Nokia teases PureView for Windows Phone but what would it look like?

The Nokia PureView 808

It’s a big question whether or not Nokia’s upcoming lineup will feature any PureView technology in it. While it’s nice to dream of a 41MP camera alongside Windows Phone 8, we’re holding down our excitement until we learn more because so far we have seen little to make us believe otherwise.

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Now, the Nokia team (via Twitter) have teased users with the following exchange between themselves and Philip G. He was asking and hoping for some PureView love in the next Lumia series form Nokia. Nokia replied with the following:

“Just keep your eyes and ears open in the next coming weeks....”

That certainly seems like a reference to the joint Microsoft announcement that Nokia is hosting in a few weeks here in New York.  From our own sources, we’ve been leaning towards no PureView device this time but instead slightly further down the road, as Nokia plans to release numerous Windows Phones over the next year.

With Nokia’s tweet though, we could be looking at something sooner. But the question for us is What is PureView exactly?

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Nokia hints at something big next month

It seems like a silly question but the answer is not necessarily a 41MP sensor measuring in at 1/1.2" for the camera but rather the software technology behind it, specifically the oversampling feature. That’s really the secret behind PureView because although shooting at 41MP sounds impressive, it’s the ability to shoot at 5MP by default and doing some fancy software tricks for a clearer image. Ars Technica explained it thusly:

“At its default 5MP setting, every pixel in the finished image corresponds to about eight pixels on the sensor. This oversampling helps reduce noise, increase color accuracy, and increase sharpness… oversampling reduces the softening effects of the Bayer filter, the anti-aliasing filter, and diffraction of the tiny lens, resulting in sharper images.This type of oversampling is actually something you have probably seen quite often without even realizing it. If you have ever viewed an image in Photoshop at less than 100 percent view, you have seen the same effect.”

In other words, a PureView Windows Phone would not necessarily need a 41MP camera to have the same technology as found in the Nokia 808. That’s good news because as far as we know, Windows Phone 8 devices will be primarily using Qualcomm’s S4 chipset. So what would that mean for Apollo?

Windows Phone PureView

Alleged Windows Phone PureView device (from April)

WARNING: You are now entering the speculation zone

From Qualcomm’s own spec sheets, the S4 is a mighty impressive chipset but alas, it’s not the most powerful, particularly in regards to the camera:

“…the Snapdragon S4 can capture up to 20 megapixel images, 1080p video capture and has overall speed and image quality enhancements, including image stabilization.”

As far as we can tell, 20MP is about as high as we can expect for a Nokia PureView camera phone running Windows Phone 8—at least during this first release.

The Nokia 808, on the other hand, sports a 1.3 GHz ARM 11 CPU with a Broadcom BCM2763 multi-media processor. It also runs the Qualcomm S2 (MSM8255) chipset for the radio but evidently the camera functions are bypassed for the more capable Broadcom chipset.

That adds both cost and size to the device as opposed to the more economical single system on chip (SoC) S2 or S4 option. That is the point of SoC after all, to have the entire chipset on one board with features enabled or disabled based on the OEM’s need.

The PureView 808 camera sensor eats the Samsung GSIII one for breakfast

We can’t say for certain if those latter 808 technologies have been adopted for Windows Phone 8 but we have not seen any indication that they have just yet. Meanwhile, Qualcomm is boasting about their S4 support, which we imagine most OEMs will be using for their Windows Phone 8 series of devices.

That leaves two possible options that we can discern for a potential PureView Windows Phone:

  1. A full-on PureView Windows Phone with the 808 technology on board plus the more advanced S4 Qualcomm chipset for dual-core CPU support, LTE, etc. This will be more costly and result in a larger device due to the extra chipset needed to power the camera.
  2. A reduced PureView device running just the Qualcomm S4 with a maxed-out 20MP camera plus the PureView software enhancement of image oversampling.

Although we’re just going on pure guess work here, if we had to place bets it would be on the latter—a reduced MP camera in a device that still retains the core of the PureView technology. That would allow Nokia to keep costs down, maintain ease in mass production and keep the proposed device relatively thin.

