333; Member since: Jun 28, 2010

...The apps are limited, though the Nokia Store has around 70K to date. Outside of Kindle, most every other popular app has a presence in Symbian...or there's a suitable 3rd party proxy. As for the browser, it is not competitive. However, the free Opera Mobile or Opera Mini browsers are, in fact, fully competitive.

52. tylerdurdon4

Posts: 1; Member since: Nov 14, 2012

not to forget UCbrowser, still one of the best browser for symbian and ultra stable.

17. sithman

Posts: 299; Member since: Apr 21, 2012

Phone arenas job is to compare the top devices against each other. If I'm not mistaking based on sales, reviews, performance, and rankings from both the consumers, and experts the 4S is still one of the top 3 phones on the market.

22. bayusuputra

Posts: 963; Member since: Feb 12, 2012

by popularity..

38. Jaris

Posts: 3; Member since: Jul 12, 2012

I own both phones and lately have used mainly the pureview 808 as I use camera a lot and one of the reasons for buying 808 was that I just could not get good enough images in low light conditions and inside with the iphone. Pureview technology in 808 is just amazing. No other phone comes even close (I have had also N8). Symbian is also great as doesn't eat battery like the other OS systems. The only area where iphone and galaxy perform somewhat better is web browsing, but overall Nokia 808 is pretty good overall package and the camera is just fantastic.

3. OptimusOne

Posts: 694; Member since: May 22, 2012

Thank you for not making the iphones camera sound better than the pureview camera!

14. Nathan_ingx

Posts: 4769; Member since: Mar 07, 2012

Wouldn't that defeat the purpose of having a 41megs of Pureveiw tech on 808??? ...if it comes to the conclusion that "iCamera" is better??

32. Raymond_htc

Posts: 430; Member since: Apr 06, 2012

NO... he meant that he's scared that Phonearena would be biased again!

35. Nathan_ingx

Posts: 4769; Member since: Mar 07, 2012

I know.... meant that with sarcasm!! LOL!!

5. imran_khan0786

Posts: 61; Member since: Jun 21, 2012

Thank nokia

6. PhansMuneeb

Posts: 371; Member since: Jan 28, 2012

Best Comparision on Phone arena, Thanks Daniel

7. arturmeireles

Posts: 20; Member since: Jul 02, 2012

I have both phones and its hard to choose one. I love both phones in different ways. I take them both with me all the time. All I can say is that the Nokia 808 exceed my expectations.

8. sbr999

Posts: 79; Member since: Jun 05, 2012

This single core, 512mb RAM Symbian smartphone is faster than a quad core Android... or just as fast, or uhm, almost iPhone 4s smooth. I'm simply amazed by Symbian's memory management. Too bad developers don't create cool and/or useful apps for it.

9. picka_vi_materina

Posts: 174; Member since: Nov 21, 2011

If you think that PowerVR is much more powerful than the Broadcom 2763 ticking inside the 808, think again. 808's lack on the CPU front is offloaded by its software optimizations and extremely powerful GPU.

10. Extraneus

Posts: 121; Member since: Jun 02, 2012

Fair article, but... Your take on the design of the two devices...!!! Design is a subjective matter... You love the glass and metal of the iPhone? Fine. I love the exquisite slight curve of the Nokia N9, Lumia 800 and now 808, and find the flat (fragile non-gorilla glass, by the way!) screen of the iPhone unimpressive. The rough plastic you so despise do wonders to the tactile sense and reduces the chance of you actually dropping the device! In terms of comfort, the smooth edges of the 808 certainly beat the crap out of the sharp edges of the iPhone. Physical navigation keys is actually a plus in many peoples' books, perhaps not from a design point of view, but as a practical measure... At the very least, one can argue that it sets the phone apart from all the screen-only clones on the market. As I said, design is subjective, and I'm not bashing your opinion about the iPhone being leaps ahead on this point; I'm merely pointing out that a statement like: "You'd have to be a total function-before-form kind of guy to call the Nokia 808 PureView design good compared with the svelte iPhone 4S" ridiculously presumptive!

11. bbblader

Posts: 590; Member since: Oct 24, 2011

I like the symbian belle interface more than the iphone's on iphone its apps that beat the 808 the 808 I think that has better grip because of the curved edges unlike the iphone's sharp ones the UI i think is betten on the 808 because the only menu type UI i've liked is the N9's the iphone one isn't what I want atleast the browsing is better than symbian's at one point of view but the flash lite on symbian makes me think that the symbian browser is the better one even though the pixel density is less on symbian here I like the fact that the apps count is worth meaning something yes even the 60k apps on nokia store are too much when I only used 25 since I have the c6-01 and 30 on the SGS so I don't care about how many million apps there are and last but not least most wp7 symbian and android fans will agree with me when I say that the symbian 808 PW is better than iphone 4s

43. Stoli89

Posts: 333; Member since: Jun 28, 2010

I wonder if Steve Jobs is writing checks to Phonearena from his grave.

12. Andrewtst

Posts: 697; Member since: Jan 25, 2009

Great and fair review. This is what in my mine as well. Nokia 808PV is only great in Camera. That it. Old and ugly design, outdated OS, bad OS. Crap screen resolution.

16. -RVM-

Posts: 331; Member since: Oct 19, 2011

And also in customizability of OS, landscape UI support, connectivity options, openness, multimedia, free offline navigation etc.

20. bbblader

Posts: 590; Member since: Oct 24, 2011

lol if symbian is an outdated os idk what ios 6 is having just now got the ''new'' remind me later button even if symbian doesn't support flash it still supports flash lite 4.0 your god iphone doesnt even support that + that iSight camera you have needs glasses compared to the 808 and one more thing tell me how can I download a song on an iphone when its not jailbroken? pay for it? yeah right

23. bayusuputra

Posts: 963; Member since: Feb 12, 2012

really? the only downside of the 808PV is the number of apps available and the not-so-great screen.. can the iPhone support 41MP camera with single core? No.. does the iPhone have options other than zoom/HDR/flash toggles in its camera? No.. Symbian is one of the most stable and capable OS (if not the most) out there.. Yes, even compared to Android, it is more capable.. forget about iOS.. It's just that not many developers develop apps for it anymore.. The iPhone wins in the eye candy category hands down.. but PureView is another league of its own.. THE cameraphone..

13. 234Real

Posts: 1; Member since: Jul 02, 2012

This comparison is so bias and dosen't worth it. Make comparison objectively without making statement like "Since Nokia Belle FP1 is quite the frugal mobile OS, and the screen pixel density is so low, Nokia's handset performs pretty well in the battery life department, too". Why not say a high pixel density is a battery guzzler. Gsmarena does the balancing better.

15. Nathan_ingx

Posts: 4769; Member since: Mar 07, 2012

Imagine iPhone with the pureview bump!! That would be ugly!!! The curves does add to the charm to the 808!! As i look back, Nokia has always been about curves! :)

18. lil2070

Posts: 14; Member since: Feb 11, 2012

This is true innovation

19. LodeStar

Posts: 28; Member since: Feb 26, 2012

no this isn't innovation! apple is the only one who creates innovation that everyones love :) over 200+ new innovation on every os update. i love it..

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