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Panasonic sets the standard for phone cameras

2014-Panasonic-CM1s
Picture from the Verge

From the Lumia 1020 to the Galaxy K Zoom, combining a smartphone with a better than standard camera is something that many manufacturer have experimented on with varying degrees of success. The Lumia 1020, while effective, requires that you have a relatively high degree of knowledge in photography for it to be fully exploited. The Galaxy K Zoom is easier to use but is bulky and doesn’t offer that much more of an advantage over a really good camera phone.

Meet the Panasonic DMC-CM1 phone camera. A camera-centric smartphone that could very well re-write the standard for the category. Inside is a large 1-inch image sensor that’s on par with some of the top-tier point-and-shoot cameras in the market today (like our favourite PNS right now, the Sony RX100) but the CM1 successfull avoids the many pitfalls that many smartphones of this type stumble into. For starters, it’s really good to look at and while at 21mm thick, the CM1 is easily three times thicker than your standard smartphone, it hides its bulk very well.

But looking good and sleek is just part of the battle won if Panasonic really wants to carve a niche in the camera-centric smartphone segment. Looking at the camera spec-sheet however, we’re inclined to say that you can expect big things with the CM1. The 1-inch sensor packs 20MP and is mated to some high end glass — a f/2.8 Leica DC Elmarit lens to be exact. Instead of a digital shutter, Panasonic opted to use a mechanical shutter instead, for better control and feel there’s also a manual control ring too. And then there’s Panasonic track record of making some very capable PNS cameras, you can expect the CM1 to not disappoint in this respect as well.

As a phone, the CM1 is not to shabby either (on paper at least). There’s a 4.7-inch 1080p display packing 468ppi. You get a 2.3GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor with 2GB of RAM, 16GB of on board storage that’s expandable up to an additional 128GB with microSD and a 2,600mAh battery. The device runs on Android 4.4 KitKat and there’s support for 4K videos.

The CM1 will go on sale in France and Germany this November for around €900 or RM3,755 — that’s a price that will make even iPhone buyers weep. If the phone does well in these two markets, Panasonic may consider making it available elsewhere as well.

So is the CM1 coming to Malaysia? Looking at the price and the nonexistent smartphone presence here, we don’t think so but we sure would love to give it a try.

2014-Panasonic-CM1-2s
Picture from the Verge

2014-Panasonic-CM1-3s
Picture from the Verge

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