The Guardian reports that Nokia's 41-megapixel PureView sensor may be heading to its Lumia range of Windows Phone 8 smartphones. The first new model will supposedly be known as the EOS and slated for a summer release here in the States. Previously the sensor was packed into the Symbian-based Nokia 808 PureView back in July 2012.
Nokia revealed the 41MP sensor in February 2012 during the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona. The aim of the sensor was not to produce incredibly large images, but to take great pictures in incredibly low light. On the Nokia 808, images were around 5MP, thus the extra pixels were used for oversampling to reduce the amount of noise caused by the increased sensitivity of the CCD sensor.
"Pixel oversampling combines many pixels to create a single (super) pixel," Nokia explains (pdf). "When this happens, you keep virtually all the detail, but filter away visual noise from the image. The speckled, grainy look you tend to get in low-lighting conditions is greatly reduced. And in good light, visual noise is virtually non-existent. Which means the images you can take are more natural and beautiful than ever."
The level of pixel oversampling is highest when the photographer isn't using the zoom, the company added. It gradually decreases until the maximum zoom is reached, where there is no oversampling. The sensor has an active area of 7728 x 5368 pixels (over 41MP), thus depending on the aspect ratio the user chooses, the sensor will use 7728 x 4354 pixels for 16:9 images/videos, or 7152 x 5368 pixels (38MP) for 4:3 images/videos.
Nokia said that pixels have shrunk over the past 6 years from 2.2 microns, to 1.75 microns, to the current 1.4 microns – devices with 1.1 micron pixels are on the way. The problem is that the smaller you make a pixel, the fewer photons each pixel will collect thus lowering the photons means lowering the image quality. This is where Nokia's super pixel concept comes into play, producing detailed, flawless images.
The company launched the flagship Lumia 920 Windows Phone 8 device at the end of 2012, but was criticized for not adding the 41MP PureView sensor. Instead, Nokia tossed in what it calls "floating lens technology", calling on the gyroscope to detect any type of shaking (like unsteady hands) while taking a picture in low light, and compensating by moving the entire phone.
The Guardian notes that Nokia could create some distance between itself and Windows Phone rivals like HTC and Samsung by adding the 41MP PureView sensor to its Lumia line. But that will ultimately be up to Microsoft who defines the hardware specification. Cost could also be an issue.