Camera

The 20-megapixel camera is great, but could be better in low-light scenarios... and faster, too!

Turning our attention to the camera app, it’s exactly like the one we’ve already seen with the Lumia 1020 and 1520 – so it’s the Nokia Pro Cam app by default. The layout, mimics that of most digital cameras nowadays, where we have a healthy selection of options and manual controls to choose from. With the latter, we can adjust the white balance, focus, ISO, shutter speed, and exposure to achieve the best composition. There’s a smart mode too that compiles various images post shot, like the best shot, action shot, or motion focus, but the majority of fun shooting modes are uncovered through the various “lenses” that are attached to the camera app – or just use any of the Nokia branded photos apps that are preinstalled.

As for the camera gear, it’s the same set that we saw already on the Lumia 1520 – albeit, the Lumia Icon doesn’t have any serious bulges or protrusions in the rear. Packing along a 20-megapixel PureView camera with ZEISS optics, optical image stabilization, wide angle f2.4 aperture lens, and dual-LED flash, it’s no doubt a serious contender in the camera arena. Just like its sibling, it captures two set of images – a 5-megapixel oversampled one that’s best for sharing via social networking, and the higher resolution 19-megapixel one that can be reframed later on to our liking. Having such a high megapixel count, it means that snapping images and saving them take a lengthy amount of time. In our case, roughly 8.5 seconds before we’re able to snap the next shot.

This is indeed a snapper to behold, as it’s able to compose sharp looking images outdoors when lighting is aplenty. Out of everything, it’s the sharp visuals captured by the higher resolution 19-megapixel samples that show its detail superiority over other smartphone cameras. Whereas fine details would be hard to distinguish with the 5-megapixel oversampled shots, they’re more than visible to the eye with the high-res ones. Both the exposure and color reproduction look pretty convincing, which perfectly complements the sheer amount of detail it captures.



Taking a pic Lower is better Taking an HDR pic (sec) Lower is better CamSpeed score Higher is better CamSpeed score with flash Higher is better
Nokia Lumia Icon 8.5
No data
364
338
Samsung Galaxy S4 3.4
4.75
1016
486
LG G2 4
6.5
395
377
Sony Xperia Z1 3.2
No data
558
490

However, we’re still baffled by the underwhelming performance of the camera under low lighting – the same issue we had with the Lumia 1520. Yes, we’ll say that images are noticeably brighter in tone, to help draw out details, but they’re softer and less pronounced. Its dual-LED flash casts an effective amount of lighting to give our shots a proportioned color reproduction.When it comes to its 1080p video recording quality,the entire package is absolutely likable in many fronts, especially when details are sharp, audio recording is clear, and artifacting is held to a minimum. Best of all, we have the choice of recording video at 30, 25, or 24 FPS. However, it’s not without its flaws. First, its exposure seems just a tiny bit jumpy when transitioning from dark to light areas – so the result with that is some overexposure. Secondly, even though we appreciate the 3x lossless zoom, it’s more rigid with its movements. Meaning, we wish it were smoother looking.

Shutterbugs will be generally pleased with the results put out by the handset’s camera. Undeniably, its quality is better than average even for a high-end phone, though, the low lighting performance could’ve been improved to make it more usable for the occasion.



Multimedia


Of course, the Windows Phone Store is home to several other Nokia branded photo apps that help to enhance the smartphone’s experience. For example, the Nokia Refocus app is an interesting shooter that allows us to select what elements in the shot are to remain in focus. Essentially, we hold the handset still as it takes a series of photos, and once that’s done, we can touch the screen to select where we want to emphasis focus in the shot. It’s pretty neat actually!

With listening to music, we have two options to choose from – the standard Windows Phone music player or the Nokia Music one. With the latter, not only are we able to play local content, but it also provides us with streaming and buying option as well. Conversely, the stock Windows Phone music player continues to entice us with its dynamic interface, which heavily relies on that stylish looking Modern UI.

Whether it’s the internal speaker or the 3.5mm headset jack, there’s no shortage of lovable sounds that are rich with clarity and robustness. With the internal speaker, it nearly pumps out 80 dB of audio at the loudest setting – and there’s no evidence of strain or crackling!

Who knows why, but AMOLED screens make videos come to life more so than its LCD counterparts. Casting those dreamy looking colors, we’re instantly mesmerized and in awe by the Icon’s screen while playing high definition videos. As expect, it supports all the popular video codecs – while also maintaining a consistent playback rate.

Headphones output power (Volts) Higher is better
Nokia Lumia Icon 0.54
Samsung Galaxy S4 0.38
LG G2 0.29
Sony Xperia Z1 0.29
Loudspeaker loudness (dB) Higher is better
Nokia Lumia Icon 79
Samsung Galaxy S4 77
LG G2 66
Sony Xperia Z1 68

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