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Nokia Lumia 1020 Review

Nokia Lumia 1020

Posted: , by John V.


Call Quality:

We find only one minor issue in the calling quality department of the handset, its volume output. Specifically, the earpiece and speakerphone sound a tad weak in tone, but the former is remedied by simply applying just a little more pressure against our ear. Voices on both ends of the line are audible enough to conduct conversations for a period of time, with barely any distortion or background noise to muddy the experience. Lastly, its noise cancellation feature kicks in a couple of seconds after it first comes across any disturbances – eventually muting them out.


During our first day of using the Nokia Lumia 1020, we were totally shocked by the poor 10 hours of battery life it was able to churn out. However, we soon realized that the culprit behind the poor result was due to Windows Phone’s ‘glance’ feature, which discretely displays the time whenever the handset times out. After disabling it, we’re able to push the smartphone into the 18 hour mark of normal usage. It’s not bad per se, nor is it class leading – so it’s pretty much close to average.


If you haven’t noticed it yet, we’re a society that inherently loves to record our lives in digital imagery. Naturally, people are just inclined to snap photos, even random things they come across, just because they want to have that memory ingrained into their minds. Ever since the first set of camera phones hit the market, we’ve seen people take their devices to capture the moment – raw and uncut, ready to share with friends and acquaintances.

Needless to say, the Nokia Lumia 1020 would’ve been a device thought to be impossible a couple of years ago, but here we are checking out a smartphone with an insane 41-megapixel camera attached to it – plus, it’s considerably better looking in design than the 808 PureView. Let’s cut to the chase here folks, this is hand down, without question, the absolute best camera phone on the market. It’s undoubtedly a point and shoot replacement in every way imaginable, seeing that it delivers in its features set, quality, and precision control, to capture the utmost best photos. Unlike the 808, the Lumia 1020 greatly benefits with Windows Phone’s always sprawling ecosystem, which at times might put off power users, but heck, it’s still able to please a wide audience.

With so much versatility behind it, like its various shooting modes and useful lossless zoom, it’ll be hard for consumers to not consider this handset. However, its $300 on-contract price point slows its momentum down, seeing that it’s still widely viewed as a pricey thing – and that’s despite the fact that the 32GB iPhone 5 is priced the same. If we had to best describe this, it’s essentially a Nokia Lumia 920 with a 41-megapixel camera. Sounds pretty accurate, right? Camera aside, its specs sheet would make anyone yawn, but that’s why its 41-megapixel PureView camera is the star of the show. We can argue that you can pick up the Lumia 920 and a really good point and shoot camera, which would amount to probably less or near the same cost as the Lumia 1020. But why carry around two devices when you can have the best of both worlds?

Software version of the review unit:
OS Version: 8.010327.77


  • Unparalleled photo & video quality
  • Lots of manual controls
  • Solid construction


  • Still a bit expensive
  • Specs are underwhelming
  • Weak battery life
PhoneArena rating:
User rating:
9.120 Reviews

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posted on 23 Jul 2013, 23:04 11

1. Birds (Posts: 1171; Member since: 21 Nov 2011)

YESH!!!! YESH!!!! YESH!!!!! Now time to read the review...

posted on 23 Jul 2013, 23:55 3

27. Nathan_ingx (Posts: 4319; Member since: 07 Mar 2012)

Something tells me you commented before you read it.

posted on 24 Jul 2013, 04:52 4

97. _Bone_ (Posts: 2155; Member since: 29 Oct 2012)

There's quite a bit of noise at full res during daytime, interestingly a LOT of post-processing as well, softness and sharpening. Not as good as the 808, but an improvement over the 920. Dynamic range is a bit tight, there's just a few samples without some part burning out. This is a surprise, I'd guess it has an inferior lens (maybe the 920's).

Night samples look... well, just bad, even downsampled to FHD. Right now, let's say this is pre-release test, but as of now Exmor RS beats the current 41MP PureView in raw capabilities, while the 808 laughs all over both, oh well, I might get that one.

posted on 24 Jul 2013, 05:12 6

100. _Bone_ (Posts: 2155; Member since: 29 Oct 2012)

Wow, taking a shot took SIX SECONDS after the tap in the video.

