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Nokia Lumia 1020’s impressive camera may not be enough to justify hefty price tag

There’s no question: many of us have given up lugging around a separate camera in favour of snapping photos with our smartphones. Yet for many photo purists, the quality of a phone camera just can’t compare to using a proper point-and-shoot. Nokia attempted to bridge that gap today by unveiling the Nokia Lumia 1020, its first 41-megapixel phone on the Windows 8 operating system.

Following in the steps of the Nokia 808 PureView, the newly-unveiled Lumia 1020 has a 41-megapixel camera sensor, which allows the user to take 5MP photos using ‘oversampling:’ seven pixels are combined into one super-accurate pixel, Mobile Syrup explains. It also has a Xenon flash built in, for point-and-shoot quality lighting, and six Zeiss lenses in wide-angle for sharp images.

Along with all the other bells and whistles on the new camera phone, like ‘floating lens’ technology that helps reduce image shake, 1080p video shooting and high-resolution 3x zoom, the Lumia 1020 also comes with an impressive price tag: when it’s released exclusively in the U.S. at AT&T later this quarter, it’ll run customers $299.99 on a two-year contract, or $699.99 off-contract, BGR reports.

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Compare that to two of the most popular phones of the minute, the Apple iPhone 5 and the Samsung Galaxy S4. Here in Canada, you can get the 32 GB iPhone 5 (the Lumia 1020 comes with 32GB, plus an additional 7GB of free cloud storage with Microsoft’s SkyDrive) for $279.99 on a three-year contract and for $799.99 month-to-month; the 16GB S4 is $229.99 on a three-year contract and $699.99 month-to-month.

So in an out-and-out price war, the Lumia 1020 is comparable. There is, however, one small problem: the Windows 8 operating system, while significantly improving in the breadth of apps it’s offering, is still far behind in what it has in the Windows 8 Store when compared to Apple’s App Store and Google Play. Just last week, it was announced that the Windows 8 App Store crossed the 100,000 app milestone. While the number of Windows 8 offerings has certainly grown quickly considering how relatively new it is in the market, it still has a long way to go to catch up to Apple’s 900,000 apps in its store, or Google Play’s approximately 800,000 offerings.

Another Windows Phone currently available in Canada, the Lumia 920, offers a much gentler price point for smartphone users to try out a platform that is likely totally new to them: you can get it for $19.99 on a three year plan (although it’s still $599.99 month-to-month). At that price, it’s more likely users will go “sure, what the heck” and give it a try. Pricing the Lumia 1020, despite its impressive camera specs, could be pricing it out of what new consumers feel comfortable committing to.

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Then again, it might be sending a very clear message about what Nokia and Microsoft expect of this phone: in their minds, it designed to compete with the big boys, and are pricing it accordingly.

According to Mobile Syrup, the Nokia 1020 will be coming to Canada sometime this quarter, with availability and colours to be determined at a later date.

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