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Nokia Lumia 1020 hands-on and first impressions

The Lumia 1020 is perhaps the smartphone every photographer has been waiting for. It is the culmination of the technologies Nokia has heralded with the PureView 808 and the Nokia Lumia 920, but in a m


The Lumia 1020 is perhaps the smartphone every photographer has been waiting for. It is the culmination of the technologies Nokia has heralded with the PureView 808 and the Nokia Lumia 920, but in a more refined and usable package. While the phone is launching in India on October 11 and Nokia is keeping the pricing close to its heart, at least we managed to go hands on with the device. Read on for our first impressions.

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From the front, the Lumia 1020 looks like the Lumia 920 but things change as soon as one turns the phone around – the huge disc housing the 41-megapixel PureView sensor dominates the back. No wonder, Stephen Elop said the back is the new front while introducing the Lumia 1020 earlier this year. The lens stack is now kept atop a different image stabilizer made of tiny ball bearings and one can even listen to them banging against each other by shaking the phone wildly. The Lumia 920’s image stabilization mechanism was based on microscopic springs,and Nokia claims the new mechanism is better.

The moment one holds the Lumia 1020, one gets the feeling of it being a dummy unit because, when compared to the Lumia 920, it’s wildly lighter and much more comfortable to hold. The matte finish also helps matters and the Lumia 1020 comes across as a super premium plastic offering, which will age well like most other Nokia phones and will be sufficiently sturdy and not fallible like the iPhone.

Performance as with most Windows Phones, remained superbly smooth. But this is nothing new, almost every Windows Phone exhibits similar behavior and considering the Lumia 1020 has 2GB of RAM instead of 1GB of the extra photo processing chops, this remained true.

Firing on the camera shutter key opens Nokia’s Pro Camera application, which was created especially for the 41-megapixel PureView camera and eventually launched for a few other Lumia smartphones like the Lumia 925. Nokia claims the Lumia 1020 is capable of crunching 1 billion pixels, and we believe them. The app itself has a unique and very intuitive radial user interface that offers manual granular control for various settings like focus, ISO, shutter speed and the user can witness the changes to the scene in real time.

In our short time with the device we clicked a few images and were thoroughly impressed by the usability of the new app and the quality of images it spat out. That said, we found the camera to be on the slow side. We cannot help thinking if things would have been even better had Nokia equipped the device with a more modern CPU. We also managed to check out the lossless zoom capabilities of the device, and we have come back impressed.

Overall, it remains a standard Nokia Lumia smartphone, with one major difference, its camera, which clearly at first brush seems to be miles ahead of the competition. That said, the competition is catching up. Sony is also using the same oversampling technique in the Xperia Z1, though to a lesser degree, and Apple is doing unique things with the flash and the ISP on the iPhone 5S.

The pricing will be critical, and currently Nokia indicates that the Lumia 1020 will be close to $800, which on the current exchange rate is above Rs 49,000. This makes it more expensive than the Sony Xperia Z1, which seems like the most powerful Android camera phone in the market and pits it right up against the iPhone 5 (32GB) and the Samsung Galaxy Note 3. Suffice to say, Nokia has a tough sell at its hands, though a fantastic one.

Photos: Harshita Rastogi

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  • Published Date: September 26, 2013 4:43 PM IST

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Nokia Lumia 1020


Microsoft Windows Phone 8, upgradeable to WP8, upgradeable to v8.1
Dual-core 1.5 GHz Krait
41 MP (38 MP effective, 7152 x 5368 pixels), Carl Zeiss optics, optical image stabilization, auto/manual focus, Xenon & LED flash