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New super-duper smartphone cameras won't clearly help HTC and Nokia, analysts say

February 18, 2013 06:08 AM ET

Based on that argument, putting 808 Pureview camera technology into a Windows Phone 8-based handset would not be as important as convincing buyers that they want the new Microsoft OS in a device.

So far, at least, the Windows Phone OS hasn't caught on, with less than 5% of the global smartphone market, compared to Android's nearly 70% in the fourth 2012 quarter, according to Gartner.

Gold also said that while the number of pixels is surging in smartphone cameras, "what makes a true quality camera is the lens."

Ramon Llamas, an analyst at IDC, said that there's an ongoing "incredible war of specs" for the best camera in a smartphone. "But that's not the end game."

Llamas said that photo and video editing features along with lighting capabilities are also important to a smartphone's overall success.

Last year, Nokia purchased Scalado, which developed an interesting "time warp" photo editing feature used in the new BlackBerry 10 OS that runs the former RIM's Z10 smartphone. With it, users can take a short video of a group of people, then edit the video to find the best frame with all the eyes of the people in the shot open instead of closed.

Scalado's technology and better use of lighting are the kinds of things that increase the value of a smartphone, Llamas argued.

"Polls show that the most used feature on smartphones is the camera, so HTC and Nokia want to show they're not just another smartphone company with a camera stuck in," he said. "How many times have you taken a picture of a person at a concert or a party and comes out like junk?"

Still, smartphone cameras and related lighting and editing features are not going to be more important to customers than the overall OS, Llamas said, agreeing with others. "The OS is the gateway to the entire experience," he said.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at Twitter@matthamblen, or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed Hamblen RSS. His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

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