Sharpest photos ever from a phone; Pro Camera app provides lots of creative control; Great flash; Bright and colorful display; Optional Camera Grip offers DSLR-like feel
Bulky backside; Noticeable lag on shutter and shot-to-shot time; Windows Phone still trails in apps and features; Pricey; Too many separate photo apps
The Nokia Lumia 1020 raises the bar for smartphone cameras with its 41-MP sensor and prosumer controls, but the price is somewhat steep.
Make no mistake: Nokia is obsessively focused on the camera experience with the Lumia 1020. With its 41-MP sensor, this Windows Phone 8 device runs circles around the smartphone competition, both in terms of resolution and creative control. You can literally zoom in or out of a photo after it's been taken while retaining an astonishing level of detail. Available for $299 on AT&T, the Lumia 1020 is definitely a prosumer purchase, but is it worth $100 more than Android flagships such as the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the HTC One?
We're suckers for yellow. The Lumia 1020 comes in black and white, but there's something about the yellow hue that really pops. After all, if you want to attract attention with a 41-MP camera, you might as well have a phone that screams "fun." The black lens and chunky buttons that line the right side add a nice contrast, as does the AMOLED display that seems to float slightly above the rest of the sturdy polycarbonate chassis.
Stuffing a 41-MP sensor into a smartphone is no small feat, so we can understand why the camera protrudes on the back of the device. However, this bulge adds noticeable bulk, and we found it somewhat difficult to use the Lumia 1020 with one hand. If you put the phone facedown on a table, the lens bump actually props it up. On the plus side, this phone is a lot more streamlined than Samsung's Galaxy S4 Zoom.Lumia 925 on T-Mobile (5.1 x 2.8 x .33 inches and 4.9 ounces), but it's certainly an improvement over last year's 6.5-ounce Lumia 920 for AT&T. In comparison, the HTC One measures 5.4 x 2.7 x .37 inches and weighs 5.1 ounces.
Display and audio
The Lumia 1020 registered 441 lux on our light meter, which is well above the 383 category average and slightly higher than the brightness on the Lumia 925 (429 lux). The HTC One is a slightly brighter 463 lux.
The bottom-mounted speaker on the Lumia 1020 gets fairly loud. The soaring vocals in Coldplay's "Yellow" sounded distinct from the guitars, but the overall sound wasn't as robust or balanced as the HTC One's dual speakers.
Software and interface
However, Windows Phone 8 also continues to suffer from some weaknesses. For instance, you have to tap the top of the screen to see your battery meter and signal strength, and you can't easily toggle such settings as Airplane Mode, Wi-Fi or brightness as you can on most Android phones. And although you can press and hold the Back button to switch between apps in a card-based view, you can't close apps from this menu.
41-MP PureView camera
You can also have some fun revisionist zoom history with photos in the other direction. If you zoom in on a subject before snapping a photo, you can then reframe the shot with the press of a button and zoom out. You may even decide to create a whole separate photo. No other smartphone can do this.
Nokia Pro Camera app
We also enjoyed having the freedom to focus on objects closest to the lens, de-emphasizing the background. Should you decide to tweak multiple settings at once, you can easily reset them to the defaults by swiping the on-screen shutter button to the left.
Nokia Smart Cam and Lens apps
The Nokia Smart Cam app is a one-stop shop for doing more with your photos. Instead of having to activate one of many discrete modes, as with the Galaxy S4, the Lumia 1020 lets you perform all sorts of neat tricks after capturing a series of images.
Action Shot takes multiple pictures of someone moving across the frame and turns them into a single photo with the person appearing in several places at once. There's also Remove Moving Objects mode, which removes photobombers from your shots. Best Shot snaps off multiple photos and lets users pick the best ones. Motion Focus Mode captures moving objects in the foreground while slightly blurring the background, giving a sense of motion.
Cinemagraph is a separate Lens app and continues to be a staff favorite. This feature lets you animate portions of a still photo and convert it into a fun animated GIF. Panorama is available for those fond of sweeping 180-degree shots. Other choices include Creative Studio for adding Instagram-like filters and PhotoBeamer for sharing photos to other mobile devices or smart TVs with a browser. However, the use of QR codes makes the process more complex than we'd like.
We do have some complaints about the Lumia 1020's camera, starting with lag. We missed some shots because of the delay in processing each image. The autofocus is a little slow, too, so you could miss a moving subject. All of Nokia's competitors have faster cameras. Our advice is to use the physical camera button and press it halfway to focus before firing.
