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Nokia Lumia 1020 review: All snapped up

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £600
inc VAT

The Nokia Lumia 1020 was the ultimate cameraphone, but does it still hold up?


  • Top of the range camera
  • Decent display


  • Windows Phone OS


Windows Phone 8, 4.5in 1,280×720 display

For all the new phones we saw way back in 2013, one handset really stood out from the crowd. Nokia’s Lumia 1020 was an impressively specced out phone for the time, with an awesome 41-megapixel camera and it looked visually striking too. It’s a phone that still holds up well three years later, and still gives flagships a run for their money.

Where it’s a little bit out of date lies in its Windows-based operating system – something that’s slowly being fazed out by the end of the year. Now that the Nokia brand is all but dead and buried, the Lumia 1020 seems to be its swansong, though. If you can find one, and you might struggle with that, the Lumia 1020 is still a great smartphone with one of the best cameras around. Our original review from 2013 can be found below.

With its 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 7,712×4,352 pixel image and a smaller 3,072×1,728 (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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Main display size4.5in
Native resolution1,280×720
CCD effective megapixels41-megapixel
Internal memory32768MB
Memory card supportnone
Memory card included0MB
Operating frequenciesGSM 850/900/1800/1900, 3G 850/900/1900/2100, 4G 1/3/7/8/20
Wireless data4G


Operating systemWindows Phone 8
Microsoft Office compatibilityWord, Excel, PowerPoint
FM Radiono
Accessoriescamera case, strap
Talk time19 hours
Standby time16 days

Buying Information

SIM-free price£600
Price on contract0

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