Microsoft still needs 41 megapixel camera phones

Microsoft has completed the deal and brought Nokia’s Devices and Services division under its Cloud First, Mobile First umbrella. It seems natural that a discussion popped up amongst us tech folk about the merits of the 41 megapixel sensor that made Nokia a king among camera phones. There are a number of factors to consider when looking at this technology so I wanted to make my case about why Microsoft should continue to push the image-sensing envelope.

It’s worth noting that the 41 megapixel sensor is nothing new. The 808 Pureview had that and it didn’t exactly take off like a rocket ship. Sure the Symbian OS was young, and under utilized, but it’s 41 megapixels man! Similarly the Lumia 1020 didn’t exactly fly off the shelves, though it did do better than the 808. Even backed by an ad campaign that I particularly enjoyed, it didn’t seem to matter to the smartphone-toting world.

Hang on now…

1020-adNow, before you get all up-in-arms about that, Windows Phone is still a very distant third place among the mobile operating systems. 41 Megapixels didn’t do much if anything to improve that. That’s just reality. It’s doing better every day, but is that necessarily the camera? I don’t know. But that’s no reason to abandon the technology. I firmly believe, and have often stated that 41 megapixels should be the standard in all Nokia-now-Microsoft-Mobile-or-whatever phones. There are a number of compelling reasons why.

Nokia’s latest flagships – the 1520 and the Icon have both been packing 20 megapixel sensors. Our own editors here at Pocketnow have stated that the Icon is the best Windows Phone to date, and 20 megapixels is nothing to shake a stick at. But the competition is also rocking 20 megapixel sensors these days, so as Michael put it a podcast or two ago, the 20 megapixel space is becoming a crowded one in the smartphone industry. Windows Phone can bring other aspects to the table with custom image sensing apps and superior optics, but from a strictly specification point of view, that’s no longer an advantage.

Advantage, Lumia

Advantages are exactly what Microsoft needs to grow this ecosystem. People have to want to buy Windows Phones and as great as Cortana is or can be, a 41 megapixel camera is even harder to ignore. It jumps off the page at you and says, “Hey! Focus that lossless zoom over here!” I have been chomping at the bit of late with all the times I wish I could zoom in with my phone and can’t. I’m hoping we don’t become a society that accepts we just can’t. Pureview technology is a great way to ensure that doesn’t happen.

I admit, I'm just trolling Fisher with this pic...

I admit, I’m just trolling Fisher with this pic…


Another thing to consider is the image the 41 megapixel sensor has brought to the platform– no pun intended. The “image” I’m referring to is of course the reputation of the platform, not the photographs. If Microsoft were to reverse course on the technology, it might be seen as a lack of faith in the technology. That could damage the reputation of the platform, even though you and I know the two features are distinct from each other. It’s true that the 1020 and the Windows Phone platform have become inextricably linked to one another. Even my mom has asked me “Is that the “super camera” phone one?” The fact that she’s asked me that more than once is another concerning discussion altogether.

Not much, but most

Overall, while I stated earlier that the 1020 hasn’t done much to advance the platform, it arguably has done just about as much as anything else has. Generally speaking, when I see a Windows Phone in the wild, it’s a Lumia 1020. There is something there that draws customers, and adding the features of Windows Phone 8.1 will do that much more to draw to the platform.


So abandoning the 41 megapixel sensor at this point, just when Windows Phone is on the verge of standing toe-to-toe with competing platforms would be a mistake. And it would be a mistake of gigantic proportions. After all, standing toe-to-toe with iOS is one thing, but standing toe-to-toe while packing a camera that would make a DSLR jealous, that’s something else entirely.

What say you, dear readers? Would a more conservative 20 megapixel camera suit you in the next generation of hardware? Is it a deal breaker for you? Sound off down below and let us know where you stand on the technology. Also tune in tomorrow for another view of the topic.

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About The Author
Adam Doud
Adam joined the tech world after watching Jon Rubenstein demo the most epic phone ever at CES 2009. He is webOS enthusiast, Windows Phone fan, and Android skeptic. He loves the outdoors, is an avid Geocacher, Cubs/Blackhawks fan, and family man living in Sweet Home Chicago, where he STILL hosts monthly webOS meetups (Don’t call it a comeback!). He can be found tweeting all things tech as @DeadTechnology, or chi-town sports at @oneminutecubs. Read more about Adam Doud!