Nokia Lumia 1020 Review

It was a little over two weeks ago when Nokia unveiled its latest smartphone in its Lumia series, the Lumia 1020, which prior to its official unveiling had been leaked in a number of ways, including its internal specs, what it would look like and details surrounding its massive 41MP main camera.

Windows Phone users who want to make full use of the Nokia Lumia 1020’s 41MP will have to be AT&T subscribers as the device is available exclusively on that carrier, with no word on if or when it would be made available to additional carriers. But its 41MP camera isn’t the only change Nokia has made to the Lumia 1020 in comparison to previously released Lumia smartphones, such as its matte finish. With that said, let’s take a deeper look at what exactly Nokia has put into the total package of its Lumia 1020.

Nokia Lumia 1020 Specs

Display: 1280 x 768
Display Size: 4.5 inch
Display Type: AMOLED
Processor: 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4
RAM: 2GB
Storage: 32GB
MicroSD: No
Battery Capacity: 2000mAh
Rear-Facing Camera: 41MP Pureview with Xenon Flash
Front-Facing Camera: 1.2MP
Weight: 158g
Dimensions: 130.4 x 71.4 x 10.4 mm
Complete specifications are available on Nokia.com

Context

There are a rather large number of reasons why I carry around a smartphone with me, but one of the main reasons has to be my iPhone 5’s ability to snap some exceptional shots no matter where I am or what I’m doing. I tend to share a number of things through social networks, emails and text messages and I find being able to attach a photo or video to them adds an additional layer that helps whoever is viewing my content feel like they’re really there. That’s why I like to consider a smartphone’s camera when I’m looking to upgrade.

For this review, I’ll be doing some serious work testing the Nokia Lumia 1020’s 41MP camera to see just how great it is, especially if it’s one of the main reasons why you’re considering purchasing this smartphone. In addition to that, I’ll also be taking a look at the overall package Nokia has included with the Lumia 1020, and if it’s worth non-Windows Phone 8 users should consider adopting a completely new mobile operating system for.

Industrial Design

Nokia Lumia 1020 Review

The Nokia Lumia 1020’s overall design borrows from a number of previously released Lumia handsets which gives it a style of its own. The first thing you’ll feast your eyes on when you see the Lumia 1020 is its 4.5-inch display which pumps out a resolution of 1280 x 768. Similar to recently released Lumia devices, there’s a black bezel surrounding the screen, which is thin on top, and thicker on the bottom. The top bezel is where you’ll find an AT&T logo, Nokia’s logo and the Lumia 1020’s front-facing camera. Directly above the Nokia logo is an extremely thin speaker that blends very well with the bezel. Below the screen is where you’ll find the Lumia 1020’s Back, Windows and Search buttons, which offer a small amount of vibration when they’re pushed.

"IT IS SLICK HOW THE SCREEN SEEMS TO BE FLOATING ABOVE THE BODY OF THE PHONE"   One design feature I think is really slick on the Lumia 1020 is how the screen looks to be floating above the body of the phone. When you’re looking at the screen head-on, the rest of the phone surrounds it, which looks really nice if you happen to pick up a yellow or white Lumia 1020, but if you decided on the black version, you probably won’t notice it as much.

As with most Lumia recently released Lumia smartphones, the left side of the device is left completely free of any physical buttons, while the right side houses its volume rocker, sleep / wake button and the camera button. Once again, the placement of these buttons hasn’t changed, which leads us to not enjoy it as much considering the awkward placement of the sleep / wake button, which is in the middle of the device. If you want to push the button with one hand, you’ll either need to slide it up so your thumb meets the button, or use bottom part of your thumb to push it. If you hold your phone with your left hand usually, then you probably welcome Nokia’s recent layout of its physical buttons.

The top of the Lumia 1020 is where you’ll find its 3.5mm headphone jack, which is placed right at the center of the device. To the left of the headphone jack is a microphone, and to the right is where you can access the Lumia 1020’s SIM card. The bottom of the phone is where its microUSB port is located, and to the right of it is a speaker. To the left of the microUSB is where Nokia decided to place two slots where you can tie a charm or a string to attach the Lumia 1020 to a bag. Considering how easy it would be to nab if it’s being held by a string on your bag, we have a feeling you probably won’t be using this groove much.

The rear of the Lumia 1020 is probably the area you’re most interested in as this is where its 41MP PureView camera with Xenon Flash is located. The camera takes up a good majority of the rear of the Lumia 1020, and actually makes the device a bit top-heavy when you’re holding it in your hand. Considering it’s able to capture up to 41MP, the phone feels relatively light, although it isn’t lighter than previous Lumia phones.

