Nokia Lumia 1020 Review

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Nokia Lumia 1020: The Key To Unlocking Great Photos

All things considered, I would consider myself a late bloomer when it comes to technology. Now that’s not to say I haven’t embraced it with both arms wide open, in fact quite the opposite, I’ve come to realize that it’s a an enormous addiction for me. The joy of using a Windows Phone on a daily basis for the past 2 years has driven me to learn all I could about WP in addition to creating a fan community as well, #WinPhan. I thought I had it all figured out and then this, the Lumia 1020, a device that transcended itself above what we’ve all come to expect in smartphones. The 1020, with its MASSIVE 41MP camera, turning our technological driven minds back to finding the beauty outside of our devices, daily responsibilities, and tasks.

While I don’t want this piece to revolve around Lumia 1020 specifications you could just as easily find on Bing, it would be a crime to not discuss some of them. So what it is, aside from its “state of the art” camera, that sets the 1020 apart from its predecessors? With a form factor that matches that of both the Lumia 900 and 920 in addition to running the same OS as the rest of our beloved WP8’s, is there a difference? While at first glance it might not be apparent, the answer is yes, there are some wonderful improvements within the 1020 waiting for you to enjoy!

Released in the era of GDR2, the 1020 comes with the standard flagship screen size of 4.5”, the largest WP currently offers(GDR3 and 6” displays to be announced in 1 day). The display is no slouch as Nokia opted for an AMOLED display over LCD, used in the 920 and has a pixel density of 334. While it’s not a 1080 display, the rich textures and colors of WP’s OS pop out of the screen as if it were optimized for AMOLED. Side by side with devices running 1080, it is virtually impossible to tell the difference between the 2, the natural state of Windows Phone really is just that rich! The ClearBlack technology adds such a natural depth to whatever you are viewing, it can easily be mistaken for 1080 by the average user. Another change in the screen department would be the move to Gorilla Glass 3. I’ve heard different a couple of folks mention seeing micro scratches, however I can’t say the same, my screen is looking as new as the day it was unboxed.

Let’s talk a little bit about the form factor of the Lumia 1020. As I mentioned above, the 920 and 1020 are splitting images of each other with some subtle changes, some so subtle you wouldn’t even know. Believe it or not, the 1020 is slightly narrower. When holding the 920 in one hand and the 1020 in the other, you can’t tell, however squeezing the wider 920 into the 1020’s camera grip case can be a challenge. Weighing less than the 920 but more than a Lumia 925, the Lumia 1020 is easy to handle. This has been a contention of mine for quite some time, I hear people speak of how heavy devices are…really!? I’m going to say it and some might not like it, but here goes…
”Folks, I don’t care if we’re talking WP, iPhone, or Android… if you think any of today’s devices are too heavy, then it must be time to get off your rear and get to the gym as fast as your legs can take you or as fast as your favorite navigation app can get you there!”
Alright, that’s out of the way. So as I was saying, the Lumia 1020 is very easy to handle. One of the factors in the ease of handling would be the elimination of the glossy device Nokia had previously offered with some of its Lumia lineup. The easier to grip matte polycarbonate shell with a slightly raised camera aperture, gives the device a nice sense of stability and balance. I’ve come to realize that when grabbing ahold of another phone, I miss the 1020’s “fitted” feel in my hand. Similar to how Windows Phone feels like it was built around me, so does the 1020. When searching for a word to best describe the 1020’s balance and comfort in hand: Ergonomic.

Another improvement of the 1020 over its predecessors would be the increased RAM at 2GB. While a tremendous amount of that extra speed is absorbed by the enormous photo capabilities of the Lumia 1020, the general processing speed and stability have been improved substantially. The screen latency has improved as well. Now I’m not going to preach about being instantaneous, but wowza, it’s pretty darn fast. I find that my 1020 is faster at resuming apps, downloading/installing apps, games function better, and media streams far more effectively with less data usage. The built in browser IE, is far more stable as well, handling data heavy websites without crashing like in the past.

I want to focus on the data aspect I mentioned above for just a sec and then I’ll move away from specs to talk more intimately about the 1020. Some of you might question the importance of RAM and the effects it can have with data usage. I live outside of carrier network range and rely on WiFi for internet, not all that unusual. However, I don’t have access to conventional internet either, we are reliant on satellite internet, that’s a whole different beast. It is a data plan no different than a phone carrier, we pay for 25GB of data per month. Because it is satellite, the data is sent in packets and not a constant stream like most of you are accustomed to. The packets are generally received in a fast enough manner, allowing a steady stream of normal internet activity…generally. There are times however, where those packets don’t, for a slew of reasons, make it to your modem in a timely fashion. It is then that you find out devices with larger RAM store more of the temporary files sent, creating a more seamless and less data consuming experience. Lesser RAM devices begin to call out for the same info much sooner, requiring more of the repeat data to be sent again and again. This process can eat you house out of home.

Ok, I’ve skirted around the “elephant in the room” long enough. Let’s talk about why I bought the Lumia 1020 in the first place…41MP or pure awesome…the camera! Let me preface that by saying, I have had no training, nor the desire to be a photographer in the past. In fact cameras in general, until owning the Lumia 920, made me think back to when I was in my teens. Back in the 80’s like most…I had my funky little $20 Vivitar. Like most…I looked forward to packing the film in the oversized envelopes to send away for development. Like most…disappointed with the dark and grainy photos upon return.

