Nokia Lumia 1020 – The New Cam-era

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Nokia Lumia 1020 - The New Cam-era

The Nokia Lumia 1020 is by far the best camera phone ever, with a 41 MP snapper on board. This Techspirited article gives you an in-depth review of this mighty phone.

The Pixel Story

Although the camera on the Nokia Lumia 1020 is 41 MP, the effective resolution of the photographs is 38 MP in 4:3 mode, and 34 MP in 16:9.

Nokia have long been known for their fantastic mobile devices with impeccable build quality and features. Of late, the company has focused all its resources on developing better sensors for their camera phones. The result has been simply amazing, and today, the Lumia lineup is known to have some of the most powerful cameras on a mobile device. Taking this legacy forward, and donning the mantle of the ultimate camera phone, is the Nokia Lumia 1020.

This device has one of the most powerful 41 MP camera sensors on a phone, second only to the Nokia 808 PureView, and features an even more advanced camera app and a stable OS. The phone has taken the mobile world by storm, with critics even calling it one of the greatest innovative mobile phones of all time. Here’s an in-depth review of this fantastic device.

Image Source:

nokia lumia 1520
Dimensions 130.4 x 71.4 x 10.4 mm
Weight 158 g
Chipset Qualcomm MSM8960 Snapdragon
CPU Dual-core 1.5 GHz Krait
GPU Adreno 225
Storage 32 GB internal storage
Screen 4.5″ PureMotion HD+ ClearBlack AMOLED
(~334 ppi pixel density)
41 MP/1.2 MP
OS Windows Phone 8
Battery 2,000 mAh Li-ion
Price 99 USD

Disclaimer: Prices mentioned are applicable against a 2-year contract and may change according to location and offers.

Key Features

  • 41 MP PureView camera with OIS
  • Free voice-guided navigation
  • NFC support
  • Great build quality

Main Drawbacks

  • Non-removable battery
  • No microSD card slot
  • Feels bulky
  • Average sunlight legibility

Design and Construction

nokia lumia 1020 buttons

True to its unibody design language, the Lumia 1020 also features the same polycarbonate construction. The phone is a high-end device, and it feels every bit as premium. It looks almost identical to the Lumia 920, but for the camera bump at the back of the 1020. With dimensions of 130.4 x 71.4 x 10.4 mm and weighing in at 160 g, the device is great for one-handed use, which is further helped by the texture of the polycarbonate body. The front side is taken up by the vibrant 4.5-inch screen, with the usual capacitive Windows Phone keys sitting below it. Just above the screen, to the left, are the many sensors of the phone, the secondary camera for video calling is to the right, while the earpiece sits at the center. To the right is the volume rocker at the top, the power/lock key a little below it, and the dedicated camera-shutter key towards the bottom. The left is completely bare. At the top, right at the center sits the 3.5 mm audio jacks, with the secondary mic for noise cancellation to the right, and the microSIM slot to the left. The microSIM is covered by a plastic lid, which can be opened using a SIM eject tool. At the bottom of the phone, at the center, sits the microUSB port for charging and data syncing, with a lanyard eyelet to the extreme left, and the loudspeaker grille to the right. The back of the phone houses the massive camera assembly that bulges out of the device. The camera lens is mounted on a round plastic plate, and also has the Xenon flash and the LED assist light sitting here. Also, there are two pogo pins that sit near the bottom and connect to the optional wireless charging cover.

Hardware and Storage

At the heart of the Lumia 1020 is a Qualcomm MSM8960 Snapdragon chipset, along with a dual-core 1.5 GHz Krait processor. Although the CPU is not the most powerful one around, it is more than capable of handling all the operations of the phone with little fuss. It also comes with 2 GB of RAM to ensure smooth multitasking.

The phone comes with 32 GB of internal storage (64 GB variant only on Telefonica). A major letdown of the device is the lack of a microSD card slot. The 1020, however, comes with 7 GB of cloud storage on SkyDrive.

Display and Graphics

The Lumia 1020 sports a beautiful 4.5-inch PureMotion HD+ AMOLED display with Nokia’s ClearBlack Display technology. The display boasts of very impressive contrasts, deep blacks, and also vibrant colors. It has wide viewing angles, but has average sunlight legibility. The display uses a PenTile matrix instead of the regular RGB subpixel arrangement. The touchscreen is super sensitive, and can even be operated using gloves. The screen is protected by a layer of Corning Gorilla Glass 3. Graphics are powered by an Adreno 225 GPU, which does a fairly good job.


