One of the highlights of 2012 was Nokia’s PureView 808 smartphone, which has a very impressive (and large!) camera packing 41 Megapixels on its sensor, which was able to take photos that could rival those of mainstream point and shoot digital cameras, but once again they’ve blown that chance at gaining market share by using Symbian as a platform – quite a weird move considering they had already released several Windows Phone 7 devices, which led many to believe it was a software issue (just like the lack of high resolution support in the first release of Windows Phone 7).
This year, Nokia is back with the same technology in a more compact form and a new and improved smartphone running Windows Phone – the Lumia 1020. Is the PureView camera worth the price of the phone or the switch to a more limited platform if you’re upgrading from an Android phone or an iPhone?
The Nokia Lumia 1020’s design follows in the same footsteps as its predecessor, the Lumia 920, which was the most popular Windows Phone smartphone in 2012 and still is a pretty good phone. In fact, the Lumia 1020 is pretty much a perfected 920 and shares a lot in common when it comes to the hardware, as well.
The whole device is made of the same polycarbonate as most of the previous Lumia phones, with a slightly tapered Gorilla glass on the front covering the display and navigation buttons. Overall, the phone is very sturdy and feels great in your hands. The phone comes in three colors – black, white and yellow, all of which look very nice.
Hardware features and performance
The new phone has a 4.5 inch AMOLED display with a 1280×768 pixels resolution, which provides a great image quality, with great colors, excellent brightness and contrast and of course, perfect viewing angles. It may not be Full HD, but it’s still really sharp – you’d have to look really closely to notice the individual pixels.
The 2048 MB of RAM are a welcome improvement, though, and even with the Adreno 225 under the hood, the phone manages to impress when it comes to graphics performance (though that’s a merit of Windows Phone 8 itself).
Another issue is the 32 GB of onboard storage space – a real oversight when you consider that it’s a camera phone and I can’t believe that Nokia is making the same mistake as HTC with the One. Only 26 GB are user accessible and even more will be taken up by Windows Phone 8 in no time (it’s used for cache and other purposes) – a micro SD card slot would’ve been really useful, because as it is, you won’t be storing many 38 Megapixel pictures for long, and using SkyDrive isn’t a great option when you have to pay top dollar for your data plan.
Speaking of which, the 41 Megapixel camera really lives up to the hype – it’s better than pretty much anything out there, including HTC’s 4 Ultrapixel shooter (which actually uses a similar technology). The camera takes high quality 5 Megapixel images by default, but there’s a secret: it uses all 38 effective Megapixels to do so, interpolating all of them to form a smaller but higher quality photo.
There’s nothing special about the rest of the hardware: the Lumia 1020 has all the connectivity features you’d expect from a modern phone (except HDMI), including Wifi N, Bluetooth 3.0, GPS, NFC, HSPA+ and LTE, and DLNA. The battery inside is the same 2000 mAh unit that was used in the Lumia 920, only this time it lasts longer, up to 13 hours, thanks to the AMOLED display – however, that’s only if you use it as a phone – if you use the camera and especially Xenon flash a lot, you should expect that number to be way lower.
|Specifications||Nokia Lumia 1020|
|Display||4.5 inches, 1280×768 pixels, AMOLED, 334 PPI pixel density|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Plus (MSM8960), 1.5 GHz, dual core|
|Graphics Adapter||Adreno 225|
|Storage Space||32 GB onboard storage space (non-expandable)|
|Camera(s)||Back – 41 Megapixels (up to 38 MP effective) PureView camera with Carl Zeiss optics, LED and Xenon flash and support for 1080p video recording; Front – 1.2 Megapixels camera with support for 720p video recording|
|Connectivity Options||Wifi N, Bluetooth 3.0, GPS/GLONASS, NFC, DLNA, HSPA+, 4G LTE, DLNA|
|Sensors||Light, proximity, magnetometer, gyroscope and accelerometer sensors|
|Battery||Li-Ion, 2000 mAh, up to 13 hours of continuous use|
|Dimensions and weight||130.4 x 71.4 x 10.4 mm, 158 grams|
|Operating System and Software||Windows Phone 8 (upgradeable to Nokia WP8 Amber)|
The Lumia 1020 comes with Windows Phone 8 preinstalled and will receive the Amber update, which was made specifically for Nokia phones. The Amber update brings new camera capabilities for all devices, adds an FM radio app, brings back an improved version of Glance Screen (which lets you display a clock and battery status when the screen is off, and also turn the screen on with a double tap), and more. It’s a worthy update, for sure, but that’s only if you like Windows Phone 8 in the first place.
Windows Phone 8 added quite a few improvements (that should’ve been in Windows Phone 7 in the first place), and while it’s a pretty good OS, it’s still nowhere near Android and iOS. It’s limited by the interface (the tiles get old really quick, plus there is no central notifications location), by the Windows kernel itself, and most importantly by the lack of a lot of great apps that are present on the other two platforms, like Instagram and Vine, for example.
Still, if you’re not a major app user and you find that Windows Phone has everything you need, it’s a nice OS for a smartphone.
Price and Availability
The Nokia Lumia 1020 was released a while ago and it still costs $299 on contract and $659 without it – that’s a rather high price that is tough to justify when there are better and cheaper alternatives out there (even the HTC One is $599 unlocked and its camera is close to Nokia’s if you don’t need the Xenon flash). If you absolutely need the best camera on a smartphone and don’t mind Windows Phone 8 and spending a good chunk of money upfront, the Lumia 1020 is worth looking at, but I don’t expect it to be very popular.