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Nokia Puts The 41 Megapixel PureView Sensor in $300 Lumia 1020 Windows Phone

By Wesley Fenlon

This is quite possibly the best camera phone sensor ever made, but it's packed into one expensive phone.

Nokia's sticking with one major selling point for its newly announced Lumia 1020 Windows Phone: a hell of a camera. Remember that 41 megapixel camera sensor Nokia used for the Nokia 808 Pureview last year? That sensor is now making its way to the Windows Phone world, with a few changes in place.

Let's get the rest of the phone's features out of the way first. Its candy-colored body design looks more or less like Nokia's previous Windows Phone models, but with a giant camera lens protrusion on the back. The front of the Lumia 1020 sports a 4.5-inch 1280x768 AMOLED screen. Inside, it's running on 2GB of RAM and a dual-core 1.5GHZ S4 SoC--double the RAM of the previous Lumia 920 and 925 models, but the same processor.

Remarkably, Nokia's kept its newest Windows Phone 8 device thinner than the older Lumia 920; it measures 10.4mm thick and 158 grams. Nokia previously dropped the polycarbonate body for the Lumia 925, resulting in a slimmer aluminum phone; that phone weighs 139 grams and measure 8.5mm thick. The rest of the features you'd expect are virtually identical across the Lumia line: HSPA+ and LTE support, NFC tech, identical 2000mAh battery, and 802.11n Wi-Fi.

The PureView camera sensor is, of course, what sets the Lumia 1020 apart. The sensor is paired with a Xenon flash and 6-lens Carl Zeiss optics. Like the previous Nokia 808, this iteration of the camera can take an oversampled 5MP photo for an extremely high quality, noise-reduced shot that's actually in an easily shareable file size.

Nokia's Pro Camera app offers phone photographers the options to manually tweak ISO, focus, shutter speed, white balance, exposure and the flash. The camera shoots at a max res of 7712 x 5360 pixels; when shooting 1080p30 video, the camera's resolution allows it to zoom in up to 4x without getting into nasty digital zoom territory. Zooming works similarly for taking still shots, though it will produce a smaller photo without as much oversampling cleaning up the image. Check Nokia's gallery of sample photos here.

Check out The Verge's piece on what to expect from the Lumia 1020's camera; it digs into what the sensor's size (2/3-inch, much larger than the average smartphone sensor) means for photos.

Now for the bad news: That fancy camera sensor means the Lumia 1020's going to cost $300 on-contract on AT&T in the US. The phone launches on July 26. AT&T will be taking pre-orders on the 16th.