While most smartphone makers are trying to replace the dedicated digital camera, Panasonic is coming from the opposite direction with the Lumix Smart Camera CM1.
As the Lumix naming scheme implies, the CM1 is a camera first and a smartphone second. It includes a 1-inch image sensor that shoots 20-megapixel photos, and uses a Leica lens with f/2.8 aperture. It's not a zoom lens, but it does extend from the body while in use, and has a mechanical shutter. A switch on the top edge lets users quickly jump into camera mode, and of course there's a dedicated shutter button.
Panasonic is also promising a slew of traditional camera settings and features, including various scene modes, intelligent auto mode, and RAW image capture. Users who prefer manual controls can rotate the lens ring to quickly adjust settings such as shutter speed, aperture, ISO, white balance, exposure and focus.
As for the smartphone element, the CM1 has a 4.7-inch 1080p display, a 2.3 GHz quad core Snapdragon processor, and 2 GB of RAM. Base storage is 16 GB, but users can pop in a microSDXC card (up to 128 GB) for storing all those high-res photos. Android 4.4 is on board.
Unfortunately, packing a digital camera guts into a smartphone adds a fair amount of bulk to the frame. The CM1 measures nearly 0.6 inches thick—more than twice the thickness of Apple's latest iPhones—and weighs 0.45 pounds.
The CM1 is somewhat reminiscent of Samsung's Galaxy Zoom series, which gives up thickness in exchange for image quality. But while Samsung's attempt at a cameraphone has a 10x zoom lens, it has a much smaller 1/2.3-inch sensor and a smaller maximum f/3.1 aperture.
Panasonic says the CM1 will be available in “limited quantities” starting this November, with a recommended price of 899 Euros. There's no word a U.S. launch.