Nokia has launched the Lumia 1020, the much talked about handset that brings the firm’s 41 megapixel version of its PureView camera to Windows Phone 8, pushing the boundaries of what smartphones can do.
Several erroneous names were in the rumour mill leading up to the device’s launch, including the Nokia EOS and the Nokia 909, but what has emerged is pretty close to the specs that were widely predicted.
The handset’s main selling point is that incredibly high spec camera, one that is so large that it juts out slightly from the back of the handset. This stand-out feature is complemented by a 1.5GHz processor, 32GB of internal storage and 2GB RAM.
All of this is packed into a smoothly contoured frame with a 4.5-inch display on the front, making for a stylish package all round. However, if it wasn’t for that incredible camera spec there would be little to set the device apart from Nokia’s current crop of high-end Windows Phone devices, such as the Lumia 925 and Lumia 920.
A unique selling point is a must for any handset to have a chance of succeeding in today’s market where there are so many powerful, well-designed devices on offer. Manufacturers have recently been falling over themselves to add quirks to their smartphones which will make them more appealing to potential customers looking to sign up to new phone contracts. Some of these arguably appear to be more gimmicky than useful.
Samsung is one of the most prominent of these, filling its recent Galaxy S4 flagship with a slew of gesture controls to change the way people interact with the device. While features such as Air View and Smart Scroll are certainly innovative their usefulness in everyday situations has been widely debated and criticised. There have been accusations levelled at the Korean firm suggesting that it has not been able to come up with any genuinely useful new technologies to make its devices stand out from its competitors.
Sony is in a similar situation, although the water resistant qualities of its leading Xperia Z handset haven’t come under quite the same criticism. Nevertheless, the fact that a smartphone can be used underwater is a surely niche feature which would only suit a small demographic. The fact that a handset is being sold on this proves that manufacturers may be struggling to make distinctive devices.
This is an even bigger challenge for Nokia since its smartphone range runs Windows Phone 8, a platform which allows for very little adaptation by manufacturers. At least those building Android devices can put stylish, unique user interfaces on top, but this is not something that those working with Microsoft’s OS can do. Other than the few camera software additions that are exclusive to Nokia devices, for a WP8 handset to be striking it really has to be about the hardware.
But it could be the case that the limitations that Windows Phone imposes on a manufacturer has forced Nokia into a position where it has had no choice but to come up with new innovations. While the gimmick tag has been applied to other firms, it would be hard to say that Nokia’s 41 megapixel camera is anything but inventive.
It could be the case that when other campanies are having a hard time drawing a distinction between their devices and those of others, the Lumia 1020’s unique selling point is just enough to truly lift it above the competition.