Posted by Mike Evans in Coming Soon on October 1, 2010

Panasonic have just put up a teaser site announcing a very new and unexpected Panasonic Lumix phone. Lumix, if you didn’t know, is Panasonic’s own range of highly respected digital cameras, meaning a Lumix phone is clearly going to be a high-end camera phone.

And high-end is indeed the word – Panasonic look like they’re planning on snatching the “best camera phone” tag from Nokia, as the Lumix phone will have a whopping 13 megapixel sensor.
Panasonic Lumix phone

Panasonic Lumix Phone features

Other features of the Lumix phone include:

  • 3.3-inch LCD screen with 854×480 resolution
  • “Mobile VenusEngine” for HD images
  • camera with 13MP CMOS sensor
  • microSDHC slot
  • Wi-Fi
  • DLNA support
  • high-intensity flash
  • touhcscreen
  • one-touch email sharing option
  • size: 116×52×17.7mm, weight: 146g

That’s not a bad spec, but it’s pretty run of the mill for your average feature phone. The Nokia N8 is currently the feature phone leader, with its glorious 12 megapxiel camera and 720p HD video recorder. Although I ranted about it in my N8 review, that’s because Nokia should be competing with smartphones like the iPhone and Android, which the N8 clearly doesn’t. The N8 is a feature phone, pure and simple, not a smartphone.

But put in the context of a feature phone, which the Lumix Phone seems to be, and the N8 is world class. Quite what the Lumix Phone can offer beyond the N8 we’ll have to wait and see. Nokia spent a lot of time and research on the N8’s photo-taking abilities, raising the bar on the world expects of a top-end camera phone. The Lumix Phone shows promise, with its 13 megapixel sensor and the Lumix brand, but we’ll need to see what else it offers, as well as the quality of pics, before we can compare.

Why release a camera phone now?

Unfortunately for Nokia, and presumably Panasonic, nobody cares about camera phones at the moment! It’s touchscreen smartphones we want with a great ecosystem of apps and a snazzy user interface (not to mention seamless integration with the mobile Web and social networks).

There’s no word yet on whether the Lumix Phone will offer any of this or not. If it doesn’t, then it’s an odd time for Panasonic to be entering the camera phone market, which peaked with the Sony Ericsson Satio and Samsung Pixon 12 last year.

If it does offer a genuinely compelling smartphone experience (for example, if it uses Android with a nifty user interface), then it’s going to walk all over the N8. If it offers a poor user interface, no apps, but its camera-taking abilities are better than the N8 – then again, it’s going to beat the N8, which currently only shines in its camera and video features.

Whatever happens, though, it’s pretty much lose-lose for the N8, as Nokia would much prefer us to be talking about the N8 as a competitor to smartphones, not to camera phones like the Lumix Phone.

As for the Lumix Phone’s chances, we’ll be able to tell more when it’s officially announced at the Japanese CEDIA event on October 5th. We’ll keep you posted.

[Source: Panasonic, via MobileCrunch]