A Camera to Replace Your Phone

Panasonic’s New Lumix CM1 Is an LTE Camera

Panasonic_CM1_lYour best camera is the one you have with you at the moment.

Panasonic’s new Lumix DMC-CM1 is, like Samsung’s Galaxy S4 zoom and Galaxy K zoom devices, a camera wrapped in a smartphone. However, unlike for Samsung, this isn’t just a matter of filling out a portfolio for Panasonic. The company’s new flagship phone is an effort to keep point-and-shoot cameras relevant next to imaging-centric smartphones while remaining active in the smartphone market. The Lumix CM1 is a high-end device headed to a limited number of European countries, but is indicative of the general trend in the camera market: connectivity matters.

The Lumix CM1 has specs you’d expect to find in most higher-priced smartphones. It has LTE connectivity, has a 4.7-inch 1080p display, runs Android 4.4 on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 2.3 GHz quad-core processor, has 16GB of internal memory, 2GB of RAM, and a 2,600 mAh battery. It also has a one-inch, 20-megapixel sensor, a Leica lens with a manual control ring and can capture 4K video. Panasonic’s new smartphone will be priced at about $1150.

The device matches features found in high-end smartphones and high-end point-and-shoot cameras, but such hybridisation in handsets has historically experienced a very mixed track record. Music-player-centric handsets and navigation devices crossed with smartphones have had little market success. Smartphone-first devices have enjoyed consistent appeal.

Panasonic has shown where the point-and-shoot camera market should be heading. Camera makers have been very conservative in adding connectivity features to their products, but Panasonic has taken a leadership position in camera convergence with an advanced Android device. Pricing will make this a niche product, but it points the way to bigger imaging developments to come.