Editor's Letter: The mobile megapixel wars go thermonuclear

Tim Stevens
T. Stevens|07.12.13

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Editor's Letter: The mobile megapixel wars go thermonuclear

In each issue of Distro, editor-in-chief Tim Stevens publishes a wrap-up of the week in news.

Nokia has been teasing a zoomable Windows Phone smartphone for what seems like ages now, and finally it has been revealed. It's the Nokia Lumia 1020, stepping up another 100 over the 920 thanks to the addition of a 41-megapixel, backside-illuminated sensor sitting behind a six-element Zeiss lens. Video capture is 1080p and the cameraphone intriguingly offers full manual control, but it's basically a Lumia 920 beyond that, with a 4.5-inch, 1,280 x 768 display and a 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor.

So, naturally, the draw is that camera, and while we've seen some promising early results from stills and videos, we're obviously going to have to spend more time with the thing to see if it's worth the considerable dent it will make in your pocket. Admittedly, it's far more pocketable than Samsung's Galaxy S4 Zoom, but it remains to be seen whether megapixels can really sell phones. We'll find out on July 26th, when the phone will be available at AT&T for $300.



T-Mobile hosted its own press event this week as well, in which the always-effervescent John Legere had a number of announcements including the immediate availability of the Sony Xperia Z for $580, with the Nokia Lumia 925 coming next week for $50 less. T-Mo also unveiled a program it calls Jump! that, for $10 a month, will let subscribers trade up to a new phone every six months -- paying the up-front cost (usually between $50 and $100) and handing over their current handset. Jump! also protects against theft and breakage, making it a reasonable deal if you're a frequent-upgrader who pays for insurance and doesn't mind giving away your precious celly every six months. Meanwhile, those who get attached to their devices need not apply.

If it can maintain this pace, it'll quickly show up both AT&T and Sprint.

Legere was also profanely proud of his company's LTE rollout, which is ahead of schedule. It now covers 116 metro areas and 157 million people, with plans to expand to 200 million by the end of the year. If it can maintain this pace, it'll quickly show up both AT&T and Sprint.

Microsoft announced a major internal restructuring this week, and while re-orgs are something a company the size of Microsoft typically goes through on a quarterly basis, this is a little more comprehensive. Julie Larson-Green is taking over the hardware business, including Xbox (previously helmed by the now-departed Don Mattrick), while Terry Myerson is stepping up to take over all of Windows. There are far more changes afoot than I'll bore you with here, but suffice to say, the primary division is between devices and software. The hope is to remove silos between groups and enable greater cooperation between employees, but rotating executives rarely delivers much in the way of meaningful impact for those in the trenches.

DNP Editor's Letter The mobile megapixel wars go thermonuclear

Google released a major update to Maps for Android and iOS, including the new Discovery feature, helping you to... discover points of interest nearby. Navigation is cleaner and, interestingly, the Latitude service is being lead out to pasture. At least in name. The location-sharing functionality is being rolled into Google+, giving you one more reason to give all your personal information to Big G. All of it.

Early indications were that the courts were leaning in Amazon's direction, which is perhaps why Apple has promised to not sue again in the future.

We've now seen many pictures and videos of the purported budget iPhone, which is looking more and more likely by the moment. First it was a video hands-on (that has since been pulled) and then a series of photos showing off a set of colors including pink, blue, green, yellow and, excitingly, white. The design is distinctively polycarbonate and decidedly inexpensive-looking, but just how it performs -- and how much it costs -- remains to be seen.

Finally, Apple and Amazon have buried the hatchet when it comes to the now-aged App Store debacle. Back in 2011, Apple took issue with Amazon's labeling for its own store full of apps and a fun legal tussle resulted. Early indications were that the courts were leaning in Amazon's direction, which is perhaps why Apple has promised to not sue again in the future.

In this week's Distro we're diving deep into the business of Facebook and the marketing of your information. We have reviews of the Lenovo ThinkPad Helix, that company's business-focused Windows 8 hybrid, the Razer Blade 14 and the big-sized Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3. There's a new Switched On from Ross Rubin, a new Modem World from Joshua Fruhlinger and Q&A with VP of B&O Play, Henrik Taudorf Lorensen. Now, focus and enjoy.

This piece originally appeared in Distro #98.

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