Nokia Lumia 1020 Review

Review posted 05/16/2014

Quick Take
  • High resolution photos look great
  • Offers both high resolution and low resolution photos recorded at the same time; low-res photos are good for sharing via social networks or via MMS
  • Low light performance is very good with minimal noise
  • Built-in optical image stabilization helps in low light photography
  • Compares favorably to many point-n-shoot cameras in terms of image quality
  • Some limited manual control options
  • Sharp-looking thin device
  • Very good battery life
  • Movies are easy to shoot
  • 32GB of internal memory
  • Maximum shutter speed is up to 4 seconds, one of the best performances in a smartphone camera
  • Sleeve accessory includes large right-hand grip, tripod mount, and larger shutter button
  • No optical zoom lens (as with most smartphones)
  • Shot to shot delays and shutter lag is problematic
  • Start-up to first photo recorded is slower than average for smartphone cameras
  • Touchscreen isn't a full HD resolution model
  • Display has only 15:9 aspect ratio, rather than 16:9
  • Pixel density on display screen trails high end of current smartphone market
  • Playback mode works in an odd manner
  • Windows Phone 8 OS isn't quite as easy to use as some other smartphone operating system options
  • Use of multiple apps, or "lenses," to gain access to different features is confusing
  • No slot for adding a memory card
  • Not enough manual controls for more experienced photographers
Bottom Line
The Nokia Lumia 1020 smartphone camera is almost certainly the best smartphone camera on the market currently. It produces high quality images that will easily surpass the output of nearly all smartphone cameras ... and even some fixed lens digital cameras. If you're an advanced photographer, the Lumia 1020 probably won't produce images quite good enough to replace your advanced fixed lens camera, and it certainly can't replace your interchangeable lens camera. But if you own a beginner-level point-n-shoot model, the Lumia 1020's high resolution images will impress you. The Nokia Lumia 1020's is a bit of a slow performer, runs Windows Phone 8 OS, and lacks a full HD touchscreen display, but the strong camera image quality makes up for these drawbacks. Read more in our Full Conclusion.
You've probably seen the commercials for the Nokia Lumia 1020 on TV. It's the Windows smartphone with like a trillion 41-megapixels that gives parents the ability to sit at the back of an school auditorium where instead of getting close to take pictures (and fight all the other smartphone-equipped parents), you simply take a photo from far away and then later crop down to the picture you need. You know, because 41 MEGAPIXELS!!!!

While we first were a bit skeptical about the 1020's camera when it was relsased, we commended Nokia for trying to do something different. Assuming this image sensor isn't a mega(pixel) disaster, it has some impressive specs. Notably, a sensor size of 1/1.5-inch (larger than any other smartphone, and most digicams as well), a 3x Digital Zoom feature, a 26mm lens with a f/2.2 aperture, Optical Image Stabilization, a bright Xenon flash, a 15cm minimum focus range, and Full 1080p HD video recording at 30fps. Plus, there's five full photograph apps with which to play, including panorama.

The smartphone runs off a 1.5GHz dual-core processor with 2GB RAM. Internal storage is a decent 32GB, but the Lumia 1020 includes 7GB of free cloud storage. No optional microSD card slot is available. This smartphone also includes the full suite of Microsoft Office apps, Xbox Live Hub capabilities, multiple email service compatibility, and Wi-Fi / NFC / Bluetooth 4.0 for connecting the 1020 to the web and/or other electronic accessories.

Nokia Lumia 1020 Features:
  • Windows Phone 8 OS
  • 1.5GHz dual-core processor
  • 2GB RAM
  • 32GB internal storage (no microSD card slot)
  • 7GB Free Cloud Storage
  • 4G LTE, 3G, 2G
  • 4.5-inch WXGA Touch Display
    • 1280 x 768
    • 334 ppi
  • Main Camera (Rear)
    • 41-megapixel BSI 1/1.5-inch image sensor
    • 3x Digital Zoom
    • f/2.2
    • 26mm
    • Optical Image Stabilization
    • Pure View
    • Xenon Flash
    • 15cm Min Focus Range
    • Full HD 1080p Video Recording
      • 30fps
      • 6x zoom
      • 3 White Balance Modes
    • ISO 100-3200
  • Photography Apps
    • Panorama
    • Bing Vision
    • Cinemagraph
    • Creative Studio
    • Nokia Storyteller
  • 1.2MP Secondary Camera (1280 x 960 pixels)
    • f/2.4
    • 720p HD Video
  • FM Radio
  • Calculator
  • Clock
  • Calendar
  • Alarm Clock
  • Reminders
  • Phonebook
  • To-do List
  • Family Room
  • Kid's Corner
  • OneNote
  • Social Networks
  • Wallet
  • Lync
  • Company Hub
  • Office
    • Excel / Word / PowerPoint / OneNote
  • Touch UI
  • XBox-Live Hub
  • DirectX 11
  • Email
    • Gmail
    • Nokia Mail
    • MS Exchange
    • Windows Live / Hotmail /
    • Yahoo!
  • GPS
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • Wi-Fi
  • NFC
  • 3.5mm Audio Jack
  • Micro USB

The Nokia Lumia 1020 -- available in black, white, or yellow -- works on the AT&T cellular network. If you sign up for a two year contract, you can buy one for as little as $49.99. Unlocked versions cost $610. Buy one today directly from the Microsoft Store, Amazon, or AT&T.


Visitors of Steves can visit the stores below for real-time pricing and availability. You can also find hot, soon to expire online offers on a variety of cameras and accessories at our very own Camera Deals page.