Sinead Carew and Ritsuko Andoin New York and Helsinki
Tech bloggers responded enthusiastically, saying the camera quality was the highest in the market. But analysts questioned whether it was enough to help Nokia, suffering a fall in cash reserves after years of poor sales, survive.
“The hardware’s a beauty on this thing,” said tech website Engadget after CEO Stephen Elop demonstrated features including “floating lens” technology that adjusts for camera shake and six lenses that help produce sharper images.
The Finnish mobile phone maker is pinning its hopes for a comeback in smartphones on Microsoft Corp’s Windows Phone – an operating system that is struggling to compete with Google’s popular Android system.
While regular mobile phones still account for the bulk of its shipments, smartphones are viewed as crucial for its long-term survival because of their higher margins and increasing demand for web access from mobile phones.
Jo Harlow, Nokia’s executive vice president in charge of smart devices, said the growing popularity of photo and video sharing meant more consumers will want better cameras.
“Taking pictures is in the top three things people do with a smartphone. It’s a relevant feature to be focused on,” she toldReuters. “To stand out you have to differentiate.”
The new Lumia’s 41-megapixel count far exceeds those of the iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom, at 8 and 16 megapixels respectively.
It is also higher than some compact cameras, although higher megapixels do not necessarily mean better photos as factors such as lens quality also affect the end result.
“The imaging capabilities here are extraordinary,” said Current Analysis analyst Avi Greengart.
But he added: “It’s still a Windows Phone … if somebody is looking for applications they’re still going to look at iPhone.”
The new Lumia, which use Windows software, will be sold through US carrier AT&T Inc starting July 26 for $299.99 with a two-year contract, and will be available later in other markets including China, Nokia said.
Telefonica SA, a carrier partner in European and Latin American markets, will get a version of the device, Nokia said without giving any details.
Earlier Lumia models also won positive reviews from critics and technology blogs but have failed to halt a shift to Android phones. Android and Apple’s iOS together account for over 90 per cent of smartphone sales, according to research firm IDC.
One major handicap has been a lack of apps. Windows Phone has only 160,000 apps, while rivals offer about five times as many because developers prefer to make them for the higher-volume operating systems.
“Despite the quality of the device, I have some serious doubts about whether it will change Nokia’s fortunes, and it risks becoming a niche product,” said IDC analyst Francisco Jeronimo.