But then again, when Nokia introduced the PureView 808 with a 41MP camera back months ago, the room was filled with press and fans who literally gasped when it was revealed. That means Nokia has a lot of tricks up their sleeve and it’s still too early to predict what they plan to reveal.

via: My Nokia Blog; Image sensor via All About Symbian

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.

  • As long as that yellow phone has all the WP8 trimmings (NFC, 720p screen, dual-core S4, etc), I'm gonna look long and hard at it as my next device.  We'll see what other OEMs deliver as well, but PureView is something I really, really want.
  • It looks like a spaceship.
  • i dont mind that at all most people would settle for a 20mp camera on a wp8 pureview and even so if it offers them time to eventually get a 41mp camera on a wpx in the future thats even better. you dont have to go all out on the first try.
  • That's how I feel about it as well. I'd rather have a thin Lumia with the PureView "theory" behind it (plus a still massive 20MP camera) than a huge chunky phone...even if it is drool worthy.
  • agreed :D
  • I don't expect my 41mp Pureview camera on my phone to be a pinhole. In fact id be pretty upset if it was.
  • I don't know if I like that. If it's only a three month wait, fine, but we have seen 41 mp over sampling in action. If 20 mp was all that was needed then the 808 would have had only 20 mp. That just seems like a step down, but if it's to make it thinner and they still make the better option, great. I'm all about options.
  • I want a WP8 based on the 808 shell. Just upgrade the screen to WVGA, the SoC to S4, and throw the 710s physical buttons in, and make mine red. Thinner ≠ Better.
  • Same here.
  • I would wager this picture is a fan render and I thought this when it first emerged, however, I'd buy it instantly. Stick the Nokia N8 camera on it with PureView, and what else could you want?
  • The Orange one was the Nokia 808, that phone is released and able to be purchased already.  The yellow one was a leak from a company presentation earlier in the year, a proposed example.  None of the photos in the article were fan made.
  • Sorry, was referring to the yellow one. I think if this was launched opinion would be split, but it'd sure get some attention. And any media attention is good attention...
  • Going with a standalone processor wouldn't be too crazy, HTC already did it for the Titan II.
    There is also the question of... once the SoC captures the image, what processor handles all of that PureView magic? I'd assume a dedicated coprocessor would be best because it would be much more efficient and offloading that work onto the CPU would probably significantly increase the amount of time it takes for each picture and have some negative effects on system performance
    BTW, the spec of the Broadcom BCM2763 also says 20 megapixels. Are you sure that is what is in the 808? It sounds like the sensor has its own on-chip video processor
  • I think I read somewhere that the Nokia 808 had a seperate processor for the sensor as well.
    Some interesting comments at MyNokiaBlog  regarding this - if you can filter through the WP hate.
  • Pretty sure about the BCM2763--it was in the physical teardown of the 808 (linked at the bottom of the article). But yeah, that's odd that it too says 20MP limit. Not sure how they're doing it then.
  • I think they're going to do both. I think the tech will be scaled down to a top of the line Lumia by way of a 20MP sensor using the S4. It could also work well in a Lumia Phablet because size wouldn't be a major issue. However I also believe they are going to release the Pureview 2 which is a separate Halo device which rolls out an updated sensor and all the new sampling tricks they've learned since the original Pureview was released. They have 3 times the processing power available now and while the extra chip will increase the cost a few bucks, everything else on the phone will be of the standard windows 8 spec sheet. The dual mics will also add a few extra pennies for the high fidelity recording, but considering everything else is Lumia innards, its not a stretch to roll out a new device that makes the iPhone 5 and GSIII seem like a joke. They better go something radical to grab headlines or they might not be around by the end of next year.
  • It can look like anything as long as it's on at&t lol im getting it
  • Of course it will be on AT&T. They get (T-Mobile customer)
  • Yep, been thinking this since the 808 came out and PV tech was discussed.  I'm thinking a 16ish MP sensor with PV software driving it, scaling down to an 8 or 12 MP image.  Way thinner, and still great shots for a phone camera.  Take my money!
