It’s been roughly a year since Nokia launched the forward-thinking Nokia 808 PureView camera phone. It boasted technology and enhancements in image quality by way of strong resolution, sharpness and more. Yet, Images taken in low light settings and without the flash still warranted concern from users. Nokia answered with the more recent Nokia Lumia 928. It’s an accomplished Windows phone. Although a bit bulky, it is easily more attractive with superior photo capabilities than the HTC 8xt Windows Phone we’ve recently reviewed.
The Lumia 928 came with a one-of-kind optical image stabilization (OIS), which did help low light photo quality. Nokia is quick to pat themselves on the back for the 920, 925 and 928 photo quality. Yet I found the 928–at the time of the writing–to over-saturate images, drenching them in intensely rich colors that was more off-putting than alluring. Moreover, they were not accurate representations of the true-to-life scenes. Despite the self-inspired horn blowing Nokia has been quick to kick out yet another Lumia. This one is more camera than phone. Although it does everything a garden variety Windows Phone 8 can, one look at that oversized lens protruding from the back and you know snapping photos is the main order of biz for this one. So before we do the official scrutiny, lets quickly run down some of my initial impression of the 41-megapixel Nokia Lumia 1020 camera phone.
Display and Design
I’ll go more into the specs on the full review. The window to this camera’s soul is the focus here. By that I meant the display. The Lumia 1020 uses a wide 4.5 inch AMOLED display capbale of 1280 x 768 (WXGA). Nokia knows a good thing brings out the dapper and elegant ClearBlack display tech. I’ve swooned over this one many times. It helps create incredibly deep blacks. This window itself is Corning Gorila Glass 3 coated with Sunlight Readability enhancements. The glass is sculpted and looks very nice. It’s atractive and pleasantly familiar. The Lumia 920 also uses a similar convergence of tech. The result makes the screen seem larger than 4.5 inch. With deep the black, the display virtually blends with the black bezel surrounding it. So far, the wide viewing angle and rich Lumia color profile compliment movies, web browsing, digesting general media and viewing pics.
Size and Feel In-Hand
This phone is large and very wide. The premium specs place this one in the crosshairs of the more matured user. But steer clear in general if you have small hands and/or are uninterested in lugging around a heavy 158g device. The rounded edges help. Still, full dimensions clock in at 130.4mm x 71.4mm x 10.4mm (h/w/thickness). It’s not the easiest in-hand fit. A good melt-in-hand protective case is paramount. But it’s sure to add more heft and bulk. Plus there are 3 fairly large physical buttons on the right side of the phone. The Power button is sandwiched in between the volume rocker at up above and the dedicated Camera/Shutter button below. Also that protruding rear-facing lenses is a constant tactile reminder and not a comfortable one. Moreover, I worry I may scratch it with my ring or when I set it down unprotected.
Nokia Camera Pro
Carl Zeiss is tapped again for their premium lens solutions in the Lumia 1020 PureView camera. I was more than pleased with the quick-snap photos I’ve taken so far. While the Lumia 928 showed immense clarity and richness in color. Images often felt overly saturated, as I mentioned above.
The accuracy leaned toward the unreliable at times. Not much of that here! Color saturation is overcompensated versus its real life counterpart. Yet image appear more evenly toned.
Low light images, an area where the Lumia 925 and 928 were touted to excel, fell flat. This too has changed. Heaped atop of all that is a overwhelming amount of user control. The new Nokia Pro Camera, among other things, is largely why images come off with eye-catching appeal. Auto mode takes great pics. But you can also control ISO, exposure settings, turn off focus light (YES!), shutter speed, focus and turn flash on and off.
When it’s time to share witht the group, fret not about that massive 41mp lens. With more, larger pixel comes a loss of clarity and often unwanted graininess will appear. The Lumia takes a handsome 5mp file for sharing and much larger file for traditional use/syncing etc.
The 5mp file is an oversampling byproduct and pulls what’s needed for a 5mp share-able file from the legion of pixels. Also worth noting…higher resolutions are retained at even the max zoom level.
Windows Phone Ghost Town
Tumbleweeds still blow through this one-app town (I exaggerate). You can’t praise the merits of a Windows Phone 8 without hecklers flinging the dearth of apps in your face. But it’s a completely valid argument. Let say–again–I like the Windows Phone platform. It’s elegant, Spartan, intuitive and exceedingly competent. Nokia should also be appreciated for it’s cache of custom apps such as the Nokia Pro Cam and the “Here” line of Nokia branded apps (Here Maps, Here City Lens, etc…) However, not only are the number of apps few, the ramp up for more is a slow brew. To its credit, there are several baked-in work-arounds like Sky Drive, full suite of Microsoft Office support including OneNote. The most glaring omission are leveled against competing Google apps. Competition is good but lets be honest… Windows is only hurting themselves by not officially supporting Google apps like Chrome, Gmail, and Google+. That of such could easily decide the day for some potential adopters.
Shawn loves gadgets, literature, history and games. For 10yrs+ he's straddled both the comic book & video game industries, as a writer, editor, marketing officer & producer. Shawn got his start in tech & games as an editor & Hardware Director for GameRevolution.com. More notable accomplishments include Executive Producer on mobile games Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved & The Shroud.