After struggling the past few years in its home market of Japan which led to its near exit, and the botched attempt to launch international smartphone sales with its Eluga smartphone series, Panasonic has chosen the Photokina tradeshow to make a definitive statement on its smartphone plans with the DMC-CM1, its first Android smartphone with a Lumix camera assembly built in, which Panasonic is calling a “connected camera”. The phone itself competes favorably against other flagship smartphones with a 4.7-inch 1080p display, 16GB of internal memory, 2GB of RAM, a 2,600mAh battery and Android 4.4 running on a 2.3GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor.
The key feature of the smartphone is a 20-megapixel sensor attached to a Leica DC Elmarit lens at f/2.8 that sports a mechanical shutter assembly and a manual control ring. The 1-inch camera sensor is much larger in surface area than those found on traditional smartphones and is on par with the sensors found in traditional high-end point and shoot cameras such as the Sony RX100 and Nikon 1 series, ensuring that the image quality resembles that of the aforementioned cameras instead of suffering the usual quality limitations found in current smartphone camera assemblies.
Panasonic has announced that the phone will have a launch planned for France and Germany later this year before considering additional launch markets in the future. With the Lumia PureView 1020 now officially discontinued, the DMC-CM1 might even be considered a worthy successor to that cameraphone, should the camera assembly be properly optimized with the underlying hardware.
Update: Panasonic has confirmed that the phone will be priced at or around €900 (~$1164) when the phone is released this holiday season in the aforementioned markets, which have been confirmed to be test markets for consumer reaction to the phone before considering a wider launch. The phone will also feature a microSD slot with support for 128GB cards and support 4K video capture.