Saving was an additional 4. It takes TEN SECONDS to take a 2nd shot. That's just ridiculous.

posted on 24 Jul 2013, 12:46 1

125. sergiobr (Posts: 713; Member since: 25 Feb 2013)

Comments in dpreview.com (Pro photographer)
By philinnz (7 hours ago)
horrible noisy images even in good light. It seems it must be difficult to hold the camera level so you would lose 10mp straightening and cropping. I think I got better results 12 years ago with my old kodak dc-280
By ovibor (7 hours ago)
I agree, horrible photos!
By Zlik (6 hours ago)
The point is to use it as a great 5MP camera which surpasses everything else in smartphone territory (except the Nokia 808). I agree that the full sized images don't look that good, but downsampled to 5MP, they are excellent.

posted on 24 Jul 2013, 04:54 10

99. Sarajevo (Posts: 38; Member since: 30 Nov 2012)

PA rate for iPhone 5 was 9.0 - user rate was 8.5
PA rate for Galaxy S3 was 9.3 - user rate was 9.0
PA rate for Lumia 920 was 9.0 - user rate was 9.4

So it is obvious that PA prefer iPhone and Samsung (read Android) and PA is not tolerant toward Nokia :)

I hardly wait to see user rate for this monster...

posted on 24 Jul 2013, 08:46

114. protozeloz (Posts: 5396; Member since: 16 Sep 2010)

actually that's dependent on the number of users on each device

posted on 24 Jul 2013, 11:59 1

122. dexter_jdr (Posts: 1163; Member since: 28 Jun 2012)

so youre saying we got more 920 owners than iphone5 and s3?

posted on 24 Jul 2013, 12:47

127. protozeloz (Posts: 5396; Member since: 16 Sep 2010)

No, I'm saying a higher amount of people the morel likely for people to find things they don't like (and more likely trolls to mess with the score if you have been on PA for around 4 years)

Devices with lower profiles get more honest reviews from uses

posted on 24 Jul 2013, 13:16 1

130. protozeloz (Posts: 5396; Member since: 16 Sep 2010)

And here is the example

posted on 24 Jul 2013, 13:24

131. gazmatic (Posts: 795; Member since: 06 Sep 2012)

good to know that professional trolls just love to f shiit up

posted on 24 Jul 2013, 14:16

133. protozeloz (Posts: 5396; Member since: 16 Sep 2010)

We had figured this out when a device that was supposed to start arriving to users was already getting low feedback with weird excuses... Its not a pleasant thing to say, also its a lie that a device turns into such a horrible experience that people give them a 1 point score...

posted on 27 Jul 2013, 10:02

145. skyguy7567 (Posts: 148; Member since: 17 Nov 2012)

Sony PA gave 8.5 for Sony Flagships (User 9.3) other phones 6.5 (Average user reviews are all over 9.2) Just move on and go for GSMArena. I used to highly recommend this site and now I'm telling my friends to just look at the USER reviews.

posted on 23 Jul 2013, 23:05 4

2. Commentator (Posts: 3722; Member since: 16 Aug 2011)

My only concern would be how the phone rests on its back. From my experience camera-humps tend to pick up some wear-and-tear near the bottom.

posted on 24 Jul 2013, 00:18 3

34. UrbanPhantom (Posts: 949; Member since: 30 Oct 2012)

Hump or no hump, this camera has balls (excuse the sexual metaphor). I would call it a first choice for anybody even mildly interested in photography. It's also a good all round device, even if it does have the same Krait CPU and Adreno 225 GPU as the 920. Personally, I think it deserves closer to a 9/10, but the Android community is always going to be biased against WP smartphones and tablets...

posted on 24 Jul 2013, 00:51 4

37. No_Nonsense (unregistered)

Nah, I'd personally call 8.5 fair. TBH, besides the 41MP camera, I expected a larger sensor (1/1.2 vs 1/1.5) and OIS included. Besides, the 1020 doesn't offer a more compelling hardware over the 920 and 925, which obviously matters when you are going to shell around $100 contract free over the 920/925. Also, since it ain't gonna come at less than $700 apiece contract free, I'd want WP more evolved or rather, evolving at a faster pace than at what it does currently, and I ain't talking about the app store.

posted on 24 Jul 2013, 01:06 7

40. UrbanPhantom (Posts: 949; Member since: 30 Oct 2012)

No_Nonsense, you have been exposed for your lack of knowledge about the Lumia 1020: it does come with OIS, which is active even during 1080P video captures. You will have to do better in order to convince myself and the rest of the crowd that you actually know what you are talking about...

posted on 24 Jul 2013, 01:15 5

42. iushnt (Posts: 2257; Member since: 06 Feb 2013)

u hv turned into a nokia fan..

posted on 24 Jul 2013, 01:38

46. No_Nonsense (unregistered)

Well, I'll simplify it for you then: I wanted a 1/1.2 sensor along with OIS and a better processor along with WP's fast pace of development in building an OS that is as feature rich as Android/Symbian back in the day. The 1020 is likely gonna be more expensive than the 920/925, and I can't justify the $100 more that I'll have to shell out if I bought one contract free. Besides, I already have the 808, and I wanted a total package that would justify shelling that amount of money. The 1020 is likely good, but I personally find it difficult to justify the premium it asks for, considering it isn't notches above in terms of h/w over the 808 (in terms of camera) and a bit of hardware increments over the 920 series, not just adding an extra gig of RAM.
TBH, it's gonna be difficult to recommend it to anyone other than a smartphone enthusiast over a 920 if they wanted a WP device. It's one thing to like a company's devices and wanting them, but another to trying to want your opinion on a device to be the same as everyone else's. If the 920/808 didn't exist, and only the 925/1020 did, then it wasn't hard recommending it. And yes, I already knew that the 1020 had OIS. So before you say, someone's lack of knowledge has been exposed, why don't you comprehend what he's written above?

