Nokia has announced the 808 smartphone which runs on OS Nokia’s Belle OS (Symbian) and supposedly sports a 41 megapixel camera.

nokia 808

The sample images are absolutely amazing: sample 1, sample 2, sample 3
sample 4

But how in the world is Nokia doing this?! 41 megapixels seems hard to believe for a number of reasons.

Sensor size
41 megapixel would usually result in a huge sensor, because high pixel density translates into a small space per diode to register light. By itself, this is nothing strange, because medium format sensors are just that: huge. But the Nokia 808 sensor is 1/1.2″ large, not even close to the Four Thirds sensor size.

Resolving power of lens
Each lens has a limit in resolving power. Very high quality glass will result in a decent image on a 42 megapixel resolution, but a tiny 8mm smartphone lens has no chance. The image should be a soupy pixel blur, but the example images actually look stunning. I have a hard time believing a smarphone lens was capable of producing this resolution. Why do photographers spend as much as $10.000 on huge prime lenses that weight 10 pounds? In part because all that glass gives them the resolving power that is needed to fully make use of their camera’s huge sensor. The 808 will produce images at a size of 7728 x 5368 pixels, while the lens is an 8mm f2.4 (equivelent of 18 f/5.6 on an APS-C DSLR).

The smartphone is expected to cost apporximately $760 (or 535 euro) on release. My question is this: how can a phone with this revolutionary sensor cost $760, which is about half the price of the Sony NEX7 to name a camera that is bigger and offers a smaller resolution… But then still have:

– 1.3 GHz ARM11-core cpu
– Clear Black-amoled (Gorilla Glass) screen
– 16GB of internal user memory, with support for MicroSD cards up to 32GB
– Talk time (over a 3G network) for 6.5 hours, with a standby time of up to 540 hours.
– Accelerometer, proximity meter, compass, gps, 2g, 3g, edge, wifi, FM radio, 3.5mm jack, microUSB v2.0… and a weight of only 169 grams.

I would normally say “hoax” without hesitation. But Nokia has made an official release statement on this phone. There is a presentation, teasers such as this and this, a white paper , and the story has been picked up by a number of high profile websites, such as dpreview and allthingsdigital.

If this is a hoax, it’s the best one I’ve ever seen.