Photography is by far the phone’s forte. The 1020 has a massive 41 MP snapper, which is the same as the one found on the legendary Nokia 808 PureView, although the latter had a larger sensor. Nonetheless, the phone’s imaging abilities are second to none, thanks to advanced Zeiss optics with a 6-lens setup with a wide aperture. This effectively allows more light to enter the lens, resulting in brighter photographs. Low-light photography is something the phone excels at, because of the BSI design of the sensors, and also the OIS on board. The device is perfect for photography on the go, and also for long-exposure shots. The advanced optics on the Lumia 1020 are perfectly complemented by some real handy camera tweaks. The phone features Nokia’s improved camera interface called the ProCamera app, which offers plenty of image settings and adjustments.

nokia lumia 1020 long exposure

The camera allows for great long-exposure shots.

nokia lumia 1020 long exposure

Low-light photography is one of the biggest strengths of the phone.

Images are captured at a maximum resolution of 7728 x 4354 pixels (16:9) and 7152 x 5368 pixels (4:3), which translate to 34 MP and 38 MP respectively. The camera on the phone also uses oversampling which, in turn, allows for superior lossless digital zoom of up to 3x. What the phone actually does is that it captures two photographs at the same time, one at a 5 MP resolution, while the other at full resolution (34/38 MP). Combining the two images lets the user zoom in without any loss of detail. The downside to this is that the shot-to-shot time can be quite a drag (up to 4 seconds).

nokia lumia 1020 camera zoom

The Nokia Lumia 1020 features up to 4x lossless-zoom.

nokia lumia 1020 color reproduction

The color reproduction of the camera is brilliant.

nokia lumia 1020 color reproduction

The images captured have an incredible level of detail.

Image details are extremely crisp, and noise levels are pretty low on the images captured by Nokia’s mighty phone. The phone also comes with a unique Nokia Lenses feature, which lets you use different third-party lenses directly from the default camera app.

nokia lumia 1020 ois

The phone's camera with OIS is perfect for capturing images on the go.

Videos are shot at 1080p@30fps, and are incredibly detailed. The OIS and oversampling are very handy while recording videos, which allow you to zoom up to 4x at 1080p, and 6x at 720p, without losing any details. Audio is recorded using the two mics on the device, and use Nokia’s proprietary Rich Recording feature. The dedicated camera button is a real bonus, and helps cut down on camera movement while capturing images or videos. The front-facing 1.2 MP camera for video calling records videos at 720p@30fps. The device also features tons of camera tweaks like Smart Camera, Action Shot, Motion Focus, Panorama, Cinemagraph, etc. The phone’s video player is really nice as well, and handles a variety of video formats.

Software and Accessories

The Lumia 1020 runs on Windows Phone 8, with a planned upgrade to WP8 Amber. The rich colors of the OS come to life on the gorgeous display of the phone. Nokia also have introduced a few tweaks of their own on the device.

nokia lumia 1020 camera grip

The Nokia Lumia 1020 with the optional camera grip cover.

The phone supports wireless charging, although you would need to separately purchase a wireless charging cover and a Qi charging pad to use this feature. Another exclusive accessory to go along with this phone is the camera grip cover which allows for a better grip on the phone while capturing photographs. The grip also comes with an additional 1,020 mAh battery, a bigger camera key, and a tripod mount.

Battery and Connectivity

The phone has all the major connectivity options. It supports quad-band 2G, quad-band 3G with HSPA, and penta-band 4G networks. It also has NFC, Bluetooth 3.0 with A2DP, A-GPS, Wi-Fi with DLNA, Wi-Fi Hotspot, etc.

The Nokia Lumia 1020 is powered by a 2,000 mAh non-removable Li-ion battery. Although the battery seems small in comparison to some big Android powerhouses, the Windows Phone has a much better battery management system in place than its other OS rivals. The battery is touted to give you a talk time of up to 13 hours and 20 minutes, and a standby time of up to 384 hours, both on 3G. Effectively, the phone should easily make it through a couple of days of moderate usage on a single charge.

The Nokia Lumia 1020 has all the makings of a legend, with a phenomenal camera and some brilliant software tweaks. It obliterates all other camera phones with relative ease, and claims its rightful place at the top of all the camera phones ever made. This is undoubtedly a must-have phone for any photography enthusiast and die-hard fans of the once mighty Finnish giant. This phone undoubtedly marks the dawn of a new (cam)era.

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