Rumors of a “true PureView” Windows Phone have been circulating since the announcement of the 808 PureView. Many of us were not amused by the PureView technology used in the Lumia 920. Sure, a slower shutter speed and optical image stabilization (OIS) are great, especially for low-light performance on a camera phone. But on the heels of the 808 PureView with a 41-megapixel sensor and lossless digital zoom, the Lumia 920′s PureView was, more or less, disappointing.
But it was pretty obvious where all the PureView love would eventually end up. Nokia’s efforts on the Symbian front have slowed to a crawl, only pushing forward with a handful of Asha phones. After the Lumia 920, it was clear Windows Phone would eventually get the full PureView love.
The only remaining question was: when?
Fortunately, we now have a specific date … and a price. Nokia took the stage in New York this morning and made the Lumia 1020 officially official. In just two weeks (and one day, for those keeping count), Windows Phone enthusiasts can bask in the glory of lossless digital zoom and the combination of OIS in a single piece of hardware. In the U.S., it will be an AT&T exclusive on July 26 and will sell for $299.99 with a two-year agreement or $659.99 sans contract. And it will launch in other markets – China, Europe, and Latin America – sometime this quarter.
In a nutshell, the Lumia 1020 is exactly what every Windows Phone enthusiast has been asking for all along – a true PureView camera bolted on the back of Nokia’s top notch hardware. During the live hangout earlier today, we did note that it may have been smarter on Nokia’s part to wait for the Windows Phone 8.1 update and utilize a 1080p display and a newer, quad-core chipset from Qualcomm. No less, the Lumia 1020 is exactly what Windows Phone needs to appease the existing users.
In fact, the 41-megapixel camera alone may bring in new customers. Over the years, the camera has undeniably become one of the most important aspects in a phone to many people. I carry a second phone solely for its camera quality – and I’m not alone in that.
However, the Lumia 1020 is not going to be Windows Phone’s ticket to the top. Our own Adam Doud estimated Windows Phone might grow by no more than four percent market share due to the 1020. Brandon and I agree. Fast forward six months, and the Lumia 1020 may only be a tiny blip on the map. The Lumia 1020 is not going to drastically change anything for Windows Phone or Nokia, especially not the adoption rate, for a few different reasons.
The first of which is price. Here in the States, the Lumia 1020 will launch for $299.99 with a two-year agreement. That’s $100 more than a Galaxy S 4, HTC One, or entry level iPhone 5. While that price may be justified to tech heads like us, it’s going to take a lot of convincing to get a non-techie to pay $300 for a contracted phones when there are phones with better specifications (the HTC One and Galaxy S 4 have 1080p displays and quad-core processors) for less.
Not to mention, it’s exclusive to AT&T. With the exception of the iPhone, as far as we can tell, exclusivities have not been a glaring success for any smartphone manufacturer. The global launch of a single device (a la Galaxy S 4, iPhone 5, or HTC One) has proven to be the most lucrative move.
Off contract, the pricing of the Lumia 1020 is comparable to practically every other high-end smartphone. That could ultimately play to Nokia’s advantage practically everywhere else in the world.
Essentially, the trick is convincing people they’re buying a pocketable digital camera with lossless zoom (good luck explaining that one) with phone capabilities. But not everyone is going to need a 41-megapixel camera or lossless zoom. My sister, for example, is perfectly fine with her iPhone 5 and its camera. And my grandmother has no problem throwing her point and shoot camera in her purse if she thinks she might want to take some pictures.
While it practically sells itself to the tech world, it’s not going to be as easy to convince someone who takes a few photos and casually uses a smartphone that a 41-megapixel camera is necessary. And when you throw in the fact that it costs $100 more than what many still consider to be the best phone on the market, selling the Lumia 1020 is that much more difficult.
Finally, Windows Phone still has a stigma. It resembles Windows 8 by design. And, well, Windows 8′s market performance and reception have been … lackluster, to say the least. Those who have used both know how dramatically different the experiences are. But those who have only used Windows 8 may turn down the idea of a Windows Phone before ever giving it a chance, solely on the assumption that because they look alike, they must operate exactly the same.
It’s an unfortunate side-effect of having such a tight-knit ecosystem.
But just because the immediate effect of the Lumia 1020 might be minuscule, it’s long-term effect will likely be much more dramatic. The 1020 will ultimately build a platform for future Lumia PureView smartphones. And the second-generation Lumia with both lossless digital zoom and OIS could be a major hit.
In other words, this will not be an overnight success. The 1020 is up against some behemoths with die-hard followings. But Nokia is on the right path. And if the 1020 is as solid as it appears to be, word of mouth will spread.
Small, humble beginnings …