Writing a review about Lumia phones gets challenging after a point since apart from a couple of distinct features, they are essentially very similar. The fact that Microsoft has the hardware and other components locked down tightly means there’s no real surprises in that department either. Despite this, Nokia has managed to differentiate their offerings by adding innovative features like OIS, PureView sensors, etc on the hardware front as well as software tweaks like the recent Refocus app and Pro Cam. Today, we’ll be taking a look at the most expensive Lumia in the series – the 1020. The phone boasts of a 41MP PureView sensor which is modelled around the original that debuted in the 808 PureView. So is this the best camera-centric phone in the market today? Let’s find out.
Design and Build
The Lumia 1020 continues the legacy of Nokia’s phenomenal build quality and it’s at its best in this flagship model. The design of the unibody polycarbonate chassis is a throw-back to the Lumia 800 and it looks and feels extremely classy and well put together. The stark contrast between the yellow and black grabs your attention as there’s no mistaking this for any other handset. From the front, the phone looks like any other Lumia with the thick bezel all round and three unlit capacitive buttons at the bottom. We also have the typical layout of buttons on the side and the respective ports gracing the top and bottom of the phone.
There’s a significant bump around the back where the sensor sits but it’s not as intrusive as that on the Galaxy S4 Zoom. We also have a Xenon flash and an auto-focus assist light just above the shutter. The 1020 doesn’t have native wireless charging support but you can add a wireless charging jacket. The phone is slightly larger than the Lumia 925 and a bit heavier as well due to the bigger sensor. Overall, the Nokia Lumia 1020 scores full marks in terms of aesthetics and build quality. It’s also lot more pocketable than the 808 PureView was.
The bump tends to raise the front of the phone
As far as core specifications go, the 1020 is pretty identical to the Lumia 925. The display is the same HD AMOLED panel at 4.5-inches diagonally and their proprietary PureMotion HD+ technology. Text and images are crisp and vivid thanks to the relatively high pixel density of 332ppi. The interface is typical Windows Phone 8 with a sprinkle of some custom apps from Nokia.
Same 'ol Windows Phone 8 UI
The phone is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Plus SoC (MSM8960) which consists of a dual-core CPU running at 1.5GHz and 2GB of RAM. The interface is smooth for the most part but we found that Nokia’s Pro Cam app slightly sluggish when tinkering around with its settings. The phone also ships out-of-the-box with the Nokia Lumia Amber update. While there’s no expandable memory, the 32GB onboard storage should be enough.
The Lumia 1020 is a well-equipped media device thanks to Dolby’s Headphone Sound Enhancement and Dolby Digital Plus. This adds a pleasing punch to your music which sounds good even with the stock earphones. There are equaliser presets in the main settings menu and you can also toggle the Dolby enhancement mode and audio levelling. The enhancements work on a system-wide scale and not just for the music player. You also have a choice between the stock player and Nokia’s Music Player. Both are essentially the same with the only difference being the layout.
Very good media playback
The video player is capable of reading a few MOV, MP4, WMV files but AVI refused to play. Full HD videos also playback just fine and the colours are fairly vibrant with good detail.
Nokia has included most connectivity options but is still not on par with today’s flagship 'Droids. The Lumia 1020 features quad-band 3G capabilities, Wi-Fi dual-band, NFC, Bluetooth, EDGE and GPS with GLONASS for Nokia Drive and HERE Maps. Wi-Fi ‘ac’ and TV-out is still absent. Call quality is very good and we didn’t have any issues here.
Decent set of connectivity features
The talking point of the Lumia 1020 is its camera and having spent enough time with, it’s clearly one of the best camera phones in the market, alongside the Galaxy S4 Zoom. The shutter button directly fires up the Nokia Camera app which now lets you toggle between the Pro Cam and the Smart Cam app. Pro Cam lets you seamlessly tweak various settings like focus, shutter speed, white balance and the shows you the effect in real time as you slide the bars around. Check out this video to see how it actually works:
Nothing comes close to the 1020 for indoors and low-light photography. Even without the flash, the camera easily captures the subject with great detail and minimal noise. You can see the results in some of the sample images.
Good low-light shots
Excellent detail in daytime too
This is with lossless zoom
It also has lossless zoom which actually captures the scene in the full 34MP and then lets you zoom in without any loss in quality. You can choose to shoot in either 5MP and 34MP or just 5MP. Saving the images takes a few seconds as the file sizes of the high-resolution images can reach about 20MB. The handset also has some of the best video recording capabilities we’ve seen. In fact, some of our recent video reviews have been shot with the 1020 and they’ve turned out better than some high-end cameras we’ve used in the past. This is all thanks to the excellent Optical Image Stabilisation, which works overtime with even the slightest movement.
The Lumia 1020 delivered pretty good battery life as it easily breezed through our 8-hour loop test with about 15 per cent to spare. The phone can easily last you an entire day even on heavy usage, which is pretty good, considering the Android competition.
Nokia’s best price for the Lumia 1020 is Rs 47,222 but we have seen it going for lesser online. Despite the brilliant camera, good battery life and excellent build – it’s still way too expensive to be recommended. Given how the prices of other Lumias have dropped drastically, we predict a similar price drop heading for the 1020 as well in order to make room for the newer phones, expected next year. If priced under Rs 35,000, we say go ahead and take the plunge as it’s certainly more compact and classier than the Galaxy S4 Zoom. Plus, you’ll also have access to some really cool apps like Nokia Refocus. Anything above the price though and you’re better off with a Sony Xperia Z1 or a LG G2.
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