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PureView is now an HMD Global trademark

The 41 MP PureView camera on the Nokia Lumia 1020 was pretty revolutionary for its time. (Source: Gadgets360)
The 41 MP PureView camera on the Nokia Lumia 1020 was pretty revolutionary for its time. (Source: Gadgets360)
HMD Global, the new home for Nokia phones, has licensed the PureView trademark from Microsoft, which earlier had the rights to use it when it acquired the Nokia Devices and Services Division in 2014. A PureView-branded camera signifies imaging excellence. The new ownership of the PureView trademark is now visible on HMD Global's EU IP Office website but it remains to be seen whether future Nokia phones will actually start utilizing it.

HMD Global, which now owns the license to manufacture and market phones under the Nokia brand, has apparently acquired the right to use the 'PureView' trademark from Microsoft. This was first spotted by Nokiamob on HMD's European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) website. The PureView branding has an iconic status among fans of erstwhile Nokia phones and with HMD Global now owning the trademark, there is hope that a future Nokia phone would sport a PureView camera. Why exactly is PureView so significant? Well, time for a short history lesson. 

Nokia first used the PureView moniker on the Nokia 808 PureView phone in 2012, which was running on the ill-fated Symbian Belle OS. The 808 PureView had a monstrous 1/1.2-inch 41 MP sensor that was accompanied by an actual xenon flash. It was way ahead than any smartphone camera or even most digicams of that time and is still relevant even today. GSMArena wrote back then that the 808's camera in fact, rivaled the image quality of a Canon 5D Mark III DSLR. Then, in late 2012, Nokia switched over to using Windows Phone (another ill-fated OS) and after a series of lackadaisical Windows Phone 7-based handsets, the Lumia 920 was the first Windows Phone 8 flagship to sport an 8.7 MP PureView camera.

With the launch of the Lumia 920, Nokia used the PureView name to imply broad sets of innovations in imaging. The Lumia 920's camera brought many firsts to the smartphone industry, which we take for granted today such as Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) and excellent low-light performance. Nokia continued to enhance and refine PureView in successive Lumia phones and the Nokia Lumia 1020 that launched in 2013 brought back the 41 MP sensor of the 808 PureView along with a 2nd generation OIS sporting actual ball-bearings and motors for stabilizing photos and videos.

The Lumia 1020's 1/1.5-inch sensor with 1.1-micron pixel size was a bit smaller than the one in the 808 but produced great oversampling results. The advancements in Nokia's imaging tech actually forced Microsoft to work on improving the imaging capabilities of Windows Phone to support the 41 MP camera, which resulted in the development of a pro-camera mode for the first time in a smartphone. The Lumia 1020's PureView camera is so good that it still manages to give modern 40 MP phones such as the triple-camera Huawei P20 Pro a run for their money.

Microsoft acquired Nokia's Devices and Services (D&S) division in 2014 (only to write it off later) and launched the Windows 10 Mobile-based Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL in 2015 and we all know how everything turned out afterwards. With the purchase of Nokia D&S, Microsoft also acquired the rights to use Nokia's extensive portfolio of more than 30,000 patents for 10 years and PureView is one of them. 

The license to use the PureView trademark is now with HMD and there is a shimmer of hope that the iconic PureView camera will get resurrected in a future Nokia phone. HMD has been using Carl Zeiss lenses (similar to older Nokia Lumia phones) in its new Android phones such as the Nokia 8 and Nokia 7 Plus so PureView could also make the cut sometime down the line. There have been whispers of HMD toying with the idea of a penta-lens camera system so there is a high probability this camera setup could feature PureView tech.

HMD also has the rights to use Nokia's 'Asha' and 'Xpress-ON' trademarks but we've never seen any devices utilizing them yet. Here's hoping that HMD Global develops a no-compromise camera if it indeed does implement PureView in an upcoming Nokia phone much to the delight of Nokia fans.

PureView is now a HMD Global trademark as per the EUIPO. (Source: Nokiamob)
PureView is now a HMD Global trademark as per the EUIPO. (Source: Nokiamob)
Schematic of the Nokia 808 PureView image sensor. (Source: GSMArena)
Schematic of the Nokia 808 PureView image sensor. (Source: GSMArena)


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Vaidyanathan Subramaniam, 2018-08-28 (Update: 2018-08-29)