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Elop heralds new dawn for mobile phone photography

Paul Withers
July 30, 2013

• New 41-megapixel Lumia 1020 opens ‘new chapter’ in smartphone photography – Nokia president and CEO   • Camera quality may struggle to capture the imaginations of consumers, analysts argue

Nokia unveiled its latest Windows Phone handset this month, the Lumia 1020, claiming its 41-megapixel camera will reinvent photography as we know it.

The handset, the firm’s 11th Lumia Windows handset in two years, was unveiled during a launch event in New York, before an estimated 1,000 plus gathered media, earlier this month (July 11).

Nokia president and CEO Stephen Elop (pictured), who took to the stage following a short video highlighting 200 years of photography, said the Lumia 1020’s 41-megapixel camera will enable users to see things that aren’t possible through their own eyes.

He claims Nokia’s early vision on producing camera phones, starting in 1994 when the firm filed its first of more than 450 imaging patents, has enabled it to produce technology and quality no other manufacturer in the world can compete with.

Elop said: “Throughout history, people have loved pictures. People love creating pictures, sharing pictures and telling stories through them. This passion for pictures is something Nokia recognised very early on.

“We gave people their first Nokia with a built-in camera when we introduced the 7650. People started to think twice about carrying a phone and a camera as they were both coming together. By 2008 people were buying more cameras from Nokia than they were buying simple film-based cameras from Kodak.

“The Lumia 1020 will change how you shoot, create and share pictures forever. You can see things that you have never seen before, with clear images and incredible zooming. You can literally find a needle in a haystack.”

Elop demonstrated the camera quality by comparing images taken on the Lumia 1020 with those taken on a Samsung Galaxy S4 and Apple iPhone 5.

The images, which were of two Nokia staff jumping in the air, were captured in the same room as the event was being held before the doors opened.

Both images taken from the Galaxy S4 and iPhone 5 were heavily blurred, while the one taken on the Lumia was clear.

According to Elop, this was down to the “unique” technology used by Nokia, including its ‘second-generation optical image stabilisation’ which helps images remain clear when moving, as well as its “oversampling” technology and Xenon Flash, which help capture images more clearly in low light conditions.

Elop said: “We have helped people capture images for more than a decade and now we can help them see more than their eyes can. Blur-free, super high-detail photos day or night.

“We are not done. Not by a long shot. In fact, we have only just begun this journey.

“We have packed a lot of great experiences into the Lumia 1020 to help you take and share better pictures and videos. The Lumia 1020 has become the most versatile smartphone out there.

“This is the next chapter in smartphone photography.”

Elop was later joined on stage by AT&T Mobility president and CEO Ralph De La Vega who labelled the Lumia 1020 as the best Windows Phone device ever manufactured, with the best smartphone camera available today.

De La Vega said AT&T, which is the largest US network operator with more than 46 million subscribers, is the world’s biggest network reseller of Windows Phone handsets and expects the Lumia 1020 to be a “popular addition”.

“This device sets a new standard and a higher bar in the industry when it comes to photography. I have never seen resolution as good as this. You have what is the best Windows Phone ever, with the best smartphone camera ever.”

However, while analysts branded the device as the clear market leader for camera technology – they remained sceptical as to whether the device will capture the imaginations of users – particularly those on high-end Android or iOS devices on a wide scale.

Francisco Jeronimo, research director, European mobile devices at IDC, said while Nokia’s strategy is admirable, the device may end up being viewed by the public as a niche product.

He highlighted recent research which questioned smartphone users in 25 countries on the most important features on their handset. Camera quality was ranked fifteenth on this list  behind features such as audio quality, battery life, device security, ease of use, operating system, screen size and browsing speed.

In the first quarter of this year, 71 per cent of total smartphone shipments featured a five-megapixel camera or higher, but only four per cent featured a camera with a camera of 10 megapixels or more, highlighting the size of the market.

For this reason he has “serious doubts” the device will have a significant impact in turning the Finnish firm’s fortunes around.

Full article in Mobile News issue 543 (July 15, 2013).

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