It was almost intimidating buying a device that was termed by many tech pundits as a “niche” device. I really wanted to be able to take good pictures, and while the 920 is good, there are plenty of times I wished the zoom was stronger. It left me wanting more, not go out and buy a $1000 camera more, but more none the less. Was this going to be a monumental financial waste of money on my part? I think the average phone owner falls into that same line of questioning and this is why Sony and Samsung have begun investing resources into “camera centric” hardware. Even Apple and HTC have joined the trend by adding “euphimisms” and trying to “re-term” standard photography terminology as well as an admitted focus on improving photo capability.
So if everybody is at the “Top Notch Pic” party trying to dance, is it really a “niche” and will support continue…is it a safe investemt? Let’s first take a look at the word “niche” and go from there.

Well, there it is…specially suited for a person’s interests, abilities, or nature. Since the demand for better pictures is growing worldwide, I believe the 1020 as well as the other high end camera phones have been mislabeled. I think it’s more accurate to call these newer devices, landmark devices.
Landmark: Important new development such as event, idea, or item that represents a significant or historic development.

As price continues to drop, availability begins to grow, and a legitimate shift in what phone owners are looking for the devices to do…it becomes harder to buy into the niche argument.

I have not regretted a SINGLE moment since purchasing the Lumia 1020! In fact, I find myself looking at everything around me in a much different manner now, everything represents a photo shoot in my mind! I’ve found myself reading as much as I can on the subject of photography as well as having grown a fondness of looking at other peoples photos with a more discerning and understanding eye. I hadn’t expected to be so captivated and swept up. When I show others of the power of my 1020, they are equally as blown away and immediately want to know more. That’s because capturing “beautiful” isn’t niche, it was the “being able to afford” the proper tools to capture beauty, that made it a niche.

The quality of the images the 1020 is able to capture in my opinion are 2nd to none for a smartphone. I want to be completely honest in the fact that I’ve yet to use Samsung’s Zoom, Sony’s Xperia Z1, or even Nokia’s other powerhouse, the PV 808. I’ve only been able to compare photos via the endless tests being performed online, virtually every victory going to our beloved Lumia 1020. What I can say with absolute conviction, the Lumia 1020 does an incredible job of accurately capturing what I see through my own 2 eyes and rendering that exact image to be seen again and again. That makes it worth every penny alone. Currently at $199 on contract in the US, that really is safe investment.

The images reproduced make you want to take more, not out of frustration but because each seems to be better than the next! With what I consider a wonderful feature set, Nokia’s Pro Cam is incredible and I know over time will only get better! I love that it offers me the ability to “Zoom Later” with the pictures I’ve taken. Often I find 3 and 4 pictures within one picture, each one of those becoming its own piece of art. So little is lost in terms of clarity, the better you get the more rewarding it is.

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Without a doubt, there is a learning curve to making your 1020’s camera perform at its best, I’m still not there. The journey is half the fun though! I take pictures constantly, adjusting and being wowed by the effects of shutter speeds, focus, ISO’s,  and the incredible xenon flash. My type of usage on my phone has changed dramatically since the 1020 and I met. I spend a lot more time with my lens open or manipulating a picture I just took. When my 1020’s battery dies and I use my Lumia 520, I’m a little sad. The camera experience has just been that good for me.

I am an extreme enthusiast of Windows Phone and spend a lot more time with my phone than the average user. I think with as engrossing and possibly intimidating as the camera aspect of the Lumia 1020 is, there is a legitimate question that has to be asked:
“Can the average person switching to Windows Phone learn a new OS and get the most out of their camera at the same time without abandoning Windows Phone in confusion”?
I think the answer is yes. I applaud Nokia’s efforts for creating a UI that is fairly easy to navigate in addition to the well designed “how to” section within the Pro Cam app.

As far as accessories go, I’ve purchase both the Qi charging case and the camera grip case. I use the Qi charging capability far less with my 1020 than I did my 920, I’m not sure the reason, however I do like leaving that case on as it lifts the aperture up from being rested upon. The camera grip case is my personal favorite for a couple of reasons. The additional battery power makes the camera grip case a wonderful addition to your collection, taking a battery from 3 percent charged to 25 percent charged in under an hour. The more important factor in the camera though, it really does a wonderful job in giving you the necessary control to take great pics. While the 1020 is equipped with stabilization, pictures taken using the grip are substantially more detailed. If you’re really looking to maximize your experience, then you’ll want to get a tripod which you can connect your camera grip case to. I purchased one for $20 and love it!

What I’ve learned since getting my Lumia 1020,
Always be ready to take a pic! If you use Pro Cam, you know that it takes a second or two to load.
Don’t be afraid to take the same picture over and over, you get more photos to choose from when looking for your perfect picture.
Same as above but playing with each setting intimately.
Don’t hold out for the perfect picture. Just because you don’t see it now doesn’t mean it won’t be beautiful later with some editing.
The most incredible shot always starts on a tripod.
Don’t be lucky…be prepared!
Camera grip case is a must!

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I’ll definitely be purchasing the Lumia 1520 when it’s released, however it’s hard imaging it replacing my Lumia 1020 as my daily driver as the camera has become that important of a feature to me! Who knows…I might just end up double holstered!

Thanks to the Win Phan for contributing and helping us

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2 thoughts on “Nokia Lumia 1020 Review

  1. can we get pro camera for nokia 808 pls i used 1020 anf i love pro camera for manual focus so can we please get some updates for nokia 808

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