Nokia's newest Windows Phone: Will the best camera win?

Nokia has launched its latest smartphone, the Lumia 1020, with souped-up, top-of-the-line camera technologies. Is that enticement enough to push Windows Phone share beyond three percent?
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

I don't take a lot of pictures on my Windows Phone -- other than lots of pictures of my craft beer pints (for my Untappd.com app). I don't take a lot of pictures with a regular point-and-shoot camera, either.


So when I got to see Nokia's newest Windows Phone, the Lumia 1020, during its unveiling in New York City today, I was interested but still not sure if it's for me.

The good news, on first "hold" (we didn't get loaner units to try out at the launch), is the 1020 is much nicer "in the hand" than the heavier/bulkier Lumias like the 920. Yes, I know some folks don't find the weight/size of the Lumias problematic, and some even prefer the heavier form factors. I am not in that group. The new camera doesn't protrude much, either, in spite of all the technology it packs inside.

Nokia is providing a new app on these phones that will help non-pro photographers like me figure out how to use all the new bells and whistles. And there will be a number of new third-party apps that are built using the Lumia 1020 software-development kit to take advantage of all the new optics and audio capabilities in the phone.

Nokia wisely didn't run through a bunch of speeds and feeds during today's unveiling, and instead focused on showing off all the new things the new PureView camera can do. For the full list of specs on the device, check out Nokia's official spec sheet. The short version: The 4.5-inch AMOLED device has a 41-megapixel camera, 7712 X5360 resolution, 2 GB of RAM; 32 GB of internal memory and 7 GB of free SkyDrive cloud storage.

Under the hood, the 1020 runs Microsoft's GDR2 update to Windows Phone 8, plus the "Amber" layer of customized Nokia firmware and fixes; plus additional camera-specific software.

As someone who cares less about snapping pics than I do about browsing the Web and checking email on my phone, would I pay $299.99 with a two year contract on AT&T for this device? Or $659.99 off contract?

(Unsurprisingly, given Nokia's relationship with AT&T, this phone -- which goes on sale on July 26 -- is an AT&T exclusive in the U.S. Microsoft is promising that the 1020 will be available later this quarter in China, select European countries and various other countries around the world.) I am a Verizon customer, which means if  anything comparable to the Lumia 1020 comes to Verizon, it won't likely happen for months.

I'm skeptical the new camera will win me over. But I'm reserving final judgment until I get a loaner device so I can try it out myself. What about you, photography-fanatics and not? 

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