One-time cellphone powerhouse Nokia is hoping to lure people back from iPhones and Android phones with a powerful smartphone camera that tops many point-and-shoot imaging devices.
The new Nokia Lumia 1020 phone is packed with innovations designed to provide sharp images, even in low light. With the phone's 41-megapixel sensor and image-stabilising technology, both rare in smartphones, you're less likely to get blurry shots at night or indoors. You can also zoom in to an image and pick up details that even the naked eye will miss.
Although more expensive cameras with superior lenses can take better images, those cameras aren't always with you. Nokia said the Lumia 1020 gives people the ability to take good pictures with a device they always carry.
Nokia said its new flagship phone will change how people take pictures, and marketing executive Chris Weber boasted that it will make point-and-shoot cameras obsolete.
But whether a good camera is enough to lure customers remains to be seen.
AT&T will offer the Lumia 1020 in the United States for US$300 with a two-year service agreement. That's $100 or $200 higher than what phones typically sell for. Nokia is counting on customers willing to pay more for a phone that does more.
The phone runs Microsoft's Windows Phone system, which is far behind the Apple iPhone and Android devices in usage. Although Nokia, AT&T and Microsoft are planning a large marketing push in the US, no amount of marketing can overcome the fact that the Windows system still doesn't have as many apps from outside parties as the iPhone and Android devices.
Tony Cripps, principal device analyst at the research firm Ovum, said Nokia "may still have work to do to convince prospective buyers to sacrifice favourite apps for superior imaging". He said that leading rival devices such as Apple's iPhone 5 and Samsung's Galaxy S4 "effectively sell themselves, (but) the case for selecting the Lumia 1020 is less clear cut."
The Lumia 1020 will be available in the US on July 26, with advance orders to begin July 16. Nokia said the phone will expand to China and Europe by September. Other markets are planned later.
Nokia reigned as the leading phone maker for 14 years, until early last year when Samsung took the top spot. Among smartphones, the lucrative business for phone makers, Nokia doesn't even rank in research firm IDC's top five. In recent years, the Finnish company has been losing share to high-end devices such as the iPhone and various Android phones as well as cheaper devices from Asian manufacturers such as ZTE.
Nokia has partnered with Microsoft and its Windows system in hopes of recapturing market share, but none of the new Windows phones have been hits. Mr Weber said he believes the new camera will get people looking at Nokia and Windows phones again.
The camera's 41-megapixel resolution is far higher than the iPhone 5's 8 megapixels and the Galaxy S4's 13 megapixels. Even point-and-shoot cameras and more expensive ones with interchangeable lenses often don't go as high as the Lumia 1020. More pixels mean more sensors for capturing the light that forms an image.