Nokia announced on the 11th of July the latest addition to its Lumia range of Windows Phone 8-based smartphones, the Lumia 1020. It has high-end specifications including a 4.5” AMOLED screen, twin HD voice-compliant microphones, a 1.5GHz Snapdragon processor, 2Gb of RAM and 32Gb of on-board memory.
But the new phone’s stand-out feature is an advanced camera with a 41 megapixel sensor, optical zoom and a mechanically stabilized compound lens enabling sharp, clear pictures in low-light conditions. In addition to offering auto-settings, the Lumia 1020’s camera enables full control over exposure, shutter speed, depth of field, etc. The camera produces 1080p HD video with high-fidelity stereo sound capture. An optional clip-on cover provides the Lumia 1020 with a camera-style grip and an extra battery pack.
That a device is slim as the Lumia 1020 can produce such sharp, high-resolution images is a remarkable achievement. It seems to defy the laws of optics. “Arthur C Clarke wrote that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”. I’m a physics graduate, and this device’s imaging capability feels like something bordering on magic to me. The high-definition stereo sound recording technology in Pureview is also very impressive, and it could help Nokia to capitalize on the current vogue among concert-goers to video the event, as a memento to keep and share”, says John Delaney, Associate VP, Mobility within International Data Corporation (IDC).
But advanced technology isn’t enough to make a product successful. The 41 megapixel camera phone that Nokia launched a year ago, the Pureview 808, was remarkable too, but it was also a rather eccentric device, almost like a proof-of-concept prototype rather than a commercial product. In order to accommodate its lens and photo sensor system, the 808 needed an ungainly bulge at the top. Moreover, the 808 was based on the Symbian platform, already well known to be moribund at the time the device was launched. This time, with the Lumia 1020, Nokia has embodied its Pureview technology in a device that has mainstream appeal. In fact, by omitting the wireless charging coil, Nokia has managed to make the Lumia 1020 slimmer and lighter than the flagship Lumia 920 that it launched last September.
Having become an OEM for a third-party smartphone platform, Nokia needs to be distinctive. Hans Henrik Lund, Nokia’s Head of Smart Devices Product Marketing, put it this way: “We have become a bit more bold and single-minded. Some will like it, some won’t like it – that’s how it is when you make choices.” Nokia relies for competitive differentiation on its device hardware, and the distinctive experiences it offers. In the experiences category, Nokia has identified music, location and imaging as the ones in which it aims to lead. The competition is fierce in music and location, and in both cases Nokia is only one among several contenders. In the imaging area, however, Nokia has established a clear technological lead.
“Will this be enough to make the 1020 a breakthrough device in driving high-volume Lumia sales? It seems unlikely. This is an expensive device. Only a limited number of people are in the market for a smartphone at the high end of the price range, and many of those people are still committed to the iPhone and Galaxy S ranges. But the 1020’s stunning imaging and audio capabilities will grab a lot of attention from a lot of people. Nokia can use that to add lustre to the Lumia brand as a whole, increasing the desirability of the more affordable devices in its Lumia range of smartphones”, concludes Delaney.