Display (very good)

Nokia Lumia 1020 Review

Considering just how massive the camera is, you would think Nokia would feature a display on the Lumia 1020 that would allow you to take advantage of the high-resolution images you’ll be capturing with it. Unfortunately, Nokia decided to go with a 1280 x 768 resolution for the 4.5-inch display. The display certainly gets the job done as images look nice and vibrant thanks to its use of AMOLED, but we wish Nokia would have equipped the Lumia 1020 with a display that would better showcase its 41MP camera’s abilities.

"THE 4.5-INCH 720P DISPLAY GETS THE JOB DONE, BUT 1080P WOULD HAVE BEEN AMAZING FOR PHOTO VIEWING"  

The 4.5-inch display is at a comfortable size where the Lumia 1020 doesn’t begin to enter the “phablet” category and should fit comfortably in your pockets. The Windows Phone 8 operating system makes full use of the Lumia 1020’s display as the overall user interface allows its users to swipe and select their way to whatever application they’re looking to use. Just remember in order to see just how gorgeous your 41MP images look, you’ll need to find something with a higher resolution.

Nokia Lumia 1020 Custom Apps

The Nokia Lumia 1020 comes with a number of applications which can be found on other Lumia devices such as Nokia Music and HERE Maps, but it currently has one application other Lumias doesn’t: Nokia Pro Cam.

Nokia Lumia 1020 Review

Nokia Pro Cam

The Nokia Pro Cam is the company’s answer to all of the cool tricks we’ve been seeing manufacturers like Samsung introduce in the camera software for their respective mobile devices. The Pro Cam allows its users to be able to take multiple shots to pick out the perfect one, capture a set of images within the same setting to produce action shots while someone is moving through a space, put emphasis on motion in an image, remove an unwanted attempt at a photobomb from an image and also manipulate an image to have the subjects look their absolute best. These are certainly nice additions to an already powerful camera, although Lumia 1020 owners will have to access these features from a specific menu, which means they aren’t activated by default.

Nokia Lumia 1020 Review

AT&T Navigator, Mobile TV and AT&T Radio

AT&T also offers a number of applications made available on a number of its device onto the Nokia Lumia 1020, which subscribers could enjoy if they’re willing to pay extra for them. One of the first applications AT&T bundles with the Lumia 1020 is its AT&T Navigator, which is a pretty straightforward GPS app that allows users to receive turn-by-turn directions, real-time traffic updates and the ability to find points of interest based on your location. Considering the Lumia 1020 already comes bundled with Nokia’s impressive HERE mapping application, we think it’s safe to say you won’t be needing AT&T’s Navigator any time soon.

A long commute or road trip can be a bore depending on who you’re traveling with, that’s why having some kind of video service on your device can be a godsend. AT&T’s Mobile TV brings live, on-demand and downloadable television to your Lumia 1020 which includes channels from Comedy Central, ABC, Disney Channel, and Bravo to name a few. Unfortunately, to use Mobile TV, you’ll need to agree to an additional subscription of $9.99 a month, although Lumia 1020 owners can try the service for free for seven days. Considering that cost would only allow you to view programming on your mobile devices, Netflix or Hulu seem to be the better option in this case.

The last AT&T-branded application included in the Lumia 1020 is its AT&T Radio app. The app promises to deliver over 400 different radio stations across a wide variety of genres located in a number of markets around the U.S. Just like with AT&T’s other applications, AT&T Radio requires a subscription to use, which means you should really be a fan of radio before you decide to drop $4.99 a month for a chance to listen to hundreds of radio stations.

Killer Apps

Nokia Lumia 1020 Review

Virtual Keyboard (good)

The Nokia Lumia 1020 runs on the Windows Phone 8 operating system, which means many of you will probably be experiencing its virtual keyboard for the first time if you’ve been a long-time Android or iOS user. The virtual keyboard on the Lumia 1020 offers a pretty standard experience when compared to other Windows Phone 8 devices, although the matte finish of the device makes it a little tricky to type on while it’s being used in portrait mode. Using the keyboard in landscape mode makes the experience a little better, but the virtual keyboard feels scrunched up when compared to keyboards on Android and the iPhone, although we got used to it after about 10 – 15 minutes of use.

As for the virtual keyboard itself, we’ve always enjoyed the Windows Phone 8 keyboard experience as it does a really good job at predicting text in a way that isn’t intrusive to the overall experience. The keys are very responsive and can keep up with our input speed no matter how fast we typed.

