Nokia Lumia 1020 - Review

Nokia Lumia 1020 - Review

Smartphone photography has come along way since the introduction of the Nokia Lumia 920, with optical image stabilization (OIS). With OIS, Nokia's smartphones were able to capture superior low light photos, and it was only right that the next camera flagship featured Nokia's newest camera advancements. The Nokia Lumia 1020, the successor to the 41MP Nokia 808 PureView was the first smartphone to successfully implement all of Nokia's PureView technology into a single powerful camera phone.

  • 41MP camera
  • Xenon Flash
  • 2GB of RAM
  • 4G LTE connectivity
  • lacks microSD

The Lumia 1020 has adopted a similar unibody polycarbonate design found on Lumia 920 and its available in black, white and yellow. Nokia has chosen to use a matte design instead of a glossy chassis, which means you are less prone to smudges and fingerprints on your device.

It may take some time getting accustomed to handling the device because of its huge camera, but after some adjustment it should feel at home in your hands. Nokia has actually managed to make the Lumia 1020 thinner than the Lumia 920 despite its larger lens. 808 Pureview owners will be even more impressed my the inches Nokia has managed to shave off on Lumia 1020.

The Lumia 1020 is available around the world through various carriers and retailers. If you live in Sri Lanka you could consider purchasing the handset through Softlogic (Rs.98,990) at its full retail price. If you live in the U.S., the device is exclusively available through AT&T and was recently discounted to $49.99 on contract. The handset is available in Yellow, Black and White and comes with a matching range of accessories to suit your needs. There is also a fourth red variant of the device, which is currently exclusive to AT&T.


We will take a look at two Lumia 1020 units in this review. Both are international variants of the device with the black device coming in the standard packaging which the yellow one includes the camera grip accessory for the Lumia 1020. The camera grip makes it much easier for those who primarily take photos on their Lumia 1020 and even adds some extra battery life.

(Coming Soon)

Other than for the camera grip accessory, the content of both packages are quite similar and include a SIM removal tool, USB cable, headphones (same color as your phone), power adaptor and manuals.


The Nokia Lumia 1020 follows the polycarbonate design from its predecessors, but manages to shave off several inches despite its large camera. The handset is available in Black, White and Yellow as we mentioned before and uses a matte finish which feels richer and less prone to fingerprints than the glossy polycarbonate used in some of their older handsets. The buttons and camera module are in black which contrasts well with the white and yellow units, but fades into the black Lumia 1020.

The handset itself is easy to use and manipulate, but the heft of the bulging camera will take some getting used to. Once your hands have learned to accommodate the sensor, users will appreciate the design improvements to the polycarbonate body.

The slimmer waist does come with some drawbacks. For example the wireless charging, which was built into the Lumia 920, is now available as a separate accessory. So if you want features like wireless charging and the camera grip, you will find yourself spending more on an already pricey handset. The slimmer frame also makes the device feel a little too thin in our opinion. The bulk on the Lumia 920 for example, makes the device fit comfortably in the hand, and we feel Nokia has given into the pressure of making their handsets thinner, sacrificing comfort in the process.

Nokia Lumia 1020 - Specs
The Nokia Lumia 1020 which runs Windows Phone 8 features a 4.5 inch AMOLED HD display, 32GB of internal storage, a 41MP rear camera and a dual-core chip with 2GB of RAM.

The front of the device is mostly made up of its 4.5 inch display which gently tapers into the sides of the device

Above the screen you will find the earpiece, the ambient light and proximity sensors, as well as the 1.2 megapixel front-facing camera.

Below the display you will find three touch-sensitive buttons which are used to navigate through Windows Phone 8. We like the placement and spacing between the buttons and found it was easy to play games on this device without accidently pressing the keys.

The left side of the device is empty

On the right you have the volume rocker, power/lock button and dedicated two-stage camera button. The camera button can be used to launch the camera even when the device is locked.

On the top of the device you will find the 3.5mm universal audio connector, a secondary microphone for noise cancellation, and the microSIM tray.

The bottom of the phone houses the microUSB port with lanyard eyelet and loudspeaker grill on either side. The microphone pinhole isn't visible and is likely hidden under the loudspeaker grill.

Turning the device over on its back will reveal the pride and joy of the Lumia 1020, its 41 megapixel camera. The camera has been placed in a large round plate which accommodates the camera lens, a Xenon flash and an LED flash, which also serves as a video light.

We would have personally preferred if the hump was slightly higher on the device as you will have to find a way to rest your fingers on it when typing. This in turn may result in a finger inprint on your lens, which will have to be cleaned before your next photo.

