Panasonic has just announced (opens in new tab) what is allegedly the best cameraphone yet. The Lumix CM1 is a smartphone that looks and acts much like a higher-end compact camera, and it comes with a 1-inch sensor (much like Sony's RX100 camera), which also happens to be the largest sensor on a smartphone or "cameraphone" you can find. (Nokia's Lumia 1020 used a 1/1.5" sensor, while Samsung's Galaxy K Zoom uses a 1/2.3" sensor).
The sensor also has 20 MP resolution, which should be more than enough to offer a high-level of detail while also delivering relatively high-performance. To wit, the device comes with a 2.3 GHz Snapdragon 800 processor, 2 GB of RAM, 16 GB of internal storage and microSD support up to 128 GB. The device can shoot 4k video, so going for the maximum microSD storage would be a good idea, as 4k video tends to fill up "standard" 32 GB or even 64 GB microSDs pretty quickly.
The Lumix CM1 cameraphone also comes with an f/2.8 Leica DC Elmarit lens for some extra-sharp image quality, a hardware shutter button and a slider to switch between camera and smartphone modes. The screen is 4.7" and has a 1080p resolution, which should be crisp enough to preview images before taking them.
The device appears well-designed, but it seems Panasonic tried to make it look as much as possible like a regular camera. It's unclear why the company would do this, and whether it was intentional or just the result of putting the camera division in charge of designing a cameraphone. While the device still looks beautiful overall, it would likely be much more appealing if it tried to look more like a smartphone.
The Lumix CM1 is also quite thick at 21 mm, which is more than twice as thick as most smartphones. It's even thicker than Samsung's Galaxy K Zoom, which measures 16.6 mm. This could be another disadvantage of a hardware division that doesn't have much experience with manufacturing slim smartphones, but is instead used to making much thicker cameras. A good strategy for camera companies in the future could be to partner with smartphone companies to create a great-looking and high-performance camera phone together.
The price of 900 euro for the Lumix CM1 seems a little high even for this type of device, but it could interest photographers or those really passionate about taking pictures with their smartphones. The device will be available only in France and Germany for now and will launch during the holiday season.