Nokia Lumia 1020 Review

Facebook (very good)

With Windows Phone 8’s live tiles, the Facebook experience can be enjoyed when you’re not actively in the application as when you connect your Facebook account with the device, your “Me” photo will update with your Facebook profile image, and the People live tile will also update with your Facebook friends’ information. Facebook for Windows Phone 8 is also able to take random images from your account and have it replace the image on your lock screen.

The actual Facebook application is pretty much what you would expect from the company’s offerings across mobile operating systems as of this writing. You’ll be able to access your News Feed, like, comment and share posts and access your favorites as well as chat with fellow Facebook users.

Nokia Lumia 1020 Review

Nokia HERE Maps (excellent)

HERE Maps is Nokia’s response to Google and Apple Maps and it does a very good job and making sure all compatible Windows Phone 8 devices are able to have their own maps application that can keep up with competing software. HERE Maps allows you to view multiple map options that include a satellite view, public transit routes and live traffic information.

HERE Maps also makes it easy to download and update maps across multiple regions around the world. The user would simply choose a continent, then their region, and the download will commence, which it’s best to initiate while connected to a local Wi-Fi network.

"HERE MAPS IS ONE OF THE SHINING GEMS ON WINDOWS PHONE 8"  

Of course – you probably want to actually use HERE Maps, which the application gives you a number of options to get to your destination. You can search for the place you want to go, view popular places in your area and access your favorites. Once you know where you want to go, your given information regarding the location, and can get walking, driving and public transportation directions. Driving directions in HERE Maps has a voice navigation option which offers multiple voices, and you can even choose if you want to avoid highways, toll roads and even unpaved roads. HERE Maps gives Windows Phone 8 users many options to help them navigate the world around them, and is one of the shining gems of the less-popular operating system.

Entertainment (very good)

Nokia Lumia 1020 Review

Video Playback (very good)

Playing videos on the Lumia 1020 is no different from any other Lumia device as it’s able to perform very well considering it’s powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 chip. The Windows Phone 8 interface allows you to do what you’d expect most video players to do, which is pause / play, rewind, fast forward, with no additional bells and whistles. It’s a pretty standard experience, although as long as you’re able to enjoy your video on your phone, then what’s to complain about?

Nokia Lumia 1020 Review

Gaming (excellent)

For the purposes of our review, we played Dominoes, Temple Run and Halo: Spartan Assault to gauge just how well the Lumia 1020 would perform when playing a wide variety of games. As you would expect, it performed very well when playing Dominoes, although we noticed there were some slight hiccups when playing Temple Run. When playing Halo: Spartan Assault, however, we noticed no slowdown or hiccups, which leads us to believe Temple Run may not have been optimized for the Windows Phone 8 platform. Either way, we’re sure games you’ll end up playing on your Lumia 1020 will perform just as well as you expect them to.

Nokia Lumia 1020 Review

Speaker Quality (very good)

The Nokia Lumia 1020 has a single speaker port located towards the bottom-right corner of the device, next to its microUSB port. Since Nokia equipped the Lumia 1020 with a single speaker port, I wasn’t expecting much out of it to be honest, but I was surprised to hear how well it performed when playing a wide range of music. At its loudest setting, the Lumia 1020 can push out tunes at pretty loud where you could probably still enjoy it a couple of rooms away.

The speaker overall favors more high-end sounds and lacks a rich overall sound, although when you consider this is a speaker on a smartphone, we’re sure you’ll still be impressed with its range and sound quality.

Digital Imaging (excellent)

Nokia Lumia 1020 Review

If you’re reading this review, chances are this is probably one of the most important aspects of the Lumia 1020 that is leading you to consider this smartphone. Nokia has supplied a 41MP Pureview camera with Xenon Flash in the Lumia 1020, which is quite the mouthful. The Lumia 920 and 928 already had great cameras, but Nokia certainly pushed the envelope with the Lumia 1020’s camera.

Photo and Video Quality (excellent)

Nokia Lumia 1020 ReviewNokia Lumia 1020 Review

We took our Lumia 1020 outdoors to capture our images with some natural lighting and compared it with our iPhone 5, which already has a pretty great camera compared to other mobile devices. As you’ll see from the sample images above, the Lumia 1020’s camera absolutely shines when compared with the iPhone 5 as there’s a high amount of detail, color and contrast. To be completely honest, the Lumia 1020 has the best camera on any smartphone we’ve seen.

Nokia Lumia 1020 ReviewNokia Lumia 1020 Review

Just remember if you decide to post your images or videos on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any other social media service that the overall quality of the image will most likely degrade a bit. Overall, you should expect a stellar performance, especially if you take your amateur photography serious, but not serious enough to purchase a full-featured camera.

