The next Lumia 1020: More than meets the eye?

A leaked photo reveals much about the next Lumia 1020...

the next lumia 1020
Credit: Evan Blass/Twitter

1020 photo leak

Earlier today, I read this Times of India report about freelance journalist and blogger Evan Blass -- famed smartphone leaker -- posting an image of the next (unreleased) Lumia 1020 on Twitter:

Blurry image of the next Lumia 1020

Evan's image shows the instantly recognizable Lumia 1020 camera "bump." The image is blurry, but we can make out two flash LED's at the top of the photo. And based on the color of those LEDs, some bloggers are guessing the next 1020 will use a technology similar to the "true tone" camera technology Apple introduced in the iPhone 5S. This is interesting, as the current 1020 uses a xenon based flash.

On the flip-side, the photo's blurriness makes it hard to ascertain for certain the status of the xenon flash. Questions remain. Was xenon flash eliminated from the next 1020? Or did Lumia's notoriously clever engineers find a way to shoehorn both LED and xenon flash in the 1020's next incarnation?

A dual flash scenario seems highly unlikely: As this Nokia 1020 disassembly training video illustrates, legroom inside the 1020 for extra components is a precious commodity. It's more likely the 1020 engineers dropped xenon entirely in favor of LEDs. Based on the image, the phone could contain an internal LED "flash module" -- similar to the Aligent modules shown in this old LEDs Magazine piece -- with an up-to-date version allowing additional control of a center LED for focus lighting.

Now for the interesting part...

Current Lumia 1020's use the Qualcomm Snapdragon S4, a dual core chip running at 1.5 GHz. But my guess is that the next 1020 will sport either a Snapdragon 805 or Snapdragon 810 CPU.

Why do I say this? A couple of reasons, the first is this Snapdragon comparison chart provided by Qualcomm itself:

Qualcomm CPU comparison sheet Qualcomm

This chart lists only two Snapdragon chips capable of supporting camera resolutions higher than 21MP -- the 805 and 810. It also means if either one of these chips are used in the 1020, it will almost certainly support 4K Ultra HD video capture, possibly H.265 capture if the Snapdragon 810 is used.

The second reason: Microsoft desperately needs to release a high-performance Windows Phone flagship -- as in yesterday. Using these chips in the next 1020 would almost certainly guarantee buttery smooth performance for photo taking and video capture -- and both are tasks in which 1020's are expected to excel.

And while the current 1020's camera remains "king of the hill," the phone itself is showing its age, especially when running a long-in-the-tooth dual core S4. At minimum, the 2.7 GHz quad-core of an 805 would provide a great boon to performance, and the 64-bit power of the 810 would make the next 1020 an excellent showcase phone for Microsoft's soon-to-be-released Windows Phone 10 OS.

One more thing...

But there's one more fact to consider...let's take another look at Qualcomm's CPU chart. It shows the 805 and 810 chips capable of supporting cameras "Up to 55 MP" -- a fact I find intriguing. Even today, years after the 1020's (and before it, the 3310's) introduction, there still aren't many smartphones that ship with cameras over 30 MP. 

So it's interesting Qualcomm included this fact on the chart -- a chart found in the mobile computing area of Qualcomm's web site. Sure OEMs need to list specs of the  components they manufacture, but it does raise questions. Is it possible we could see a Lumia phone ship with a camera array of 50 MP or even 55 MP in the near future?

That's currently unknown -- but it sure is interesting to think about.

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