Well, it's mostly a camera — but we're okay with that.
Panasonic is known far more for its cameras than its mobile phones, but the new Lumix CM1 combines its imaging expertise with a full-on smartphone experience to create one unique device. On one side is a standard phone experience with a familiar KitKat interface running on a 4.7-inch 1080p display and powered by a Snapdragon 801 processor. On the other side, you basically have a high-end point and shoot camera, with a 20.1MP 1-inch sensor, f/2.8 28mm Leica lens and complete manual controls
The smartphone side isn't all that exciting honestly, with no customization from Panasonic other than what's needed for an insane camera experience. This is the KitKat we know, and it runs quick and smooth on the Snapdragon 801 and 2GB of RAM backed up by a 2600mAh battery. The important part about the CM1 is the camera — hit the dedicated camera switch to move between phone mode and camera mode.
The Lumix CM1 looks and feels like a camera, as it should, with quite a bit of girth — it comes in at 204g in total — to fit all of that imaging goodness. The 1-inch sensor is several times larger than any average smartphone, which enables great low light potential and overall crisp images. The Leica lens will definitely help, too, as will the full manual controls. Aperture, ISO and shutter speed can all be controlled manually from the interface or from the control ring that surrounds the camera pod.
The camera app interface is one of the most advanced I've ever seen on a phone, and even rivals most standalone cameras out there. It has a full interface of all the information you need, and lets you control every aspect of the camera. There are proper aperture, shutter speed and full manual modes, just like a camera, and you can even shoot in RAW and edit photos later if you'd like.
I obviously haven't spent enough time on the phone or analyzed the pictures just yet, but this looks to be a pretty great combination — and one that's come off better than the Galaxy K Zoom — if you're focused on taking pictures. We'll see how it ends up working as a phone, but I'm a fan of this idea in my short time spent with it.
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Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.