  • I'd the 808's image sensor BSI? I think any phone Nokia comes out with should have BSI by default to avoid the low light noise we see with the currently line.
  • It'd be nice if it were BSI but the 808 is FSI. Hopefully that changes with their next-gen.
  • Daniel, can you explain the differences and/or benefits of BSI to FSI?
  • It has to do with the design of the sensor. BSI lets more light hit the sensor because the wiring is behind it. On a traditional FSI design, the wires are in front and thereby block the light. BSI is more complicated to design and mass produce but lately it has become easier, hence it's more wide adoption by the industry. Samsung uses it in their consumer cameras and HD cams, Apple in the iPhone, HTC for their One and Titan series. Although that sounds stupid to begin with, FSI is basically how the human eye works too--the receptors are at the back of the eye with the blood vessels, etc in front. Your brain filters these out but in turn, our eyes are not exactly perfectly engineered organs (much to the chagrin of Paley).
  • Dan ur a beast lol smart man!
  • Thank you for the explanation, Daniel :)
  • I would settle for a 5mp camera with a huge lens and good tech to back it up. Its strange how the photo world of phones have fallen down to mega pixels.
    I would buy a thicker phone easy if I get the real deal on the camera, and with the extra size they can include other good stuff and make it a "super hero phone". :-P
  • If they bring even the reduced PureView, I'll have to break my own rule and get one even though my Lumia 900 isn't that old. The camera is the killer feature for me.
  • How about a third option?  Both.  Why not introduce an 808 style Windows Phone with 41mp sensor.  It may be huge, but the camera enthusiast will flock to it, and the reputation will have an obvious halo effect.  For the average consumer, release a 20mp sensor PureView option.  While some camera people want the best, I would be perfectly happy with a PureView enhanced camera that is almost as good as the full fledged 808 model, especially if it means keeping the nice Lumia 8/900 type design.
  • Absolutely agree.  I think they will use the tech in many sizes going forward.  The 808 was a proof of concept for a large sensor device, but nothing says they can't scale it down as necessary.
  • All i know is my next windows phone will be the one to offer and have the best camera in it. I was hoping Nokia was going to step up and put a good camera in the 900 but it didnt happen. So if Samsung or HTC puts out a WP8 phone with a better camera, sorry Nokia, but i'm going with that.
  • I really would just settle one with 20MP or even 12MP, but can get decent details in low lighting. 
  • Doesnt have to be 40 for me. 15-20 fine, just dont want to deal with a camera similar to that of the 900 camera. Frustrating.
  • How about a mini surface phone?
  • Love the Surface design too. Included with pureview 20mp camera would be a dream to come true.
  • I am all in with this one but not sure I am going to wait longer the two months after launch!
  • Personally, I'd rather the full 41MP sensor.  However, they need to get rid of the hump.  Clearly they can't make the technology small enough to keep the phone thin, but I would make the thickness the same throughout the device.  Fill the extra space with battery, similar to the Droid Razr Max, for a phone that really gets all-day battery life.  Or, even better, integrate it into a (portrait) QWERTY slider design, where the keyboard takes up that space.
  • Yeah, listen to this guy. This is where it's at. One phone to ring them all!
    I've learned to love a thicker device, with curves that fit my hand. With the thickness of my HTC 7 Pro I'm sure there would be many people who'd swap the keyboard for a massive battery and a PureView sensor. Or have it all packed into a larger device!
  • I agree, seems there is a obsession to make phones paper thin. If you are to get quality hardware (camera, battery, HDMI etc) it have to get a bit bulkier, but you know what, people pay for the best. All they need to focus on is making it feel good in the hand.
  • I shure hope they release PureView for Windows Phone and Instagram alongside it.
  • you can take awesome photos with incredible sharpness, color and clarity and then run them through a crappy filter to make them washed out and brown and look like they were taken with a 1990s disposable camera.
  • Exactly!
  • +1
  • I was expecting a comment like that :) 
    Releasing Instagram with with the PureView would make sense since Instagram seems to have a problem with poor camera performance. (Softwares late arrival on Android). 
