Nokia Lumia 1020

Nokia Lumia 1020 review: All snapped up

Nathan Spendelow Chris Finnamore
27 Sep 2016
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
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 1,280x720 display

The phone itself is a typical lovingly-made Nokia unibody. It loses the cool-to-the-touch metal edges of the Lumia 930 in favour of some serious polycarbonate, so is more reminiscent of the Lumia 735. There's a bulge on the back for the lens assembly, but it's certainly still pocket-friendly. The 1020 also comes with a clip-on case which essentially turns it into a compact camera. This gives you a chunky handgrip so you can use the camera one-handed, as well as a big two-stage shutter button (press lightly to focus, all the way to snap) and an extra battery. With the battery case plugged in, we saw 12 hours and 4 minutes of video playback from the Lumia 1020 - three hours more than the phone on its own.

Nokia Lumia 1020

The camera case adds a chunky handgrip and three hours' battery life

The Lumia 1020 has the same 4.5in, 1,280x720 AMOLED screen as the Lumia 925, which is one of the best mobile screens there is, as well as the same dual-core 1.5GHz processor; Windows Phone flies on this handset, and a hugely quick score of 913ms in the Sunspider JavaScript benchmark shows complicated web pages are not a problem. As with any Windows Phone handset, you need to consider whether the platform does what you need; it's slick and great-looking, but not as flexible as Android and still doesn’t have as great a choice of apps, although the situation is improving.

In fact, there are now few truly vital apps missing from the Windows Phone Store. There's a proper BBC iPlayer app (although the streaming video quality is far worse than on Android and you can’t download episodes to your phone), Netflix, ITV Player, 4OD, Demand 5, Spotify and RightMove for property hunters, for example. Many of these apps aren't as polished as the Android or iPhone versions, but the fact they exist shows Windows Phone is a becoming a platform to take seriously.

Better still, the Lumia 1020 should be getting the Lumia Denim update very soon, which adds Microsoft's digital personal assistant Cortana to the phone, bringing it bang up to date with the latest Lumia handsets. Read our Lumia 830 review to see how it fared against Apple's Siri.  

We've also found decent alternatives for some of the shortcomings in the stock Windows Phone 8 apps. For example, we're often griping about the stock browser, which loses your previously-visited pages when you go back to the Windows Phone menu, so you have to use the browser history rather than the Back button to go back to previous pages when you open the browser again. Installing the free UC Browser solves this problem. We're also not fans of the stock Windows Phone calendar, which doesn’t have a week view. The 79p Chronos Calendar app has a clear week view and several other useful features. In short, whereas a couple of years ago we were warning potential customers that buying into the Windows Phone platform was a risk, now you don’t have to worry so much about being frozen out of the most useful apps.


The Lumia 1020 launched in the UK back in September 2013, but there's still nothing like it out there. The 41-megapixel camera really makes this phone stand out and is a major reason to buy it over any other smartphone. As it is now been superseeded by newer, shinier things you can also pick the Lumia 1020 up on the cheap. At the time of writing, O2 has it on a 24 month contract with 2GB of 4G data and unlimited texts and minutes for £24 per month with no extra charge for the handset.

The Denim upgrade will also give the Lumia 1020 every new feature you'll find on newer Lumia phones, which is another great reason to pick up this phone on the cheap. The new-look operating system adds loads of great features with Windows Phone finally becoming the operating system it always should have been. While UK users will have to wait until the end of the year for Cortana, all the other Windows Phone 8.1 features are ready to go.

We're blown away by Nokia's Lumia 1020. It's the first phone that properly replaces a compact camera; we can see ourselves doing most of our photography on the phone and leaving a compact camera, or even a CSC, at home most of the time. It's an incredible imaging phone so it wins a Best Buy award.




Main display size4.5in
Native resolution1,280x720
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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