Those who are old enough to remember the earliest camera phones will no doubt have come into contact with the Sony Ericsson T23,0 which has a snap-on peripheral that added the picture-taking capability to this device a decade ago. At the time this was a novel feature, but it quickly became something that every mobile had to have in order to attract buyers.
While some mobile manufacturers have been uninterested in offering true quality when it comes to photography hardware, both Sony and Nokia stand out from the crowd by placing emphasis on offering high end optics and impressive imaging software. Nokia set tongues wagging when it unveiled the 808 PureView in 2012, with its 41 megapixel sensor and Carl Zeiss lens making it arguably the best camera phone on the market.
Sony could soon be following in its footsteps with its own high-res digital sensor on board a phone known as the Xperia Z1. But will the Xperia Z1 camera features be able to outpace those found on the 808 PureView, or can Sony vs Nokia camera phones only ever end in a stalemate?
With a sensor that eclipses and of its rivals in terms of resolution, the 808 PureView remains the best Nokia camera phone on sale, at least until the upcoming Lumia 1020 is finally revealed. It has a Xenon flash as well as a separate LED light that helps provide illumination during video recording. As well as capturing high-res stills, it can shoot 1080p video clips at 30 frames a second with continuous autofocus helping to prevent things becoming blurry. A 0.3 megapixel camera up front lets you make video calls, but this is really a token inclusion since the primary camera of the 808 PureView is so comprehensively clever.
Because it has such a high resolution, the 808’s camera captures images which can be zoomed into after the fact without reducing detail. You can even get lossless zoom when recording 720p video, although this is not available for 1080p.
Unlike the 808, all of the information about the Xperia Z1 remains uncertain because it has yet to be officially announced. However, after some fairly comprehensive leaks we’ve been given quite a good idea of what it will offer. It is reported to be fitted with a 20.7 megapixel camera on the rear, which is of course going to be using a sensor that’s half the size of the 808 PureView’s. This may sound like a step in the wrong direction, but any serious photographer will tell you that resolution is less important than a lot of other hardware elements.
When compared with other high flying smartphones, the 20.7 megapixel camera of the Xperia Z1 will definitely look pretty good, particularly given that 13 megapixels has become the standard.
What really separates the 808 PureView and the Xperia Z1 is the rest of the specifications, because Nokia’s device is based on ageing components and an outdated operating system while like the best Sony smartphones the as yet unannounced device will be chock-a-block with class-leading kit. A quad core 2.2GHz processor, 2GB of RAM and a five inch full HD screen will make the Xperia Z1 one of the world’s most powerful phones. Compared to it the Nokia alternative looks distinctly pedestrian.
Of course both of these camera phones have something to offer buyers who are looking to take snaps that last a lifetime, not poor quality images that aren’t even worth uploading to Facebook.