Another drawback is that the Lumia 1020 has multiple camera apps with different interfaces. For instance, the Pro Camera app has a dedicated on-screen shutter button and shortcuts to your gallery in the upper-left corner (one of the last shot you took, and the other for your entire camera roll). With the regular Camera app, you can press anywhere on the display to take a photo and swipe in from the left to access the camera roll. That's confusing.
Sharing and transferring photos
For now, at least, sharing photos from the Lumia 1020 is limited to 5-MP shots. We do like the multiple sharing options. These include Tap + Send (NFC), Family Room (sharing to family members' Windows Phones), Facebook, LinkedIn, OneNote and Twitter.
The Lumia 1020's video capabilities are quite impressive, allowing you to zoom in up to six times while still maintaining a quality image. And with Nokia Rich Recording, you'll enjoy stereo sound. Our footage of New York City traffic looked perfectly smooth as we panned around Fifth Avenue and tracked a red motorcycle.
Next, we put Nokia's optical image stabilization to the test by walking down the street while recording with both the Lumia 1020 and iPhone 5 side by side. The footage from Apple's device was noticeably shaky with each step, while the 1020 stayed quite stable.
On the WP Bench -- which measures CPU, memory, storage and GPU performance -- the Lumia 1020 scored 224, which is the exact same score as the Lumia 925 recorded and just a couple of ticks behind the Lumia 928's score of 228.
The Lumia 1020 did get warm at times, especially when the 4G LTE radio was active, but not disturbingly so.
Nokia provides several of its own apps to fill in some of the gaps. Nokia Music offers both a streaming option and a built-in store for purchasing tracks. The service also lets you see nearby gigs. Those who upgrade to Nokia Music+ for $3.99 per month will enjoy unlimited song skips on radio and unlimited offline radio-station access (up to one hour each).
Most of AT&T's additions are pretty pointless, including the $9.99 AT&T Navigator (for directions Nokia gives you for free), AT&T Radio and AT&T Mobile TV. Fortunately, you can remove all of the above.
4G LTE performance
The Lumia 1020 packs a 2,000 mAh battery, which Nokia promises will provide users with 6.7 hours of web browsing time over Wi-Fi and 1.3 hours of talk time over 3G. In our LAPTOP Battery Test, which continuously browses the Internet over LTE, the Lumia 1020 lasted 6 hours and 33 minutes, besting the category average (6:07) and the Lumia 925 (5:47). The HTC One, however, lasted 6:45.
The device offered decent endurance in our anecdotal testing. After using the phone for about 8 hours, intermittently streaming music and video, taking photos, checking email and downloading apps, the phone's battery was down to 8 percent.
Camera grip and accessories
Those who want a more professional feel when using the Lumia 1020 will want to pick up the $79 Camera Grip. It comes in the same three colors as the device and offers a tripod mount attachment. In addition to giving you a beefier shutter button and a more robust curved grip, you get a 1,100-mAh battery built in for extending your shooting time. However, this accessory adds 1.1 inches of thickness to an already-bulky design.
Other accessories include the $149 JBL PowerUp speaker, which lets you take advantage of the Lumia 1020's built-in wireless charging speaker while boosting the audio.
However, due to both its high $299 price and the learning curve for its Pro Camera app, the Nokia Lumia 1020 is a niche device. Yes, the built-in tutorial helps, but the Samsung Galaxy S4 is better for the masses because it integrates multiple shooting modes into its camera app. With the Lumia 1020, there are several distinct camera Lens apps.
In an ideal world, we'd love to see the Lumia 1020's 41-MP sensor inside an Android phone, but if you like Windows Phone's Live Tile interface and are willing to live with a slightly bulky design, you'll have a blast with the Lumia 1020's camera.
|Phone Display Size||4.5|
|Form Factor||Candybar Touchscreen|
|OS Family||Windows Phone|
|Operating System||Windows Phone 8|
|CPU||1.5 Dual-core Qualcomm MSM8960 Snapdragon|
|Processor Family||Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8960|
|Memory Expansion Type|
|Display (main)||4.5 inches 1280 x 720|
|Bluetooth Type||Bluetooth 3.0|
|Front Camera Resolution||1.2MP|
|Talk / Standby Time|
|Ports||USB 2.0 HS|
|Size||5.1 x 2.8 x .41 inches|
|SAR Rating (Head)|
|SAR Rating (Body)|