The Nokia Lumia 1020 is intended to supersede the Nokia PureView 808: the first of its kind 41 megapixel camera phone that could best any other camera phone available in the consumer market then, and for what it’s worth, even now.
Our biggest gripe with it was its obscure physical design, additionally the fact that it came with the now-defunct Symbian operating system, made things worse. Now that the all-new 1020 comes with Windows Phone 8 and Nokia’s critically acclaimed Lumia-standard polycarbonate unibody design – the game has changed.
Physically the Nokia Lumia 1020 looks similar to the 920 due its size, unibody polycarbonate design and standard Nokia Lumia button layout: volume rocker, power button and shutter key are placed along the bezel on the right while the phone is facing you. There is a micro USB port on the bottom next to the speaker grill, the left side is button-free while the top houses an ejectable micro SIM tray to the left and a .35mm headset connector aligned with the middle and a secondary microphone for noise cancellation.
The flip side of the 1020 is perhaps the most noticeable due to its oversized camera module that houses a xenon flash, LED light and camera lens. It stands out from the profile and due to its shape, the device can never lay flat on its back. The model we got for review courtesy of Syntax Communications was bright yellow, though there are models available in black and white.
The camera is the main reason that most people would be attracted to the 1020, though even if you remove the camera from the equation, the phone is up to par with industry standards. The PureView camera that has been hyped about so much is not just a ridiculous amount of pixels squeezed in together. At 1/1.5-inches it’s more than double the size of leading camera phones such as the HTC One and Apple’s iPhone 5S. Common belief is that a bigger sensor will retain more light, resulting in lesser noise and produce better low-light images. Additionally the backside-illumination (BSI) feature allows light to hit the sensor from behind, disables any circuitry from getting in between the light and the sensor’s photoreceptors.
As soon as you turn on the Lumia 1020 for the first time it takes you through a camera tutorial that explains various functions and features in a comprehensive way. Without it, I would not be able to fully understand all that this device is capable of. When the Nokia Pro Cam app is used to take a picture it actually either saves the full 7,712x4,352 image or a smaller 3,072x1,728 (5 MP) image. By default it’s the smaller 5MB photo, but alternatively if you set the aspect ratio to 16:9 you’ll be saving 32MP photos, and if you set it to 4:3 you’ll be saving 38MP photos.
There are two main reasons for downscaling images, firstly its smaller; roughly 1.6MB in comparison to 9MB for the full version. The second reason for this is a concept that may be new for a few but most pro-audio or multimedia guys are well versed with: oversampling. This concept critically examines the larger image, and then decides which pixel to keep and which to discard – the resulting image is what some may proverbially call the cream of the crop or the best possible outcome with respect to quality.
Moving on to the actual performance, the xenon flash coupled with LED light results in accurate daytime white balance even in auto mode. While most cameras have a slightly blue or green tint on photos with full flash this is not a problem for the 1020; details are sharp, colours are accurate and most pictures do not have the need for drastic post-production measures to be taken.
The Nokia Pro Cam can light the way for budding photographers since the program has all the current photo settings lined up on top and centre, which include the flash status, white balance, ISO, shutter speed, aperture and focus. By touching each of them, a separate semicircle pops up next to the shutter button that you can drag to adjust while previewing the changes on screen. If you hold the shutter icon and drag it slightly to the left, all the onscreen options will pop up at once.
Through the Nokia Smart Cam you can use effects like Action Shot and Motion Focus, but keep in mind that all pictures taken with this application will always be 5MB files.
At this point it would also be worth mentioning that this is in fact one of the best cameras available on a smartphone, however for those of you that are considering this as an option that would enable to you to discard your point and shoot cameras or DSLRs – it will not. Even point and shoot cameras allow you to adjust the aperture for depth-of-field adjustments, which is not possible on the 1020, so replacing a DSLR is completely out of the question irrespective of the megapixel count since functionality is already compromised.
Software and performance
The Nokia Lumia 1020 comes bundled with Windows Phone 8. This version is called Amber and they’ve added a few new features but nothing along the lines of a complete overhaul, so those that are familiar with Windows Phone 8 will feel very comfortable and right at home.
Among the new features, you can flip the phone over while it’s ringing to silence it, double tap the display to turn it on as well as holding down a tile to adjust its size and placement, and other customisation options such as new wallpapers.
