Sony has never been shy about using high end camera technology on its mobiles in the past, but it has fallen behind rival Nokia in recent years when it comes to really stretching the boundaries of what can be achieved in this area. The news that a Sony 20.7 megapixel camera phone is in development should help to redress the balance and put Nokia’s PureView range in its place.
If this rumour is true then the Sony Xperia Z1 could be one of the best camera phones 2013 has to offer when it is officially unveiled. Also known as the Sony Honami, it will join a long line of Cybershot devices in offering a top tier photography experience in combination with full smartphone capabilities.
By comparison the 13 megapixel camera found on the Samsung Galaxy S4 will look a little underwhelming.
The Xperia Z1 will benefit from the presence of Sony’s BIONZ imaging processor and will be backuped up by a Xenon flash, which does a much better job of providing illumination than the LED-based alternatives found on most other modern handsets. Up front, a secondary camera with its own 2.2 megapixel Exmor R sensor makes for a viable alternative to the primary snapper, also adding to the video calling capabilities of this device.
Xperia Z1 features
The rest of the specifications for the Xperia Z1 make equally promising reading, as it is reported to have a quad core CPU with a 2.2GHz clock speed, making it one of the most powerful Android smartphones available. 16GB of storage will allow keen snappers to fill it up with still images and full HD video clips, the latter of which can then be enjoyed in all their glory on the phone’s five inch 1080p touchscreen display. This will all be compressed into a slender phone that is just a centimetre thick. It is not going to be quite as svelte as some of its competitors, but compared with Nokia’s bulkier 808 PureView it is something of a supermodel.
Nokia will still have the lead in terms of raw megapixel count and it does not look like any other company will be attempting to match its 41 megapixel sensor any time soon, but of course most people will not be too fussed about the discrepancy as long as the Xperia Z1 is able to deliver great low light performance and lots of built in photography features.
Fans of the water-resistant Xperia Z will be pleased to hear that the Xperia Z1 Honami is similarly rugged and reliable. Such a big screen will burn through some serious energy, so the 3000mAh battery which is rumoured to be on board will be a blessing and could be one of the reasons that the handset is thicker than its flagship stable mate.
Of course the question that buyers will need to ask themselves is whether they will actually be able to make the most out of a camera phone with such impressive credentials, particularly if they already have a standalone snapper with similar specs. Samsung seems to think that there is a market niche to be exploited here as its recently revealed Galaxy S4 Zoom camera phone, with built-in optical zoom, has proven. Of course Samsung has also been happy to sacrifice good looks in favour of photographic prowess, which is something that Sony has avoided with the rumoured Xperia Z1.
Sony is preparing for a press event announcement in September which the Xperia Z1 and a number of other handsets are slated to make their first official appearance. Although camera functions have been bubbling away in the background of the mobile market, they might be about to return to the top of the agenda in 2013.