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Anybody using the Nokia 808?

This phone has an amazing camera - c. 38 megapixels and this is used, with downsampling, to produce c. 8 megapixel images of stunning quality - loads of examples on the web.

The quality outclasses every camera that will fit in a pocket, and the best of those are close to €400. The performance is actually close to a DSLR, in favourable situations and in the hands of most non-expert users. This feature alone is worth a great deal, as it saves carrying a camera in most cases.

The phone itself is a normal Symbian phone. Nokia phones do work very well as phones. The latest version of Symbian works fine (I have a Nokia 700) has all the features most people need (poor support for some oddball stuff like twitter, I gather) is not locked (you can transfer stuff to a microSD card, via USB, etc) but the Symbian user interface finger-gesture implementation is nothing as smooth as an Iphone.

However the phone has a hardware defect which crashes it. It appears to be triggered by some specific HSPA (a fast version of 3G) cellular network configuration. It doesn't seem to happen in the UK but it happens a lot in the USA, and also in Germany. A google on
nokia 808 hspa
digs out loads of stuff. I have asked some people in the cellular business about this but none of them got back to me. Nokia admit it but their suggestion of getting it fixed is useless with a grey import phone (Nokia doesn't sell the 808 in most of Europe and almost all 808s are grey imports from Malaysia or Hong Kong, usually via Amazon). Disabling HSPA is not a great fix because you lose about 5x in speed over 3G (which in the UK is c. 200kbits/sec) which does matter occassionally.

Any cellular network specialists here who might be able to explain why?

The problem with the phone appears to be caused by the high power requirements of an HSPA connection. An active HPSA connection will run down the battery in any smartphone in a few hours, or less. It thus appears that UK HSPA networks may be supporting a slower packet rate, which prevents the bug from appearing.

Currently I am waiting for 808 stock to appear which is fairly consistently being reported as fixed, before I buy one. At c. €350 they are not cheap, but unlocked phones are never cheap.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

I have to say that is impressive, and even though it's a lower spec, I find my iPhone 4S at 8MP gives sometimes better pictures than my Sony Cybershot 12MP, so theres no reason why a smartphone cant replace your typical Cybershot. That said, I bought myself a proper Canon EOS DSLR recently and when you play around with the settings, the results are far more superior (generally) than any smartphone or mini-camera.

I am a fairly devout iPhone / iPad user, and for the last 5 years there hasnt been any other phone that would tempt me not to upgrade to the next model. Then I saw this, and maybe this will sway things for me.

Not only does it look a very attractive phone, it might also be useful in a ditching scenario.

The problem for me though is not just the phone, but it's the apps. I have a whole collection of free/paid up flying related iPhone apps, and unless the majority were available on the Sony/Nokia (which maybe they are), I am likely to stick with the iPhone a bit longer.

A very quick image quality comparison

The above are a very small cut from the full size pic.

Both original jpegs were the same size; about 2.5MB.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Interesting. Just out of curiosity, what were the ISO settings for each? I see the Canon goes up to 3200 so I wondered if the software made a poor choice, compared to the Nokia.

The S95 settings were all max, 10MP, top quality jpeg (not RAW as I have not found RAW gives any improvement, curiously).

Both were done with flash.

The 808 was ISO 400 and the S95 was ISO 640. So, a slight difference but ordinarily it would not make much difference.

I also found Nokia seems to have quietly disabled HSPA in the 808, to get around the HSPA bug... naughty, naughty.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

I'd agree your Nokia 808 is the better device, especially as it still managed to capture the picture nicely with the lower ISO setting. That said, if I compare my iPhone 4S to my Sony Cybershot, the picture quality difference isnt really noticeable, however the iPhone by far the worst for capturing those awful bendy prop pictures when taking photos over the cowling. Flying wise, that would be my deciding factor which to use. Nowadays I use my Canon EOS primarily.

The RAW/JPEG decision is a personal preference. Generally I shoot RAW as the image retains all the data, therefore giving you more control when it comes to even basic editing, than the Lossy compression applied to JPEG's. However, if I am shooting anything which is likely to be in continious mode (action shots), then I use JPEG because anything more than 5 frames in RAW, the camera has to stop for a few seconds to write the data to the memory card.

I don't think there is a decent solution to the prop effect - other than a slow shutter, around 1/120 sec or slower.

The only way I know to get that is a semi-pro video camera, The manual settings for shutter speed (and also stuff like audio level so an external mike can be used effectively) tend to be used to mark off the top of the cheap stuff and the bottom of the "pro consumer" stuff.

It will be interesting if the 808 movie mode can do anything useful there (there is no shutter speed config) otherwise that's a reason to keep the big old Canon movie camera.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Some cracking reading material there to.

Just an update on this...

Nokia have not fixed the HSPA bug. One has to use the phone with HSPA disabled, which limits the downlink speed to c. 300kbits/sec (in the UK, 3G) versus 10x that on HSPA. It's not bad... not when you are old enough to remember 300baud modem access to Compu$erve

One also has to drive (satnav) with power connected, otherwise the phone crashes every few minutes as it downloads traffic info etc over 3G. But one normally would have the power cable in for that anyway because the screen is on all the time. I don't think any smartphone on the market manages more than a few hours of GPS and 3G and the screen on.

In all, the symtoms are of internal power distribution issues, for which there is a known hardware repair, if somebody can be bothered to harrass some Nokia service centres who don't want to do it, and who will send it to the Czech Republic for repair for a few weeks...

Otherwise, it's an awesome phone+camera. It is not as good as a £1500 DSLR, which is just as well otherwise there would be a lot of sick people around.

Denigrating Symbian is a rite of passage nowadays, but in reality it works superbly. Even down to little things like direct drag/drop to a PC (via ftp or direct network share browsing). Compared to an Iphone/Ipad it is amazing in flexibility and functionality.

For flying, apart from always having a really good camera, it is good enough to show PDF approach plates (Jepp, not the AIP ones which generally need a much better/bigger screen) and any enroute charts which you can print to a PDF.

I look forward to getting wifi connectivity from a satphone, for tafs/metars etc, but I understand Achim's Thuraya XT tests on Thuraya's "GMPRS" have been less than encouraging - much as I found in 2009.

Some cracking reading material there too.

Yeah; it used to be de rigueur to harrass a visiting sales rep from a semiconductor company for as many data books as he could bring with him - or her, in the case of the famous Macro Marketing with its all-female sales force

Nowadays, they are out of fashion because the data is online, and also any design engineer with a brain (or any interest in the financial well-being of his company) is sticking to a very small range of cheap and readily available commodity components. The whole market has moved towards specialised chips which are single sourced and very expensive, offering a neat solution which might cost 10x more.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Update: Nokia seems to have quietly fixed the HSPA bug, under the guise of an update to the picture gallery app.

The phone doesn't crash anymore.

It still suffers from the occassional failure to register properly on the network (Vodafone), so you can make calls and send texts etc but can't receive any. However all modern phones sometimes do that; Justine's Iphone 4 (T-Mobile) does it quite often. I usually catch it because I have a bit of kit we make at work set up to send me an SMS (with the temperature in the office - no kidding) every morning at 9am.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom
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