Nokia Lumia 1020 review - the ultimate cameraphone

Simply stunning photos make the Lumia 1020 the ultimate cameraphone

Our Rating 
5/5
Price when reviewed 
600
inc VAT
Buy it now for 

Page 1 of 5Nokia Lumia 1020 review - the ultimate cameraphone

Specifications

Windows Phone 8, 4.5in 1,280x720 display

For all the new Lumia phones we've seen this year, one handset that's been left without a successor is the Lumia 1020. There's a possibility that the recently-spotted "Nokia RM-1052" could be a potential replacement, but until Microsoft officially announce it (or another phone altogether), you'll have to make do with the slightly elderly Lumia 1020 for now. That doesn't mean the Lumia 1020 is out of date, though, as it can now be upgraded to Windows Phone 8.1 and it still has one of the best cameras around. Even better, it now only costs around £385 SIM-free, £20-a-month on contract with no upfront cost for the handset, or £170 on O2's Pay & Go service, making it better value than ever.

With its an enormous 41-megapixel camera sensor, it uses some seriously clever tricks to produce the best phone images we have ever seen. We saw the first version of Nokia's large sensor on the PureView 808, but our enthusiasm was tempered by the handset's soon-to-be-defunct Symbian operating system. The Lumia 1020 has no such problems, as it runs Microsoft's increasingly-popular Windows Phone 8.

Nokia Lumia 1020

The PureView camera sensor is more than just a huge collection of pixels. It's physically larger than the sensors in most smartphones and even some compact cameras. At 1/1.5in, it's twice the size as the sensors in phones such as the HTC One, Apple iPhone 5S and Nokia Lumia 925, and 1.5 times larger than the sensor in our Best Buy-winning Canon Ixus 255 HS compact camera.

Generally, the bigger the sensor, the more area there is to capture light and so the less image noise and better low-light performance. The Lumia 1020's sensor is also a backside-illuminated (BSI) model, where light strikes the sensor from the rear, avoiding any circuitry getting between the light and the sensor's photoreceptors.

Nokia Lumia 1020

^ The big camera assembly adds a bulge to the back of the phone

This isn’t the only trick up the 1020's sleeve, though; Nokia has also decided to use the sensor's huge number of pixels to help improve image quality further. When you take a picture with the Nokia Pro Cam app, the phone saves two versions; the full 7,712x4,352 pixel image and a smaller 3,072x1,728 (5-megapixel) snap.

There are two reasons to have the smaller image. The first is that it's small; around 1.6MB compared to the 9MB or so for the full-fat version, making it much easier to upload straight to a social network. The second is down to something Nokia calls oversampling. This examines each pixel in the larger image, then works out which it should keep and which should be discarded to make the smaller image the best possible quality.

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