Performance (very good)

Nokia Lumia 1020 Review

There aren’t many benchmark programs for the Windows Phone 8 platform, but there are two that we like to use that help us gauge just how powerful these devices are: AnTuTu and SunSpider.

Antutu is an overall system performance benchmark that we use to show how well a device is going to perform overall. Unless you do something very specific, like play games or watch videos, then your overall experience should remain the same no matter what you do on the device.

Nokia Lumia 1020 Review

For the Nokia Lumia 1020, the AnTuTu benchmark scored it at 12068, which is slightly higher than what the Lumia 920 has scored in the past. This means the Lumia 1020 will be able to perform many of your tasks without any sort of slowdown or hiccups as the device overall performs very well together. When compared with Android handsets, its performance is on par with the Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3, although considering the Lumia 1020 runs a completely different operating system, you should remember that synthetic numbers don’t represent the overall user experience.

The second benchmark we ran on the Lumia 1020 was SunSpider, which is a Javascript benchmark which gauges just how well the Javascript engine will run on a device. SunSpider doesn’t test a device’s specs, instead it allows us to see just how fast it’ll render web pages, which may hint at how powerful a device is, but in no way should be considered an actual test of specs.

Nokia Lumia 1020 Review

Our SunSpider benchmark resulted in a score of 1040.0ms, which is a slightly slower score than the Lumia 920’s, which scored below 1000ms. The difference between the two scores is so small we think we can consider them to be an insignificant difference as you probably won’t even notice when you’re browsing the web on the Lumia 1020.

Battery (excellent)

Nokia Lumia 1020 Review

The Nokia Lumia 1020’s specs are nothing that we would consider to be a powerhouse, but its 1.5GHz dual-core processor is certainly powerful enough to keep up with much of what you’re probably going to use this phone for, while at the same time not demanding too much from its 2000mAh battery.

Moderate usage (excellent)

For our first test, we like to keep an eye on our device’s battery drain while we do some tasks that wouldn’t be considered intense, such as browsing the web or social media sites for an hour. In our testing, we found the Lumia 1020’s battery drained by 6% through irregular usage. That means you should expect somewhere around 16 hours of irregular battery life as long as you use your phone off and on throughout the day.

Intense usage (excellent)

Those of you who commute to and from work or will need to be entertained for a long amount of time due to an exceptionally long wait, you’re probably going to be using the Lumia 1020 as much as possible while you wait. This is why we also run an intense usage test on our devices, which in this case, was done by playing streaming a YouTube video over Wi-Fi for an hour with the Lumia 1020’s screen at 50% of its full brightness. At the end of our test, we noted a 10% drop in the Lumia 1020’s battery, which means you should expect 10 hours of battery life when using the device intensely.

Charging time (good)

The Nokia Lumia 1020 so far has had some impressive results in our battery drain tests, but one area where the battery doesn’t completely shine is in its ability to recharge. In our tests, we noted an increase of 22% in the Lumia 1020’s battery after keeping it charged for an hour, which means you should expect it to recharge from its completely dead state to fully charged in a little under 5 hours.

Conclusion (very good)

Nokia Lumia 1020 Review

"IF YOU TAKE YOUR SMARTPHONE CAMERA SERIOUSLY, YOU SHOULD REALLY CONSIDER THE LUMIA 1020"   Nokia raised many eyebrows in the tech world by announcing its Lumia 1020 would come with a 41MP camera as most smartphones tend to have cameras that range in the 5MP ~ 15MP range. As a result, Nokia has set a precedent by putting its camera at the forefront in its Lumia 1020.

This smartphone certainly has a lot going for it, but one thing that’s holding it back is the Windows Phone 8 platform, which continues to struggle to make a dent in the mobile OS wars. We personally enjoy the Windows Phone 8 platform, especially its live tiles, but we know most people are hesitant to jump to a completely new mobile platform these days, especially a platform that doesn’t even have an official YouTube app.

The bottom line is if you take your smartphone camera seriously, you should really consider the Lumia 1020 as you probably won’t be able to take pictures this highly-detailed with any other smartphone on the market as of this writing. Even though Windows Phone 8 isn’t popular right now, the operating system will still be able to perform many day-to-day tasks that most people experience on a daily basis. Just don’t expect a dedicated YouTube app yet.

This article was filed in Homepage > Cellphones > Featured > Reviews and was tagged with lumia 1020, Nokia and windows phone 8.
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