Every history has a beginning – and this one begins in 2002. Let us take you on a journey through a series of amazing innovations from Nokia that have seen the camera in our phone evolve from a feature that we never thought we needed into a high quality imaging masterpiece. Eleven years; ten phones.
Nokia 7650 (2002)
Nokia’s boundary pushing development of phones that can take pictures started with the Nokia 7650. Its 0.3 megapixel sensor gave you 640×480 pixels of colour imaging – just a fraction of the 41 megapixels we’re wowed by today, but remember in 2002 most of us didn’t even realise that’s what we wanted our phones to do.
It took some serious vision – and a clever marketing campaign around the movie Minority Report – for this milestone in Nokia history to upstage Tom Cruise and get us wondering: “Cool, what if my phone could do that?” The Nokia 7650 was a bundle of firsts rolled into one – first camera, first colour screen, first outing for Symbian on a Nokia phone.
Nokia N90 (2005)
European Media Phone of the Year 2005-2006
Three years later and the launch of the N90 showed just how much Nokia was planning to innovate to improve the camera phone experience. It was the first Nokia phone to feature a Carl Zeiss lens and, with its video camera style swivel and double screens, it was perhaps the first sign that Nokia was taking its camera phones to a new level of putting their usability on a par with standalone cameras and video cameras.
Nokia N93 (2006)
European Media Phone of the Year 2006-2007
It seems strange to think that only in 2006 reviewers were still asking questions like: “would you want to combine the two apparently quite different functions of phone and videocam in a single device.” Whoa – why would we not? It makes you think just how much our phone habits expectations have changed.
The N93 continued what the N90 began – same video camera style usability, but now with a 3x optical zoom, a slot for a 2GB memory card and Adobe video editing software.
Nokia N95 (2007)
2007 TIPA award for Best Imaging Device
“If we had to rescue just one device from a burning house, it would be the N95.” That’s what one reviewer said about the Nokia N95. You get the picture – and what a picture it is. It was the first phone ever to feature a 5 megapixel camera.
Alongside its GPS capabilities, multitasking and Office suite that might explain our modest tagline for its launch: “It’s what computers have become.”
Nokia N82 (2007)
2008 TIPA award for Best Imaging Device
With the same great 5 megapixel resolution as the N95, the N82 added an extra boost to low light situations in the form of its powerful Xenon flash. Considered the best camera phone on the market at the time, it set the benchmark for what was to follow.
Nokia N86 (2009)
2009 TIPA award for Best Imaging Device
With the N86 Nokia really went head to head with standalone cameras available at the time. Not only does it boast a cool 8 megapixel sensor, Nokia also added features that were previously unheard of in camera phones, including multiple aperture settings to control the amount of light flow and a mechanical shutter. It was attention to such details to make sure every pixel is doing its job that makes such a massive difference in a phone camera capable of capturing images good enough to print REALLY BIG.
Nokia N8 (2010)
Techradar 2010 & 2012 Best camera phone on the market
Not only did the N8 feature a 12 megapixel autofocus lens, its 720p video quality is so great that Nokia decided to shot this epic 7 minute promotional video with it. The Commuter, which stars Pamela Anderson and Charles Dance, follows one man’s ill-fated attempt to get to work. It’s cinematic in style, content and quality – but shot entirely on an incredible piece of pocket sized technology.
Nokia 808 Pureview (2012)
Best New Mobile Handset, Device or Tablet at Mobile World Congress 2012
And with our jump to the 808 Pureview’s immense 41 megapixel sensor we start looking at a slice of Nokia history that’s still being made – although with the enthusiasm of blogs like PureView Club it has already become something of a legend. The 808 is the first to use Nokia’s PureView Pro technology, where a large image is taken then sampled down, giving better image definition and cancelling out any loss of quality caused by digital zoom.
Nokia Lumia 920 (2012)
Engadget Awards – Readers’ Choice: “Smartphone of the year 2012”
“It’s big, it’s beautiful and probably the most advanced smartphone on the market” proclaimed this headline when the Nokia Lumia 920 was launched last year. It enhances Nokia’s PureView technology with its all new optical image stabilisation, producing perfectly sharp results even when the camera is shaking – and one of the secrets behind the 920’s incredible low light capabilities.
Nokia Lumia 1020 (2013)
So every history has a beginning – but this one certainly doesn’t have an end. Like each of the other nine phones, the Nokia Lumia 1020 takes the camera phone to yet another incredible level. It introduces next generation versions of the optical image stabilisation and xenon flash. Access to exposure levels, white balance, shutter and film speed puts professional functionality at your fingertips – while dual capture lets you store a full resolution copy of your photograph so you can reframe, zoom, angle and more, to get multiple perfect shots from your original.
I guess eleven years suddenly feels like a long time when you think how far we’ve come since the Nokia 7650’s 0.3 megapixel photos.
Time was (and it wasn’t so long ago) that most of us wouldn’t bother carrying a camera in our pocket wherever we went. Today we all do. Can you remember when that first changed for you? When did the camera in your phone become as important as (if not more than) the phone itself?
Updated October 1, 2015 3:18 am