    I would be very happy if Instagram was released so I could rejoin the service. The PureView might take awesome pictures, but my Lumia 800 does not. I need the filters and miss a really fun social network that most of my friends are using. I feel left out.
    Anyways, with my luck it will probably be WP8 only if it's ever released. 
  • I'm not even a Nokia user but I think it is pretty evident that Nokia is doing all in their power to sell phones running WP (can you say the same about Samsung or HTC?). They could've listened to the hordes of people and chosen Android but they didn't and that fact alone means they need to be respected a little. Moreover, all other OEMs have only been recycling designs and hardware for WP, Nokia has brought in something unique and duh, they are doing this because they think there's money in it, what do you think the other OEMs are here for?...
  • If Nokia went the Android path they will also have the same problem like Samsung and HTC with Apple.
  • Not to mention the fact that only Samsung, with HTC now a distant 2nd, is making a lot of money out of Android. Nokia could have ended up in a lot worse position with no MS to help tide them over.
  • Yea, Nokia recycled Symbian phone about WP being a red headed stepchild...
  • I think your reading too much into the tweet. But either way I want Nokia to do it right and not rush it, because then it would be a disappointment.
  • I think the size of the sensor isn't just about megapixels. It also allows it to take in a lot of light, giving better low light images as well as capturing more detail in good light.
  • I agree with the folks above five me that phone with diff colors available ooooh so nice
  • I want it to be 4.7 inch screen super HD with a slim down version of preview camera in the back... I think that would be the eye catching feature that Nokia and the carriers have advertised about....lets go...
  • I definitely want a Nokia Lumia Pureview, and I am really not concerned with sensor size, as long as, at the very minimum, I can get photo quality that matches (and hopefully, surpasses) my N8.
    I will wait as long as it takes for Nokia to implement Pureview for WP, and then purchase the device either on contract or unsubsidized!
  • Seconded. Also being an ex-N8 owner (3 of them in fact) I'd be quite happy to have the N8 camera on a Windows Phone device as a stop gap to a PureView WP. Maybe we'll get it in a couple of weeks.....
  • I'm patiently waiting...:)
  • A lot of Nokia's survival hinges on Windows Phone's why the hell are they hiding their best technology from their chance of existence? I just don't get it...
  • it just takes time...
  • This where there's a clash between engineers and consumers ;-)  It's not that Nokia doesn't want to do it, it's just you need to write all the APIs, software, filters, etc. that you wrote for one OS and then bring them over to a new OS which Nokia does not completely control. For instance, due to the design of WP7 it was just not possible to do a PureView device had they wanted. So it's an engineering problem that as above notes, takes time to get it right.
  • Technically now they have the ability to port their libraries over in C++ if they wanted to. I wonder if they will run some native code for imagining or stick to using C#.
  • After using my N8 for about 2 years now, I cannot wait for PV WP8.  I will snap it the second it is on sale.  Adding the free world wide navigation and long battery life will make it the ultimate outdoor/travler's phone. 
    Come on, Nokia, i've had my money ready for like a year now...
  • Are we missing something here? Once the all the tech/hardware/software can accommodate PureView tech, why not re-use the 808 design completely? Even as a stop gap?
  • they cannot.  808 only has 640 by 480 res screen and an old ass arm 11 proc
  • They could reuse the design with upgraded screen and chipset quite easily. That's what I want them to do, in fact.
  • The main problem is not how to design but how to interact with the OS. they have to write new APIs and Libraries for WP8, and that takes time.
  • I would love 41 MP of PureView goodness, it would be one  kickass phone :-)
  • I know people would settle for a 5-8mp camera but some of the pureview images I've seen are just amazing.  I'd love to have that capability.  So, we'll wait and see.
  • Come on Nokia, surprise us in September.... I'm looking at you too Verizon, snatch this up and take my money.
