Will a Camera get you to leave your iPhone or Galaxy for a Nokia Lumia 1020? – Predictions?

July 16, 2013

in delicious, innovation, iphone, Mobility

The announcement of the Nokia Lumia 1020 apparently takes miniaturized camera’s ahead in ways not easily followed. This post in The Register outlines the technology and what’s been achieved.

So the phone makes a “master recording” capturing a 35MP or 38MP image, and instantly produces a 5MP version for manipulation and sharing. The 1020 packs six lenses into the unit, posing another manufacturing challenge: both sides of the tiny lenses have to be aligned very accurately, and they have to be robust in everyday conditions. The manufacturing lines for the 1020 were different to the 808, “and we have the OIS actuators and gyros move in X-Y dimension on the ball bearings,” say Alakarhu and Salmelin. Asked how it could shrink so much, Nokia listed the following. I presume the order reflects the importance of each change, although Nokia’s engineers cautioned that, “like heartburn, there’s not one single element that makes the big difference”.

The picture right makes it look cool and I have just a few questions.

1) How much better is it? If you are in the market for this phone for it’s camera then you need to know. How’s it shake down vs your iPhone5 or GalaxyS4? By all accounts it is better. Although how much better? A more difficult test. Is it better than a DSLR? Is it better than my aging Nikon? It won’t be in many ways. Yet what matters to me is having a great camera all the time. For a long time I carried two phones. My N95 and the first generation iPhone. It’s hard to go back to lower quality pictures. However, the challenge may be helping people take better pictures. Just clicking and uploading really isn’t enough. Photography is not just a simple art. Most of us can recognize a good or even great picture, however few can actually frame and take one. Even with all the great technology today at one’s disposal. So we have filters, cropping, in-fact increasingly easy to use darkrooms right there on the phone. These help although will never replace a crisply shot original.
2) Is it enough to get people buying it? At one time the best reason to buy a new Nokia smartphone was the camera. It may still be the best reason although I fear not enough. This is an expensive camera. Done right Nokia will cascade some of this technology down it’s range. It may again be seen as the company with the best camera phones. However, today we don’t trade up from a dumb phone to one with a camera. It’s a tool that is part of a broader life experience. Yes I want a better camera! Almost always. Fact is I’ve traded up my iPhone each time to a better and better camera. I also know it’s a compromise. Where Nokia has to now make a difference is making users think about a collection of “compromises” they make when they buy a phone. They must redefine the choice. The camera alone is not enough. Add in social network integration, location services, music, infotainment, and technical details re screen, speed, battery-life etc. Another example. I’m fairly sure that HDVoice (Facetime Voice) will become a default with iOS7 and thus when I talk to my friends on their iPhones I’m just going to get a better talk experience as the default. That beats this camera every time. So does iMessage. These are the first basic things that every phone has to do.
So I’m left with some lust for a better camera. However, after years of dis-satisfaction with Window’s PC’s and plenty of evidence that Windows Phone remains half baked it is rather hard to believe that a Lumia 1020 could change my life and perceptions. So, frankly without living with a tester to make up my mind and given the cost unlocked it is just too big a risk. Unless I can treat it as a camera and justify it instead of a new DSLR? Then perhaps I would go back to carrying two phones.
So what might competitors be doing? 
  • Well Sony launched their latest phone “waterproof” (I’d still be careful), and waterproofing would really add a new dimension and no doubt new accessories for any manufacturer that made it easy to jump in the pool or ocean for a quick dive with your phone.
  • The Lumia 1020 is second generation of the PureView technology. So I’m sure there are plenty of tests going on with both sensors and software to make better pictures. Example is technology that enables you to focus elements of the picture after it is taken.
  • Another market is the GoPro Hero cameras. Get into adventure sports and this is a big deal. Watch Dashcams and see a different view. So while I think the Lumia 1020 looks great I do wonder how well it would fit in a RamMount?

Conclusion: 

This phone won’t turn around Nokia. It’s probably a little like knowing there is a Maserati out there you would like to have, when common sense says stick with a Porsche as you can’t go wrong. Windows Phone put Nokia in a death spiral globally. This camera on a Meego device probably would have been to market much earlier may have made the difference. Even on Android it would sell and sell. No question Nokia is working to create their own unique value on top of Windows. It’s just a big ask to get the “top end” of the market to shift. Particularly when it is the “tool” that shapes your daily life. In any case this advance will get copied.

  • I agree:
    http://roland.smallpict.com/2013/07/14/1OfThe5WillBuyTheNokia1020AndYesIWantOne

    it’s really difficult to beat the cameraphone apps of iOS & Android no matter how much better the Nokia 1020’s camera is (apps + good enough image quality beat awesome image quality for “normal” people)

    Having said that I want and will probably buy with my own money a 1020 🙂
    but yeah a hypothetical 808 with Meego and waterproof and with the Pro Camera app introduced 1 year ago would have been awesome!

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