posted on 24 Jul 2013, 02:04 2

50. UrbanPhantom (Posts: 949; Member since: 30 Oct 2012)

No offense, but the 808 is a bulky machine running on a now obsolete OS. It weighs more, does less, and does not compare well to the new L1020 in terms of true value. The L1020 is far slimmer, and the OIS video feature is a big plus not to be discounted. The L920 was already an excellent smartphone, and adding the 41MP camera to it has made it an even better solution...

Also, the difference in sensor size between the 808 and 1020 is marginal at best, and is hardly worth taking into consideration. You are basically hanging onto an older prototype that has been perfected. It's up to you to decide if the 808 is worth keeping, but Symbian is a dead platform. Those who want the best camera available on a smartphone are unlikely to buy an outdated 808; the L1020 should be their one and only option.

posted on 24 Jul 2013, 02:10

52. No_Nonsense (unregistered)

56.25% smaller area isn't marginal by any means. Symbian is a dead platform, w/ arguably no support from Nokia for the time being, agreed upon, but there's no denying Symbian is more feature rich than WP. Lumia 920 was good for its time, and for the price it sells here, its great. But the same hardware offered 10 months later, (this sits on MS's head, not Nokia's) isn't great. Those wanting the best camera on a phone are gonna buy the 1020, agreed.

posted on 24 Jul 2013, 02:22 3

55. EXkurogane (Posts: 863; Member since: 07 Mar 2013)

808PV does not have BSI sensor, remember than, 1020 has BSI sensor to allow more light in, to make up for the smaller sensor.And to maintain slimness, this change makes sense.

posted on 24 Jul 2013, 02:42 2

62. Altair (Posts: 367; Member since: 02 Feb 2012)

Not to mention 2GB ram which will be in great need in Amber update (better multitasking).

posted on 24 Jul 2013, 03:13 3

73. utopium (Posts: 5; Member since: 02 Dec 2011)

Yes, 808 is thicker/heavier, but easier to hold in hand as it is 10 mm less in width. And it does not do less, it's quite the opposite: 808 has HDMI, SD Card, FM Transmitter, USB OTG, replaceable battery, profiles, real multitasking, widgets, file browser, offline alarm, bigger sensor, ND filter, sharpness/contrast settings, more image resolutions to chose from, other browsers beside the one offered in the box, etc.

Sure, 1020 has better/bigger screen, faster processor, more apps, more developer attention, OIS, BSI, bigger apperture, manual focus, shutter time setting, it's slimmer/lighter, it has that interesting grip with extra battery, but 808 is still a tough competitor for it and 1020 is not quite an obvious upgrade from 808, esspecially considering the price. I am tempted to wait for 1030 or something, or at least for its price to drop seriously and WP to evolve more before even thinking of droping my 808. Maybe in 9 months 1020 will be more attractive for me (WP updates, smaller price, Flipboard, Instagram, more premium software, etc), now it is not yet enough.

posted on 24 Jul 2013, 03:37

88. No_Nonsense (unregistered)

You hit the nail on its head.

posted on 24 Jul 2013, 02:43 3

63. EXkurogane (Posts: 863; Member since: 07 Mar 2013)

And, phonearena says bad battery life, engadget says good battery life... =.=;

posted on 24 Jul 2013, 06:25

101. snowgator (Posts: 3604; Member since: 19 Jan 2011)

Battery life is so subjective from device to device. Who knows if you will win that lottery or lose it.

Fingers crossed everytime you get a new device.....

posted on 23 Jul 2013, 23:06 14

3. mi55u (unregistered)

same old design, same old processor, same old everything...
s4 zoom is way better than this

posted on 23 Jul 2013, 23:08 37

5. arsenaljimenez (Posts: 185; Member since: 03 May 2012)


posted on 23 Jul 2013, 23:08 18

6. Commentator (Posts: 3722; Member since: 16 Aug 2011)

Well all power to you if you want to walk around with a digital camera pressed up against your face all the time.

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Nokia Lumia 1020

Nokia Lumia 1020

OS: Windows Phone 8.1 8
view full specs
PhoneArena rating:
Display4.5 inches, 768 x 1280 pixels (334 ppi) AMOLED
Camera41 megapixels
Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Plus, Dual-core, 1500 MHz, Krait processor
Size5.13 x 2.81 x 0.41 inches
(130.4 x 71.4 x 10.4 mm)
5.57 oz  (158 g)
Battery2000 mAh, 19.1 hours talk time

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