Nokia’s Lumia 1020, Sony’s Xperia Z and what’s on tap for the smartphone world

July 12, 2013

Smartphones are becoming central to our lives to a great extent — for proof, look no further than a Harris poll released this week that found that one in 10 Americans use their smartphones while, um, being intimate. Nearly three-fourths said they’re within five feet of their phones a “majority of the time.”

So it should be no surprise that there was plenty of buzz on the smartphone front this week, with a couple of new launches and a ton of speculation about which new models may be just around the corner.

The biggest splash in the smartphone world this week is the Lumia 1020, announced Thursday as an AT&T exclusive. The new Windows phone set shutterbugs’ hearts aflutter with its most prominent feature — a 41 MP camera built into the phone. Nokia says its optical zoom gives users the ability to take a picture and then reframe the moment, with a high-resolution 3X zoom. The phone has 32 GB of on-board storage, and those who pick the phone up from AT&T early will get 50 GB of free storage on the carrier’s AT&T Locker service for all of the pictures they’ll likely be snapping.

Like the camera-centric variant of the Galaxy S 4 that Samsung introduced last month, the Lumia 1020’s form factor lands somewhere between a normal phone and a digital camera. Unlike the Galaxy S 4 zoom, however, the 1020 doesn’t have a physical zoom lens attached to it. That gives Nokia an advantage on portability, and should be a major selling point for Nokia as it and Microsoft try again to get a home run with the Lumia line. It goes on sale, only on AT&T, on July 26 for $299.99.

Meanwhile, T-Mobile announced it would have two new phones this week. On Wednesday, T-Mobile revealed that the Nokia 925 would hit the network on July 17 for a $50 down payment and 24 monthly payments of $20. The 925, essentially a slimmer version of the Nokia flagship 920, has an aluminum body and sports a 4.5-inch screen, 16 GB of internal storage and 8.7 MP camera. It will also have some of the deeper photo editing capabilities of the 1020, Nokia announced Thursday, such as the ability to control settings such as shutter speed, exposure and white balance.

T-Mobile also announced that Sony’s waterproof and dustproof Xperia Z, originally announced in January, will be coming to its network exclusively on July 17. The 5-inch phone will cost $99.99 initially, with the same $20 payments each month for 24 months. Those who order the Xperia Z starting on July 16 — or who opt to pick it up in a Sony store — will be eligible to receive a free Sony wireless Bluetooth speaker with the phone.

As for phones that aren’t on the market quite yet, Motorola has gotten attention not only because of a report from The Wall Street Journal that the company’s planning a half-billion dollar advertising blitz to promote the phone, but also because of details about the phone. The Moto X, which has the vague launch window of “this summer,” will be manufactured in the United States — which should cut down on shipping times, ABC News reported — and will let users customize elements of the phone such as the color for the back case or trim. The ABC report also said that users can engrave their name or a message on the back of the phone.

The Moto X is also expected to have added voice capabilities to help users operate their phones without having to touch it and will also make it easier to access the phone’s camera.

Related stories:

Plan by Google’s Motorola to open Tex. factory signals shift as tech firms look to add U.S. jobs

CES 2013: Sony’s waterproof smartphone

AP: Nokia unveils Lumia 1020 phone with powerful camera in hopes of recapturing market share

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Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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