Why should you consider the Nokia Lumia 1020? Not only is the Lumia 1020 the best Windows Phone device to date, it is also armed with a 41-megapixel camera - the best of any on a smartphone.
A tough panel of Goriila Glass 3 protects the 4.5-inch Super AMOLED display which offers a resolution of 1280 X 768 pixels. The resolution may fall just short of rivals like the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One, but it is near as makes no difference.
The Lumia seems thoughtfully curved and tapered in the right places to make it more ergonomic. It measures 5.1-inches tall, 2.8-inches wide and 0.4 inches thick - mostly. The camera bump extends that to 0.5 inches.
Nokia used a polycarbonate housing with a matte-finish which resists greasy smudges and fingerprints.
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In the wild, I never encountered an issue with reception or call quality. Sound was bright and clear.
The Lumia 1020 bridges the gap between camera phones and dedicated cameras. Not just point & shoot cameras, but even more advanced and exotic hardware. The 26mm Zeiss lens with an f2.2 aperture and the 41-megapixel sensor push the envelope in mobile photography. The Xenon flash is a huge improvement over the typical smartphone LED. The Lumia also has an LED it uses for autofocus assist and a video light. There is a welcome dedicated camera button along the right edge.
BGR declared the Lumia 1020 a "mobile photographer's dream." That’s perhaps overstating it a bit. No doubt if smartphone camera capability tops your feature list then start with the Nokia Lumia 1020. There are some shortcomings though.
When taking multiple photos there is a 3-4 second delay between shots. The software is powerful, but the combination of camera apps, options and the interface can be confusing.
The list of camera apps is long: Nokia Smart Camera, Cinemagraph lens, Panorama lens, Bing vision, PhotoBeamer, Creative Studio, Nokia Glam Me, and Nokia Pro Camera. Too long?
A swipe from the right in the Nokia Pro Camera app reveals controls for exposure compensation, shutter speed, ISO, white balance and manual focus in an attractive overlay of rings that resemble a map of planetary orbits. There is no direct aperture control.
The Nokia Smart Camera app shoots a sequence of ten photos and uses software magic to layer them for certain effects. You can select your favorite shot or combine your choice of the ten photos into one picture for a strobe effect, or remove unwanted objects, or choose the best faces in group shots. There is also a background blur effect that emulates camera panning.
Now about those 41-megapixels. The most an image will have is actually 38-megapixels and to extract all those pixels you’ll have to pull the raw files via a computer. Photos that are shared via the Lumia are limited to 5-megapixels.
What to like...
Best camera on a phone
Extensive image editing options
Pleasing 4.5-inch display
It’s not Android or iOS
Next shot delay
Camera and image apps not always intuitive
Heftier and bulkier than most
It’s not Android or iOS
Who should get it?
Unless you are dug-in to Android or iOS the Nokia Lumia 1020 should be on your look list. You’ll need to be comfortable using third party apps for Instagram, YouTube and a number of other popular services. Some may balk at the thin support for Google apps.
Maybe you like to "think different.” Even Apple commended the Lumia line for being unique.
The most common complaint when it debuted was the $300 price, but now AT&T is selling the Lumia 1020 for $199.99.
The bottom line is the Lumia is a niche product, but if you’re serious about smartphone photography then the 1020 is where you should start.