HTC and Nokia are separately expected to announce super-high-quality cameras in new smartphones expected to be unveiled the next week.
It remains unclear whether the new cameras alone can lure new customers to either smartphone maker, each of which each faced a difficult 2012 against industry leaders Apple and Samsung.
Put another way, can a truly great camera be enough to lure a customer to a new manufacturer or platform, such as Windows Phone 8? Analysts are skeptical.
HTC will reportedly unveil the Android-based M7 smartphone on Tuesday in New York and London. The camera in the device is expected to combine three 4.3 megapixel sensors to create a single, beautiful image.
In a recent blog post, HTC said it will have a new camera experience this year, following up on its unveiling of the 8-megapixel HTC Droid Incredible in 2010 and a the HTC EVo 3D in 2011 for shooting 3D movies and images.
The blog directly confronts the Symbian-based Nokia 808 PureView smartphone, announced a year ago, that has 41 megapixels. In the blog, HTC noted more megapixels don't necessarily produce better images.
Reports circulating about Nokia's announcement on Feb. 25 at Mobile World Congress say that the manufacturer will use camera sensor technology used in the 808 PureView in a new Lumia Windows Phone 8 device that's code named EOS.
Nokia announced in January that the 808 would be its last Symbian-based phone.
A frequent criticism of the Nokia Lumia 920 and 808 PureView phones is that they are too heavy or bulky. The EOS is made of lighter aluminum and will be sold later in 2013 by AT&T, according to unnamed sources who spoke to The Verge last month.
Even though the new HTC and Nokia smartphones are expected to include great cameras, three analysts said that likely won't be enough to boost sales at the struggling firms. Customers will continue to first weigh the operating systems in the smartphones, and then many other factors, including cost and styling, they said.
"Having a better camera might help users pick a device over some other, but that is questionable," said Carolina Milanesi, an analyst at Gartner. "Just look at Samsung's success despite not having a great camera experience, or on the other hand, Sony's [lesser success] even though it had great cameras in phones all along."
"Good camera technology is certainly a requirement today, but it seems that good enough is enough," Milanesi said.
Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates, added, "I don't think a camera alone can swing a buyer. It's frosting on the cake, and not the cake itself. You still have to convince buyers that the OS choice is what they want. The camera has influence, but not overriding the OS choice, in my opinion. A good camera can't save an otherwise me-too or poor quality phone experience."
Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.