Since the past 2-3 years, the stress on camera phones has declined and tangible improvements in camera quality is not something most manufacturers are concentrating on. Apple, for example, has been using the 8MP camera for four generations now. And while Android smartphones have seen a big jump in megapixel count from 8MP to 16 and even 20MP, the sensor size remains largely the same. The only exception has been Nokia, which introduced the Lumia 1020 last year, with a 2/3” sized 41MP sensor. Panasonic has now trumped it with the new Lumix branded DMC-CM1 smartphone. The Japanese electronics giant announced the new device at Photokina exhibition in Germany, the largest photography and imaging related exhibition.
The Panasonic DMC-CM1 features the largest camera sensor fitted inside any mobile phone to date. It has the same 1 inch 20MP sensor as found on Sony’s RX100 series of advanced compact cameras. The lens is also top notch. It is an f2.8 Leica lens with a mechanical shutter and a manual control ring. So it definitely is a more serious camera than anything else we have seen so far. While the Sony RX100 series cannot shoot video at more than 1080p resolution, the DMC-CM1 can shoot 4K videos at 30fps. You also have the option to shoot RAW images and the ISO range of the camera is between 100 to25600. That is pretty impressive and should result in easily the best images to be captured from a smartphone in both daylight as well low-light situations.
If you’re thinking that the CM1 is just another hybrid device like the Galaxy K Zoom with a great camera and mid-range specs, you’re in for a surprise. Panasonic hasn’t compromised on specs in any way as this comes with everything you expect from a flagship grade device. It has a 4.7-inch 1080p display with 468PPI, Qualcomm Snapdragon 2.3 GHz Quad-Core chipset (not clear if it’s Snapdragon 800 or 801), 2GB RAM, 16GB built-in memory with microSD expansion slot, 2600mAh battery, LTE connectivity, and runs Android 4.4 KitKat with minimal skinning.
There are two major issues though. First is the price. Panasonic says the device will be available from November in select markets at a price of approximately 900 euros ($1160). That is very steep and about 100-150 euros more expensive than the most expensive android flagship available currently. The second and possibly the bigger issue is the size and dimensions of the device. Its overall dimensions are 135.4 x 68 x 21.1. While the height and width are on par with most devices with this screen size, the thickness is almost 3 times higher than something like the Sony Xperia Z3. The body at its thinnest point is 15.2mm. It is also one of the heaviest smartphones out there, weighing in at 204 grams!
Ultimately it is a niche device and aimed at those who would want nothing but the best imaging quality in their hands all the time. Would you consider getting this imaging beast?