  • I'm hugly indifferent to camera specs on a phone. I don't take many pictures and don't expect the pictures coming from my phone to be that great. (Also, can we collectivly agree that FFCs are dumb and for grandparents, those in the military, and people who love to take photos of themselves. I don't like taking phone calls in public much less tryihng to have a video chat with someone.) That being said, much of the general public cares about the spec wars so more options are never a bad thing.
  • No need for Pureview on a WP8 handset. The 808 is enough for me.
  • No need for PureView on WP8 handset. Love WP7 by itself already! I'm sure I'd love WP8 even more, pureview or no pureview!
  • That yellow phone looks gross :S can we keep the 808-look but have it run WP8 please? :)
  • Well if Nokia wants my money a pure view phone will have to be available at the launch of WP8.  I won't be waiting months to get a new device and having a great camera is nice but i'm sure the top of the range Samsung and HTC WP8 offerings will be fine for me.
  • Buuuut the lossless zoom is also part of pureview, and even reducing the sensor to 20 mp will have a huge impact on that aspect (2x zoom would be 5mp maximum and 3x would be 2.2mp). It is for this reason I'd prefer the 41mp sensor (2x zoom at 10mp and 3x at ~4.5mp). The other point is that Nokia recently mentioned it would take some time to shrink the size of pureview down, which makes me think they might be sticking with the original sensor. With regard to the processor I'm not sure they wouldn't want to substitute their own choice in for image processing anyway. I'm no expert but does the s4 really have the capabilities they need for pureview? Tbh i don't mind if the sensor is smaller, so long as the results compare to those of the 808.
  • And there's this:
  • Has long it's not a Symbian. Windows phone OS is so better and having pureview for windows phone will be awesome.
  • Can't they just use the max 20 mega pixel function, and change the ratio from "8 pixels makes 1 perfect pixel" to say "5 pixels makes 1 perfect pixel". So theoretically you can get a x4 zoom at a decent 5mp (at HQ settings) at the very least. I'd be happy with perfect pixels at 5mp off a 5 to 1 ratio :-) would still be far better than all the opposition out there if they implement it correctly.
  • Unfortunately as far as the zoom is concerned it doesn't work that way. For 2X zoom that means an object in the photo is 2X as wide and 2X as high, which means when you zoom to 2X you can only use half the horizontal and half the vertical pixels. Therefore you have to divide the megapixels by 4 to get the size of the zoomed in image (using lossless digital zoom that is). So for a 20MP sensor 2X zoom = 5MP and 4X = 1.25MP. In that respect I hope the 42MP sensor remains intact in at least one of their phones.
    But you have a good point about the pureview technology in that 20MP would still produce some nice 5MP pureview shots. Though I'm not sure whether there has been time for the necessary re-working of the algorithm for a different sensor size, I'm happy for Nokia to prove me wrong.
  • As long as the camera is good enough, my next phone will be a Nokia Lumia WP8. The lack of PureView is not a deal breaker for me - it's the WP OS that I love. So I love Nokia also because they seem to love the same OS that I love!
  • Thumbs up to this lol
  • I really want to get a Nokia phone from T-Mobile for Windows Phone 8.  I also sincerely hope that we will get the 41MP PureView sensor with Rich Recording, and 32GB or 64GB storage with 1280x768 4.3" screen.  Create that, and you will have likely the best Windows Phone of the first WP8 generation, and best of 2012 overall.  I don't mind a little bulge on the back of the phone for the Pureview sensor or a slight bit of thickness to account for the sensor, which can be used to give us a bigger and longer-lasting battery.  The yellow phone shown on this page is OK, but I don't like the front screen looking as angled as it does there.  It looks like it would be hard to press buttons near the edges of the screen, which is why I don't like it.  I would rather have a nice, flat screen to press.
    So Nokia, if you're reading this: PureView 41MP, Rich Recording 32/64GB, 1280x768 4.3", T-Mobile.  Make that and you will have T-Mobile users scrambling all over themselves to buy that phone.
  • If it is gonna be PureView I am sure to buy one ... High hopes Nokia ... By the way I still love the Nokia Lumia 710 ... Love you Nokia.
  • So... Basically... I'm not jumping on the Windows 8 Bandwagon until this happens.... on a phone with a big screen.  I'm not about to drop money on a first Gen Windows 8 device when Nokia is going to make something better a few months later.
  • Nokia 4eva