27 May 2014

Nokia Lumia 1020 Windows 8 smartphone review

The last time I owned a Nokia was back before smart phones had been invented.  It was an early camera phone (Nokia 7600), in an odd tear shape, but there were no apps and the most exciting game on it was still snake, or maybe it had snake 2.  Fast forward more years than I care to mention and the latest Nokias bear no resemblance whatsoever.  Say hello to the Nokia Lumia 1020 - a Nokia Windows phone containing an amazing 41 megapixel camera, a large 720p touch screen and lots of new Windows 8 technology.  And you can still play snake.

For me the biggest draw with this phone is of course the camera.  It's packing 41 megapixels with micron back side illuminated pixels, which I understand when translated from geek means it gives a bigger area to capture light, which leads to better quality images.  Images can be captured at up to 38mp if you're looking for a super high quality, extra large image.  But for general uploading, instagram etc, the camera will take an image at 5mp, which is plenty clear enough for me.

The camera has an amazing long-range zoom, not something I'll use all that much for taking photos of make-up, but fun to play with all the same.  The lens on the Lumia 1020 is by Carl Zeiss and it's accompanied by a Xenon and LED flash - hard to believe we're still talking about a camera phone that fits in your handbag.  Oh and there's also a 1.2mp front facing camera, for selfies obviously.

In my opinion the best feature of the camera and phone in general is the DSLR controls.  Now as I don't own a DSLR yet I can't claim any sort of expertise and am still getting to grips with playing around with the controls, but you have to be impressed by a camera phone which allows you to fiddle around with the iso, aperture, white balance and more.  I'm not a natural at figuring these things out, so when I'm unsure what to get the right shot I rely on the auto settings instead, and have been really impressed with the results, but I am trying to learn a little more about photography techniques so when I have the time I will play around with the manual controls and take some trial and error shots to see what works best.

In some of the photos I've taken I've noticed that colours can be a little over-saturated and brighter than in real life when using the auto camera settings.  A pain for beauty blogging when you're trying to show an accurate colour, but for outdoorsy and general type shots, it makes for some beautiful photos.  I'll have to play around with the controls some more to see how I can get the colour spot on for swatches.  The only other problem I've encountered is with the focus - when I use the camera with one hand to photograph a swatch on my other hand or arm it;s almost impossible to get the camera to focus without touching the screen.  I managed it eventually after lots of failed attempts.  Perhaps there's an easier way to get this right and I was missing it, or perhaps Nokia underestimated the number of people who take photos of their own arm... :)

The camera also captures video of course, and there's no skimping on quality there either - it shoots in full 1080p HD.

I'm used to an iphone, so I must admit using the Nokia has been really different as it utilises the Windows 8 operating software.  But, it's really easy to pick up and you get what to do without needing to read any instructions whatsoever.  It's all really intuitive and the layout of the home screen and apps makes it really easy to navigate your way around the phone.  

If you get lost there's also a search screen which shows you everything on the phone.  The keypad took me a little getting used to and I think the underscore key is in an annoying place, but other than that they keypad is really responsive and typing on the phone is pretty easy.  

The Nokia Lumia is compatible with apps downloaded from the Windows app store.  Whilst the variety isn't really comparable to the apple app store, I was able to find all of my usual favourite apps including instagram, twitter, facebook and pinterest.  

The Lumia 1020 is both 3G and 4G compatible, has bluetooth connectivity and takes a micro sized sim. There's 32GB of internal memory and also 7GB of skydrive space for storing all your selfies. 

You can customise the Lumia with various brightly coloured cases, but at I like the camera so much my favourite is this camera grip case which gives the phone more of the look and feel of a camera, makes it easier to hold and supplies extra battery life.  

There's also a universal tripod mount connector built into the casing for steadier shooting - super profesh.

The phone's a bit heavier and bigger than what I'm used to, but it also feels a lot sturdier, especially with the camera grip case on, which is good, as my phones do tend to need to withstand a few gentle knocks and tumbles here are there.

I've really enjoyed trying something different in the form of a Nokia Windows phone.  Aside from all of the amazing camera functionally there are some other nifty little features I really like, like the built in combined social media app which puts your updates from Linkedin, facebook and twitter all in one place.  You can also set your lock screen to rotate through random photos from your facebook albums, and just about everything is completely customisable.  

You can buy the Nokia Lumia 1020 in yellow, white or black on various contracts, or sim free for £399.95 from phones4u.  The camera grip case is available from Nokia at £37.50.

Have you tried a Nokia smartphone?



  1. It looks great....Nice review dear.....xoxoxo....^_^

  2. Wow, that phone looks amazing! Lol. I haven't tried it yet. I still seek out phones that have physical keyboards because they allow me to text a record speed. :-P

    1. I was always hung up on physical keyboards, too -- but wait until you see the keyboard included in Windows Phone 8.1, coming this summer (the Lumia 1020 above will upgrade to use it when it's released). I think with the new "word flow" feature, I can use the on screen keyboard nearly as fast as my desktop PC's keyboard -- and that's pretty fast! It's definitely faster than a hardware phone keyboard.

  3. Hi, great review! I write for a Nokia fan site, and I just wanted you to know that the focusing issue you had isn't a fault with the phone (or yours!) but the way the Lumia 1020 has been built with that enormous sensor means that it won't focus under around 15cm. Of course you can snap a photo a then 'reframe' keeping all of your 41MP glorious detail, and crop your shot for a close up. I know this doesn't help your 'arm' photos as you can't make your arms longer (!) but I wouldn't want your readers to think there was something wrong with the phone. Cheers! :^)

    1. Thanks for the tip Andy - I'll try again with a bit more distance between the lens and the swatch - arm should be just about long enough! :)

  4. Amazing phone with a more than amazing camera. I've had mine 8 months and still 'wow' every time I take a photo! I'll be very interested to see what you do with it.


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