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Nokia's Lumia 1020 camera outshines its own Windows Phone 8

Microsoft scrambled to make its OS work with 41-megapixel sensor in new Lumia smartphone

July 11, 2013 03:41 PM ET

Computerworld - Nokia launched its Lumia 1020 on Thursday with a raft of high-end camera features, including a 41-megapixel optical sensor.

Nokia Lumia 1020
Nokia's Lumia 1020 smartphone.

With that megapixel count, the Lumia 1020 sensor is substantially larger than the iPhone 5's at 8 megapixels and the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom's at 16 megapixels.

At a New York event, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop touted the 1020's 6x zoom and other camera features for shooting with greater clarity in many situations, including darker light.

But Elop gave less attention to the fact that the hot new device also runs the Windows Phone 8 operating system, which has so far garnered just 3% of the smartphone market.

Elop mentioned late in his presentation that the Windows Phone Store has 160,000 apps, a number regarded by most analysts as still far too few to make the platform shine.

The focus on Nokia's camera hardware instead of the Windows Phone 8 OS seemed ironic: In 2011, Elop reached out to Microsoft and Windows Phone to help save an ailing Nokia.

Now, armed with the 1020's camera superiority in a crowded smartphone market dominated by Android and iOS, it appears that Nokia is helping Windows Phone instead of the other way around, said Charles Golvin, an analyst at Forrester Research.

"When Nokia picked Windows Phone in 2011, Elop said he was like a man on a burning oil platform and Microsoft was throwing Nokia the life rope," Golvin said in an interview. "But it's the other way now. Now, Microsoft needs Nokia as much or more to help Windows Phone. The relationship and alliance has changed."

Just after the phone was announced on Thursday, Microsoft released a blog saying that the 1020 was the result of a tight-knit collaboration between Nokia and Microsoft's Windows Phone team. To some analysts, it seemed almost as if Microsoft's blog was crying for attention for the operating system.

Kevin Shields, a corporate vice president for Lumia at Nokia who previously worked at Microsoft, is quoted in the blog saying: "There was a lot of unseen work on the Windows Phone side that went into [the 1020]: plumbing and user interface changes to bring out the best of that [41-megapixel] component and make the camera experience possible. Our collaboration with Microsoft was super important to making the Lumia 1020 the great product that it is."

Microsoft's Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president of Windows Phone, adds in the blog that the Windows Phone 8 architecture had to be adapted to allow the 1020's camera to capture two images at once -- a super high-resolution shot and a lower 5-megapixel version for easier sharing.



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