Nokia fired a new shot in the camera phone wars this week when it introduced the Nokia Lumia 1020 at an event in New York. Armed with a 41-megapixel shooter, the Windows Phone 8 device also has six-lens Carl Zeiss optics, a powerful flash, and a ton of features like image stabilization and manual exposure settings. You can read the full details in our Lumia 1020 First Take and Josh Goldman's deep dive on the handset's camera.
As feature-packed as it is, though, the Lumia 1020 is hardly Nokia's first device to move the camera phone needle forward. Keep clicking for some of the company's most notable mobile shooters from the last 10 years.
Remember, this? The 7650 was Nokia's very first phone with an integrated camera (previously, you could buy tiny attachable cameras as an accessory). Of course, back then you got just a VGA (640x480 pixels) resolution, which made the 4MB of memory more than enough.
A slew of VGA camera phones followed until Nokia raised the bar to 1 megapixel with the Nokia 7610. Editing features were slim, though, even by the standards of the day. And if you can't tell, the 7610 is a great example of Nokia's "crazy keyboard" era.
The N90 had a number of firsts. It was part of Nokia's first batch of 2-mepixel shooters, it helped to inaugurate the company's N Series, and it was the first device from the Finns to have a Carl Zeiss lens. What more could you want? Well, how about the kooky twisting design with the rotating camera lens?
A year later, the N95 dropped a heavy 5 megapixels into our laps. As we said at the time, such a resolution was "unheard of in the cell phone and smartphone world." This time we got a Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar lens, a red-eye reduction feature, and an "astounding" range of features. In 2008, Nokia brought the N95 back for another run with an 8-megapixel model.
Also carrying a 5-megapixel camera, the N82 introduced the Xenon flash to Nokia's family. It also brought Carl Zeiss optics, a 10x digital zoom, great image quality, and more editing features than we had ever seen.
When Nokia introduced the N86 at the 2009 Mobile World Congress, the company promised that the 8-megapixel shooter -- Nokia's first -- could replace your standalone camera (a familiar promise, no?). We didn't quite agree, but we did find that the N86's camera functions were impressive and it delivered in image quality. Feature highlights included a panorama mode, variable aperture (F2.4, F3.2, F4.8), and a 28mm wide-angle lens.
If you thought 8 was enough, then why not try 12 megapixels? That's right, the N8 upped the resolution ante even further while delivering Carl Zeiss optics, a Xenon flash, and the ability to take photos in multiple environments like indoors, outdoors, and action scenes. What's more, it was the first smartphone with Symbain 3, but that's probably not the first thing that you'd remember about it.
After a longer gap, Nokia made up for lost time in a big way with the 808 PureView. Introduced at the 2012 Mobile World Congress, the 808 PureView caught everyone off guard with its 41-megapixel camera (just as we see in the Lumia 1020; it uses image oversampling to generate your shots). Photo quality lived up to the hype and it abounded with editing features. That Symbain OS, however, was another matter.
The Lumia family of devices focused on camera features early on, but it was the Lumia 920 that really pulled out the stops. Though image quality wasn't always stellar, the Lumia 920's 8.7-megapixel shooter (camera resolution returned to Earth after the heights of the N8) had springs for stabilizing images and the PureView algorithms introduced in the 808 PureView. Low-light performance was especially sharp.