In just one week, HMD Global is poised to relaunch the classic PureView brand with the much-rumoured Nokia 9 sporting 5 cameras, one of which should have a 40MP+ sensor in keeping up with the latest mobile imaging trends. It wasn’t always a trend, though, and until Huawei revived the 40+ megapixel sensor with the P20 Pro last year, there were only two phones who could boast of such high numbers and they both came from Nokia or at least bore the Finnish legacy. The history of the PureView brand is not a long one by any stretch, but it is the history of great potential marred by aging software and bad corporate decisions.
Nokia and integrated cameras
It all started in 2001 with the 7650. Nokia launched their first Symbian S60 smartphone and the first phone with an integrated camera on the European market. It was a simple VGA camera, a far-cry from what was to come, but a sign that the mobile phone was moving in a certain direction, one where it would replace all your devices. Nokia’s cameras have always lagged somewhat behind competition from Sony Ericsson that brought the Sony savvy into the mix and launched some of the best cameraphones of their time while pushing the competition forward.
That is not to say that Nokia didn’t have their own camera success stories. We only need to look at the N90 and N93 flip phones with swiveling displays that mimicked camcorders or the N95, one of Nokia’s most well known smartphones that packed a camera which gave Sony Ericsson a run for their money coupled with the power of Symbian and 3rd party apps which the competitor’s feature phones couldn’t match. Samsung was also starting to become more and more popular in Europe and also pushed the camera revolution forward. Nokia had lots of competition in the imaging field, but they held their own, also partnering with Carl Zeiss for their lens branding to help boost recognition.
But nothing could prepare the world for the imaging revolution that was PureView. It is comparable with the first integrated camera in the 7650 or the revolution in quality brought about by the Sony Ericsson K800 and a marvelous feat of technology that wasn’t to be equaled any time soon.