Nokia camera phone history - take a bow!

Published by at

Strictly just a link of interest, but I'm a sucker for 'retro' articles like this. Nokia's latest 'promo' piece for the new Lumia 1020 involves taking a look back over 11 years and ten smartphones with innovative cameras. Although in theory something of a 'puff' piece, I found it an interesting read and reminder, not least because I've owned and enjoyed every single one of the devices shown*...

* Well, not quite. The Nokia 7650 I did own, but it was terrible. Ground breaking but still terrible. 4MB of storage TOTAL. And yes that's MEGAbytes. With a tiny VGA camera. But we've come a long way since then. Also the Lumia 1020, which I don't own.... yet(!)

From the Nokia Conversations article, here are two of my favourites from times past....

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 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.



Good stuff and it brought back some happy memories, reminding me of the legacy of Nokia's imaging 'firsts' in the smartphone world. True, there have been some camera phone innovations by other companies (e.g. the N82 wasn't the first phone to feature Xenon), but a well deserved bow from Nokia is called for here, I think. Read more in the full article.

Of course, however much camera functions seem to dominate smartphones today, it's worth pointing out that others rightly point out that smartphones aren't just big cameras and that balance is needed in terms of functions and form factors. Absolutely. All phone designs are compromises of one sort of other. 2013 is seeing something of an emphasis on camera functions, maybe 2014 will see navigation or text input come back to the fore? Or - shock - telephony?(!)

Source / Credit: Nokia Conversations