The 2000mAh battery of the Lumia 1020 cannot be accessed, but you can extend its capacity by another 1000mAh if you get the optional grip cover. This makes the handset easier to hold and adds a larger shutter button for your camera along with a tripod mount.

Aside from the non-removable battery, the other sacrifice mandated by the unibody design is the lack of expandable storage. While 32GB of internal storage should be enough for most users, you will have to get the Telefonica exclusive 64GB model if you want more storage.

The two dots found at the bottom rear connect to the optional wireless charging shell. As we mentioned before Nokia has made the wireless charging an optional accessory for the Lumia 1020. While the shell makes the device bulkier, we felt it became easier to handle. Mixing and matching the accessories also gives you ways to customize your device further.


The Lumia 1020 has a 4.5 inch touch PureMotionHD+ AMOLED display with a 768 by 1280 pixel resolution, which offers a 332 ppi pixel density similar in quality to the display on the Lumia 925. The handset clearly proves that you don't always need full HD on your handsets by offering great viewing angles and decent sunlight legibility. You also get Gorilla Glass 3 protection which ensures that you display is scratch free with extra impact resistance and Super Sensitivity, which allows the touchscreen to be used with gloves.

The Lumia 1020 also comes with a useful Color Profile app which can be used to customize the color balance and saturation to suite your preference.


The Lumia 1020 comes with quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE support, quad-band 3G with HSPA and penta-band 4G LTE connectivity. There are two versions of the phone with a different set of LTE bands. If you're in range of an LTE network, the 1020 will do up to 100Mbps download and 50Mbps upload. If not, HSDPA still offers reasonably good speeds up to 42Mbps download and 5.76Mbps upload.

The handset additionally features dual-band Wi-Fi a/b/g/n with DLNA and Wi-Fi Hotspot, and stereo Bluetooth 3.0. Bluetooth which now also includes file transfer support.

The handset also comes with NFC, which will allow various interactions with Nokia accessories like the JBL PowerUp speaker. It will also come in useful when your sharing photos or web pages with your Android brethren.


The Nokia Lumia 1020 offers loud and clear call quality without any issues in signal reception. We tested using the handset on T-Mobile in the US (unlocked International model) and Dialog GSM in Sri Lanka.

We like the placement of the loudspeaker on the Lumia 1020 compared to the speaker on the Lumia 925. However we would like liked the device to produce a louder output than it does.


Windows Phone 8 continues its solid battery performance with the Lumia 1020. The 2000mAh battery inside the device easily takes you through 2 days with general use and makes it through the day even when used vigorously.

The camera is the main battery drainer on the Lumia 1020, and even so we were able to squeeze around 12 hours out of it during our tests. If you choose to include the camera grip accessory you will get a much needed improvement to the battery life and we had our 1020 last up to 5 days with minimal (yet always connected) use.


The Nokia Lumia 1020 runs Windows Phone 8 with Windows Phone General Distribution Release (GDR) 2 and Nokia's Lumia Amber update. Windows Phone GDR2 includes access to your FM radio, a Data Sense app which helps you track the amount of data you are consuming and set usage limits, and support for Google's CardDAV and CalDAV protocols. With Lumia Amber you get new image processings algorithms, the Nokia Pro Camera app, Nokia Glance Screen, and Call and SMS blocking.

What's new in Windows Phone GDR2 and Lumia Amber updates
In this article we hope to offer an in depth guide to the new features and improvements offered in the Windows Phone 8 GDR2 update and the Nokia Lumia Amber updates.Both the GDR2 and Lumia Amber updates have started rolling out, but are not yet available for all devices.

Other than for these enhancements you get the familiar WIndows Phone 8 experience which is made up of its Start Screen Live Tiles, Xbox games and Office mobile with support for Office 365.

Windows Phone 8 - Here's all you need to know
Windows Phone 8 is the successor to Windows Phone 7 and the second generation of Microsoft's modern mobile operating system. This means you will have the same Live tiles which display dynamic information on your Start Screens. Here's all you need to know

Recently Nokia has started rolling out their Lumia Black update bundled with Microsoft's Windows Phone Update 3 (GDR3). With Windows Phone GDR3 you get an improved lockscreen, custom ringtones, enhanced multitasking and more. Meanwhile the Lumia Black update also brings a series of enhancements from Nokia for your Windows Phone 8 device.

