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Nokia to go big with smartphone cameras in 2013

Nokia was practically invisible at CES, but hinted at exciting imaging developments in the months ahead.

Nokia Lumia 920
Expect Nokia to build on imaging algorithms in the 808 PureView and the Lumia 920 (pictured). Josh Miller/CNET

LAS VEGAS--Seated in a luxurious bus on the edge of the Las Vegas Convention Center parking lot, Nokia executive VP of sales and marketing Chris Weber talks around the company's plan to differentiate its phones in 2013.

It will surprise Nokia followers little to learn that this year, the Windows Phone-maker will be all about photos.

Two main categories define how good pictures will be: hardware choices, like using higher-end lenses that let in more light, and software algorithms that render clear, bright images with pop.

Nokia has talked up its PureView technology, first found in the Nokia 808 PureView that launched last February at Mobile World Congress, and the stabilizing springs within the Nokia Lumia 920 that reduce the blurring effects of shaking hands.

Although Weber mostly sticks to talking points about Nokia's cherry-on-top photo apps, like Photo Beamer and a panorama filter, the question everyone really wants to know is when Nokia will try to replicate the 808 PureView's crisp, lossless cropping features and insanely large 41-megapixel lens in a Windows Phone.

I'll start looking for a release in that direction later in the year, and expect more software additions to play a starring role for now. Weber especially mentions the Lumia 920's low-light experience and location awareness.

In addition pumping up its camera features, Nokia plans to globally introduce new handsets that "push the price point," in Weber's words. In both directions.

Look for Nokia to release inexpensive but well-designed phones for emerging markets, and premium handsets in wealthy regions. Those fancy camera lenses and larger memory stores don't come cheap.