For those of you interested in internal specifications, there is a Qualcomm Snapdragon dual-core 1.5GHz processor, 2GB RAM, 32GB on-board storage and a 2,000 mAh battery. In case you’re wondering why there is no quad-core processor under the hood like most of the other top end and flagship smartphones available, the fact is that there is no such thing as quad-core processors on Nokia devices yet, I’m sure they will turn up later this year.
The Windows Phone system, unlike Google’s Android is only available on phones that are tailor made for it and thus utilise power and RAM more efficiently. For instance, dual core Android phones start getting choppy and ask for more power relatively quicker, whereas the 1020 failed to show any signs of fatigue during the three week intensive workout it got with me.
Earlier, there had been complaints regarding leading applications not being available in the Windows Store, but the fact that Instagram, WhatsApp, Viber and Skype are currently available, and Blackberry has announced that by summer BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) will be available for download on Windows Store points to only one thing – the Windows Phone system should not be taken lightly.
The front runner aboard the 1020 is obviously the camera technology, it enables the user to take fantastic pictures even in low light situations where other phone cameras would fail miserably, photos don’t require many touch ups in post-production and daytime white balance is accurate. Camera-wise my only gripe with it was that the software could perform a little faster especially so you don’t miss out on those quick action shots because the camera app is still loading.
Another miss for the 1020 is the notification system, unless the tiles are in sight it’s easy to miss out on application notifications and e-mails.
Battery life exceeded expectations since the assumption was that it would need more than one charge a day with heavy usage due to the multiple flash system and huge screen size. The Amber update featured nifty new customisation features and did not get jittery while multitasking.
The only real problem is the price tag it carries: at Rs.67,000-70,000, you can buy yourself a DSLR or alternatively you could buy a point-and-shoot camera as well as a mid range phone with smart features. However, what you cannot do is spend your money on a better smartphone camera – this is as good as it gets.
Type - AMOLED capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors
Size - 768 x 1280 pixels, 4.5 inches (~332 ppi pixel density)
Multitouch - Yes
Protection - Corning Gorilla Glass 3
- PureMotion HD+ ClearBlack display
2G - GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 - all versions
HSDPA - 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100 - RM-875, RM-877HSDPA - 850 / 900 / 1700 / 1900 / 2100 - RM-8764G Network
LTE - 800 / 900 / 1800 / 2100 / 2600 - RM-875
LTE - 700 / 850 / 1700 / 1900 / 2100 - RM-877
SIM - Micro-SIM
Dimensions - 130.4 x 71.4 x 10.4 mm, 96.9 cc (5.13 x 2.81 x 0.41 in)
Weight - 158 g (5.57 oz)
Alert types - Vibration; MP3, WAV ringtones
Loudspeaker - Yes
3.5mm jack - Yes
- Dolby Digital Plus
- Dolby headphone enhancement
Card slot - No
Internal - 32 GB, 2GB RAM
GPRS - Yes
EDGE - Up to 236.8 kbps
Speed - HSDPA, 42.2 Mbps
- HSUPA, 5.76 Mbps
- LTE, Cat3, 50 Mbps UL, 100 Mbps DL
Wi-Fi - 802.11 a/b/g/n, dual-band, DLNA, Wi-Fi hotspot
Bluetooth - Yes, v3.0 with A2DP/ v4.0 LE after WP8 Black update
NFC - Yes
USB - Yes, microUSB v2.0
Primary - 41 MP (38 MP effective, 7152 x 5368 pixels)
- Carl Zeiss optics
- optical image stabilization
- auto/manual focus
- Xenon & LED flash
Features - 1/1.5'' sensor size, 1.12 µm pixel size,
- PureView technology
- geo-tagging, face detection, dual capture, panorama
Video - 1080p@30fps, 4x lossless digital zoom, video light
Secondary - 1.2MP, 720p@30fps
OS - Microsoft Windows Phone 8, upgradeable to WP8 Black
Chipset - Qualcomm MSM8960 Snapdragon
CPU - Dual-core 1.5 GHz Krait
GPU - Adreno 225
Sensors - Accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer
Messaging - SMS (threaded view), MMS, Email, Push Email, IM
Radio - Stereo FM radio with RDS
GPS - Yes, with A-GPS support and GLONASS
Java - No
Colors - Yellow, white, black
- Active noise cancellation with a dedicated mic
- 7GB free SkyDrive storage
- Non-removable Li-Ion 2000 mAh battery (BV-5XW)
Stand-by - (2G) / Up to 384 h (3G)
Talk time - Up to 19 h (2G) / Up to 13 h 20 min (3G)
Music play - Up to 63 h