Nokia Lumia Black - Here's all you need to know
The Lumia Black update brings lots of new features, improvements in imaging, app updates and new Nokia apps, like: Refocus, Beamer, Storyteller and Camera to the devices.
Windows Phone Update 3 (GDR3) - Here's all you need to know
The latest version of Windows Phone update brings a few key improvements and enhancements to Windows Phone 8 devices. Here's all you need to know about Windows Phone Update 3 (GDR3)

Nokia Lumia handsets also get the advantage of a huge collection of Nokia apps and services including the offline Nokia Maps, Nokia Music and Nokia's Photo Lenses and camera enhancements.

Nokia Collection for Windows Phone 8
Nokia as the biggest Windows Phone manufacturer has really stepped forward to offer a very rich experience with their camera and navigation suites for Windows Phones. Check out are detailed review of each of these applications and see how they can benefit your WP experience

You can always download new apps and games through the Windows Phone Store, which has a steadily growing catalog of content. With Nokia recently announcing that Instagram and Vine will be available for Windows Phones, there is no reason why you wouldn't want to make a device like the Lumia 925 your next smartphone.


The 41 megapixel camera is the Lumia 1020's pride and joy. It is the second generation 41MP camera following in the footsteps of the Nokia 808 PureView. However Nokia has now enhanced the experience by including optical image stabilization (OIS) which is still a rarity among smartphones, but an immensely useful thing to have. The technology has been redesigned to accommodate the larger sensor and now you get to take shake-free videos and far better pictures in low light.

Optical image stabilization compensates for the movement of your hands and lets you take longer-exposure still shots without introducing blur due to camera shake. Longer exposures, in turn, allow lower ISO setting to be selected and still get the same exposure, only with less noise.

Nokia has chosen to make the Lumia 1020 camera sensor smaller than the one in the 808 PureView, in a likely attempt to make the device thinner. It's 1/1.5" instead of 1/1.2" and this means it has somewhat smaller pixels - 1.12 microns instead of 1.4 microns. However, the new sensor has a BSI design, which improves light sensitivity. This means it offers lower noise levels in low light, so that probably makes up for the difference in size. There's also the fact that the new 6-element ZEISS lens has a wider aperture than the old one (F/2.2 instead of F/2.4) so it lets more light in.

Another improvement that Nokia made to the Lumia 1020, compared to the 808 PureView is the reduction of the minimal focus distance from 20cm to 15cm. This means that the Lumia 1020 is able to get closer to the subject and produce more detailed macro shots.

Despite its 41MP camera, the Lumia 1020 captures either a 7728 x 4354 pixel image (34MP) in the 16:9 mode or a 7152 x 5368 pixel image (38MP) in the 4:3 mode. The default Windows Phone camera is only capable of capturing 5MP photos in both 4:3 or 16:9 modes while the Nokia Camera application can save a photo in both 34MP and an oversampled 5MP variant.


The Lumia 1020 was accompanied with a Nokia Pro Camera application which compliments the 41MP camera with a simple user interface that allows users to fine tune the camera settings. Nokia has done a great job at making the app simple to use for both novices and professionals alike.

Nokia has now combined their Pro Cam with their previously released Nokia Smart Cam for an all in one experience of their new Nokia Camera app for Windows Phone.

When you open the Nokia Camera interface you will notice the top transparent box in the top center containing six camera adjustments. From left to right they are flash, white balance, focus, ISO, shutter speed and exposure compensation.

Tapping on each of them opens a ring-based interface on the right part of the screen. You can access all of them simultaneously by sliding the on-screen shutter button to the left. This will stack sliders for all six settings next to one another allowing you to easily fiddle with them at the same time. The settings you modify are kept at the values you chose, while the others are adjusted accordingly by the app.

Nokia Camera is capable of capturing two images on you Lumia 1020 - one in full resolution and another one in 5MP, which benefits from the pixel oversampling technology, while at the same time being far easier to share. You can zoom in up to 3x for the 5MP photo without serious degrading the image quality (you'll be losing the advantage of supersampling but it's still much better than the digital zoom in other phones) and you don't have to make a decision on the spot - you can zoom out and in after the fact and even reframe the photo.

Nokia Camera is also capable of capturing video.Tapping the video icon on the bottom gets you to the video part of the app. There you have access to just some of the settings - flash, white balance and focus. The focus can be set to either manual, auto or infinity.

Video recording also makes use of OIS and oversampling. Zoom is enabled even during video capture and it can go up to 4x in 1080p mode and 6x in 720p resolution. The Nokia Lumia 1020 also has two mics (one on top, one on bottom) with the company's proprietary Rich Audio Recording for distortion-free sound recording in loud environments. The 1080p videos are recorded at 30fps, of course.

You can start shooting videos by either tapping on the screen or pressing the dedicated hardware shutter key. Pausing video recording is still not an option on Windows Phone 8. Thanks to the dual high-quality microphone setup on the Lumia 1020, the audio quality is very crisp and boasts a lot of detail and texture.


The default Windows Phone 8 camera can only shoot 5MP photos, but the interface is extremely easy to use if you are intimidated by Nokia Camera. The interface offers a viewfinder and some controls on the right. From top to bottom they are the still/video camera toggle, front/back camera toggle, a flash mode setting and the Lens button. On the left you have an arrow that takes you to the images taken with the camera, alternatively you can swipe to get there.

You also get other settings, ranging from scenes and effects to white balance, contrast, saturation, sharpness and ISO among others. You have a dedicated Macro focus mode but no face detection. The flash can be set to auto, forced or off. A separate setting allows the LED to work as an AF assist light.

SkyDrive is available for photo auto-upload (it's turned off by default), but you can install third-party apps to handle this functionality as well.


Lenses is an interesting feature, allowing third-party camera apps to enhance the core camera functionality without the need to access them separately and get use to their different UIs. The so-called Lenses are like plugins for your camera and they are available directly in the native camera app. Lenses can either be a part of an application (eg: Vine for Windows Phone) or as a separate app which shows up in the list of installed apps.


The 41MP camera and the years of photography experience from Nokia offers some impressive results on the Lumia 1020. As you know you can set the Lumia 1020 camera to capture both a 38MP photo which then becomes the basis of a 5MP oversampled photo.

Lets first look at some 38MP samples

(Coming Soon)

Now let's move on to the 5MP shots which you will end up sharing on your social networks or via email. These photos are usually a tenth in the size compared to full resolution shots in terms of MB and are easily among the best of its class you will see on a modern smartphone. The noise levels become very low and every pixel of the image contributes to the fine detail.

(Coming Soon)

One of the unique features of the Lumia 1020 is use the digital lossless zoom, so we tried that too. The samples below show a 5MP image with no zoom, a 5MP image at 3x zoom and a full resolution shot. You lose the advantage of supersampling, but the image still looks great.

(Coming Soon)

Following the Lumia Black update, Nokia allows the 1020 to store a much larger RAW image file alongside the 5MP sample. These RAW images offer even better quality and are best suited for professional photographers. By default the 1020 camera will only capture oversampled 5MP samples after installing the Lumia Black update.

One of the clear advantages on your Lumia 1020 is the Xenon flash, which can light up an area much better than a regular LED flash.

(Coming Soon)

The Lumia 1020 is a great introduction to advanced smartphone photography, and we are interested to see what Nokia will come up with as its successor.


The Lumia 1020 video recording greatly benefits from the OIS and oversampling. OIS highly improves the look of a video - it dampens hand shake and makes camera movement look smooth and professional. Zoom is enabled even during video capture and it can go up to 4x in 1080p mode and 6x in 720p resolution. The 1080p videos are recorded at 30fps but there is unfortunately no option for 60fps on this device.

The Nokia Lumia 1020 also has two mics (one on top, one on bottom) with the company's proprietary Rich Audio Recording for distortion-free sound recording in loud environments. And unlike the Lumia 925, the Lumia 1020 records video files with stereo audio at a high 256Kbps bitrate and standard 48kHz sampling rate. There's also Audio Bass Filter, which filters out low-frequency noise. It can be set to 100Hz (the default), 200Hz (strong) and Off.


Lumia 1020 Yellow vs. Lumia 1020 Black
We still feel the Lumia 925 is Nokia's most elegant handset, better suited to compare with some of the competitors flagships. While the polycarbonate Lumia 1020 does feel like a premium handset, its bright colors may not appeal to business users.

In most cases the Lumia 1020 is a casual device built for both professional and nonprofessional photographers. Not only does it shoot great pictures, but also offers life-time voice-guided worldwide navigation, great mapping service and even Nokia's own Music streaming app. On top of that you get a screen that can be used with your gloves on and a very decent battery life for a smartphone of its class.

The sad reality is that the Lumia 1020 may never see its successor carry the Nokia branding. Following Microsoft's procurement, we assume the next PureView will come under its new parent company. However the Lumia 1020 is and will be probably remembered as Nokia's crown jewel - a solid phone, with great hardware, amazing innovative camera technology and powerful messenger and office skills.

The Lumia 1020 does have its share of issues, like its low shot-to-shot  time, average non-removable battery, and lack of microSD storage. We cant wait to see what Nokia and Microsoft will come up with together.

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